Price When Reviewed: 98.69 . 63.19
Pros: Affordable; large drawing surface, 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity; lots of customizable buttons.
Cons: Doesn’t offer as many functions as competing models; no hardware buttons; no eraser tools, tilt support or mouse; pen requires battery.
The VisTablet website touts its tablet offerings as being a budget solution for non-professionals; affordable but fully featured. The two models currently available are the Original 12W (above right), which features a 12.1-inch widescreen-shaped area of sensitivity, and the diminutive Mini Mouse (below), which has a 3-x-5-inch drawing surface. Prices are competitive at $130 (£91) for the 12W Original and $80 (about £56) for the Mini Mouse.
Both feature an impressive 1,024 levels of sensitivity, customizable ‘keys’ (12 for the mini, 29 for the 12W) and a low-profile design that sits comfortably on the desk. Each ships with a Boss pen that, unfortunately, requires an AA battery to operate. The battery adds a nice weight to the pen in use, but dependency on battery life is a drawback when you consider that similar products, such as Wacom’s, are battery-free.
The pen itself has a good, robust design with a rocking button to represent left and right mouse-clicks.
It comes supplied with two spare nibs and a nib-removal device. In use, the pen feels pleasant. The nib has give, transmitting the pressure you exert as you make marks. There is a driver setting to adjust pen sensitivity, but this doesn’t appear to have any effect on the characteristics of use whatsoever. The pen lacks an eraser, though, and there’s no support for pen tilt.
On the tablet itself, the hotkeys are entirely pen-activated, making them useful for macros, but meaning you can’t use them as modifier keys while drawing with the pen. There’s no scroll wheel or hardware buttons, so you’ll want to keep hold of your mouse.
The supplied software allows you to set up actions for the hotkeys, but again this is limited in scope; actions can be assigned on a per-application basis, but only where you could perform the same action using a keyboard shortcut – the driver sends a simulated keystroke when you press on the hot area.