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April 12, 2012
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Monoprice 12 x 9 Graphic Tablet Review

Journal Entry: Thu Apr 12, 2012, 8:32 PM
Welcome to my review of
Monoprice 12 x 9 Graphic Tablet

NOTE: LOTS O' IMAGES!
and lots o' text too!



I ordered directly from Monoprice's website, and received my item in 4 days using UPS ground. They accept Paypal and Google Checkout, so no credit card required! :)

THE COST:
12x9 Tablet: $87.00
Extra Pen: $9.60
+S/H: $8.03
------------------------
TOTAL: $104.63  

COMPARE:
Wacom Bamboo Connect (Small Size) $65.00+
Wacom Bamboo Create (Med Size) $170.00+
Wacom Intuos5 Touch (Medium) $330.00+

The Box: It's Square!


They packed the box well and I like that they used easy-to-recycle paper instead of that stupid peanut stuff... Danny approves.


Yeeeep. There's the stuff in the box.... Even Ichigo is bored with this picture.


Everything was nicely packed inside the tablet box. Danny thought so too.


Tada! The TABLET! It's big... so very big...


The back! Interesting... what are these black things for...?


....GENIUS!!!

Warning: These suckers are tough to get into place and then remove. You gotta be rough. (I had to ask Aremke to get them on AND off.....) If that scares you, just leave 'em alone!

Size Comparisons.....

1) Manga


2) Books


3) Japanese Fan


4) First Generation Wacom Bamboo Fun Medium Size.

Monoprice Tablet WINS!

/THE END

Supposedly this flap thing is for you to put your hand drawn art under and then digitally sketch over on the computer. I'm dubious about how well this would actually work in practice. On the upside, it gives the tablet a nice texture and will likely help keep it protected. :)


Reviews online constantly mention the cheapo pen that comes with Monoprice tablets. It's true. It does feel like cheap plastic! But unless you get a defective one, I think it'll hold up alright.
(If it turns out to be defective, Monoprice will stand by it's product and replace it for free.)
Also, I have man-sized hands for a girl so keep reading to see a better pen-size comparison...

WARNING: The Start Guide specifically says (in it's wonderfully Engrish way) not to put pressure on the tip when you're not using it. So set it on it's side or have the tip pointing up or use the pen holder included. Just don't ruin your pen by being an idiot because you didn't read or take the advice of the Guide.

Still the thought of getting a defective pen or having it break on me long after the warranty expires did not sit well. SO I BOUGHT AN EXTRA! I call it "The Fancy Pen"!!


This pen works with all the Monoprice Tablets!

Extra pen nib, nib remover, and battery....


Both the default pen that comes with the tablet and this pen have programmable clicky things. The default pen has a lame hard plastic clicky thing, but the Fancy Pen's clicky thing is underneath the rubber grip. A nice touch!


PS: The Start Guide calls them "buttons", not "clicky things".

Quality wise, the Fancy Pen is definitely a step up. The plastic doesn't feel as cheap, the rubber grip feels firmer, and it's slightly smaller.


These are BATTERY POWERED PENS. You need AAA batteries for them to work. The batteries that came with my pens worked just fine BUT I've heard of some batteries being Dead On Arrival (DOA). A dead--or almost dead--battery in your pen will cause your tablet to not work, or not work very well. If your tablet doesn't seem to be working, the first trouble-shooting step is battery replacement!

WARNING:
1) Don't bend the spring or metal battery connector doodad. BE CAREFUL when you changing batteries!
2) To open the Default pen you pull the top black part. It pops right off! Do NOT twist it off. Gently put it back on, if it gives you a hard time, you're doing it wrong. The "wavy" parts of the rubber and the black plastic need to match, so check that first.
3) The Fancy Pen screws on and off... do NOT try and pop it off. You also need to be gentle screwing it back on. (Side Note: The AAA Rayovac refused to work with this pen... I have no idea why. Using the knock-off AAA battery that came with the pen worked though. Go figure...)


DUH: Wacom pens have no batteries. They use a proprietary technology that they have no intention of sharing with anyone. It goes without saying, Wacom Pens won't work with Monoprice Tablets.

