I draw on a Wacom Bamboo tablet every day, and while digital art is quick and efficient, sometimes I miss the feeling of drawing on paper. I’ve tried out a lot of “smart writing pads” that digitize text written on paper, but the iSKN Slate was among the first I tried in 2016 that was geared toward artists. The follow-up Slate I briefly tested at CES this year is a big improvement.
The original Slate was unique in that it let the user fit magnetic rings on their own pens and pencils, which would work with the magnets in the tablet to convert strokes onto a companion app in real time. You could then place any kind of paper on top of the tablet, clip it in place, and start drawing. Back then, I was left disappointed by the tablet’s bugginess and fickle sensitivity. The French startup’s fourth-generation product, called the Slate Repaper, fixes a lot of issues in addition to adding pressure sensitivity.
The Imagink companion app, which works on iOS, Android, Mac, and PC, offers a couple of different brushes like a pencil, pen, chalk, and airbrush to choose from. So although you could physically be drawing with a pencil, the strokes you see on-screen could be a different brush and color, depending on what you choose. The same goes for if you slide the ring to the end of the pen and make an erasing motion on the paper. The strokes on-screen will be erased, but the marks on your paper might remain if you weren’t actually using a pencil with an eraser at the end.
What’s neat about the Slate Repaper is that you can also use it as a regular tablet if you don’t feel like drawing on paper. It comes with a stylus with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, so you can go back to drawing digitally should the mood strike. On the side of the tablet are four shortcut buttons that can redo, undo, and adjust brush size, plus a power button.
There’s also a Screenless Mode which lets you unplug the tablet from the computer and use it anywhere. Your drawings will be stored internally on an SD card, and they’ll be uploaded to the app when you plug the tablet back into the computer.
The Slate Repaper will launch sometime in September of this year for around $200. That’s about the same price as a medium-sized Wacom Intuos tablet, but with the added perk of having the creative freedom to draw on paper.