[Update after 3 years] Like I mentioned in my original review, the Monoprice is far better for clean drawing than the Wacom offering so I still use the Monoprice but only on my laptop. Having upgraded my desktop to Windows 10, I didn’t manage to test or make the Monoprice work on it so currently using a Wacom Intuos 5 pro on the desktop and the Monoprice on my Windows 7 laptop. The following pictures were drawn or sculpted on the Monoprice. Ah and the battery is a non issue as I haven’t changed it in…… 3 freaking years!!!!
[Update after 6 month of use and upgrading to Windows 8] I gave up on Monoprice. There is absolutely no support whatsoever from Monoprice and the current drivers are way to flacky for me to recommend the tablet to anyone. I loved the light weight, small size and larger usable surface than similar Wacom but the drivers are unusable and like I said, Monoprice doesn’t care about customer support. Good bye Monoprice and cheap tablets, I am back to the Wacom monopoly and just bought an Intuos (5) Pro medium. (can’t stand the touch thing and disabled it but at least the drivers are stable). [/update]
[update after three month of use] The issues I was having in Photoshop CS6 and CC were caused by old buggy ATI/AMD graphic card driver which hasn’t been updated for 2 years…. Battery is a non issue as I haven’t changed it in 3 month. Pressure sensitivity is definitely better than the Intuos 3 but there is a bit of jitter if you don’t draw fast. Do I still recommend it? well…. it is only $50 right. Digitizer is larger than the Medium Wacom, tablet is lighter and smaller than Wacom so it fits nicely in my backpack even in the Medium version. I would really like the line to have no jitter but for the ease of use, that’s a keeper. Oh! I was about to forget. It appears that the Middle Mouse button doesn’t work on Macs which really suck for OSX fans. [/update]
After reading a very positive review by an artist called Frenden, I wanted to see if that $50 tablet was really so much better than the much beloved Wacom branded tablets that cost three to four times more.
I have been using Wacom tablets since 1998, the Ultrapad A5 being my first model. I have also owned several Windows TabletPCs equipped with Wacom digitizers. To put it bluntly, I used to be a Wacom fanboy and would regularly make fun of people buying other brands.
One day, a post on the now defunct Drawn.ca attracted my attention. Frenden was claiming that he had switched from his $2.500 Cintiq to a mere $55 Monoprice tablet and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I witnessed how clean his lines are (see for yourself). The Monoprice tablet is not available in France so I made the most of my recent London Life Drawing boot camp to order the 10×6 model and give it a try.
I have only been using the tablet for a week so hopefully I will be able to iron out some little issues I am having in the following weeks. So far it works amazingly well in Manga Studio Pro, Paint Tool SAI and Zbrush. The quality of the line and the pressure sensitivity is way better than my Intuos 3.
I do have an issue with the line quality in Photoshop CS6 64bit on Windows 7 but I will be testing it on Windows 8 next week.
So far, I am really liking it and the Intuos 3 has been gathering dust for the past 7 days. It is very likely that I will sell the Intuos 3, UNLESS, I can’t fix the Photoshop issue.
Let’s see how it goes, more to follow.
Just as a reminder, the Monoprice is equipped with an UC Logic digitizer which is the digitizer used in the Yiynova MSP 19U, an impressive piece of hardware usually refered as the Cintiq killer
My trusted HP Pavillion DV7 laptop is still doing fine but I am really tempted to buy one of those new kick ass i7 processors with HD screen and Bluray player since the price have come down a lot lately. It would be sweet to learn Vray on that.
I had a look around but I am very happy with the HP brand and the new DV7 is so sexy that it became obvious it would be mine.
Here is the configuration I selected
You might be able to review the full specs at the following link
A second generation i7 with HD screen, 8gb ram, Bluray player for few bucks over $1,300. Not bad hey!
Just for kicks, I checked the online Apple store to see how much such a configuration would cost me on the dark side and I am now understanding why Apple corp has so much cash flow. At nearly $2,780 with the first generation i7 and no bluray player, the guys in Cupertino must be enjoying themselves by the pool. At more than double what the HP DV7 is going for, they are charging a nice premium for OSX.