Here we can get a better idea of the size of these pens.
The Default Pen: The widest and the longest, but a little lighter than the Fancy Pen. Obviously heavier than the Wacom Pen. No eraser nub. Programmable Buttons.
The Fancy Pen: Shortest and only very very slightly wider than the Wacom pen. Heaviest. No eraser nub. Programmable Buttons.
Regular Ink Pen: Look at it sitting there, all old fashioned and non-digital! Tch! No eraser, no batteries, and no programmable Buttons.
Wacom Pen: Thinnest, lightest, second longest, and comes with eraser nub. Programmable Buttons. (Am I the only one who never used the eraser nub? o_0)


From the Left: Default Pen, Fancy Pen, Regular Ink Pen, and Wacom Bamboo First Generation Pen

"Heavy" is a very subject term with these pens. None of them are so heavy or wide they'd feel uncomfortable. But if you've got small hands (unlike me =n= ) you might prefer the Fancy Pen over the Default Pen simply because it's more compact. My husband found the Wacom pen's annoyingly light. I found the transition between the Wacom pen and the Fancy pen the easiest, though using the Default Pen wasn't very hard either.

Note: If you find both the Fancy Pen and the Default Pen uncomfortable, consider buying these. They look nice and would perhaps feel nicer in your hands. (I'm considering getting some in the future. If I do, I'll let you know how they work.)

Included driver CD with Quick Start Guide. They come in a plastic sleeve that includes batteries and 5 extra pen nibs! :D

And yes, you SHOULD read the Quick Start Guide before doing anything!

About the Drivers.....
1) The installer auto-started in Vista but not Windows 7. I had to go through Windows explorer to manually start it.
2) I originally installed "Support Dual Screen". It works, but I found many programs did not cooperate with this driver.
3) I installed "Support XP 64bit" to force the tablet to only see the main monitor. This worked much much better, though SAI still gave me problems. (It technically worked, but it forced my tablet into a dual monitor mode.)
4) Installing the UC-LOGIC drivers solved a lot of the weirdness I had with various programs when using the CD Dual Screen Drivers.
5) It is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that you keep your tablet unplugged until after you installed the drivers and restarted your computer. If you plug it in first, Windows installs terrible generic drivers that are difficult to get rid of and a pain to uninstall.
6) Yes, it works with Mac OSX and Windows 7. No, I don't know if it works with Windows 8. (Contact Monoprice.com and ask...) The extra software doesn't work correctly in OSX/W7.

I spent a good ten minutes wondering where the Pen Tablet Settings window was for this tablet. Turns out it was "hiding" in the corner. Derp!

Note: Read your Quick Start Guide in all it's glorious Engrish to learn how to program your hotkeys and shortcuts on your tablet. :)

How does the Monoprice tablet compare? The MP Tablets 10x6.25 (which there are 2 of) and 12x9 fall between the Wacom Bamboo and Intuos in terms of specifications.

Monoprice Tablets:
Resolution (LPI): 4000
Report rate speed (RPS): 200
Pressure sensitivity: 1024
Tilt: No
Touch: No

Bamboo Create:
Resolution (LPI): 2540
Report rate speed (RPS): 133
Pressure sensitivity: 1024
Tilt: No
Touch: Yes (Excluding Connect)

Intuos5:
Resolution (LPI): 5080
Report rate speed (RPS): 200
Pressure sensitivity: 2048
Tilt: +/- 60 degrees
Touch: Yes

It's always important to note that Intuos tend to stomp all over the competition. Monoprice Tablets (10 x 6.25 and 12 x 9) are some where in the middle in terms of performance. It's a nice upgrade for anyone using Graphires, Bamboos, or old Intuos.

These tablets make excellent, smooth lines. I detected no jitter or lag with this tablet. Some people like these better than their Intuos3 or 4. (I know one guy sold his Intuos and switched to these tablets.) You might not like them that much, but it's comforting to know they are good enough to be genuine competition for Wacom.

My husband really likes the 12 x 9 size and I hate it. I've spent my entire life drawing on nothing bigger than computer paper, and most of my Wacom tablets were small. It was fatiguing to draw on such a big space. My husband, on the other hand, works well on big sheets of paper and prefers a close 1:1 ratio with his screen. A bigger active area for him is much more comfortable.

When it comes to what size tablet you should get, you really gotta think about the kind of artist you are already. Are you use to working on big sheets of paper? Do you find moving your whole arm invigorating or exhausting? To me, a nice middle ground is the 10 x 6.25 tablet(s). They're bigger than Wacom Mediums without being so big as to be annoying. (For lefties, I recommend sticking to the  WP1062-TAB10.)

