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Help Me, LAPTOP: I Need A Tablet for Creating Digital Art

Sometimes, a question shows up in our inbox at exactly the right time. Take Gin's, for example:

Basically I've been on the look out for a tablet, along the lines of an iPad. Mostly, I want to use it for digital art, and I hear the iPad isn't really all that great for that just yet. In terms of price range, I could probably go up to $500, but the cheaper the better.

It just so happens that we spent some time researching this very subject for our July issue. Thus, we feel confident in our advice: Buy an iPad 2.

There's a reason famous artists such as David Hockney have embraced the iPad; its 9.7-inch, 1024 x 768-pixel LED-backlit screen is the ideal digital canvas, and Apple's tablet offers by far the best selection of art apps available on any tablet platform.

From the beginner-friendly ArtStudio ($4.99) to ArtRage ($6.99), which mimics the look and feel of real paint, the art apps available on iOS have all the bases covered. While we don't know what kind of digital art Gin wishes to create on a tablet, the Apple platform offers a richer, more extensive selection than Android.

However, there is some crossover: Both iOS and Android offer art-creating staples such as SketchBook Mobile ($0.99), and there is no shortage of more basic art apps in the Android Market. Ultimately, it comes down to what kind of art Gin will be creating and what type of tools this will require. If a simple paint program such as FingerPaint on Android (free) will do the trick, then you have your pick of the many tablets that offer access to the Android Market.

The iPad 2 just meets Gin's pricing criteria; the 16GB Wi-Fi model ships for $499. If Gin can hold out a bit longer and prefers the Android OS, the upcoming HTC Flyer is another compelling option. The 7-inch tablet will have a pressure-sensitive active stylus for pen input and drawing. However, that stylus will cost $79.99—on top of the Flyer's $500 price tag.

If Gin goes with an iPad, we recommend buying the Nomad Brush ($24). This accessory works seamlessly with any device's capacitive touchscreen, and it will give hands a welcome break (according to an artist we spoke with, hours of finger-painting on the iPad gets tiring).

If you have a question about fixing a technical problem or buying a new product, drop us a line at helpme@laptopmag.com and we’ll respond to the most interesting questions in this section.