The Wacom One is Wacom’s most affordable display tablet to date. This Wacom One review will be presented from a digital artist’s perspective.
Quick disclaimer: This is not a sponsored video, but Wacom did send me this tablet unconditionally to review as I please. As always, all opinions in this review are my own. I may earn commission from purchases made through affiliate links in this article.
Now if the name Wacom One sounds familiar, you’re not the only one. (See what I did there?) There is also the One by Wacom which is a non-display tablet, potentially adding some confusion for those of you who are searching for these devices online.
Repeating names for multiple products seems to happen a lot at Wacom. And although it’s confusing, my guess is that perhaps there has to be some benefit to doing it this way. Personally, I would have called it Wacom Two, but I digress.
In 2019 Wacom released the Cintiq 16 which was a more budget-friendly display tablet, but now in 2020 we see the price being lowered even more for a Wacom-quality display tablet. This is great news for artists who really want to draw directly onto a screen, but don’t have a whole lot of money to invest in the professional-level features that often accompany display tablets.
The Wacom One is lean and mean. It has the essentials you need to make digital art and not much else. So let’s dive into this device and take a look at some of the specs. I’ll also do some painting on this device so you can see how it performs.
Specs & Features
The screen measures 11.6 inch wide by 6.5 inches tall. It’s 13.3 inches diagonally. The screen resolution is 1920×1080, and the color gamut is 72% of NTSC, which is a little over 70% Adobe RGB, or around 93% of sRGB. So it’s not the best screen in terms of clarity or color accuracy but it will do the trick.
The Wacom One is using an AHVA display with a Wacom EMR digitizer like you might see in a tablet like the Samsung Galaxy Note.
There is no touch capability. I wouldn’t even bother trying. And there is a matte anti-glare film applied to the tablet. The film is applied very well without any bubbles or edges peeling off.
One really cool feature is that there’s virtually no bezel to interrupt your pen if you make a stroke that goes off of the active area. The bezel will catch your pen slightly at the very edge of the tablet, but there’s a pretty decent buffer zone before your pen hits that edge. The bezel design of the Wacom One is much closer to the Cintiq Pro models, which I like.
Now let’s discuss the pen. The pen has over 4000 pressure levels which is more than adequate for drawing and painting. The pen resolution is 2540 LPI.
Pen Tilt is supported which is great. You can use Pen Tilt to change the angle of your brush dab or to shade with the side of your pencil.
Wacom’s pen does not require a battery or charging and it performs much better than non-Wacom pens. Even with the more budget minded tablets Wacom is offering, you’re still getting a top-of-the-line pen experience.
There are three spare nibs hiding behind the legs.
As far as using other pens on the Wacom One, the Wacom One does not support other Wacom pens like the Art Pen or the Pro Pen 2. But it does support other types of EMR pens. I have this STAEDTLER Noris digital pen which looks a lot like a pencil and it works great on the Wacom One. I can even vary the width of my line by pressing harder or lighter. There are a few other pens that are supported and more pen brands will be added in the future.
Now if I do some quick line tests, the line quality is great, it’s very smooth, there’s no significant line jitter. Even if I’m doing diagonal lines, there’s virtually no parallax or offset to the cursor.
The line tests with the Staedtler Pencil are great too. I notice that the Staedtler Pencil grips the surface more. I prefer the feel of the Wacom pen, but the Staedtler Pencil could be a nice option perhaps for note taking or sketching. Having a button on the pen is definitely useful too.
Now let’s move on to discuss the build quality of the Wacom One. The device itself is 8.9 inches by 14.1 inches with a thickness of 0.6 inches. It’s very lightweight at only 2.2 pounds.
The stand is built in to the tablet. There are two legs that fold out to bring the tablet to an angle of 19 degrees. The legs are surrounded by a rubber grip, and the bottom edges of the tablet have rubber grip as well. This means that whether the legs are extended or the tablet is laying flat, it won’t slide around when you draw on it.
There are no external express keys on the Wacom One, but you can get the optional Express Key Remote if you like.
There’s a nice fabric pen holder in the top center. You just slide your pen in and out of this. As far as the screen temperature I didn’t notice any warmth.
The edges and the back of the tablet are kind of an off-white color.
The Wacom One comes with a one year warranty and I’d say the build quality feels great. The tablet does not flex much when you’re bending it and the edges are smooth and rounded. Overall I’d say the thickness is closer to the Intuos Pro or the Intuos 2019. And I can’t help but notice that the Wacom One is kind of similar in design to the XP-Pen 15.6 Pro, but without the external buttons.
Now let’s discuss compatibility. The Wacom One requires an HDMI video connection and a standard USB-A port for the data connection. The USB-C, USB-A, HDMI and power are all combined into an X cable. The power end of the connector is a USB-A connection which plugs into this AC power adapter and this adapter can be converted for different outlet types and then the USB-C cable connects to the tablet.
The Wacom One is compatible with PC and Mac and it requires Windows 7 or later, or Mac OS 10.13 or later. And just for clarity, there is not a built-in computer in the Wacom One. It must be connected to a Windows, Mac or a compatible Android device such as the Samsung, Galaxy S8, S10+, and some of the Samsung Galaxy Notes as well as some other types of phones.
