Astropad, to be or not to be deceived…

I’ve seen the newest doo-dad app that was launched lately that’s supposed to make use of the ipad as a makeshift cintiq. And by that I mean astropad.  I’ve also tested it, and I’ll outline my personal impressions below.

At first I thought I would be a regular 9.99 app. Boy was I in for a treat. This app costs 49.99. 50 bucks in order to be able to just use it. I would say off the bat that it’s overpriced. Given, it has nice features like panning, and in some way it tries to emulate a wacom’s ring dial/button. But it pales miserably in comparison to that.

Now in all fairness, I have to admit I don’t own a wacom pen or a 53 pencil. But as far as I’ve seen, they don’t offer much on the pressure side. And a tablet without pressure sensitivity for a painter is about as  useful as a potato. I somehow have my doubts that with a pen, things would fix themselves. I’ve used a regular stylus. It sucks. It feels like using paint. Incredibly neanderthalian. The performance is better than that of duet, what speed and fluency is concerned. But I would still not spend 50 bucks on a glorified duet app. My sense of practicality would just go and wring my neck.

So, 50 bucks for the software, another 50 or more for a “pressure-sensitive” stylus and you got yourself a poor-man’s cintique, right ? Wrong. For about 100 bucks you could just as well get a first hand wacom (small but still useful, 1024 levels of pressure beat the shit out of 0 levels of pressure on those overpriced styluses) or a second hand one, which could be bigger even if it’s older. You would gain far more.

For me personally I think astropad is a waste of money and time. Others might differ. But think about this: if you still want to use you ipad to paint or sketch, why not get a 53 + paper and use that, rather than use cluncky photoshop and pan around to see parts of the UI ? It’s like shooting yourself in the leg. Ugh.

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Astropad, to be or not to be deceived…

  1. Seriously?

    First of all, you can try Astropad for free (I did), so there’s that.

    Second, the Wacom Creative iPad stylus has 2048 levels of pressure, so much for doing, well, any actual research at all before spouting off misinformation. The Pencil by 53 (my personal favorite) doesn’t do real pressure, but it senses position, so there’s that too. Comparing those to a normal stylus is like using a stick to draw in the mud then saying that using an art pen on fine paper wouldn’t fix any of the problems you saw.

    Third, you can make Astropad show you your entire screen, which would eliminate having to pan around. Panning and zooming also worked great for me, not sure what the problem was.

    $100 might get you a cheap or old Wacom Intuos (Wacom is the company that makes both Cintiqs and Intuos, saying “buy a Wacom” is about as specific as saying “buy a Ford”), but definitely not a Cintiq. There is simply nothing out there that will do what Astropad does for a similar price. You can do a hell of a lot more and better than what Astropad offers, but you’ll pay a hell of a lot more too.

    I guess I’m just baffled, why all the vitriol for a product you obviously don’t understand and I would suspect didn’t even use? Did Astropad wrong you in a past life or something?

    It may or may not be worth it to you based on your needs, but you basically just made a bunch of stuff up (or completely misunderstood everything and didn’t bother to double check yourself) and called it a review.

    1. First off: Everything I write represents my opinion. You don’t have to:
      a) like it
      b) agree with it
      c) take it as an absolute truth

      That being said, I’m really baffled by your crusader-like comment. I’m guessing you don’t have a wacom or owned one till now. Nor do you know that the iPad has no pressure detection. Technically speaking it’s hard-nigh-impossible to convert impulses from the Pen alone to convert them into pressure information that’s sent back to the iPad and decoded into brush strokes. A wacom tablet (even the bamboo) has 2 pressure inputs. One is in the pencil, the other one is the surface. Without the surface the pen alone is pretty much room decoration. Same as here. Also, I’ve seen how the 3 supported pens perform with the iPad, and for me that’s just crap compared to a real graphics tablet.

      If you’re a professional, working with half-baked stuff just doesn’t cut it. And using an iPad as a makeshift cintiq is just that. “$100 might get you a cheap or old Wacom Intuos (Wacom is the company that makes both Cintiqs and Intuos, saying “buy a Wacom” is about as specific as saying “buy a Ford”),” indeed. But if you’ve dealt with tablets before, you know what I’m talking about. Hence, you don’t.”You can do a hell of a lot more and better than what Astropad offers, but you’ll pay a hell of a lot more too.” Of course. But if you pretend to do professional-grade work you won’t do it on an ipad. I can assure you of that.

