Monoprice.com High Resolution, Wide Format Pressure Sensitive Tablet and Replacement Pen - $70 Shipped!

MP1060-HA60 drawing tabletIcame across a wicked deal on a large 10" x 6.25" wide-format graphics drawing tablet with 8 customizable hot keys and a top row of customizable hot cells from Monoprice.com (Model: MP1060-HA60).

Including shipping to Calgary it cost me $70 (CAD) when I purchased it in 2012! That's not a typo! The tablet itself, at the time, cost $43.50 (CAD) and I bought a replacement drawing pen for $9.30 (CAD) and the rest was shipping charges. Prices have increased slightly to $50.10 (USD) for the drawing tablet and $9.30 (USD instead of CAD) for the additional pen. When I bought it, I didn't know if I was going to get dinged with duties and such but the good news was that I didn't get any penalties or duties at all. It came professionally packed and shipped to my door in two weeks.

The drawing tablet works with Windows 8.1 - 32 bit/64 bit, 7 - 32 bit/64 bit, Vista and XP 32 bit/64 bit and Mac OS X. I personally tried it on a friend's Macbook and the buttons can be customized just fine with the new drivers that I discovered on the original manufacturer's web site. They have updated the drivers to work with dual screen computer setups now too which is super helpful.

I had never heard of Monoprice.com before this purchase so I was nervous to shell out cash to some unknown entity. They accepted Paypal as payment so I felt better in the fact that the purchase would be covered through Paypal's policies and took the plunge. I am very glad I did!

I also read all of the reviews on the Monoprice.com website that other customers have posted on the tablet (it had a 93.41% positive rating at the time I purchased it), so I felt pretty confident this was the real deal and it was!

Anyhow, there are pictures, specs, reviews and more on Monoprice's web site to help you make your decision. They also have a variety of other tablets to choose from in all kinds of sizes (mostly smaller ones) but they even have some high-end drawing monitors now too.

Also, here are some YouTube videos of the MP1060-HA60 in action:

Using Art Rage 2
Using Sketchbook Pro

It works just fine with 2D programs like Photoshop CS6, Illustrator CS6, Coreldraw X7.2, Art Rage Studio Pro 3 and Sketchbook Pro which is why I originally bought it. It is really awesome to use hand writing to input into the computer. I like it for browsing the web too. It's a totally different experience that makes sense in certain applications.

I am very impressed with the thinness of the drawing tablet (only 10 mm) and it's construction is very nice. The tablet does have a very bright blue LED light on it right underneath the USB cord connected to the tablet. I find the light incredibly annoying so I put a piece of black electrical tape over top of it and that hides the blinking.

The pen that ships with the tablet itself definitely seems a little cheaply made but it works just fine. Since originally posting this article, I have found out that Monoprice has begun to offer a much better replacement drawing pen that you need to purchase separately (see picture below). MP1060-HA60 replacement pen

The good news is that the replacement pen is vastly superior in every way to the one that ships with the tablet. It costs an additional $9.30 (CAD) more but it's way worth it! The only drawbacks are that it doesn't fit nicely in the pen holder's "well" (opening) that ships with the tablet and tends to fall out since the base on the holder is too narrow. Also, the buttons on the pen are a little too recessed and are black in color making them quite difficult to find if you're not holding the pen just right or in poor lighting conditions.

I have made a slight modification to the pen holder by adhering a larger base plate with double sided tape (mine is black metal, but wood or plastic will work just fine too) to make it much more stable. I would highly suggest you modify yours too as it will save damage to the pen when it falls off your desktop onto the floor repeatedly. See the picture down below with the tablet in a stand holder and the pen in its holder with an enhanced baseplate.

Customized MP1060-HA60 with replacement pen in custom pen holder

I also fixed the recessed buttons on the pen by carefully taking off the thin rubber cover and put some very small pieces of double-sided tape stacked on top of one another over top of the actual button mechanism on the pen to give them more of a raised 3D touch. I then replaced the rubber cover and tested things out and it worked perfectly. Now I can find the buttons by touch without constantly looking at the pen. One more quick tip is to twist the pen's shirt clip around until it actually points at the buttons (over top of the Monoprice logo) so when you're holding the pen, the shirt clip rests against your pointer finger, guiding your hands to the correct position and orientation. Then, if you have to look at the pen to get your orientation, you just need to look at the shirt clip and you'll know exactly where the buttons are located. It also hides their logo which is just fine by me.

