Drawing tablets—aka pen tablets or graphics tablets—allow artists to digitally draw, paint, and edit photos while having the same tactile feel of a traditional sketchpad. For the most part, drawing tablets connect to a computer either wirelessly or via a USB cable, allowing you to hand-draw on the surface of the tablet with an included pen-like stylus. The strokes on the tablet appear on the computer screen, simulating the way a person draws with a pencil and paper. Though drawing tablets have been around for a while, in recent years the market has been dominated by Wacom. And while the company still produces premium drawing tablets, many others now offer similar products for less. In this back-to-school guide to the best drawing tablets, we’ve picked our five favorites in a range of categories—from the best tablet overall (spoiler alert, it’s a Wacom) to the best small tablet—while keeping student budgets in mind.
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