Inspecting a drawing tablet before buying


Occasionally if you're going to buy a tablet you might have an opportunity to try the tablet out before you purchase it. This is often a case when you're getting the tablet from a friend or purchasing it used.

I highly recommend that you test out the tablet before the purchase. This will save you a lot of headaches and disappointment later on.

Getting prepared to test

For the sake of this discussion I'm going to assume that you're going to bring a laptop with you and use the tablet with that laptop.


  • Have the applications installed on the laptop that you're going to use with the tablet. I always test with Krita in addition to any other apps.

  • Depending on the brand of the tablet you're considering purchasing make sure you have the latest drivers for that tablet installed.

Basic test of functionality

  • Connectivity

    • Conduct the tests with a wired connection.

    • Any then verify they work with wireless connection

  • Drawing

    • Check if the pen works in all locations on the active area

    • Check if the pressure smoothly going from zero to 100

    • Check tilt works in all directions

    • Check that the pointer generally stays where the tip of the pen is even if you tilt the pen.

    • Check that location of pen is tracked accurately in over the entire surface of the tablet

Express keys

  • Check if all the buttons, dials, work. A quick way to test this is to map the buttons to keypresses. Then you can open a notepad app and press the express keys and see it typing things

Pen display features

  • Check for stuck or dead pixels

  • Check for basic color and brightness

  • All pen displays have more pointer lag than pen tablets. Verify if you are OK with the amount it has.

  • All pen displays have some minor edge and corner inaccuracy in tracking the pen location. Check this to see how much there is and if you are OK with this.

  • Verify you are OK with the anti-glare sparkle on the screen. Some people are very sensitive to this.


  • There should be no cuts or scratches deep enough that you can feel them through the pen


  • Are you getting replacement nibs with the pen?

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