Yet another brand new feature here on Animation Insider in the form of Old But Good Tech Thursdays!
Since Thursdays is traditionally Throw Back Thursdays #TBT anyway, I figure it’s a good day to showcase old technology that is still a good purchase for artists since there’s MANY great old tablets out there you can pick up for almost nothing these days. Each week will strive to post a new article highlighting old computers and tablets from an artist’s perspective. If you would like to do a review of your favorite tablet or hardware, feel free to give us a shout!
Armed with a copy of Sketchbook Pro, these cheap old gems are still quite viable as a digital tool for the budding artist or old school paper and pencil animator looking to go digital. Even seasoned digital artists looking for a second device to put by the bed for that quick late night sketch might find these tablets useful.
Now granted, you’re not going to be running Storyboard Pro or Harmony on these because well truthfully the graphics card can’t handle it (but an old copy of Maya works fine) so it’s not for your main machine but it works perfectly well as a digital sketchbook at Starbucks or the park. Some of these even have View Anywhere Technology made specifically to view outdoors. You can run Photoshop, Flash, Painter, and ArtRage on most of these, but Photoshop doesn’t always play nice for drawing on these old things, because it’s a pig. You can still edit with it and composite a piece easily enough.
That said, you don’t have to shell out thousands for the new Cintiq Companion or the Surface Pro to sketch digitally and you’re keeping these jewels off the junk heap which is better for our planet and who doesn’t want to help the earth?
That said, our first Old But Good Tech is the Fujitsu T5010 which can currently be purchased on eBay for $129 bucks and it will Windows 8.1 so it will likely run Windows 10!
by Heather Martinez
(All art done on the Fujitsu T5010)
Have Fujitsu Lifebook T-Series…Will travel! And I do. I travel a lot. I art a lot. I’m also a bit stingy when it comes to spending money, but I’ll grudgingly fork it over if the product meets my needs. About 5 years ago, I was looking into whether I wanted a Cintiq or just another portable tablet. I had burned though a Motion Computing Tablet, and a little 10.15” Fujitsu T4220 convertible tablet. At the time, there was no Cintiq Companion out, and my only choice in the Cintiq world would be to tote around a separate screen display attached to a laptop. No. Not when you do freelance illustration for a living and your life is always on the go. Fujitsu had just come out with their T5010 series, which are also called “swivel tablets.” No docking, no pulling apart your tablet and inserting it into a clunky keyboard, and no attaching a separate keyboard via USB nonsense. It’s a laptop with keyboard when you need it and a tablet when you need it. You open it up, swivel it and fold it back for a tablet. The other thing I was looking for in a world where ALL the new tablets were touch screen only, was a Wacom enabled tablet with digitizer pen input ONLY. Fujitsu had it. The only down-side was that the digitizer pen that comes with the laptop is clunky, so I kept the slick one from Motion Computing. I still buy about 4 of those a year. They run about 45 bucks each, but are worth every penny. The display had also grown up since my last Fujitsu model. The screen was 13.3”. Not bad for a tablet.
Windows 7 had come out, but I had read all the abysmal reviews and didn’t trust it. Now mind you, this was 5 years ago, but I purchased this Fujitsu T5010 for a whopping $ 3,000.00. I think it would have run me closer to $2,000, but I added a bunch of bells and whistles, like an extended battery, DVD RW, a 500GB hard drive, upgraded to 4GB of RAM, etc. Here I was, with a $3,000 dollar laptop running on old Windows XP. I have run CS2 through CS6, Art Rage and Sketchbook Pro 2010. I’ve illustrated many a project on it, including 3 Golden Books, and it still runs like a champ. The obvious problems with Windows XP began to emerge this past year. Running on a 32-bit system when all the new cool stuff is run on 64 bit systems was beginning to become a hindrance. The countdown to computer crash was on. With luck, I might be fine continuing my Illustration work, but if I wanted to install, say, Storyboard Pro, I couldn’t. So, about 6 months ago, I started my quest for newer and better. The Cintiq Companion came out, and I thought my search was over. I was juggling several projects and in the middle of a move, so I put it buying a 2,500.00 computer on the back-burner. Until last week, when my 40 lb. dog sat on my T5010 and cracked the screen. Don’t ask.
AAAAGGHHH! So, I’m in the middle of a HUGE project with a tight deadline, and my Fujitsu has a long hairline fracture running horizontally across my work space. Thank God the laptop still functions, but what on earth am I going to get to replace this thing if it doesn’t hold out? I don’t have time to deal with a whole new interface and waiting for a new Cintiq to arrive just wouldn’t do. I jumped on Ebay and found the old and familiar Fujitsu T-series. The difference? They are now all listed at UNDER 300 bucks! The other difference? I found a more updated 64-bit, with 4GB of RAM that had Windows 8 already installed! The guy was apologetic that it DIDN’T have touch-input. Thank heavens, no touch input! He also apologized that it didn’t come with a digitzer pen. Again, no loss. In all, I paid $260.00 to replace and upgrade my old pal. The hard drive only has about 300GB, but I have a husband that can replace it with a much bigger one when my big project is over. There is, of course, no amount of value that can be placed on having a techie friend, or husband, for that matter.
You’ll want to install the Wacom driver that is available on their website so all your programs have good pen pressure sensitivity. If you want to buy new, Fujitsus will last forever…Unless of course, your furry friend sits on it. But I must warn you that new Fujitsus are expensive, and their tech support was and is pretty bad. (I wanted to know if some of their newer tablets would allow me to disable the touch screen option and just allow for digi pen input and they had no clue.) The other down-side is that Fujitsus have notoriously clunky fans that start to sound like a rock in a blender as they get older. They eventually need to be replaced. I’d be happier running on an SSD, but sometimes you can’t have it all.