So this is some ramblings on long term budget tablet use. There is a surface repair tip as well. I have been using alternative tablets for years now and have put a lot of mileage on a couple. One is a Huion P608n and the other a UC Logic HA60 branded by Monoprice. I also have a budget high end pro tablet M708 by UGEE – not part of the long term report.
As it turns out these two budget tablets have become semi permanent in tablet producer line-ups. I (and probably some others did soft lobbying to Linux community and the manufacturers. Huion now continues an updated version of the P608n ready for Linux and Monoprice continues selling the HA60 and UGEE makes and upscale HA60)
On the Huion P608n:
This tablet is a handy no frills tablet with what can be termed a semi pro performance. It is now superseded by newer versions – one which has the same performance and one has full pro level performance. It has a smooth drawing surface.
After a crap load of use I started to wear through the surface. This is a bummer as this tablet is supported by every OS out there. So if you are a Linux lover (which I am), you have alternatives to WACOM. This tablet became my main tablet for that reason. I could boot to any system and good to go. I also like the smooth drawing surface. But what do you do when the surface gets breach and small bits start chipping away? Well – sure buying a new tablet is an option, but the rest of it is working just fine. I hate waste. So I tried dabbing some super glue into the breach and painstakingly sanding with ultra fine sand paper and steel wool. This seemed to be acceptable but then another small breach occurred. Hmm guess it's done ….. but what if I used a thin film and covered the surface? I tried tapping some vellum over the surface and it worked OK. But the tapped on vellum slid around and was irritating. Then I though – why not the stick on drawer contact paper? Why not? So I went to a store and found some semi transparent plastic self stick drawer liner. So far works fine. It is more like drawing with regular pencil on paper. So if you bought a drawing tablet with a smooth surface and are not fond of it – go to a store and pick up a roll of transparent contact paper – cut to size and stick it on. Does it affect performance? Not that I notice. So with preliminary testing going great and the stick on drawer liner is not scoring at this point. It seems like a perfect fit. Note: I am not taking it easy on this liner surface. I will check in with a long term report on this surface test.
So whether you hate waste – or are so strung out budget wise – or you bought one of these and hate the smooth surface – consider the contact paper solution. I of course can't say if all such plastic drawer liners will work – but I spent a $1 to get a small roll which can recover the surface at least 8 times.
Addendum. After much more use of the Huion with the self stick drawer liner applied - it appears to be an excellent solution. It is holding up to the pen tip (and I often mash it for full pressure). The surface of this drawer liner (contact paper is not quite accurate as it is a semi transparent plastic) is lightly texture - less then a tablet that comes with a textured surface. It is not quite as slippery as factory tablet surfaces. So if you picked up a tablet with a smooth surface and you don't quite like it - this maybe an answer for that as well.
On the HA60:
Before putting the Huion into full service I beat the snot out of this tablet. It had a textured surface on the drawing area. This model is still being made and can be purchased from Monoprice. I mentioned UGEE makes higher end version and am not sure if it has the same drivers (it should) – so can't say for certain it is plug and play with Linux. This tablet turned me onto buttons. I was a meat and potatoes tablet guy before this tablet. But the long cord allowed me to sit back from the computer and I got addicted to the zoom in and out and save buttons.
After a ton of use the drawing surface was worn smooth. It has suffered no breech and I still use it – because it – like the Huion is natively supported in Linux (plug and play – no drivers need to be installed – but the buttons don't work of course). The down side is this tablet has entry level performance. If it had full pro level performance it would be a winner – ergo the UGEE version might be a big winner.
These alt tablets work well – though you might have to finagle a little with drivers (the community of alt tablet users has become pretty large now – so if you have questions – someone has an answer -or has published the answer).