View Full Version : low end graphics tablets

10-06-2015, 02:30 PM
I was given a free $90 I can use at BestBuy and nowhere else. This I realized is enough to acquire a low end graphics tablet. They have various Wacom Intuos tablets at roughly that price point, but they also have some other brands I'd never heard of before: Monoprice, Adesso, and Penpower. Does anyone have recent experience with these? I found some ancient references in the archives but they're way too old to rely on, and they didn't say much anyways.

My other question is whether the difference between low end and midrange Wacoms is significant for the work you manage to get done, if you've tried both. The midrange seems to go from 1024 to 2048 levels of pressure, and seems to read the tilt of the pen, whereas the low end ones don't claim that.

My background: despite being a 3d graphics programmer and being theoretically capable of writing the software you use to do your art stuff, I have no digital art experience at all. My background is entirely in traditional media. This is a circumstance that has gone on for 20 years. Lately I've been trying to do something about it, although I've been approaching it from the 3d modeling and rendering side of things rather than 2d digital arts. I did have a Wacom Graphire tablet eons ago, and in the real world I never used it for any art at all. I never learned how to do anything artistic with it and it ended up being a glorified mousepad in the end, since it came with a mouse.

Another consideration are the 3 old laptops I own, all of which have 2007..2008 era Intel Core2 Duo CPUs. They're not bad machines but they're not particularly powerful by current standards either, and they don't have so much RAM. They've got 2GB, 3GB, and 4GB. Their graphics cards are nothing to write home about, ranging from cheesy integrated graphics stuff to a decent 3d card back in its day but it's quite old now.

My realistic choices are getting a low end something or other tablet, or not getting anything at all and finding another use for the money. I'd do the latter if I thought the experience of the thing was likely to be pointless.

10-06-2015, 03:35 PM
Why can't you just spend more? $90 is hardly any money these days.
I'm making my living from art so it's important enough to me to spend up to $1700 or maybe even more for a perfect tablet computer that I can draw on.
I have a medium size wacom intuos5 tablet that I paid $300 for. I haven't tried one of those much cheaper ones. Why don't you look on youtube for reviews.

10-06-2015, 03:49 PM
Why can't you just spend more? $90 is hardly any money these days.

I live out of my car and my current finances do not allow for that. Any "big" expenditure I make is going to go towards a modern computer with real 3d HW, and I'm trying to kick that one down the road as far as I can.

I'm making my living from art so it's important enough to me to spend up to $1700 or maybe even more for a perfect tablet computer that I can draw on.

I'm not. Even the last time I did computer programming contract work back in 2007..2008, I only spent $1200 on a machine.

Why don't you look on youtube for reviews.

A decent idea. One difficulty though is the question of calibration. Who has really used both, in a serious way? Who can really say "yeah, it makes a difference" vs. "no, it made no difference" ? I guess I could try reading the longish, previously stickied thread in this forum's archive about tablets, to see if anyone had any claims to make about low vs. midrange tablets. Also whether the claimed pressure sensitivity levels have changed, if the low end represents what used to be midrange and so forth.

10-07-2015, 04:17 AM
I don't think you will go far wrong with the Wacom tablets, they work with everything.

Have you seen the Parka Blog (http://www.parkablogs.com/tags/drawing-tablet-reviews)on tablets?


10-07-2015, 10:06 AM
I've used the small, lower end Wacom's for 20 years now. They have served me well, and have been very reliable. I do a lot of painting in Artrage that end up looking like traditional work. I also like to use it at times working on photo touchups and very delicate photoshop work. Some people prefer drawing direct to the screen, on an iPad or a cintque. The cintques have always just been beyond my budget and I tried an iPad and don't like painting on it, I prefer my low end wacom. The smaller size fits on my desk, and sometimes I like to sit and draw with it in my lap, as I would with a small pad of paper.
My current one, I only bought a few months ago. I also had the Intuos that came with a mouse and a pen. I dropped the mouse about a year ago and rendered it unusable, and then lost a piece of the pen. This one is touch sensitive, so it can be used like a touch pad on a laptop, or with the pen. That I'm still unsure about at time, as sometimes the heal of my hand randomly makes my canvas tilt, but the lowest end tablet came with a pen without an eraser tip.

