Following up on Wacom’s Companion series, the MobileStudio Pro doubles down on power and capability. If you’re looking for the functionality of a tablet-aided desktop on the go, it’s an incredible tool. Even more so than the Companion, the MobileStudio Pro feels like a tablet built for professional designers, and less so one for the average tablet user. For our purposes in producing academic media, the MobileStudio would be great for a course on art or design, but its hard to envision another context where we would need the 8,192 levels of pressure it provides.
Our current vision for mobile lecture capture kits uses Microsoft’s Surface Pro, which is an interesting contrast to the MobileStudio and helps to underline its features. The Surface weighs in at 1.73 pounds, compared to MobileStudio’s 3.13. The Surface can be paired with a detachable keyboard/cover, where the Wacom uses a standard bluetooth keyboard. The Surface tablet is basically all screen, while the MobileStudio includes eleven customizable hotkeys. Surface’s battery life lasts on average for about nine hours; MobileStudio lasts for about six. Altogether, this creates differing narratives for the two devices. The Surface is essentially a lightweight touchscreen laptop. The MobileStudio is a portable yet professional drawing tablet with the power of a desktop.
While the performance is great if the type of work you do requires it, what really set the MobileStudio apart for me was the responsiveness of the pen. More so than any other tablet, writing and drawing with the pen truly feels natural and expressive, especially when using more advanced illustration tools. Even the default pen tool in Powerpoint feels incredibly smooth, especially compared to the same interaction on the Surface. While it is a subtle difference, the almost 8200 levels of pressure feels like the writing equivalent of watching 4K video. Additionally, the Wacom pen does not require a battery (which cannot be said for the Surface pen or Apple’s Pencil).
Looking towards the future, the MobileStudio features three USB-C ports (though there is still a headphone jack for now). If you, like us, still use mostly USB-A accessories, Wacom is also happy to sell you the Link as well, which is essentially a customizable dongle. This also allows you to hook the tablet up to a Mac or desktop PC which is a nice feature. And similar to the Companion, some MobileStudio models include a rear-facing 3D camera. This probably isn’t an essential feature for many, but further reinforces the idea that the MobileStudio is more design-focused than most tablet-shoppers would need.
With exceptional power (and price), the value of Wacom’s tablet truly depends on what you put into it. The barrier of entry is not one of technology but of art: it is up to the user’s own skills to really bring the MobileStudio Pro’s potential to life.