The pen has a nice weight to it and is about the same heft as a fine metal pen so it's not too light nor too heavy - perfect for me personally. It does require a single AAA battery inside the pen (which lasts a seriously long time...I haven't changed mine in over two years) but they provide one for you in the box as well as three extra pen tips, a pen holder, DVD and quick start guide.

It will take some time to get used to everything of course but the settings and keys can be "tuned" to one's preferences. Once you get things configured to your liking, it works awesome in Windows 7 and 8.1 and even on dual screen monitor setups. I can not believe the quality for the price...seriously, this beats the heck out of any WAC*M tablet at 1/6th the price for something this size.

Customization of the buttons isn't exactly intuitive though as the interface is kind of clunky, so make sure you spend some time poking around in the settings and be sure to rename the custom buttons from what they're originally named by default. Look at the settings tab for a pre-configured button and write its settings down so you can get an idea of how to do all the other buttons. Basically just repeat the steps but modify the command or program it launches and you're golden.

Once you get your custom buttons setup just the way you like them, take a fine felt-tip pen and some white adhesive labels or a piece of masking tape (or piece of paper with clear tape) and write down the names of the button customizations and stick it over top of the silk-screened buttons Monoprice put on the tablet by default. I have included a picture of my customized tablet above. It's a bit of a ghetto hack but it works well and helps me be efficient in my production. If Monoprice made a future model, they should build a slight recessed area where you can slide in paper inserts and cover it with a thin piece of clear plastic for protection. Oh, and improve the pen and pen holder even further as mentioned above.

The Monoprice tablet is a large unit though - its entire size is 15.4" or the same size as my laptop lid closed. In fact, my laptop lid is about as thick too at around 10 mm so that will give you a rough idea of how big it is. Anyhow, it will fit in a laptop bag just fine. The USB cord is on the left hand side of the unit, but that makes sense when plugged into a computer. The cord is only about 4 feet long though so if your desktop is on the ground you will need a USB extension cord or hub to connect. Get one of those for a $1 from a Loonie Plus or Dollar Store by the way.

Wire Drawing Tablet StandSpeaking of Dollar Stores, you can also purchase a black vinyl coated wire tablet stand for $1.00 and it works perfectly for the drawing tablet storing it in an upright, out of the way fashion to save desk space.

Something interesting I should mention is that I have taken a piece of thin clear plastic (think report cover) and a piece of paper with a drawing on it and stacked them directly over top of one another on the drawing tablet's surface to simulate tracing an image. It seemed to work well enough. I personally scan my drawings into my programs so I didn't really see the need to trace things often in this fashion. But it is possible if you use thin enough plastic. It seems the pen has enough electrical connectivity to the drawing tablet to make this happen.

Anyhow I am very pleased with my purchase and I think you will be too if you take the plunge. So my verdict has been revised from an 8.5/10 originally to a 9.5/10 because you can now purchase the replacement pen making the whole device that much better. It would get a 10/10 if the new pen's buttons had more tactile feel to it and the tablet could accommodate labels for the 8 hot-key buttons.

So ya, for $70 (CAD) shipped to my door (including the additional $10 (CAD) for the replacement pen), you will not find a better deal anywhere unless someone gives it to you for free or you steal it from somebody who already has one...

I hope this helps some of you if you're curious about learning how to use a drawing tablet but don't think spending hundreds of dollars on a more expensive model is worth the risk at this point. Send me an email if you buy one yourself and let me know your thoughts.

P.S. I now use Monoprice.com exclusively for all kinds of purchases from color laser printer toner to all kinds of cables and even guitar parts - it's awesome, high quality and CHEAP! Their shipping prices are reasonable and they ship items FAST!

~Drew