10-07-2015, 11:46 AM
Yes, you would need a good computer. I would save up for that first and start with a cheaper tablet. As long as you have some pressure sensitivity I think you will enjoy using it. Tilt is nice but that also depends on the program you use.

10-07-2015, 01:08 PM
Have you seen the Parka Blog (http://www.parkablogs.com/tags/drawing-tablet-reviews)on tablets?

Hadn't. They're useful. I've also read a lot of Amazon reviews now. I've been looking for art forums that talk about tablets, and I've found some, but their commentary hasn't crystallized into useful info yet. I need to put a bit more effort into that.

Some general principles have emerged though. The entry level tablets all have 1024 levels of pressure nowadays and people get real work done on those just fine. Maybe 2048 is better but 1024 is definitely good in many people's estimate. 2048 can be had on the low end though, for instance some of the Monoprice tablets offer it.

I haven't seen pen tilt sensitivity in any of the low end graphics tablets. Looking like one would have to live without this.

Some of the cheaper tablets are rebrands of other companies. The Monoprice tablets seem to be liked, and seem to have tech specs equal to much more expensive Wacom tablets. Their build quality, fit and finish, might have problems in some cases but many people have no complaints about their units in that regard. It's just a die roll, as with anything cheaper coming from China in my opinion.

The quality is good enough that various people are wondering if Wacoms aren't just seriously overpriced for what they offer. I'll hazard a guess that it may be one of these "do you trust your job to that?" business phenomena. It's the sort of thing I'd like to see more commentary about, from working artists in other web forums. Especially, artists mainly interested in simulating traditional media, not photo retouchers.

I'm guessing my old laptop CPUs can handle a graphics tablet. 4GB RAM is enough to do real work, according to someone who was reviewing the use of tablet computers for art production. Drawing on them uses a lot of battery power, you're not going to get those claimed 13 hours of life. You'll be back to the old school of a tablet computer or laptop giving you 2..3 hours of life. Anything that does lots of graphics stuff is going to be that way, it's the same situation for mobile gaming. The really long battery lives are achieved by turning off all kinds of graphics stuff, and you can't do that when you're fully exercising all your graphics stuff.

Some have mentioned that matching your tablet ratio to your screen ratio is worthwhile, so as not to waste the active area of the tablet. For instance all my laptops are widescreen format, ratio 1.6. So a 10" x 6.25" would be appropriate for me.

One thing I'd worry about right now, that may not be a problem months from now, is how well Windows 10 driver support works. I haven't found any specific horror stories yet, but I am expecting to.

People who try using tablet computers rather than standalone graphics tablets have to get used to drawing on glass, which offers no resistance and is hard to control. Standalone tablets typically have roughed surfaces to provide a resistance more like a toothed paper. Tablet computers also do poorly in direct sunlight, they get washed out. The styluses that come with the tablet computer, or that are purchased separately, may have quite a lot less levels of pressure sensitivity. For instance the Samsung Galaxy stylus only had 256. According to what I've read about more ancient tablets, that's definitely quite a noticeable downgrade compared to 512 or 1024. People may still do their art with these tools regardless, but my attitude is like, c'mon, I can get a 10" x 6.5" Monoprice with 2048 levels for $67 from BestBuy. It's not direct drawing on an image, but I've already got the laptops, and the dedicated tablet has better tooth. It's more sun tolerant because I don't have to align the drawing surface and the monitor the same way. For a plein air painter that can matter.

10-09-2015, 05:17 AM
I find that I'm worried about Monoprice's driver support for Windows 10, as their latest available driver predates the release of 10. They also don't have any kind of support forum for people to talk about their experiences.

I'm worried that various digital painting programs are going to be grossly inferior to acrylic and canvas. I'm not sure I actually want a new medium to get into right now. But at least I have some demo programs to try out.

01-05-2018, 02:19 PM
2+ years later, I am reopening this project. Windows 10 is a lot more mainstream now. Another thing that's changed, is I'm a lot more concerned nowadays about my artwork being archival. As in, capable of lasting for centuries. Digital artwork meets that standard, provided one is deadly serious about backups.

Reading the forum archives, the open source painting software known as Krita (https://krita.org/en/) seems to be reasonably well regarded. I found someone's YouTube review of it and 4 other free (but not necessarily open source) programs, and it was claimed to be better than the competition in most categories. I won't bother linking the video, lest the link go stale in the future, or be irrelevant as various softwares develop. The important point is I'm evaluating Krita as my possible primary drawing program. That includes evaluating the degree to which I can understand and modify its code base.

