The 5 Best Tablets For Photoshop

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Best Tablets For Photoshop

While many artists utilize Photoshop on their computers, it’s hard to beat the portability and touch-screen convenience of a tablet. When shopping for the best tablets for Photoshop, you’ll first need to decide if you’re shopping for a tablet computer (which runs the Photoshop app directly on the device) or a drawing tablet (which acts as a secondary drawing accessory for your computer). If it’s the former, access to the Photoshop app is obviously the most important factor — but you’ll also want to consider screen size, speed, storage, and accessory compatibility. For drawing tablets, consider computer connectivity and features (like high-quality pressure sensitivity and a vivid display) which make for a more realistic drawing experience.

For Tablet Computers:

Photoshop versions: Most app stores allow you to download some version of the Adobe Photoshop app — but certain versions are limited. Your app store (and therefore your Photoshop version) will be dependent on the operating system your tablet runs on. Windows operating systems usually allow access to the full version of Photoshop, while Apple operating systems allow a version that’s not as comprehensive as a computer version but likely enough for most. Androids, on the other hand, only have an “Express” version that’s suitable for minor photo editing, so I’ve skipped Android tablets below.

Screen Size: Tablet screens are measured diagonally from opposite corners. When using their tablet for art, most people prefer a bigger screen. That said, the bigger a tablet, the less portable it will be — so if you travel or commute often, you might want to opt for a smaller size.

Speed: Like computers, tablets use data called RAM (random access memory) to run programs quickly and seamlessly. The higher the number, the faster your tablet will run — and since Photoshop is a pretty data-demanding program, making sure you get more RAM will make a big difference in making sure it runs smoothly.

Storage: Since you’re working with potentially large media files, you’ll need plenty of room to store them. Storage is measured in GB (gigabytes) or, in some cases, the even larger T (terabytes). Again, the higher the number, the more storage your device has.

Accessory Compatibility: Finally, most high-end tablets have compatible styluses and keyboards that help them to function more like computers. These accessories can be especially convenient when it comes to using Photoshop to its full potential.

For Drawing Tablets:

Compatibility: Since drawing tablets connect to your existing computer to provide a digital work surface, you’ll need to make sure it’s compatible. That includes both the connectivity hookups (what kinds of ports/cords are used) and the operating system compatibility.

Pressure Levels: In order to feel and function like a real pen or pencil, styluses for drawing tablets use varying pressure levels so that the harder you press, the darker the line. For this, you’ll want somewhere around 8,000 different pressure levels (like most well-reviewed options below), along with tilt recognition, which allows you to use the side of the pencil for shading purposes.

Display: A vivid display makes a big difference for drawing tablets, and you’ll likely want one that features at least a 72% color gamut (the spectrum of colors that the device can represent) and a full HD 1920 by 1080 pixel resolution (the number of pixels that make up a display).

Whether you’re looking for a computer tablet or a drawing tablet, these are the best options for use with Photoshop.

The Best Computer Tablets For Photoshop

1. The Best Microsoft Tablet

The Microsoft Surface line has access to the full Photoshop app and combines that with the functionality of a laptop with the portability of a tablet, and the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 with an Intel Core i7 is no exception. The 16GB of RAM and high-quality graphics also make it a great option for those who use Photoshop. It also has a terabyte of storage for plenty of large images. (While not included, you can separately purchase the compatible Microsoft Surface Pen and the Microsoft Pro Signature keyboard cover to expand your tablet’s functionality.)

Screen Size: 12.3 inches | Operating System: Windows 10 | Storage: 1TB (also available in 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB) | RAM: 16GB (also available in 4GB and 8GB) | Battery Life: 10.5 hours

One reviewer wrote: “The Microsoft Surface line is still the best tablet for folks who need to use full desktop packages on the go. Pricing is similar to the iPad Pro series (once you get the keyboards and stylus for each), but you are getting a full desktop experience here. [...] Light gaming is possible with the i7 Iris graphics, and you can do work with both Photoshop and Lightroom without spending too much more time than on your main machine.”

