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Author Topic: Wacom Competitor - A teardown of the new Monoprice Tablets - LOTS OF PICS!  (Read 63804 times)
thatguyyoulove
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« on: March 09, 2012, 10:04:19 AM »

Note: I am not affiliated with any of the products in this post. Just trying to widen the information pool on hardware Smiley
First of all, hey everyone! This is my first post on the forums, but I have stumbled across them 3 or 4 times over the past few years and always thought "man I need to do this one day" but didn't really want to throw down the cash for a Wacom pad due to cost (and me not being a real by-hand artist, despite being a graphics design for almost a decade and doing tons of 3d modeling). I have an old INTUOS 9x12 that's probably a decade old, but didn't like it too much due to having to look at a screen while drawing on a pad in my lap.

Recently I ran across an interesting set of product announcements from Monoprice (who makes EXCELLENT audio/video/network cables) about new graphics tablets. The specs seem to rival the Intuos3 series pretty well, and best of all IT COSTS LESS THAN $90! Plus you can get a 10"x6.5" for $48,8"x6" for $40, 5.5"x4" for $30, or teeny tiny 4"x 3" for $23! Pens are $10 (one is included with each pad) and replacement nibs are $.76 for 10!

Specifications
Active Area (WxD): 12.0"x9.0"
Dimension(WxDxH): 15 1/8" x 14 1/8" x 1 1/4" (358.6mm×382.6mm×31.3mm)
Resolution: 4000 LPI
Report Rate: 200 RPS
Pen Pressure: 1024 Levels
Reading Height: 10mm
Function keys: 20
LED indication
Power Consumption: 0.35W
Weight: 1007g
USB Cable Length: 53"
Price: $87.00
Product Link: http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=108&cp_id=10841&cs_id=1084101&p_id=6815&seq=1&format=4#feedback

So I ordered one and immediately started playing with it after it arrived. So far it feels every bit as accurate as my friend's Intuos4, which isn't any surprise given how dense the LPI's of these tablets are compared to the screen resolutions! The sensitivity is great and transitions very smoothly. The reading height on this sensor is rated at 10mm, but I was still getting good results up to 13mm (albeit obviously the higher you go the less "hovering" height you have above the pad where the cursor is still detected).

Here is a quick doodle testing the sensitivity with a smallish brush:


So, in my usual fashion, once I knew that it was working perfectly I tore it to shreds!

First off, here is a photo of the tablet (with a $50 bill and Intuos pen for size comparison).


Note the line of "hotkeys" at the top, more on that later:



Here is the back.


It comes with these little ears that may be used to prop it up on a desk if desired:


Four quick phillips head screws and the back is off, note the nice thick metal shielding:


Below that are the plastic spacers to prevent short circuits:


and then the back of the sensor:


The bottom of the sensor is held on by these little plastic snapping rivets:


However a little bit of prying and it comes right off (front of the sensor)!


The backside of the front half of the case:


Closeups of the circuits:




So, is it a good tablet to use for a build?
I'm not sure....yet. It definitely looks promising. So much so that I will be doing my first build using it within the month! Just have to order the screen and controller (waiting on an email back from njytouch).

How does it stack up versus the Wacom tablets?
Well let's get the massive advantage talked about first. PRICE! This tablet costs $87 new whereas an Intuos3 9"x12" tablet would cost at least a few hundred bucks used most days. Pressure levels are the same. Reporting rate is the same. Active area is the same. LPI is slightly under, but that is likely to be irrelevant in real world usage. The cord is a little shorter.

The 2 main issues I see are these: Mac support and hotkeys. First of all, the product is PC only right now. I have no idea if Mac support will crop up in the future or not. As to the hotkeys, they are currently part of the actual active area, and as such take away from the real usable area of the tablet. What this means is that your active area will no longer be true 4:3 aspect ratio and it won't line up right with your screen. However, you CAN TURN THEM OFF! This means you lose the hotkey feature, but get your 4:3 aspect ratio and screen lining up back! So if you are using this in a build it would be a good idea to integrate your own hotkeys via a hacked external device such as the ShuttlePro V2, ShuttleXpress, G13 Advanced, or a cheap USB keyboard. This will add to your build time, but may give you a little more flexibility to make the tablet a truly unique creation.

So hopefully this opens up some options to those of you who don't want to fork out the cash for a Wacom but still want to see some good performance. Is it perfect? Not quite, but it definitely looks build worthy. I'll post a link in here to my build log once it gets started to give more info on how well it works in a build.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2012, 10:06:17 AM by thatguyyoulove » Logged
Pesho
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« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2012, 12:28:42 PM »

This looks like a rebadged version of the UC-Logic PF1209. They are nice (my first tablet ever was from that brand), but the downside is that their pens need batteries. Does the pen for your tablet use batteries? It should have great accuracy, but there was a user on this forum that had some jitter problems with one of these. You can still use the new tablet as a regular one and add a screen to the Intuos if you run into any issues.



