Wacom are well known for the quality of their devices, but they are also known for being expensive. Traditionally, beginner artists or those on a budget, have had to stick to the more affordable Intuos style tablets if they wanted to use a pen to create with. Owning a display tablet seemed a distant dream.
Recently, Wacom have started to address this by offering lower priced Cintiq models like the Cinitq 16 and 22. Giving users the option of a pen display at a lower price, but these could still be a bit too expensive for the new user.
Last year I was invited to the Wacom offices in Dusseldorf to try out and give feedback on a new device. This was a much lower end tablet offering the user a more affordable drawing experience with a display. This was of course the Wacom One.
With the One, Wacom are hoping to not only reach beginner artists but also break into new areas with its simplicity and versatility. As well as being able to connect it to a desktop or laptop you can also use it with an Android device, like the Galaxy Note. Giving you access to Samsund DeX to offer a full desktop experience while on the go.
This could be great news for those who need a larger screen to interact with their phones. As well as digital art, maybe editing documents, signing forms, or even simply watching movies and playing games. When you sit and think about how it could be used, the possibilities are endless.
So, at $400 is the Wacom One the ideal entry level display tablet for you, or could it be the device you need to streamline your business?
Read on to find out…
The Wacom One box is certainly eye catching with its colourful logo and artwork splashed across the screen. On the back you have all the specifications and some instructions on how to set it up, with just three simple steps.
Once you slide the box out of the cover you’re presented with more instructions, just in case you didn’t read the back. There’s even a QR code to send you directly to the Wacom One getting started page.
Beneath this you have the device itself nestled inside a basic cover.
Continuing to dig deeper you will find the main bundle of cables which Wacom have called the X-Shape Cable. There are four main ports on this bundle, on one end you have a USB-C port which goes into the back of the tablet, and a USB port which connects to power. This can be either a standard plug, which is supplied, or a power bank which could be a life saver if you’re travelling.
At the opposite end you have a HDMI and USB cable, these are plugged into the device your using it with.
It’s important to mention that if you intend on using this with an Android phone you will have to buy a separate USB-C Hub which has both HDMI and USB capabilities.
As with all Wacom devices, setup is simple. If using a laptop or desktop all you do is connect the HDMI and USB cable into the computer and turn the One on. There is a small button on the top which is flush with the casing, so it can be a little difficult to find if you’re just feeling for it.
You can then follow the instructions on the box or the leaflet and download the Wacom drivers. When these are installed it will recognise the device and lead you through the setup process. Nice and easy.
Before long, you’re sketching away in your favourite application, but don’t worry if you don’t have any. Wacom also include Clip Studio Paint and Bamboo Paper to get you started as well as Adobe Premiere Rush and Adobes new painting app, Fresco. Obviously, Android have a whole host of free apps too, so you don’t need to spend any more money to start sketching.
If you’re using this with an Android phone, like the Galaxy Note for example, the setup is different. You use the USB-C Hub to connect the HDMI and USB cables to the phone.
When both devices are switched on, the Android will detect the Wacom One and ask if you want to go into Screen Mirror or Samsung Dex mode. Choosing DeX will open the Android operating system on the Wacom One just like it was a tablet or desktop.
You can then use the tablet as you would if you were at your desk using a laptop, download a painting application and start painting, or alternatively, use it to take notes, add annotations to a document, edit a video or photo…the uses are endless.
The Wacom One, although an entry level device feels like its higher quality than it should be. The build quality is superb, it feels solid and robust, so it should be ok with those younger users who may knock it or bash it about. It should also be safe to throw in a bag and take it out with you, and with it weighing just over 2lbs you could easily use it with your phone and do some work while travelling or if your just out for a coffee.
The screen size is 13.3 inches so just a bit smaller than a piece of A4 paper, which is a good size canvas to work on. Its full HD so a decent resolution for this price point, and the screen is bright and colourful with just a slight grain which comes from the ant-glare film.
In the back you have two feet which fold out to create a stand, tilting the One to around 19 degrees off the table. What’s clever is beneath one of these feet are the extra nibs and nib remover, hidden away for when you need them.
On the top of the device is a loop to hold the stylus so you can keep it safe and not lose it in the bottom of your bag.
Rather than bundle the Pro Pen or Pro Pen 2 with the One, Wacom have included a different stylus. It’s still the same EMR technology meaning its battery free, which is always a good point in my book, but it only has one button which to be honest, should be more than enough for those wanting to invest in this tablet.