Krita has a list of supported tablets (https://docs.krita.org/List_of_Tablets_Supported). Monoprice is not among them; most models are "Unknown" whether they work, and one is designated as "Reported to work with some issues".

Various Huion tablets are "Supported" and almost all of the others are "Supposed to work". Huion was called out specifically on one of their application download links as supported, along with Wacom, Yiynova, and Microsoft Surface Pro. You may or may not see that info on the download link, as I'm seeing different text on different computers, perhaps due to ad blockers on my computers vs. my Mom's. Huion is also reasonably well represented in the WetCanvas forum archives, so I now consider it "mainstream competition" to Wacom.

I am currently testing Krita on 3 different computers using an old crufty Wacom Graphire tablet from the stone ages. I'm surprised it actually works, although one does need to use the legacy Windows 7 driver. On 2 laptops of 2008 vintage, the lag is bad enough for me to consider it unusable. In particular, the end of a brush stroke does not "lift off" at the end. Starting the stroke is ok, but the end becomes an abrupt round dot, not a human made mark. I think it just doesn't know that I was continuing my movement with a lift.

I will try to determine whether the lag is due to the ancient Graphire hardware itself, its driver, the computer I'm using it on, or Krita. I do have access to a much more recent, beefier machine, so I'll know something about how the computer affects performance soon enough. Krita also has a benchmark suite in its source repository, so I'll figure out how to run it. I will find some other program to try, to see if I see the same "lag at end of stroke" in all apps.

The Graphire tablet is small, 4"x6". The stylus moves the mouse with absolute movement on the computer screen. I find this completely unnatural and highly objectionable. I find my wrist straining to draw and reach needed icons, in ways that I would never need to do with a standard mouse with relative movement. I'm guessing that a bigger tablet would make the problem even worse.

If I was drawing on paper, or painting on a canvas, one hand would be holding the pencil or brush. The other might be steadying the surface, or moving it around, or doing nothing. I'm not sure to what degree "awkward surface placement" is a problem here. I'm thinking possibly a tablet should be braced, in a sloped upright position, in the manner of an easel. I don't recall reading about anyone doing that, unless of course it's a display tablet. Maybe artists who "get really into it" have typically just spent a chunk of money to get a display tablet, and never thought to put a cheaper tablet on an easel.

So far I have not found the indirect aspect, of looking at one thing and using my hand somewhere else, to be objectionable. That may be the martial artist in me. However I have also not yet tried to work terribly accurately. I have read about people objecting to the silhouettes of various styluses, because they can get in the way of accurately perceiving the pen tip. I suspect as an artist I'll probably be far less worried about that, and far more worried about whether the brushstrokes have textural quality like paint does. The lack of lift on the end stroke, is a complete dealbreaker, totally unacceptable for making Art.

01-07-2018, 11:44 AM
Digital painting can be close to natural media, but probably could never be exactly the same. My struggle is often with trying to make digital brushes behave like real ones. You just have to find a different way sometimes, or find the right brush and the right settings.

Sounds like that's what you want in a program, is a more natural experience. Maybe try Artrage, I think it's reasonably priced.

Since you do draw and paint with natural media I'm surprised that the way a stylus works bothers you. Maybe you need to tell yourself that you are using a pencil, not a mouse. If you were drawing on a piece of paper you wouldn't be thinking that a mouse would reach the corner faster, right?

Of course, that is why they make different sizes of tablets. I do tend to draw from the wrist but I went with a medium Intuos because it had more buttons. Many people use keyboard shortcuts while they paint but I find that awkward and I like have some controls on the tablet, like undo and redo. I have the other buttons set for shift and pan. And the "wheel" for changing brush size.

I used to hold my tablet on my lap but now I usually have it sitting on my desk. Works for me. But that is with the indirect type tablet. If you have one with a screen I suppose propping it up would be a good idea.

Digital art probably brings up more questions than any other media lol. At least for me it does, I have spent a lot time figuring things out and making decisions.

01-07-2018, 11:59 AM
Check out the program Rebelle, which is designed to behave like watercolours.


01-07-2018, 02:12 PM
Maybe you need to tell yourself that you are using a pencil, not a mouse. If you were drawing on a piece of paper you wouldn't be thinking that a mouse would reach the corner faster, right?