Here is a screenshot of the specs
Jing is a really cool freeware from Techsmith that allows you to take screenshots or 5 minutes videos, add notes and automatically save them to your FTP server, Youtube, Facebook and other social website. In the process it also feeds your clipboard with the web server path information so you can share it with everyone immediately.
The compression is not always the strongest but it makes things so easy by automating entirely the whole process. It is a bit like Dropbox from what I understand, but without the privacy issues.
Here is a screenshot example using a great pantomime shot by Brad Kinley. No, no there is nothing wrong with your shot, that’s only an example Brad :-) I encourage everyone to check out his website, he has a great showreel and nice tutorials.
Setting up Jing to automatically copy the FTP information to the clipboard takes a bit of fiddling so I made a PDF to help you out.
Let’s face it, Apple doesn’t care about artists anymore. If they did, they would have released a Tablet PC many years ago. The closest thing you can get to a Tablet PC in the Apple world is Axiotron’s Modbook, a $1849, made to order portable Cintiq. Just for reference, the EP121, Asus latest slate Tablet PC sells for $1,100 with an i5 processor and 32Gb SSD hard drive.
I am a Tablet PC fanboy and I have owned 4 or 5 HP and Toshiba Tablets in the last 6 years but with my recent travels I had to cut down on the amount of electronic I carry with me. Currently I have in my bags a two years old mid range HP laptop (DV7) which I use as a workstation, and a Samsung N110 Netbook for my web browsing pdf reading and light computing.
With nearly 10 hours of battery, the netbook is great for train/plane trips but I am really missing digital sketching and a proper ebook reader like the Kindle would be awesome so what is the solution? Well Asus came up with a new device called the EEE Note or EA800.
So what is the deal with the EEE Note. The EEE Note is $200 only, can be recharged through a mini USB cable (no extra charger needed) works as an eBook reader and hides a Wacom board which makes it a great digital sketching software. It can sync with your PC and can also be used as a Wacom Tablet when connected to a Windows 7 computer.
Check out that really interesting post on TabletPC review
Asus EEE Note review by an artist. She also posted a video showing how to draw with the EEE Note.
The device doesn’t seem to be available outside Asia for the moment but if enough people show interest, they might change this.
I also wanted to talk about eBook readers today. My friend Richie just bought the $130 wifi version of Amazon’s kindle and it is a really sweet device. There is also a $180 3g version that could also take a huge market share thanks to its free 3G connection. Yes you read it right, there is no rip-off monthly fee but obviously that’s only to download books from the Amazon website or check Wikipedia.
I have had the silly idea of starting to read Leonardo Padura’s latest 600 pages novel and an ebook version would have been much easier to carry around, along with my other favourite books.
Also, if like me you tend to write a lot of notes or highlight text in your books this is not a problem for the Kindle supposedly. I was watching Tim Ferris latest random show and realised it is possible to highlight text on the Kindle and share this with your friends. Pretty cool I have to say.
So…. Kindle 2 or Asus EEE Note ;-)
Tablet PC category
Probably the best 30 minutes of procrastination you will spend this week.
Very interesting talk by quirky Carnegie Mellon University Professor, Jesse Schell on the unexpected success of Facebook and other products. What about getting an Xbox achievement brushing your teeth or being on time at work? With comedic timing, Jesse Schell demonstrate the power of External Rewards.
and on the same topic, check the official EpicMix website and the related Kotaku article.
Level up and unlock achievements pins by skiing in Colorado
Update May 08 2013/ I just installed version 18.104.22.168 and I am delighted to say that H264 files now loop but there is a big issue for us animators….. The audio feedback doesn’t work anymore when step framing!
Right let’s see if I have an older version on my hard drive.
If you don’t know about KMPlayer, you probably think that VLC IS the best player ever. Very wrong! VLC is alright, but KMPlayer is much better, especially if you happen to be an animator.