The other thing to consider is the driver quality. I would say MOST of the time the drivers work just fine on MOST people's computers. But when they don't work--and problems usually start when you have dual monitors or old Wacom drivers previously installed--it is a real pain in the butt to fix them. The CD drivers worked PERFECTLY on my husband computer (Single Monitor, Vista 64bit) and on my laptop (Single Monitor, Windows 7) but gave me some real problems with my desktop (Dual Monitor, Bamboo Fun user, Win7 64bit). It took me some time, but I managed to find the most common problems (and solutions) to driver problems in Windows. I gathered the information I found into one place, in hopes of helping other Monoprice Tablet users. Please check it out if you have any problems!

Is this a good buy? Yes. Is this a good tablet? Yes. If you're a beginner or new to graphic tablets, someone looking to upgrade their Graphire or Bamboo tablet, or a professional that needs a cheap temporary solution, Monoprice tablets are all great choices! When they work, they work gloriously, and you won't even know you're using a non-Wacom brand.

For all those non-American artists out there, here's a tip to finding cheap tablets: Look for rebranded UC-Logic tablets. Companies in other countries give them different names, so I can't give you any specific brand names. But UC-Logic makes tablets for companies all over the world and there is a high chance there are some in your country too!

Lastly, if you're looking for something closer to Intuos, try the Huion P608N or Huion H610.

Here are other reviews for various Monoprice tablets I found online: 
Sarah's Review (For Mac too!)
DTPublish Review (for the 8 x 6)
Finni Chang's Review (Not Entirely Positive)

On Youtube:


Add a Comment:
 
:iconmultithebig1:
multithebig1 Mar 8, 2014  Student Traditional Artist
anyone know what the flappy clear thing is called? that protective thing or supposly it can be put underneath sketches to draw over it. i wanna know whats it called because i gotta replace mines please reply
Reply
:icondraw2much:
draw2much Mar 8, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I honestly have no idea what the official term is! You might try contacting Monoprice to ask?
Reply
:iconconstantanimation:
constantanimation Mar 2, 2014  Professional Filmographer
My only problem is when I open Toon boom products like Harmony and Storyboard. When I open both in dual screen the same issue able what you describe I tried everthing still no problem. for what I heard it toon boom itself. so my question is do you know about this fix?
Reply
:icondraw2much:
draw2much Mar 2, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Have you checked out my FAQ? It covers driver problems. Look at Question 6. Along with that, consider installing the UC LOGIC drivers. (Question 5) 

I'm going to let you know right now that dual monitor support for these tablets has been poor in the past. It works fine with some programs and horrid with others. UC LOGIC recently updated their drivers at the beginning of 2014 so it's possible they've gotten better support, I'm not sure. 
Reply
:iconimagazzell:
Hello, draw2much! Thank you so much for your wealth of information and the work you put into sharing it with all of us.

I'm hoping you can help me out here... I’ve read so many reviews and so many articles about the different graphic tablets available on the market, but I am still just having a tough time deciding what is right for me, as a total newb to tablets with no first-hand experience to go off of.

My primary uses will be for sketching, line-art and coloring in Photoshop (or an equivalent alternative) and animating in Toon Boom, all in a mostly more traditional, cartoony style. I am on a budget, but also don’t want to settle for something CHEAP cheap. I’ve always known of Wacom as *the* tablet brand, and I followed one of your links to the medium-sized older Intuous for a decent price on Amazon. My co-worker uses a Monoprice tablet and speaks pretty glowingly about it (largely of the price). And I’ve also seen your remarks about Huion tablets and have gained some interest in those as well. Aside from affordability, the (obvious) factors I care about most are performance and user-friendliness, and the nightmares and headaches I’ve read about with the alternative brands have set me a bit on edge, what with the driver epidemic and functional reliability and longevity. I’m always good about following setup directions closely, but if it’s going to turn into an ordeal even when I follow the steps to a T, I wouldn’t be very enthusiastic about the prospect, even with the savings in monetary cost, which I’ve read can be hugely overshadowed by the problems, for many a frustrated customer...

Oh, and I'm on Win 7 64-bit, if that matters.

Any advice or recommendation for a case like mine?? Thank you!...
Reply
:icondraw2much:
draw2much Jan 30, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'd go with a Huion H610 Pro ($79) or the none Pro version ($57) on Amazon.com or the Monoprice equivalent (of the non-Pro verison). The 610 Pro has higher specs, rechargeable pen, and better feeling surface on the tablet. If you've got a bit of extra money, I recommend splurging on the 610 Pro... that rechargeable pen sounds REALLY nice..... The 610 Pro is as good as Intuos Pro (only misses the tilt function and eraser nib on the pen) and the non-Pro tablets are just a little bit weaker than Into Pro spec wise. All 3 of these tablets will work GREAT for all stages of art creation.

