The smaller of the two VisTablet graphics pen tablets recently launched in the UK, the VisTablet Mini is aimed at photographers, designers, artists and educators looking for a cost-effective alternative to leading brand Wacom.
The Original VisTablet, with a large 10 x 6.25in drawing surface, costs £113.49. The VisTablet Mini is a more compact 3 x 5in and around £40 cheaper but it seems less competitively priced than its big brother when compared to the entry level Bamboo range from Wacom.
That said, VisTablet is to be applauded for offering some competition in a market that's dominated by one brand. As with the Original VisTablet, the VisTablet Mini performs perfectly well once an issue with the Mac drivers is resolved by downloading the latest drivers online.
Build is solid yet slim, and lightweight enough to slip into most laptop bags if you need a pen tablet on the move or are simply pressed for space. With 1,024 levels of pen sensitivity you can start to get the best of many creative applications. The pen itself relies on a battery, which is a little fiddly to fit and bulks the barrel out a bit, though not so much that you'll struggle to make your mark. An alternative VisTablet Dolphin Pen, along with pen nib replacements, are available although both have yet to appear on the EU specific store.
With 12 programmable macro keys for customisation you can adjust settings and create useful shortcuts in favourite applications. The Mini performed well with a range of applications, although some seemed more responsive then others. Handwriting recognition and email signing only appears to work in Windows Vista.
The tablet’s settings launch each time you turn on your Mac, even when the tablet is unplugged, which needs to be addressed.
The Mini could do with a design overhaul and lose the appearance that the tablet was specifically aimed at a less discerning PC user. The VisTablet range comes with a commendable two-year warranty and 30-day money back guarantee.
(In the UK the VisTablet Original and VisTablet Mini are distributed by Douglas Stewart EDU.)
Unless size is an issue the bigger, better Original VisTablet offers more space and comfort for your money, although both offer similar solid if not outstanding performance. Competition drives innovation so let's hope VisTablet takes the Mac market seriously and develops a tablet that best complements your desktop or laptop.