      There’s no vitriol. It’s an opinion, and I understand it better than you think. It surprises me to see there’s experts all over the place nowadays that judge things based on advetisement alone. It might not have occured to you that people actually want to work, not fake work.

      “Third, you can make Astropad show you your entire screen, which would eliminate having to pan around. Panning and zooming also worked great for me, not sure what the problem was.” If i need to strain my eyes on a iPad screen then I guess I can do that better on a cintiq or right on the monitor without needing to pay 100 dollars to get a stylus and the app, and just using the wacom bamboo I have. But that’s just me.

      For your information, I’m not doing professional reviews because I have a paying job and it takes too much time. Which I prefer spending with my family, playing a game or doing something meaningful. Also,I’m not endorsed, nor do I get money from doing this, which means I won’t spend money on shit I’ll end up throwing away because its useless. From your tone, my guess is you worked on the app or you’re a big fan. I’m happy for you. I on the other hand am not a fan. I hope you can live with that. I know I can.

      Oh, btw: I am a UI / UX designer that also does product/industrial design. I guess that makes me very unqualified to judge the app I suppose.

      In any case,
      Have a good day !

      1. The Wacom and Intuos iPad styluses do, in fact, have pressure sensitivity. Look it up. The iPad itself does not have pressure detection, but the styluses to. They just do it in a different way.

        Cintiqs and the like don’t actually have two pressure inputs. Putting pressure on the tip of the pen compresses a mechanism within it. Behind the screen/surface of the tablet there is a sensor panel that is constantly sending out signals. The pen passively reflects the signal back, reporting the current pressure and indicating its location. That’s one pressure input and a receiver.

        With the iPad styluses they simply replaced the receiver panel with internal radios and batteries. They connect to the iPad using BlueTooth and report the current pressure that way. The App then uses the pen’s contact with the screen to determine location.

        This is not difficult information to find.

        As I said, I don’t really care that you don’t like the app, I was simply startled by the amount of misinformation your review included. This might not be a professional review, but I’d expect a professional to know more about the tools they’re using. Also to recognize that the tools don’t make the professional (for example, the Wacom Bamboo you keep mentioning is little more than a toy compared to the Intuos or Cintiq, yet it does the job so who cares if it’s “unprofessional”).

        Oh, BTW: For what it’s worth, I’m the senior software/hardware tester at an international gaming company. I actually learned about Astropad from a professional illustrator at work.

        Oh well, best of luck.

    2. I’m a retoucher and my skills are reasonable. I’ve clocked 20 years of Photoshop and about half that time with a wacom tablet.

      I was excited to try astropad since I had a new iPad and the old wacom was due for an upgrade.

      So I purchased an intuos creative stylus and Astropad. My impression the 3 times I tried painting with it was that it really sucked, sucked quite bad and just plain old sucked (googling ‘astropad sux’ us how I found my way here!). I actually would quite like my money back but then again maybe I need to give it more of a chance. The Wacom tablet took some getting used to till it became second nature and became a very valuable tool so maybe astropad is similar.

      The question I have for you JC (or anyone else not affiliated with astropad or the stylus industry) is this. Can you tell me how long it took for you to get really nice results with astropad? Is it worth the pain?

      Cheers W

  2. First, it’s nice you know so much about expensive tools I would never be able to afford in this lifetime because I live in Romania. Props to you for that ! 🙂 I wouldn’t know the first thing about how a Cintiq feels, never having owned one. Being a UX / UI designer primarily, and a industrial designer occasionaly, I rarely use my tablet. When I do, I use a bamboo, which does a pretty good job for it’s low price, even if it has a shitty 512 levels of pressure (I got the older model). Plus there is software (like Lazy Nezumi) that can help with the crappy pressure, if you are on a tight budget. I only know about how the Bamboo and Intuos work since I’ve worked a bamboo till now, and the intuos shares the same tech (with exceptions). They are… how should I put this, closer to my budget. Also, if you were an illustrator or had used a stylus for longer than 3-4 hours you’d appreciate how important it is to see the tip connect with the line you’re drawing, visually, and with a huge tipped pen like the Intuos Ipad Stylus Gen 1, you can’t do that. And the new version doesn’t have the same line precision. The other choice would be the Adonit Jot. Which has the same problem as the Wacom pen. If you’d have bothered to read this article: http://blog.astropad.com/styluses/ you’d actually know what I mean. You seem to be just jumping to conclusions thinking I’ve just slapped this together because I’m a hater and it’s cool to be hating on hipster products. You’re wrong. Having used products similar to this and having being hit with shortcomings, i know why it doesn’t suit me or anyone that’s very bent on ehancing his/her productivity and why I think this will wash down just like all the other “great” ipad doo-dads have until now. They are not production-grade applications and devices. They complement existing hardware and hope to enhance it while making a quick buck.