The stylus is smaller than the Pro Pen 2 and lighter, but it still feels comfortable to hold. What’s good is Wacom have brought over tilt support too, which is essential for shading.
What Wacom are also doing with the One is allowing third party companies to create their own pens for the device, so you can further customise your experience. Companies like Staedtler, BIC and Samsung are a few offering their own designs initially, but more are quickly jumping on board.
You can even use the Galaxy Note pen with the Wacom One.
What’s good about the One is it uses the exact same software as all the other Wacom devices, which is its Desktop Center. What this means is if this is your first Wacom device and after a few years you upgrade, you are already used to the tools and the whole ecosystem, so the transition is seamless.
Because the One is a basic tablet and doesn’t have any express keys, your configuration options are limited. With that said you are free to set the button on the stylus to do whatever you like. Right click, middle click. Maybe a hotkey or you could even make it open an on-screen toolbox which holds a whole host of commands.
These can all be configured on a per app basis too, so what the button does in Photoshop could be different to what happens when you’re working in Microsoft Word.
Your settings can also be saved to the cloud, or locally, so you can quickly download them if switching devices.
If your using an Android device the configuration options are more limited to the applications you’re using.
I’ve worked with this tablet for a couple of weeks now spanning both a desktop, using Photoshop primarily and various apps on the Android. I also used some 3D applications too, like ZBrush and Substance Painter, so I could get a good overall feel.
When it comes to parallax, which is the distance between the pen tip and the digitizer under the glass, I didn’t notice much, or not enough to comment on. I found the tablet responsive and had no noticeable jitter, meaning my lines were straight and smooth.
I’m used to over 8,000 levels of pressure sensitivity so I was a little worried I’d miss those extra degrees with the Wacom One only having 4096…only, that makes it sound like a small amount!
Now remember I’m a professional user so if I was really looking, I could feel the difference, but to most people the One will be perfect for them to achieve both lighter and firmer strokes. Also, the slight friction on the screen really brings you closer to your artwork, unlike those devices where you’re simply drawing on glass, so it doesn’t feel natural, not to me anyway.
The screen resolution was a concern, but I found the HD display more than enough space to work in Photoshop with the full UI open. I didn’t feel cramped at all. Its bright and colourful and a joy to work on.
The one thing I did miss was touch support. I’m used to grabbing the screen, pinching and zooming around my canvas but that’s just what I’m used to, although this is aimed at gamers too so if you’re playing games on your phone and using this as a larger screen, wouldn’t you expect to interact with it as you would your phone? I guess you could use the stylus but that’s an extra level of disconnect.
If your more of a desktop gamer I could see this being used as a second screen, one which holds a map or inventory for example to save you opening it, or even for streamers so they can keep an eye on comments and requests.
I also missed the express keys which are often on the side of Wacom’s devices but if that was a concern, I could invest in an ExpressKey remote and use that instead or just use a keyboard. Again, this is a personal preference and just what I’m used to.
While using the One I had to keep reminding myself that this is an entry level device, which it doesn’t feel like. Its aimed at new users, or artists or photographers starting out. It could even be used by someone in a different field all together and it could well be their first display tablet.
If I take a step back and look at it from their perspective, I can see a nicely designed, affordable device which works well and feels good to write, sketch or paint on.
Trying to accommodate the more affordable, entry level market is a great move for Wacom. They know their devices are good and that people want them, but not everyone has the money to buy them, so they end up giving their cash to the many competitors that have arisen over the years.
I could easily see myself using this device in several situations. I do miss the touch support, and I would’ve liked to see a few express keys on the side and maybe a USB port or two down the sides but to be honest, if those were that much of an issue I’d just pay more and invest in the Cintiq range.
I also use an iPhone, like many other people, so the lack of iOS support hits me hard.
If I could use this with my iPhone, with Procreate Pocket, checking emails, marking documents etc. it would be a game changer for me. I would take this with me when traveling and even use it for watching Netflix on the train. For now, that’s reserved for Android users, but fingers crossed support for iOS comes soon.
All in all, I think this is an excellent device for those needing a larger screen, no matter what you need to do with it. For painting, sketching and even sculpting it’s a great display tablet for stepping into the digital art field, but I can see this being used in so many other ways it seems wrong to just focus on the art side of things.
I think what it comes down to is this. If you need a larger screen to interact with, you need the Wacom One.
Although Wacom supplied the device for me to test, the opinions offered in this review are my own.