KMP is a Korean Windows Media player on Steroids. It has thousands of features but for animators, the ones that makes it standout are the following:
- Opens and play XVID/Divx footage frame by frame, forward and backward …. with sound feedback. Except Premiere, do you know any player that does that? This function alone makes it perfectly suited for troubleshooting lipsync.
- Plays H264 quicktimes
- Setup In and out points and loop between the two (A-B function)
- Takes automatic screenshots (great for generating colorscripts)
- Hotkeys that make sense! Space bar to toggle the playback, 1 to play in half size, 2 original and 3 double size.
- You can autohide the interface so only the video is visible
- You can loads as many videos as you want and have them all playing. Great to pretend you are the master of the univers.
I made a walkthrough as a PDF file. Check it out:
Direct download link
Last Windows Mobile post of the day.
I have considered buying an Iphone in the past but too many missing Windows default features made me buy a Windows Mobile phone instead. Some of those missing features are the full support and synchronisation of Outlook Notes and Calendar but more than anything is the lack of stable and well thought GTD application, fully integrated with Outlook. Pocket Informant is that one.
David Allen wrote a very good book about GTD and I don’t intend to rival with it in few lines. The only thing I will say is that if you are into GTD, Pocket Informant is a must! The software is huge but you shouldn’t have too much trouble operating it. There is also a free demo so give it a try and start filling up that Inbox and Next Action folder!
My next post will be on the free Flash supporting Windows Mobile browser: Skyfire. Stay tuned
Slide2Unlock is my second, well my first favourite Windows Mobile application.
That one is a Windows mobile lock screen on steroids and believe it or not….. IT IS FREE!!!!
On the surface it looks like an obvious Iphone lock screen rip-off but once you open the configuration panel, you realize that the software is an actual Power App that could be charged several dollars!
Not only it allows you to preview your text messages and email without unlocking the phone, it also allows you to display your appointments on the lock screen….. How cool is that?!?! No need to slide, unlock, launch any application, no need of any Jail breaking, all the necessary information is all there, right in front of you! Your phone has now become a true productivity tool.
Ah I forgot to mention something. There are hundreds of parametres you can play with but the best of all is once again the automatic trigger. I have set mine to the best Windows mobile GTD application: Pocket informant. but that one needs an other post.
I was supposed to write a long post about my new HTC HD2 but I feel that I need a bit more time to fully realise how wonderful that piece of hardware is.
I still need to talk about some great softwares available for it and one of those is G-Alarm.
G-Alarm is a really cool alarm app that should immediately win your hearth within the 10 days of the free trial.
For the price of two Lattés, you get a very convenient replacement for your probably ageing Alarm Clock Radio and since I have started using G-alarm, I have said good bye to my trusty 15 years old Sony “Dream machine” and so will you.
G-Alarm does a lot of cool things as you probably saw on their website. Mp3, Talking clock. tilt sensor support, Maze and other brain wakening games, but the only function that made it worth those 5 euros to me, was the fact that you can trigger any application and wake the phone up at the specified time, switching from Airplane to Mobile mode.
Since I am a great fan of Radio4 in the morning and I like to emerge from my sleep while listening to the news, the only thing I had to do was to make G-Alarm start the FMRadio.exe application!
Since I am back to Symbian and my Nokia N95, I have been hunting for similar application to the ones I am used to on Windows Mobile.
Nokia sport traker is awesome! That software (or Apps for the hipsters) is very easy to use, only requires few buttons pressing and saves all your datas to a calendar automatically so you can easily set targets and evaluate how close you are getting to your goals.
It is amazing how random the posts can be on this blog! Well it’s mine so I am free to post whatever I want ;-)
The HTC Touch HD is also known as Blackstone or T8282. This phone is an amazing piece of hardware and is still one of the best phones on the market.