But I'm not actually making a mark on the drawing surface. My right hand is on a small 4"x5" graphics tablet. The mark appears on the computer screen, and my eyes are on the computer screen. It is far more like using a mouse, although if the hardware and driver were better, it could be higher precision input. Mice don't respond to pressure, for instance.

I am learning that historical driver and Application Programming Interface (API) issues are very likely my performance problem. There's some old crufty thing called WinTab from the stone ages. There are some more modern things called Windows Ink and Windows Pen Input API. The latter term may not be exactly correct, but whatever it is, it requires modern driver support that I don't have. WinTab is known to create lag, due to the way the driver inserts itself into the processing stream.

So, my old Wacom Graphire is really only useful for assessing whether various programs have acceptable natural media tools or not. Which is an important drill to go through.

Of course, that is why they make different sizes of tablets.
I am concerned that since I use 2 laptops exclusively, I have the quirk of the keyboard being in the way, of where I would otherwise naturally put the drawing surface. A big graphics tablet sitting in front of a desktop monitor, with a full sized keyboard shoved off to the side of the desk, makes sense to me. A laptop on my lap, with the keyboard taking up space, and a big graphics tablet off to the right side in the manner of a mousepad, does not make sense to me. Nor do I like the idea of the big tablet in front of the keyboard, as that puts the laptop screen even farther away from my nose.

I can imagine using various stands or display arms, to put the laptop above a large tablet. Making such a device portable for use in the field could be a bit tricky, but in principle, it's making a kind of "display easel". I'd probably lose easy access to the keyboard. I could poke at 1 key, but certainly couldn't type.

I could carry around an external monitor, or even a small desktop computer. But these add bulk and expense, and in the real world of working mobile, would probably get old fast.

Just tried: surprisingly, sticking my "candidate" laptop on an old aluminum table display easel, seems to work fine. It gets the screen more in my face and the keyboard out of the way. It could tip, and I might want to reinforce the back leg with a heavy weight, but the stability is not too bad. I think it helps that the laptop in question was more of the "lightweight business class" style laptop of yesteryear, rather than some heavier clunkier thing. So yes, I could in fact have a full sized drawing surface sitting in front of me if I want it.

Just tried: a lightweight steel field easel also works for holding up the laptop in midair. I can even type on the keyboard! For such a setup, the only additional equipment I'd need is a chair. The laptop does have to sit at a pronounced 45 degree angle in the clamp. The clamp is long and designed for vertical use with paintings, so I have a big steel "knocking hazard" poking out the back. This could be solved with a shorter piece for the clamp. The laptop otherwise sits on the center of gravity of the tripod and is fairly stable though. I clamped to the actual body of the laptop, leaving the screen free to move.

With either of these arrangements, the real worry would be the knocking / falling hazard, getting one's laptop smashed up. That means you stay away from tourists while working on mountain tops, for instance. Surprisingly, it's not the unruly children you have to watch out for. They tend to be nimble and not knock into stuff. It's the out of shape slob adults that don't know what they're doing with their bodies.

01-12-2018, 04:01 PM
I will try to determine whether the lag is due to the ancient Graphire hardware itself, its driver, the computer I'm using it on, or Krita.

I decided that trying everything on the same hardware, but a completely different operating system, would help me figure this out.

I got Linux Mint 18.3 Cinnamon 64-bit working on an 8 GB USB stick. For this to work on my laptop, the USB stick had to be treated like an ordinary permanent hard drive. I installed from a DVD onto the USB, using an ext4 file system, and writing the boot loader onto the USB stick. The Windows 10 installation on my machine, I left completely untouched. If I boot with the USB stick in, I get Linux. If I boot without it, I get Windows 10, no change.

People make so-called "persistent USB" sticks using the Casper file system, but these did not work on my 10 year old laptop. Performance was terrible, my cursor would freeze every 5 seconds and then jump somewhere else. I thought I lacked an Alps touchpad driver, but that was not the case. A preponderance of the evidence says that the Casper file system performance is just really really bad. Everything magically got better when I did the "full install" using the ext4 file system. YMMV.

The "full install" method also enabled me to use the full 8GB on the USB stick. Otherwise with those Casper "persistent USB" sticks, you are limited to 4GB unless you perform heroics. And none of those heroics actually ended up working on current Linux distros.

