If you’re new to the concept of working with a drawing tablet for painting, illustrating, or retouching, or if you just like a giant trackpad, there are a few options available to you. Finding the tablet that works best for you is key to learning the proper techniques, but having reliable hardware is essential. Unfortunately, the Genius MousePen i608 pen and tablet combination package misses the mark despite an impressive effort.

The i608 is a beautiful-looking product that has all of the usual features, as well as a three-button wireless mouse and clever programmable “hot keys” for your routine functions. Unfortunately, the hardware doesn’t have an ergonomic style; the feel of the mouse is awkward and the battery-powered pen is styled more like an ink pen as opposed to a drawing tool (although some may like this). Working with the i608 is as simple as any other tablet, but responsiveness isn’t quite as accurate as the company’s literature expresses.

The dominant vendor in this niche is Wacom—they set the industry standard—and going up against them is a very large task. While it doesn’t include a wireless mouse, Wacom’s Bamboo Pen & Touch is the same price, offering a dramatically better build quality. Another option is the larger 9×12″ Adesso CyberTablet 12000 for $149 that does include both pen and mouse. Looks like it’s back to the drawing board.—Daniel M. East

Company: Genius
Price: $99
Rating: 2

Hot: Price; hot keys; includes wireless mouse
Not: Build quality; no Mac software