2. The Best Apple Tablet For Photoshop

The 2020 version of the Apple iPad Pro has been called by reviewers “an artist’s dream” with “wonderful pen sensitivity” and “no lag running Adobe Photoshop.” Unfortunately, it’s currently unavailable on Amazon — but the 2021 Apple iPad Pro has all of the same features with some noteworthy improvements. The Apple M1 chip boosts speed and performance when using demanding apps (like Photoshop), while the Liquid Retina XDR display is even more brilliant and vivid than before, so you can view and edit content at higher brightness and contrast levels. Other Photoshop-friendly features include a roomy 12.9-inch screen, compatibility with the Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard (sold separately), and storage options of up to 2T to save all of your media. (Get it with or without cellular connectivity.)

Screen Size: 12.9 inches | Operating System: iPadOS | Storage: 256 GB (also available in 128GB, 512GB, 1T, and 2T) | RAM: 8GB | Battery Life: approximately 10 hours

One reviewer wrote: “Simply the best tablet you can get right now. This is a tablet meant for professionals and students IMO. [...] I'm using this for video editing, photo editing, graphic design, and using it when going for my second college degree to take notes and help with everything else in between.”

3. The Best Budget Option

Even though it costs less than $700, the Lenovo Flex two-in-one device has been called a “good budget-friendly laptop” and “great for artists.” Since it’s slim, lightweight, and folds flat, it’s portable enough for use as a tablet — but the 360-degree hinge keyboard allows you to use it as a touchscreen laptop as well. You’ll find a Windows 10 operating system, vivid Radeon graphics, and an included Lenovo stylus, all of which work well for Photoshop. With a 14-inch screen, it is the largest computer tablet on this list.

Screen Size: 14 inches | Operating System: Windows 10 | Storage: 256 GB | RAM: 16GB | Battery Life: 10 hours

One reviewer wrote: “Overall, this is a great laptop. It's quick and handles demanding software well (Photoshop, Illustrator, SketchUp). It feels sturdy and well made. [...] If you plan to use the touchscreen for digital art, you may find it lacking. While it does sense pen pressure, it's not as responsive as a dedicated drawing tablet. I also find that the beginning and end of lines don't always register. It's possible that a different pen or different settings could help. Still, the screen is useful for basic sketching.”

The Best Drawing Tablets For Photoshop

1. The Overall Best Drawing Tablet

With more than 2,500 reviews and an overall rating of 4.7 stars, the Wacom Cintiq 16 is considered one of the best drawing tablets on the market and it certainly works well for Photoshop, too. It connects to your Windows or Mac computer using an HDMI cable. From there, its 15.6-inch screen allows you to create with over 16 million different colors, while the included Macon Pro Pen 2 provides a natural drawing experience with more than 8,000 pressure levels, tilt recognition, and amazing precision. Finally, it has a few drawing-friendly features most tablets don’t, like foldable incline legs and an anti-glare coating for a pen-to-paper feel.

Screen Size: 15.6 inches (also available in 21.5 inches) | Connectivity Technology: HDMI | Compatible Operating Systems: Windows and Mac | Pressure Sensitivities: 8,192 | Display: 1920 by 1080 | Color Gamut: 72% NTSC

One reviewer wrote: “This is the best tablet I have ever used. The feel, the quality and price are a steal! I used photoshop, zbrush, substance painter and maya. It can handle any program with ease. Very user-friendly and space-saving!”

2. The Best Budget Drawing Tablet

It costs less than $200, but the XP-Pen Artist12 still has a 72% NTSC color gamut, a full HD display, and 8,192 pressure sensitivity levels. It also comes with a passive pen (battery-free with an easy-to-grip hexagon shape and a built-in eraser) and has six on-device shortcut buttons that can be customized for different software, including Photoshop. The anti-reflective screen protector prevents unwanted glare, plus each order includes a free pen holder and drawing glove. It doesn’t quite have Wacom’s cult status, but with more than 6,000 five-star ratings, it’s a customer tried-and-approved pick with plenty of functionality at an excellent price.

Screen Size: 11.6 inches | Connectivity Technology: USB, HDMI | Compatible Operating Systems: Windows 7 or later, Mac 10.10 or later, Linux | Pressure Sensitivities: 8,192 | Display: 1920 by 1080 | Color Gamut: 72% NTSC

One reviewer wrote: “I was very hesitant to purchase any of these tablets because the better quality ones everyone talks about start out at $600 and up. I rolled the dice and purchased this to take my t-shirt business to the next level with my designs. I am very impressed with this tablet. There is no lag between the tablet and photoshop when drawing. The screen is clear and the pen is very precise. I wish I would have bought one last year because this has opened up a whole new world of design. Definitely worth the money.”