This USB stick may only work on this 1 laptop. That's ok though, as I only have 1 laptop that I think is worthy of using for digital painting. It happens to have a bright screen. The graphics hardware is inferior but Krita 3.3.2 does seem to be decently usable anyways, at least under Linux. My jury is out on Windows 10 due to lag issues.

The goal of the exercise was to find out if my ancient Wacom Graphire tablet has better driver support on Linux than Windows 10. It's possible, because the driver model has changed on Windows over the years, and nobody's working on commercial drivers for Graphire anymore. Whereas, in the Linux world they may have kept maintaining and improving even the really old stuff.

So how is it? Seems like it might be better and not have lag.

However, it's too soon to tell. I'm not familiar or comfortable with Krita or any other painting package on any platform. I also have some doubt that I'm going to be. Seems like an awful lot of indirection and futzing, i.e. more time to actually get anything done, than a pencil or pen on paper.

And paint, well, it may be an apples and oranges comparison. Per another thread, I'm not expecting anything from Krita as far as natural media simulation goes, because they've explicitly disclaimed any interest in such simulation. They believe in "painting" but by that they mean digital painting. Which is its own beast that I'm only just starting to learn about. I may end up deciding it's grossly inferior and say to heck with that.

What is the hardware performance of an ancient entry level Wacom Graphire tablet actually like? I did some research on the tech specs, compared to current products. And what humans are actually capable of sensing and doing. This old tablet may not be as much of a clunker as one would think, given proper drivers. I hope I can try out a "better" tablet sometime so that I have that basis of comparison.

For now, I think "scribbling" and "dinking around with the application features and settings" is what I'm capable of. Hopefully that will give me enough of an idea whether there should be a next stage of the project. "This looks like a good idea to spend time on" vs. "you gotta be kidding me".

01-12-2018, 04:30 PM
Did you see the comparison videos made by Parka Blogs and Alan Rutten?


01-12-2018, 06:52 PM
I haven't. Doing some web searching, I'm supposing that's Parka Blogs (https://www.parkablogs.com/) and Aaron Rutten (http://www.aaronrutten.com/). And that they didn't do some video together, but each have their own videos. I'll see what I can find, unless you have a specific one to recommend.

Parka Blogs has a truly vast number of reviews to get through. He has a summary article, Best Tablets for Artists (https://www.parkablogs.com/content/best-tablets-artists-my-recommendations). I find that information somewhat basic and a bit suspicious in some instances, because he's pitching Artisul, and I thought I read elsewhere, that their drivers are truly horrid. There's a bunch of "knockoff" manufacturers who don't do any real work on drivers and some feel they should be avoided like the plague. Might have been the Krita developers, where I read such opinions. Anyways whatever the truth is, it would take me quite awhile to get through all his review materials.

I see that Aaron Rutten is actually selling (https://kit.com/aaronrutten/drawing-tablets) graphics tablets, and all of his favorites are Wacom. Now maybe he's had good, practical reasons to arrive at that state of affairs, but at a glance that doesn't smell like objective information. I will look for videos where he compares different tablets. I definitely wouldn't go to school on anyone's list of all Wacom products. Yes they have their strengths but my research has also identified some weaknesses, and ways that other products do better in some areas. I'm not convinced there's a black and white picture that Wacom is always better.

01-12-2018, 06:54 PM
Look at their Youtube playlists, you should be able to pick out useful videos.


01-17-2018, 03:57 AM
I have used top end and latest Wacom tablets, Intuos models and gave up. I was not even able to download the drivers for the latest intuos supplied model last month, Wacom support via mail was useless to me and even a local IT business was not successful, perhaps its my computer set up !!! ?

(W7pro, gigabyte motherboard and HDMI to a 40"tv. might be the problem)

Huion I tried and the drivers would also not update.

I am using an old Bamboo pen and tablet (Wacom) basic and using the original DVD install disk and not touching any drivers on the web page.
Fastened a sheet of basic typing paper on top of the tablet because the pen slides too much for me and have the system laying on my lap using a reclining chair. (I am plus 80 :) )

So that is my experience.

01-17-2018, 07:03 AM
Your computer setup sounds unusual and I cannot comment usefully on that.

