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The best creator tools from CES 2019

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From drawing tablets to vlogging gear, these are the coolest new tools for producing art and video

This year at CES, I noticed more of two things: portable, on-the-go tech that makes vlogging easier, and vloggers. There were gimbals and selfie sticks aplenty as people filmed themselves walking around on the show floor, making content for their own personal audiences.

Looking at the wealth of cameras, lighting rigs, and artist devices, they all seemed to be encouraging the notion that anyone can become a “creator” just by posting a video on YouTube, or creating art to be shared online. I know tools don’t make the artist, but coming across these new products, I felt a stir of excitement and aspiration. “Should I become a YouTuber?” I asked myself, before shaking away the impure thoughts.

From updated versions of familiar products from industry heavyweights like Wacom, and brand-new ideas from start-ups like iSKN and Remo, these are the most interesting tools I saw at CES to make content with.

Wacom Cintiq 16

At $650, Wacom’s new 16-inch pen display is its most affordable ever. Where Wacom’s older tablets may have scared off artists looking to graduate from the entry-level Intuos pen tablet lines, the Cintiq 16 aims to bridge that gap, though at the cost of the 4K screen resolution found in the Cintiq Pro line. The Cintiq 16 comes with the Wacom Pro Pen 2, which has 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, but you’ll have to buy the $100 ExpressKey remote and $80 stand separately. With all that added up, the device is definitely pricier compared to tablets from competitors like Huion, but it’s still a promising move from Wacom to make its tablets more accessible to average consumers.

iSKN Slate Repaper

Though there have been plenty of smart writing pads that digitize paper drawings and text, iSKN’s Slate tablets have always appealed to me on the basis of its sheer uniqueness. Unlike other digitizing notebooks that require camera-barrelled pens and dotted paper, the Slate lets you use your own pens, pencils, and paper. Magnets in the tablet track the drawing strokes through magnetic rings slipped onto the pencil, which are then shown in real time on the companion app. It’s a fun way to doodle on paper when you get sick of doing everything digitally, though you can still use it as a graphics tablet if you want. There’s a lot of room for flexibility with the Slate, and it’s a fun, new way to play with art tools.

Remo Obsbot Tail

The Obsbot Tail felt like a surprisingly polished final product with great build quality, which is an impressive feat as it’s the first ever device from Chinese start-up Remo. The AI-enabled 4K camera tracked my movements smoothly, with the camera following me around and zooming in as I enabled its gesture controls. Although it’s mainly meant for capturing action shots like skateboarding and dance, its portability means it’s versatile enough to be used pretty much anywhere. The product is set to launch on Kickstarter next week, priced at around $400.

Elgato Key Light display

This is the LED key light that briefly made me consider being a YouTube or Twitch streamer, if only because I feel like investing $200 in a professional light rig for my desktop would be half the battle (I know it’s not, and there’s more to streaming than just looking good on-camera, but bear with me). Lighting makes such a huge difference, and if Mariah Carey wouldn’t be caught dead under supermarket lighting, you shouldn’t be caught in bad lighting for your streams, either. You deserve it, baby!!

Shure MV88+ Video Kit

This $249 video kit combines a digital condenser mic with a Manfrotto Pixi tripod that attaches to a phone clamp, and it even comes with USB-C and Lightning cables to connect to Android and iOS devices. There’s also a headphone jack so you can monitor to your own audio as you film. It’s meant for podcasters, vloggers, and field reporters who value audio quality, and it’s available for pre-order now.