I did a quick Google search and it LOOKS like these tablets work with Toon Boom, but in the interest of full disclosure I have no experience with this program so I can't say from personal experience if it'll work 100%. They will definitely work with Photoshop.

I've personally installed Monoprice drivers on a Vista machine and two Windows 7 machines successfully. I had varying levels of success on a computer with dual monitors. (But if you don't have 2 monitors or more, it won't be an issue for you.) As long as you install the drivers first, restart the computer, and ONLY THEN plug in the tablet, you shouldn't run into any issues. Generally speaking Monoprice and Huion drivers are pretty solid. (But even if something goes wrong, I have a FAQ I wrote that fixes almost every conceivable problem you can encounter with these tablets on Windows 7. )

For beginners, I recommend buying from Amazon.com or Monoprice.com* (depending on what you're getting) because they have a great return policy. Buy a Huion or Monoprice or whatever from them and test test TEST the tablet before the return window closes. If you love it, you saved a lot of money. If you hate it, return it for a refund and buy an entry level Wacom tablet. The worst that happens is you wasted some time, the best case scenario is you got a great tablet at a great price. I think the trade off is worth it.

For Wacom tablets try the entry level Intuo CTH680, or last year's model Bamboo CTH670. They're great for beginners. My major gripe from Wacom is that you end up paying out of the nose for their branding and better quality drivers. (And then, only sometimes, since they also run into problems with Windows system.)

*If you live outside the US... well, I'm afraid I don't know where to buy these tablets. Different countries have different retailers... and there are a LOT of countries out there so... >_>
Reply
:iconimagazzell:
draw2much,

Thank you so much for the prompt and thorough response! Many people don’t often find the time to respond at all, so I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your doing so!

Thanks for the links and the info. I’d have to say at present that I’m leaning toward either the Huion H610 Pro or the Intuos CTH680 Medium. Obviously I like the price of the Huion better, but at the same time, I think I prefer the look, cord placement, and pen functionality of the Intuos, as well as the potential to go wireless with it. However, the main differences I see between the two tablets are the active area sizes and the sensitivity levels. In all honesty, from a practical perspective, how big of a difference are these variations?

Did you ever find it strange at all working with the textured surfaces of these tablets? One criticism I have read (in Frenden’s reviews) about the alternative brands is that they experience a bit of “jutter" when making steady diagonal motions. Do you also experience this issue, and does it have any relation to the surface texture?

Thanks for all the heads up about the drivers. I do not use multiple monitors, so there’s a plus in this case. And I do live in the U.S., so the product links you’ve provided are all good.

I hadn’t heard about Windows problems with Wacoms… Can you elaborate on that?

Thanks again, draw2much!
Reply
:icondraw2much:
draw2much Jan 30, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
There IS a difference between pressure sensitivity and such, but if you've not used tablets extensively it's super hard for me to explain it to you. When I tried the Monoprice tablet and then went back to my Bamboo, my Bamboo felt "numb". I didn't notice the numbness until I tried something better. So if you got a Wacom, you wouldn't notice the difference either. But if you got a Huion and then tried to use a Wacom Intuo or Bamboo, you might notice. (Not sure even then, I've been drawing digitally for, like, over 10 years now... my first tablet had 512 levels of pressure sensitivity.. after using a certain thing for long enough, you notice the differences between it and something else. ) Like many other things, tablets are often about person preference. :)

In terms of pens... well, the thing about pens is everyone's hand is different and what fits comfortably in one hand won't in another. Generally, the Huion pens are good--near to Intuos4 (Pro) in design. By comparison, Intuos/Bamboo are considered to be "cheap pens". (To clarify, the Intuos/Bamboo pens do NOT have tilt feature, that's only with the Intuos Pro pens. Most Wacom pens have an eraser... which I never used, so it was never a selling point for me.)

I don't think the textured surface would influence a jutter.... Wacom's tablets have had texture surfaces for years. I've never experienced any juttering with the off-brand tablets I had BUT I wasn't as intensive with my tests either. I would draw things on various programs and if it worked well then it got a "good" stamp from me. Frenden does all sorts of extra things to test the accuracy of a tablet. For day-to-day use I never noticed a jutter... I'm not sure if that'll be useful information for you or not.