[update] It came to my attention that some people didn’t fully read my post and thought I was in awe at what those kids did. This is not the case at all, read the full post! This was to illustrate that with very very little knowledge, some individuals could easily disrupt our daily routines. Very often what separates us from those “geeks” is a tiny bit of information. In that case just a bit of masking tape would do the trick I am assuming. There are so many fields of knowledge around us and it takes so much effort to stay in the loop that when choosing one path we are at the mercy of people who chose a different one.
[...] Read more
As an alternative to the clean and polished presentation on the concept of “Distraction in the work place” by David Allen, here is a great example of how micro-interruptions can get in the way of getting any work done featuring street photographer Estevan Oriol. Estevan established himself as a photographer using Los Angeles harsh light and gang culture as an inspiration. What I like the most about him is his motto: “gaining experience through practice”. Watch till the very end, distractions can be really … invasive ;-) (via Lowrider Supreme)
I just found that great Windows Mobile application. AE Button plus:
This application allows you to map any function to the different hardware buttons. Instead of only controlling the Volume, I have set the VolumeUp button to open the Task manager and the VolumeDown button to do ALT+Tab, both on double click.
The amount of possible combinations is amazing. AEB plus also recognizes triple press and long press. This application is definitely a must have. You could for example allocate the camera function to the hang up button which is great if like me you are using the default Windows Mobile UI.
Lifehacker.com posted such a good introduction to OneNote last year that I will just paraphrase them and add few more comments.
[...] Read more
What would you do if your computer decided not to restart? Few days ago my main HD decided not to restart, just when I was working on my new showreel. I normally have a pretty good System recovery strategy but since last time I reinstalled my system was 2 or 3 years ago, I wasn’t too sure if I had a backup. Luckily I had, so it was really easy to get back to a working desktop.
In the light of that, I have decided to share with you what is my “System recovery strategy”, maybe you will find something useful here.
Right now I don’t have time to go into too much detail so I am posting a version v1.0 which I will update if anyone is interested.
As usual I am using OneNote so here is the PDF:
Thanks to my coworker Matt, I discovered the free application Calendar+ for my Windows Mobile phone. It is free and it is really good when used with SBP Diary. The way I set up my Home/Today screen is to have Calendar + to display my calendar at the top of the screen and SBP Diary right underneath to display my Tasks.
I really like having my next “physical actions” in my calendar as I can easily track how long or when I accomplished a task but when I need to shift a series of “all day events”, then things become a bit more complicated. Anyway this new setup should be a bit more GTD so let see how it goes in the next few weeks.
Ah I am now displaying the SBP Diary tabs horizontally. It is good to have big buttons but they do take a lot of space….
Here are some screenshots I took with Ilium “Screen capture” freeware
After spending a bit of time around the net I finally replaced the default HTC Touchflow interface with the classic Windows Mobile 6.1 UI enhanced by a really cool add-on called SBP Diary. It is obviously not for everyone but personally I prefer to have my calendar/todo list on my home screen rather than shortcuts to softwares. The application is $20 and there is even a demo version on the website.
here is a list of freeware I find really useful:
Cathy: To organize your collection of CDs or DVD
Virtual Dub The swiss army knife of video compression, editing and capture
KMPlayer: probably the best media player for Windows, great for animators as you can scrub the timeline with the audio feedback
Timelapse photobooth: best timelapse webcam capture software
IrfanView: with Paint.net one of the lightest photoediting and screen capture software
WinSCP: FTP, SFTP freeware, that one has recently been recommended to me, I was using Leechftp until now
Syncback freeware: to synchronize files between computers/FTP
Windirstat: I spoke about that one some time ago. Visual disk usage statistic viewer
as some of you noticed, my blog was down for the past few days.
Like Keith Lango mentionned on his blog last month, WordPress is a great application but the hacking problem is a big issue which I am fed up fighting with. I was talking to Andrew Gordon few month ago and he was complaining about Splinedoctors issues as well.
I have successfully upgraded my WordPress application to 2.7 but WordPress is taking so much of my precious time that I might end up like Keith and go back to Blogger.