As for your Mac support, try out the driver provided on UC-Logic's website, it will probably work:

http://www.uc-logic.com/en/index.php?ParentMenuID=4
« Last Edit: March 09, 2012, 12:37:46 PM by Pesho » Logged
thatguyyoulove
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« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2012, 06:41:20 PM »

Yes it is a re-badged UC-Logic (which is where I got the specs from). I just forgot to mention it!
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digitalPimple
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« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2012, 04:33:55 PM »

I don't think these have tilt recognition. so tilt will not register. depends if you need this. I do so this knocks this out for me. Sad
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luxeomni
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« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2012, 11:34:32 PM »

Is anyone have tested old Wacom Sylus ( wacom2,3, penabled) pen on those cheap tablet ?

I know Hanvon are compatible because they share the same technology with wacom ( in fact wacom lost a legal action against Hanvon in 2008) but i m very interested in knowing if those ancien generation wacom pen would work on those monoprice ones...
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jbyrd117
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2012, 11:31:18 PM »

I'm really looking forward to this build if you decide to go ahead and convert it to a cintiq. I just found out about the monoprice tablets and I'm contemplating getting one.
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abeyance
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« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2013, 11:28:28 AM »

Necro thread! UC Logic / Monoprice DIY Cintiq finished and working http://forum.bongofish.co.uk/index.php?topic=2255.0
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pntbll248
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« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2013, 01:29:41 AM »

Unfortunately I just couldn't get the 12x9 to work on two separate builds with two separate units, even after removing the antenna board from its case. With the case, the distance is just too far to have an acceptable tablet resolution (the farther from the board, the lower and more pixelated the location information becomes), and with the uncovered insulated+grounded antenna board directly behind the LCD panel, there are spots of jitter that come close to a total of 1cm jitter movement from the centered cursor. This is true even after adjustment with Powerstrip.  Huh

This is a bummer, since I really do like the Monoprice tablets -- they have a smoothness that I haven't seen in other off-brand digitizers.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2013, 01:32:35 AM by pntbll248 » Logged
abeyance
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« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2013, 04:01:05 AM »

I would LOVE to tackle this with you. I kept my 10 x 6.5 monoprice tablet whole. I have the LCD on the tablet and a 2.5mm acrylic sheet on top of that. My pen stands a solid 8mm away from the tablet. Without shielding and grounding I got less that 1mm jitter. Do you have a link to your build?
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pntbll248
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« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2013, 06:50:00 PM »

That'd be great to work together to figure this out, a monoprice 12x9 build could be a cheap and quality build if the jitter problem is dealt with. I'll work on getting a build log set up with some photos, maybe we can put our heads together and find the problem. If anyone is wanting to try one of these builds, I have plenty of new old-stock LP150E05s laying around that I've no use for and I'd be happy to send one your way -- picked them up on ebay for $90 for a crate a while back, I was the only bidder, guess no one wanted 6-year-old 4:3 LCD panels.
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abeyance
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« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2013, 07:47:20 PM »

Here is a REALLY odd thing I notice while redoing my case. I wanted to kill some weight so I decided to get the tablet and pull the sensor board out of it. Keep in mind that my last build was near flawless. Less than a pixel jitter every 10 seconds at the bulbs of the LCD. Anyway, I ripped the board out and threw everything back together... the jitter was unstoppable. It almost seems like that there is a minimum height requirement. I am still testing it with stacks of paper between the board and (no metal) LCD. Will post updates with further fussing.
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pntbll248
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« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2013, 09:59:34 PM »

Yeah, that seems to be the problem that I notice as well, once the tablet is disassembled it jitters like crazy. I tried raising the distance of the pen from the screen with different thickness of acrylic, but no luck on my end Sad Could there be a grounding issue that I'm missing?
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abeyance
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« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2013, 10:37:33 PM »

Ok, here's my trick. I put a piece of my acrylic sheet between the sensor board and the lcd, and while not perfect, it's fine with lazynumzi or whatever it's called. I also have my refresh rate sitting at 58hz.

I also took EVERYTHING metal off of my LCD. Even the outside border that didn't matter. I used copper tape that was grounded to my controller board to ground and shield everything even the PCB board on the LCD. Of course my shielding is wrapped in construction paper so nothing shorts. I am SO positive that any remaining jitter that I do have is from the bulbs in the LCD. When I can afford it I want to either replace them with LEDs or just get a better resolution LCD monitor that already has them in it. When my phone is cooperating I will post some pics for you.

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pntbll248
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« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2013, 02:06:38 AM »

Great observations! I have a few LED panels that I can test, I should be able to try them out tomorrow or Friday, see if the LED backlight gives any better results!
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zithe1
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« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2013, 04:51:11 AM »

That'd be great to work together to figure this out, a monoprice 12x9 build could be a cheap and quality build if the jitter problem is dealt with. I'll work on getting a build log set up with some photos, maybe we can put our heads together and find the problem. If anyone is wanting to try one of these builds, I have plenty of new old-stock LP150E05s laying around that I've no use for and I'd be happy to send one your way -- picked them up on ebay for $90 for a crate a while back, I was the only bidder, guess no one wanted 6-year-old 4:3 LCD panels.

I sent a PM. I'm very interested. I want to make a DIY Cintiq with this tablet. Cheesy
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