Connecting to Android
Now in order to connect the Wacom One to a compatible Android device, you’re going to need either Wacom’s adapter (which is not included), or a USB-C mini hub. Once you’ve connected the Wacom One to your Android device you can open the Samsung Desktop if you’re using a Samsung device, which expands to fill the active area of the tablet and you can draw just like you could on a desktop computer. It’s not like the Intuos Android that I reviewed recently, where only part of the tablet can be drawn on and it only works as a mouse cursor on your phone. — This here is legit. A phone or tablet could legitimately replace your desktop or laptop workstation for creating basic digital art.
Installation & Software
Now let’s discuss installation and software. Installation was very easy to set up. All I needed to do was plug the tablet in and install the driver and it worked. I didn’t have any driver issues.
I can use the Wacom control panel to customize the pen button for each app individually or globally for all apps. And there’s lots of other options you can tinker with.
The Wacom One also comes with some bundled software. The software’s only available for Windows 10. There’s Bamboo Paper which is a note taking app. There’s Clip Studio Paint Pro which offers you a free license for up to six months. (This is a great digital drawing and painting application.)
You can also get Adobe Premiere Rush which is kind of a simplified video editing application. This is very useful for doing video editing on the go if you’re doing vlogs and travel videos and things like that.
Adobe Fresco is coming soon. They’re offering six months license but as of the making of this video it’s not available quite yet. And even if you don’t like that bundled software you can get lots of great free alternatives such as Krita.
What Can You Do With It?
So what can you do with the Wacom One? You can take notes, you can edit photos, you could edit videos, you could of course do some light drawing and painting on this device, you could do graphic design and more.
A couple of features that I think are cool is that this tablet can be powered by portable battery bank or a desktop or laptop via USB. You’ll of course need two USB ports, one for data and one for power. But it’s neat to see that you can use this thing without having to plug it into a wall.
You can also use the Wacom One as a portable monitor through HDMI. So for example you might want to use a monitor to preview your video recordings or your photography.
Who Is This For?
So who is the Wacom One for? The Wacom One is a great starter display tablet for beginners or younger artists with smaller hands who may also want to move their tablet between rooms or maybe even take it to school.
Android compatibility means the Wacom One might even be a good tablet for photographers who shoot on their phones to do some editing on the go. And with the bundled Premiere Rush software, vloggers can even edit their videos and view them on a larger screen without having to lug around a laptop. Best of all Premiere Rush syncs with the desktop version through the cloud.
It also feels great for note taking. If you wanted to create video tutorials where you write out math equations, you could do that with the Wacom One. If you’re a college student, you can connect it to your phone and use it to take notes during lectures. And I have to say, handwriting on the Wacom One felt really natural while using the Staedtler Pencil.
The Cintiq 16 offers a better pen, it has a better display that is a bit brighter, its drawing area is of course a bit larger, it has an option for an attachable and adjustable stand and the Cintiq 16 is compatible with the Art Pen which can sense rotation and other types of Wacom pens. However, the Wacom One is definitely thinner, lighter and more portable, especially if you’re planning to work primarily on a compatible phone or tablet. The Cintiq 16 with the stand attached can be quite bulky.
The Wacom One is also a more-affordable alternative to the Intuos Pro, if you don’t mind trading some of the pro-level features for a display that you can draw directly onto.
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Pros & Cons
So let’s talk about some pros and cons. The pros of the Wacom One are that it’s a very low-profile and lightweight device. It comes with limited bundled software. The Wacom One offers excellent pen quality that’s only exceeded by Wacom’s Pro Pens. The Wacom One supports other types of EMR Pens which is great. And it supports some Android devices.
And now for the cons. The Wacom One does not include the adapter to connect it to an Android device, but you may not need it, so I guess it does keep the cost down. Just be aware that the Wacom One only supports certain Android devices.
The Wacom One does not have any Express Keys and it does not support Multi-Touch, so that means you’re going to have to lug around a keyboard if you are planning on using this with a phone or tablet only.
Concerning the stand, 19 degrees is not the most comfortable angle to draw at. And there’s no way to adjust the angle to a more vertical orientation.
And then my last gripe is that the white color on the bottom of the tablet and the edges could collect stains over time. It could be dirt from your hand or it could be grime that’s on your desk.
And now for my conclusion: 2020 seems like it’s going to be the year that smartphones give desktop computers a run for their money in terms of being capable digital art workstations. Of course, phone hardware is nowhere near professional level, but for artists who are new to digital art, a phone is now a legit tool for making art.
I’m also happy to see Wacom offering an even more affordable display tablet because I believe non-display tablets are on their way out. It feels so much better to see what you’re drawing underneath your pen and I’m glad the Wacom One puts that experience within the reach of more artists.
Now I know there will be comments saying that there are Wacom alternatives that offer more for the same price. I feel like I’m beating a dead horse here, but I urge you to check out my comparison video of the XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Pro to a Wacom tablet, so you can get a feel for what the real differences are because tablets are more than just specs on a website.
For example, you certainly can get a pen with higher pressure levels, but if the pen doesn’t respond to light pressure, then what’s the point? Or you might get lines that are always wavy or have unexpected tapering when you choose a Wacom alternative. So please be #DigitalArtSmart and watch some reviews before you buy a tablet and don’t go off of specs alone.