Artist 10S Key features:
10.1” 16:10 IPS screen
Passive pen with 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity
Active working area 217x136mm
100-level brightness control
1000/1 Contrast ratio
178 degree viewing angle
Anti-reflective coating reducing glare by up to 56%
Report rate: 220RPS
Dimensions cm W/H/D: 30.1x20x0.62
System requirements: Windows 7,8,10 / Mac OS X 10.7 or above
The Artist 10S offers you a return to the days of hands-on drawing and a sense of real connection to your work, with the digital benefits of vectors, layers and non-destructive editing, all for just £269.
I am really excited to try the Artist Display 10S. I am using it together with Photoshop CS5 on my old Core2 Duo Windows 7 laptop. Pen display tablets are unarguably the logical progression from the graphics tablet. You draw directly onto the screen in a streamlined, efficient process, utilizing the benefits of pen pressure sensitivity which can be used to control a plethora of functions such as stroke Opacity, Flow and Size.
"The Artist 10S enables me to confidently put ideas straight down onto a blank canvas with immediate results”
What's in the box?
• Artist 10S Pen Display Tablet
• Passive stylus with 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity
• Pen holder containing 8 nibs and a remover pen clip
• Drawing glove
• USB/HDMI/power multi-cable
• Auto-ranging 100-240v power adapter with local connectors
• HDMI to Mac adapter cable
• Slimline protective soft-case with Velcro fastening
• Product documentation
• Driver installation CD
Quality. The Artist 10S feels nice to the touch, with smooth, ergonomic form and two slimline rubberized strips on the rear to aid stability. It feels substantial, yet light enough at 1.7lb to be portable to work spontaneously and on-the-go, and at 6.2mm, slim enough to fit in a pocket on your laptop bag.
The 10.1” IPS glossy work surface stays relatively print-free when wearing the anti-fouling glove. The inkwell-style pen holder is a nice touch, with a rubberized weighted bottom for sturdiness, it screws open to present 8 spare pen nibs.
The stylus is light and of standard form. Rather than being perfectly round, it has three somewhat flattened sides around the circumference which aids grip. The customizable Erase/Brush toggle barrel button is placed slightly lower than on styluses I have previously used like the Wacom Bamboo and so I sometimes press the button accidentally due to the particular way I hold a pen, but that will resolve itself through use. There are no distracting contact sounds and the nib glides over the display with ease.
The quality multi-cable locks into the tablet's ports securely. While it is a substantial cable it is not too obtrusive. The auto-ranging 100-240v 5v power supply connects to the multi-cable.
The User Interface takes the confusion out of configuration with clear options and 9-point calibration. You can be up and running straight out of the box faster than you can say "Plug and Play” even if you're not too experienced with driver installation and configuration. You can view pen pressure sensitivity values real-time. Display resolution can be configured via your Graphics Card Control Panel.
The six customizable Express keys, vertically aligned along the left side of the tablet, are ergonomic and aid progress, keeping your eyes and mind focused on your work. They are assigned by default to Undo, Erase, Hand, Shift, Ctrl, and Alt functions. I would like the ability to save and recall different custom Express Key configurations for different settings like painting, and photo retouching, where I predominantly use different tools. Perhaps this will be a possibility in a future driver update.
"Left-handed artists can rotate the display in the User Interface if they would prefer to work with the Express keys to their right-hand side”
The 100-level brightness control is a welcome feature. As someone who suffers eye strain with the majority of screens, I can set the Artist 10S to 100% brightness without any issues whatsoever. While the display resolution is not Full HD at 1280x800, it is only a 10.1” screen which is crisp and bright and easy to look at. I find that colors are reproduced well; if a little too vivid. Color adjustments can be made via your Graphics Card control panel. Contrast ratio is specified as 1000/1. Blacks initially seeped into each other, so I had to max out the Gamma settings in my NVidia Graphics Card control panel which rectified the problem. There is a slight backlight bleed in the lower left hand corner of the screen but the effect on a black canvas is minimal.
As a beginner the Artist 10S gives me a sense of empowerment and a "can-do” approach more or less straight out of the box, enabling me to confidently put ideas straight down onto a blank canvas with immediate results, instead of battling with configuration, or unintuitive hand-eye coordination between tablet and screen. I can keep my eyes firmly on the Artist 10S while working, aided by the six customizable Express keys, only glancing away for additional keyboard shortcuts and reference.
I am left with a compact, clean workspace, and free to express myself through digital art like never before! I find myself digging into Photoshop and modifying brush dynamics as the results are immediate, pen placement accurate, and pressure sensitivity responsive. It's a stable platform with no noticeable latency. It is advertised as featuring automatic line correction and anti-shake functionality which I'm sure adds to my experience.
Pressure sensitivity applied to Size and Opacity on various brushes
It makes light work of photo editing with Express keys set to Clone Stamp, Healing Tool, Dodge and Burn. It is possible to physically trace over paper sketches onto the display surface thanks to the screen's backlight, though I would not recommend it for finer details.
The Artist 10S is also great fun for the casual artist and you will likely not have to upgrade your computer, so long as it can adequately run your graphics editing program of choice. You can relax on the couch and sketch away as viewing angles are generous at 178-degrees. £269 could be considered a leisurely price for such a device and the Artist 10S is pretty much your only option in this price bracket, with other Wacom rival displays starting at around a more serious £400.
Your computer's screen resolution must be changed to match that of the Artist 10S at a maximum of 1280x800 so you will lose the benefit of HD displays used alongside it. In the event that you are downscaling a HD display to 1280x800 and work in a static environment, the Artist 16 with 15.6” screen at £399 would be more suitable. It boasts a Full HD display – as does the Wacom Cintiq 13 – but it costs half as much, with over 2-inches more of screen space and double the amount of Express keys.
Occasionally the pen will disconnect, sometimes requiring restart of the tablet. Mostly I can use the device for several hours without any issues.
Complaints of difficulty navigating the corners of the work surface and jumping cursors on Windows operating systems are almost certainly due to either no proprietary driver installation, or an installation hampered by overzealous antivirus settings. This may cause the tablet to default to Windows Operating System's Tablet Calibration program instead, which reproduced these calibration issues I had read about online. The customer support team are available to assist with any questions you may have, and can be reached via online live chat, telephone, Skype, NetSession, and email.
Spare parts and accessories are readily available online. A spare stylus will set you back just £19.99, and a replacement multi-cable £34.99 which may seem steep for a cable, but it's robust with quality connectors, and so it's likely you'll never need one. An aluminum stand will cost you £49.99.
While £269 is a low price for a Pen Display Tablet, it is still a considerable amount of money to spend on a device. Prospective buyers will not be disappointed by the quality, functionality and value for money the Artist 10S offers. All in all it's an affordable upgrade from your graphics tablet, providing the resolution can meet your needs.