Cheap Cintiq alternatives - tablet PCs with digitizers?


Most of us would love to work with a cintiq-like tablet, but very few could afford one, especially if they are not professionals.

There have been questions about this, ideas to try to use an android tablet for such purposes, but everyone used the phrase "just buy a wacom bamboo tablet" like a mantra.

I didnt give up on my pursuit and found solutions that fit in a 150-200$ price range. Those would be PC laptops with integrated digitizers. Ill be buying a second hand Fujitsu LifeBook T4220 for around 190$. There are others, like the IBM X61, some toshibas, HPs etc...

So my question is: how come nobody advised buying such PCs? Are they little known about, or do they have some big disadvantages I dont know about?

I mean - its wacom technology. Sure, in the soon-to-be-mine Fujitsu model there are 255 pressure levels, not 2k like in intuos devices, but I am not a pro and I probably couldnt feel any difference between the two. These computers have reasonable specs, nice processors and should do fine. One might say that they have integrated graphics card, but is that such a big deal? Photoshop should run fine, at least for typical digital painting tools, and there is always GIMP (pretty lightweight compared to PS) or using the entire laptop as a remote desktop display for a stationary PC with decent hardware. All this in a price range below one fifth of the smallest cintiq!

Why wouldnt an amateur use such laptops for drawing, designing, digital painting etc? Is there something i need to know before making the purchase?

edit a bit more info about what im looking for: Im mostly interested in sketching, drawing and digital painting with the tablet. I dont like the pen-picture detachment when using regular graphic tablets, also i dont like it how i cant turn them to get comfortable drawing angles, and thats why im seeking a cintiq-like solution. I tried using some android tablets, but the lack of ANY pressure sensitivity makes painting very cumbersome - maiking a smooth colour transition is a lot of work, while with pressure sensitivity it would only take a few swipes. I dont really do any photo work. Also, Im just an amateur and do drawing/painting as a hobby, not a job.

So, any reasons why a PC tablet like the one I mentioned wouldnt satisfy my needs?

2/27/2013 2:46:00 PM

Accepted Answer

lets start:

I'm an amateur artist as well, but managed somehow to get a lot of equipment xD. I haven't tried those tablet pc's but I have a Cintiq UX21, Intuos3 A4, and a few bamboo's.

By my experience I would tell you to get a intuos, 3 or 4.


  1. Those laptops as suggested on the comments won't run the creative suite or corel painter properly, even if you are doing it as a hobby, there will come a day (trust me) when you will want to paint at a better resolution to print your work, or a big illustration to add nice details, then that laptop/tablet will cry.
  2. The pressure difference IS noticeable, as you get better painting, you will notice it more. I just can't work with the bamboos, the pressure, and more importantly the precision when drawing/painting sucks. I gave away most of the bamboos.
  3. A scratched laptop is useless, or at least uncomfortable. Oh yes, it will end up scratched, don't come to me with gorilla glass or whatever-glasses, they all end up scratched, just google about people complaining their cintiqs being scratched, just use the thing long enough and it will be. A scratched normal tablet looks uglier(or cooler, like scars), but you still can use them well.

The Cintiq Illusion:

A Cintiq is a nice toy indeed (and more the 21 inches version), when I first had it on my hands I was almost crying of happyness. But on the long run it turned out not being so cool:

  • It's not such a big difference, when you get used to the intuos, using the cintiq is mostly the same, maybe you can get adapted quicker to the cintiq, but it's the same in the end.
  • The only difference is that with the cintiq sometimes you cover a great part of the image with your arm/hand, and have to lean back and take your hand off the screen to see it.

Also it's more troublesome to actually rotate the screen than using software rotation, ie holding R in photoshop to rotate the canvas, where this takes us to the next points:

  • The keyboard. Even if you are not a programmer, you will (or should) end up using the keyboard for the hotkeys a lot, it just makes your life easier/quicker. while using a cintiq, you will have to forget about the keyboard, it's too big, and the keyboard will be far away, despite they have shortcut keys and stuff, they are just not enough, trust me, they are not.
  • It's so big... It takes too much space on my desk, and I have a big one. A lot of times I just keep it stored in a closet or something, because it's an expensive toy and at least I, don't want to use it for gaming/whatching movies/surfing web. You will be wanting to make it last xD.

So I end up using the Intuos a lot more, it's more maneuverable, and more comfortable to work with. It has special areas you can set up so a small square is equivalent to the whole screen and stuffs like that.

In the end even an A4 is very big, a lot of people having A4 tablets end up using just a portion of it, you can notice because only that part looks more "scratched". Also it won't fit on my backpack, sometimes I wanted to take it to a friend home to paint together or teach them stuff or just going to a LAN party with design contests.


Go for an intuos3 A5, it's big enough, and small enough, affordable (250$ or so) and with the same precision and pressure sensitivity as the expensive ones. If you feel rich grab the intuos4, it's cooler xD.

I know some professional artists (spanish) that works with the bamboo, but I think the price difference just don't worth it.

11/28/2012 4:01:00 PM

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