Oh sure, Wacom drivers have issues too. (You can do a simple Google search about them to find out!) For instance, my Wacom tablet has buttons on it that you can customize. Well, for some reason, the Wacom driver "forgets" my custom button setup. It happened so often that I eventually gave up using the buttons at all! Most of the problems are related to how Windows deals with drivers, that is... Windows just ignores them in favor of it's own defaults. UGH. (Don't get me started on this, it's a serious point of contention I have with Microsoft... =_= ) So, sure, they got issues... issues most companies have when making a driver for a Windows OS.

Now, don't misunderstand, Wacom drivers tend to work better over all than Huion or Monoprice. Some of this has to do with the fact that a lot of high end graphic programs are designed specifically for Wacom. (Basically, an unfair advantage..) But that doesn't mean they're perfect or that people don't have problems with them. They do... it's just those who are SUPER loyal to Wacom tend to not mention any of those kinds of things.

This is why I say it's better to try the cheaper "off brand" tablets first before going with Wacom. A lot of whether you'll like them comes down to personal preference (rather than one being significantly better than the other) and of course driver problems are more often related to Windows being a pain in the butt rather than the drivers being all that awful.
Reply
:iconimagazzell:
Does that mean the Wacoms require more firmness (at least in your experience) to achieve the same pressure results as your Monoprice? (Aren’t there adjustable settings for that?)

How is it that Wacom seems to hold monopoly on the battery-less pen niche? (How does it even work that way?) That’s one aspect that bent my leaning more in the Wacom direction - a lighter and consumable-free pen.

That’s good to know that you’ve never really experienced the aforementioned jutter. When you get down to it, I guess the results in one’s day-to-day use are all that really matter.

I get what you’re saying about so many programs being focused solely on Wacom in their tablet integration. That may actually play a bigger role in what I end up getting, as Toon Boom may only (fully) support Wacom. But I’ll have to do some more research and questioning on that (I don’t actually have Toon Boom just yet, so wouldn’t be able to test it firsthand).

Thanks again for such thorough and coherent responses. You give me a lot to think about while at the same time honing in my questioning mind :)

PS: Another topic I’d like hearing your opinion on is Photoshop vs. alternatives for drawing, coloring, painting etc., but that could be in a DM or something down the road, when you have the time for it.
Reply
:icondraw2much:
draw2much Jan 31, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is why I said it's SUPER difficult to explain the differences between pressure sensitivity. LOL.... Wacom requires LESS firmness because there are fewer levels of sensitivity. That's why I said it feels "numb". But of course you can only tell the difference if you're use to one kind of pressure sensitivity, if you've got no experience with either it probably won't matter. (It's not like it really influences your art, per say, it's more about ease-of-use on the artist side of things.)

Wacom was one of the first (maybe THE first?) to invent battery-less pens for tablets. They registered a patent in every country they would have a potential market in. Any company wanting to use their technology had to get Wacom's permission first. They simply never gave anyone else permission. (Either that or they said they'd let others use it for a certain price and then put the price so high no one ever bothered. Maybe both!)

Recently their patent expired and, seemingly, others could now use the same technology but they don't. I'm not sure why except that maybe the "off brand" companies don't feel like investing money producing new pens when the current kind of pen they have works just as well and is cheaper to make and for consumers to buy.

I wouldn't let the pen being battery powered or not be the major reason for going for a Wacom. Battery powered pens last a long long LONG time (we're talking a year or more) and the Huion Pro's is rechargeable so you don't even have to worry about opening it and changing out the battery. Plus, Wacom pens and pen nibs are more costly to replace. (And you WILL need to replace the nibs--the little plastic bits at the tip of the pen.) For the Intuo/Bamboo line a replacement pen costs $30 and the nibs cost $10 (for 5 nibs). With Huion it's $20 for the pen and $7 (for 10 nibs).

As to Toon Boom.. I know that the program does "See" the tablet. Does Toon Boom do pressure sensitivity? That's the only thing I'm not sure about... HOWEVER you can go to Toon Boom's website and get a TRIAL version of the program to test out the Huion tablet to MAKE SURE it works completely with the program. (This way if you buy the tablet first before the full version of the program, you'll know whether to keep the tablet.)

I'm not familiar with Toon Boom alternatives, but I wrote a whole journal that talks about alternatives to Photoshop. Unless you need Photoshop for school, there are a lot of other great art programs available that are way way WAY cheaper than Adobe Products (in some cases they're free).
Reply
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