Wacom Mobile Studio: initial impressions

First off, the most important question: Does it work properly with Adobe Illustrator? Yes. Stylus response with the pencil tool is just as smooth and instantaneous as it is with an external Intuos on my Air.

So I get to decide how I feel about the other things:

* it’s big. Too wide for my favorite, very minimal bag – it’s as tall as a 13” laptop, but as wide as a 15” one. Mostly this is due to the row of keys and adjustment dial going down one side. Maybe I’ll actually end up finally using these, I dunno. I’m a keyboard shortcut kinda girl.
* it’s heavy. Man is it ever heavy. Holding it up at an angle gets very fatiguing, very quickly, and it doesn’t have a kickstand like the Surface does. I’m really hoping someone makes a lightweight case for it that adds one; until then I’m gonna be carrying around one of the wire stands I use for displaying books at cons. Add in a keyboard and it still weighs less than the Air + Intuos, but only by about 20%.
* it’s gonna need a screen protector to make it a really pleasant surface to draw on, it’s glass, glass has no tooth.

Right now the weight and lack of a kickstand feels like the biggest potential issue. And battery life is a big question mark; it’s down to 50% right now after a full charge, and a while doing initial configuration off the charger. It claims this is gonna be good for about two hours. We shall see if this holds up under normal use; I’m going to have a shower, then take it out on a shakedown cruise.

(Also it ain’t cheap, it cost me like $500 more than a similarly-specced Surface 4 Pro did.)

Other little things:

* yes the stupid “pen flicks” are on by default, I think this is just a Windows 10 Stupidity.
* the default power management settings are nowhere near enough aggressive for me; I set it to sleep after 1 minute idle on battery, hibernate after 2, and hibernate whenever I press the power button on battery.
* Illustrator still refuses to rotate to portrait mode, but that’s really on Adobe, not on Wacom or anyone else. I’m just noting it. I’m not sure using this wide-ass thing in portrait would really be very pleasant anyway.
* The pen that comes with it is not compatible with the spring-loaded nibs. Which are the best Wacom nibs IMHO, I bought like five of them a while back, seriously if you have a Wacom tablet and haven’t tried it with the spring-loaded nib, try it. But it is happy to talk to the stylus from my Intuos 4, which has a spring-loaded nib in it.

Edit. Okay so I left around 2:00, had lunch, walked to Big Time Brewery, and worked on stuff in Illustrator until 4:30, when it started whimpering about being almost out of power. Its estimate was accurate, which means its battery is about on par with the 4h I’d get from the Surface 4 Pro. Like the Surface, I will probably keep this charging overnight so it’s at 100% when I leave the house.

A wire display holder sort of worked to substitute for the Surface’s kickstand. I’ll probably end up duct-taping one to the back if I decide to keep it and don’t find a case that provides one. I really felt the lack of that kickstand.

Honestly, I prefer the Surface 4 Pro in almost every respect, except for the all-important “actually works with the program I got the thing to run” factor. Half the weight, lower price, integrated kickstand, fits in the same bag my 13″ Air normally lives in. If I used one of the 90% of all art programs that works fine with the NTrig drivers, I would have stuck with the Surface and put a plastic squishy grip on its stylus; this is what I recommend if your favorite art tool is not Illustrator (or Flash or maybe some other apps, ask google how your favorite program works with it).

  1. I had a laptop with a “convertible” screen – it flipped around on a complex joint to turn into a giant, heavy tablet. And it was heavy. I never used it that way because it was ridiculously heavy. (The machine name was “skriftir-steinn”, or “stone tablet” in Old Norse.)

    So, the Surface is a miracle there. Pity it won’t actually do what you want it to do.

  2. The new stylus and lack of spring nibs are the biggest downside to this one, yeah. I got to play with one a couple months ago and I was impressed with it but didn’t have enough time to really evaluate its weight. Good to hear the Inutos4 stylus works with it though.

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