Review of Tursion Graphic Drawing Tablet
If you can't afford a Wacom...this is a great value that works really well
If you want an inexpensive, BIG and functional drawing tablet with responsive pressure sensitivity, this tablet is a worthwhile purchase. I'm very pleased with this tablet and it works well (but NOT perfect - I've updated my thoughts in this review).
I've used Wacom tablets for years. I love them. If you aren't familiar with Wacom tablets - they are the premiere graphics drawing tablets and are often used by the pros. The problem is that Wacom tablets are SO expensive. That's what led me to purchase this tablet instead of a Wacom. Note: I actually ordered it from this product page: Monoprice 10X6.25 Inches Graphic Drawing Tablet but I got THIS tablet (Tursion) that is featured here. They appear to be the same tablet with a different name.
I bought this tablet for my grandmother to go with an older copy of Painter and Sketchbook Pro since I just upgraded both of those for myself. She has been wanting to get back into drawing and painting for awhile now and I wanted to give her a digital means of pursuing her hobby. I started looking at the Wacom tablets but the price was too prohibitive. The only ones close to my budget were the tiny Bamboo tablets and even those were more expensive than this one. I didn't want to purchase a teeny little tablet to draw on (the Bamboo) but I still wanted a good quality drawing tablet with pressure sensitivity. I was a little hesitant when I saw this one. Could it really be any good and so "cheap" at the same time?
I'm glad I bought it. It's really quite amazing for the price! If you are a pro, you are going to want to save for a Wacom. If not, this tablet will probably work out great.
As soon as I got it I installed the driver, restarted my system (want to make sure it works as advertised before giving it to my grandma) and then plugged the tablet in. It wasn't responsive at all, but I could clearly see the tablet was being recognized by my system (Windows 7 64 bit) because a green light started blinking while Windows searched for and subsequently "installed" the driver. However, when I touched the pen to the tablet...nothing.
I replaced the battery in the pen and bingo! It worked. :-) Note that the tablet does NOT show a green light at the top when it's active. It only shows the light when you touch the pen to it. If there is no light when you touch the pen to it, check the battery. ;-)
**INSTALLATION UPDATE** It turns out the driver for this tablet doesn't seem to be compatible with a Wacom tablet driver. If you have one installed, uninstall it before installing the driver for this tablet. Also...if you have trouble with the tablet working with the driver that it comes with (via the enclosed CD) - the tablet does work WITHOUT the driver installed (at least on my Windows 7 system). In fact, it seems to be less troublesome and still has pressure sensitivity and full functionality. If you are having trouble getting it to work, UNINSTALL the driver and try just plugging your tablet in. If you can't uninstall it from the control panel, look in your programs menu under "Tablet".
WORKING WITH SOFTWARE
I tried it out in Painter 12, Sketchbook Pro, Photoshop CS5, and Art Rage. The pressure sensitivity works great (note: in order for it to work in Photoshop you need to adjust your brush settings in shape dynamics with a drop down choice where you can choose "pressure sensitive"). If you press down hard, the media you choose in the program responds appropriately. So, when I tried out oil paints in Painter and pressed hard I got a nice, thick line of paint. When I pressed lightly, I got a thin softly applied line - just like in real life with a real paintbrush and paint.
**UPDATE** When you try to draw a straight line with this tablet (or a circle) it's a little bit jittery. After awhile I found this to be annoying. Because of this, I've dropped my star rating down to a 4. I think this tablet is great for painting but maybe NOT for drawing super steady lines. Because of this I also do not recommend it for a pro IF you can save up for a Wacom. Still, it's a good enough tablet.
The pen has a nice feel to it. It's slightly shorter than my Wacom pen and is also heavier. In order to put the battery in, you tug the pen apart and place the battery into a rather flimsy looking metal clip. The pen does NOT have an "eraser" at the end like the Wacom pens. You also have to take care not to store the pen with the tip pressing down (like if you put it in a cup or can) because that will drain the battery. I like the heft of this pen. It feels very comfortable in my hand. Note: There are extra, plastic pen nibs in the package. I almost overlooked them so be careful not to toss those out! They are to replace the current nib when it gets worn down after using it for a long time.
The tablet itself is nice. It's really big (about the size of my Wacom Intuos 3 tablet but with a bigger drawing surface). That's one area where this tablet shines. It's BIG. The drawing surface is almost as big as a piece of paper.
The tablet is comfortable to hold. The surface is not as "soft" as my Wacom tablet, but it's quite smooth. The edges of the tablet are have a little bit of a "sharp" plastic feel and are not softly rounded like the Wacom. The pen makes a little bit of noise moving over the surface - a bit more than the Wacom, but it's not distracting or loud. The pen also makes more of a clicky sound when I press on the surface compared to the Wacom. It moves over the tablet surface with very little resistance but isn't as buttery feeling as the Wacom.
The tablet's plastic around the edges is very slightly textured and the top edge has a little lift and indentation built in so you can set your pen there on a flat surface and not have it roll off.
There is a flat sheet of clear plastic over the drawing surface that you can lift up. You can place a picture underneath for tracing purposes. I had no problem lifting this piece up but had to do so from the corner and using my fingernail vs. the slight indentation in the bottom center intended for that purpose.
The cord is about 3-4 feet long - so you'll need to be fairly close to your computer to work with it. However, it had plenty of play so that I can move the tablet around and adjust it in my lap to draw.
The tablet is not very heavy but not so light as to feel cheap. There are little pictures across the top that you can set as hot keys. However, you can also override that area and just make it part of the drawing surface if you access the pen tablet settings from your system tray (or control panel if you don't see it in the sys tray).
If you have the driver installed -If you use the tablet without the driver you will not have access to these settings. They are not crucial, at least not in my experience. Here's a description of what you can do with them if you do have the driver installed:
The tablet settings has a monitor mapping option (where you can set it to work with one or more monitors if you have a multi-monitor setup). You can also have it map a single monitor precisely how you want with options for height, width and offset x & y. You can also program the pen button and set the click time & sensitivity. You can set what portion of the tablet surface you want to be responsive to the pen as well. There is also a pressure test square for you to see the pressure sensitivity first hand.
All in all, this is a great tablet for the price. It's NOT as good as a Wacom. It doesn't have that same professional feel and even though it draws ok and has good pressure sensitivity, it doesn't feel as precise as a Wacom. (UPDATE: It is a little bit jittery for straight lines, circles, etc. using a pen/pencil type tool. I can't recommend it if you need something that is very precise for drawing.) It still works pretty well, especially if you want it for painting or using in Photoshop for photo editing, etc. I would say comparing this tablet to a Wacom is like comparing a high end point and shoot camera to a professional Nikon SLR camera. The point and shoot is going to get the job done and do a good job. The Nikon SLR is going to go above and beyond but at the price point is going to be purchased by the pros making lots of $$. ;-) There is a big difference, but not to a lower end user. Same thing with this tablet vs. a Wacom.
If you are looking for a good entry level tablet or need one that is affordable and is going to get the job done - this is your tablet. I'm very glad I purchased it. It was a big hit with my grandma!
Click to view the Tursion Graphic Drawing Tablet 10 x 6.25 Inches on Amazon.com.