    Nothing wrong with that, but I hate it to see pompous articles that just praise apps without actually thinking about the shortcomings. I know the iPad is actually worthless beyond entertainment and small productivity/organisation tasks, which is why people try and keep coming back to it to find new ways to make it useful. You can’t. There’s a lengthy article about why the iPad was a failure because of it not being able to really carve out a niche for itself. I have one too, and I use it to read the newspaper, mails, tasks and ocassionaly draw. Ocasionaly because I prefer pen and paper or bamboo and my mac/pc

    Again, I’m not hating, I just happen to hate hype over nothing and people selling false promises to others. Also, the user experience is really really bad. If it takes me longer than a minute to figure out what I have to do, I won’t bother using it regularly if I have better alternatives. And what I can tell you from experience is that if a UI is not intuitive or practical, professionals drop it like hot crap. You want something that enhances your productivity, not slows you down. Sure, astro would be nice for quick sketching ideas, but why pay 50 for that and a pen when you could pay 50 for a pen and use Paper, which is really nice, has a very pleasant and simple UI and it just works ? Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think this app will stick. It just doesn’t bring enough value to the table. But that’s just me, like I said.

    Cheers

    1. Whoa dude. Relax.

      Which is it, am I a know-nothing because I’ve never used the tools (“I’m guessing you don’t have a wacom or owned one till now.” and “But if you’ve dealt with tablets before, you know what I’m talking about. Hence, you don’t.”) or am I a privileged hipster because I have (“First, it’s nice you know so much about expensive tools I would never be able to afford in this lifetime because I live in Romania. Props to you for that !”)? Can’t have it both ways. You can’t seem to decide whether you’re putting me down for not using real tools or mocking me for being pretentious about using real pro tools.

      Also note I said that the Wacom Bamboo gets the job done so there’s no shame in using one (go back and read what I wrote: “the Wacom Bamboo […] does the job so who cares if it’s “unprofessional”). Any tool, be it a Bamboo or an iPad, can be used to produce professional work. It’s the final product that matters, not the tool.

      Also, it *is* important to see the tip connecting to the line… which you don’t get with a Bamboo or Intuos… but you do get with Astropad for around the same price… Which side are you arguing again?

      But whatever, I’m done. You’re so all over the board it’s not worth it. And if you’re deluded enough to think that the iPad – one of the most successful consumer products of all time – is a failure, then there’s no point in this.

  3. I have the feeling that replying was a mistake. And not because of your rethoric prowess which you’re so trying to point out but because its tiresome to have to explain myself. I hate it.

    I have a bamboo. Does it make me a hipster ? Don’t think so. I’m saying you’re trying to imply you’ve used all of them which I doubt. I can afford to buy a intuos at max. Whatever, you’re nitpicking for the sake of argument.

    “It’s the final product that matters, not the tool.” It’s actually a combo of efficiency and quality of the final result. But yea, whatever.

    “Also, it *is* important to see the tip connecting to the line… which you don’t get with a Bamboo or Intuos… but you do get with Astropad for around the same price… Which side are you arguing again?”
    It’s quite simple actually. If I’m using a visual tool that has a screen like the ipad or cintiq i EXPECT to see the tip connect to my line. Since that’s why there’s a screen in the first place. Were I to use a bamboo or Intuos, I would not EXPECT that. See the difference ?

    I’m not deluded. I’m just not putting a equal sign between sales and successful product. There’s several ways to measure the success of a product. You’re just mentioning the one. Profit and sales. Oh and the fact that Apple is very widespread in America vs Europe, number of people on one continent vs another. Etc. I’m not a fanboy and I’m not a hater and I don’t think that you automagically have to like something because it’s apple. It’s just mass-comsumer brainwash. But yeah, I agree to disagree.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s