I’ve been hunting for the perfect graphics tablet for almost two decades.


A personal odyssey of frustration, hope, and the unquenched desire for a better peripheral

Tech optimism is addictive. For example, my App Store history is littered with note-taking apps, and I’ve spent far too much time and money searching for the perfect keyboard. The right app, the right keyboard, is always the next one, because the one I have now inevitably falls short in some small but unavoidably irritating way. And so I keep looking, buying, installing, hoping.

The next note-taking app will organize my life. The next keyboard will make me a better writer…

My personal doom loop of tech optimism isn’t limited to note-taking apps or keyboards. I’ve been hunting for the perfect graphics tablet for almost two decades. Every year or so I find myself trying a new model, each purchased with a heart full of hope—hope soon dashed by flaky drivers, bizarre Bluetooth dongles, wobbly pen nibs, sporadic wireless connections, or Kafkaesque software.

I’ve tried nearly every brand and configuration. None has hit that sweet spot between ideal form and flawless function. Some have been downright infuriating. Wacom, for example, littered my Mac with so many inexplicable drivers and background utilities, I continue to unearth them years after my last interaction with one of their tablets.

An Apple Magic Trackpad in white.
The Magic Trackpad by Apple

My needs are humble: I want to draw, paint, and retouch photos; something nearly as simple as pen and paper, the size of a small sketchpad; skip the visual interface, hold the buttons and dials, and don’t try to persuade me with a bundle of second-rate graphics apps. Basically, I want a tablet that can rival my Magic Trackpad in terms of utility and simplicity. Unfortunately, the Magic Trackpad falls flat for drawing and painting.

A sleek black computer mouse featuring multiple buttons and a silver track wheel.
The Logictech MX Master 3S

Occasionally I’ll throw a mouse into the mix, especially when one promises to be a great choice for graphics work. Recently, for example, I gave the Logitech MX Master 3S a whirl. I liked customizing all the buttons. I hated customizing all the buttons. On the other hand (haha), it felt both comfortable and powerful, like a…


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