If you want a portable tablet pc for Toon Boom animation, here is very interesting option: The Samsung Ativ SmartPC Pro 700T.
First: This is not designed to replace your desktop PC with a Wacom Cintiq or tablet interface. You will always need the horsepower and precision of a good workstation with a high quality graphics and drawing tablet.
But what about being away from your desk? What if you want to sit on a shaded porch and draw? Perhaps you are killing time in an airport or doctor’s office when a moment of inspiration strikes. If you need something for those moments away from your desk when you want to produce material instead of simply consuming content, this is the machine for you!
The basics: This is a 1080p resolution tablet that inserts into a keyboard or runs alone. The operating system is Windows 8 on an Intel core i5 processor. The surface features touch AND A WACOM SURFACE WITH A PEN!
When inserted into its keyboard, it looks and feels like an Ultrabook or a slightly heavier Macbook Air.
So, here is the bottom line:
Why is this great for Toon Boom animation?
1. Wacom screen and pen allow you to draw directly into Harmony or Animate software.
2. The Samsung 700T is the only detachable tablet with “wintab” drivers to allow you to use other drawing software. (Note: Harmony and Animate from ToonBoom do not require these drivers.)
3. High resolution screen gives lots of workspace even for a small space.
4. Decent pen accuracy. Some have complained, but I see no issues.
5. Compact and 5 hour battery life (I got a bit more in my use).
6. At $999 you will not find anything like this on the market for animating.
Why would you pause and be unsatisfied with this?
1. ToonBoom Studio does not work well on this machine.
2. Earlier models had a finicky keyboard attachment which seems to be fixed in current models.
3. A high resolution screen requires more graphics power. Complex scenes in Harmony with complicated backgrounds or sets had to be “dumbed down” to do lip-synch and action refinement. This is easy to accomplish, though it reminds you the device is not a powerful desktop.
4. The pen is small and should be used only as a backup. Spend the extra $35 and get a bigger Samsung pen.
1. Windows 8 is less frustrating on a touch screen, but is still a tough transition from Windows 7 or earlier.
Other models to consider
1. Surface Pro from Microsoft was actually the favorite from the Toon Boom staff. The included pen is better and they reported better accuracy. Note that other reviewers have disagreed on the pen accuracy issue. Surface Pro does not have “wintab” drivers, which is not a Toon Boom problem. Surface Pro is a bit more expensive.
2. The Fujitsu Tablet PC’s are good (T902), but have lower resolution and are a lot heavier. The Lenovo X230T tablet PC is also excellent, but is heavier, more expensive and has poor edge accuracy with the pen. In general, traditional tablet PC’s without a detachable screen can cost twice as much as the Samsung or Surface Pro.
When the Macbook Air and later Windows Ultrabooks were introduced, my comment at the time was: Very cool! It still needs a pen, Wacom screen and more robust graphics to be perfect.
The latest release of Intel integrated graphics is now sufficient to run Toon Boom software. Now, the Ativ Smart PC Pro 700T from Samsung and the Surface Pro from Microsoft finally add the Wacom screen and pen.
A decent portable animating platform has arrived!