For decades I’ve been interested in graphical pen displays that integrate a computer monitor with a graphics tablet into a single unit. There’s something very satisfying about drawing directly on screen and see it respond like real paper, yet with all the flexibility of working digitally. This technology started with professional gear costing thousands of dollars, and now we can get very close with commodity touchscreen tablets. Companies like Apple and Microsoft sell pencil accessories to turn their respective tablets into drawing sketchpads. Even though they haven’t worked well for me due to touch input interfering with stylus input, I was close to buying an Apple Pencil for my iPad. But then I saw Monoprice clearing out their inventory of graphical pen display.
As a company, Monoprice finds markets where incumbents thrive on huge profit margins. They find a contract manufacturer to build products under the Monoprice name and sell at a lower price. Monoprice rise to fame came from their HDMI cables that are a fraction of the price of Monster Cable (& friends). With that success, Monoprice used the same tactic to enter a wide range of markets ranging from 3D printers to camping equipment. But not all of their experiments were successful. Occasionally Monoprice decides a particular market is not worth further investment and it appears graphical peripherals have become the latest example.
For the past few years, Monoprice offered a line of graphical input devices. There were several graphical pen displays for several hundred dollars, and a few affordable drawing tablets (without integrated displays) for tens of dollars. These products undercut pricing of Wacom equivalents by at least 30%, but that still left them more expensive than I could justify buying. Especially when the software situation is an unknown given Wacom’s status as de-facto standards in this field: Every single artistic application will be compatible with Wacom devices, the same guarantee could not be made of Monoprice counterparts. Apparently enough people thought the same ad I did because in the past few weeks I noticed one of those tablets listed in a Monoprice clearance sale email. I checked Monoprice site and saw this was what remained of their product line.
Looking at that feature chart, my attention was drawn to the “Touch Screen” row. Given my past struggles trying to draw on a tablet screen that was also sensitive to my finger and hands, I liked the idea of getting a graphical display that was not a touchscreen. I don’t have to struggle with tuning “palm rejection” settings if the screen never cared about my palm to begin with! Unfortunately, the Monoprice clearance sale that brought this to my attention had discounted item #40443, the lone product on this chart that was also a touchscreen. Since that’s not what I wanted, I held off buying hoping one of the other items would be discounted in a later sale. My patience paid off when item #39945 was discounted from its $380 list price down to $170. This was too tempting to pass up so now I have a Monoprice Creator 22 Graphic Pen Display.