Did you know that you can get replacement surfaces to stick on to the Wacom tablets in various levels of roughness? If you find your surface too smooth then maybe you could get a rougher one. I find mine too rough so I will buy a smoother one from Amazon in due course :)

I applaud anybody who can manage this stuff at plus 80 age!!

01-17-2018, 10:54 AM
(W7pro, gigabyte motherboard and HDMI to a 40"tv. might be the problem)

Doesn't sound like all that unusual a system, although I don't know what kind of support or testing resources companies are giving to Windows 7 anymore. Sounds like possibly, not much!

You might have better luck on Windows 10, if your machine can handle it. I've got 2 rather old laptops running Windows 10, they're from 2008. I was surprised that they worked, and I can't say it was trouble free to get them to work. I had to find old Windows 8 drivers in several instances, for my touchpad in one case, for my integrated graphics in another case. One of the recent Windows 10 updates also messed up that careful work on the graphics driver, so I had to learn some black magic to tell Windows "never change this again, ever". Now things are fine. Just thought I'd give full disclosure on what's like to get a really old computer working with Windows 10. Definitely needed a few tech skills.

If your machine is fairly recent though, like less than 5 years old, I'm betting you can run Windows 10 with no problems. My Mom's computer is like that.

I don't see that a HDMI cable to a TV makes any difference. That's just whatever your graphics card wants to do. Has nothing inherently to do with a Wacom tablet. Unless you're talking about a Cintiq or other kind of "displaying" graphics tablet. But you said Intuos which is a "plain old tablet".

Sounds like they did a crap job / didn't test how it works on Windows 7. The underlying driver models have changed since then; there's this new "Windows Ink" thing. That's why I tried out Linux, to get away from the older driver problems. My computer can do it, but the Wacom Graphire doesn't have a driver on Windows that can do it.

01-18-2018, 03:42 AM

Thanks for all your comments.

The hdmi and motherboard problem (gigabyte 970A-D3) is that I cannot get into BIOS (a reported problem on web) hence I cannot get the Windows 7 reboot disk to set up to boot from disk option.
Problem this causes, I cannot have a clean W7 and most probably cannot even attempt to upgrade to W10 although I have never attempted anyway.

Waiting to get in the mood to spend some dosh on a new computer.

01-18-2018, 04:08 AM
The hdmi and motherboard problem (gigabyte 970A-D3) is that I cannot get into BIOS (a reported problem on web) hence I cannot get the Windows 7 reboot disk to set up to boot from disk option.

I've gotten past that sort of problem by looking at the boot order, and using whatever will actually boot, if anything. For instance, if you can boot from a USB stick, it's possible to put a Windows installer on the stick and use that. On one of my machines, I'm locked out of the BIOS because it's an inherited machine. I had to physically remove the DVD drive or the hard drive or something, to do the install, or to try to get the BIOS back, I forget what.

The Belarc Advisor (http://www.belarc.com/products_belarc_advisor) tool can give you a readout of your machine's boot order.

If I wanted to spend enough time on the phone with HP, they could give me a tool that would get my BIOS unlocked. I got halfway through that process once, but I lacked a cell phone at the time. I had to leave the place where I had phone access, and that screwed up my interaction with the tech support. Subsequently I've installed Windows 10, so it's not entirely easy to run tools designed for Windows 7, I think. I've just been working my way around the problem. It's rarely a problem, but occasionally I wish I had put this thing right.

Some BIOSes are hackable. Some guy claimed to have a tool that could hack my BIOS, but he wanted money for it and offered no guarantees. So I didn't bother. Some BIOSes have lists of known default passwords, or can be reset with various motherboard tricks. My BIOS, unfortunately, is "damn secure" because it's a HP business class laptop. Foiling corporate espionage is considered a feature.

01-18-2018, 04:19 AM
Thanks again Bevanevery

01-22-2018, 03:26 AM
I am running Windows7 now. I have a Huion 1060Pro+ tablet now. The only problem I am having with it is the pen had a rechargeable battery that won't hold a charge anymore. I ordered a new pen that takes a AAA Battery.
I also just purchased a Wacom Bamboo tablet. It is the model that is going out of style now so it was only about $50. I downloaded the drivers from the website. You only need to look for driver downloads for whatever you want.
I would recommend either the Wacom tablet ( the best one you can afford) or a Genius tablet. The Genius tablet takes a standard battery and works fine also.
I think Wacom is the best though it does cost a bit more than the China ones.