EventBuilder webinar strategies blog

Pen-based input for writing/drawing in webinars

January 13 2012 / by Roger Courville

How do I use a sketch tablet in my webinars? I bought a Wacom Bamboo Capture pad but it is clumsy and slow. I would like to use a pen tool to highlight, write, etc. during my presentations. Suggestions? Thanks. Rob


Unfortunately my experience trying the same thing was similar with the Bamboo Capture. Frustrated, I put it down and wrote off the $100 as a waste.

There are, however, some happy users…of similar products.

First, I found Rachel Smith's blog post from last year (great blog, BTW)  and emailed her asking if she'd landed on a favorite. Her response:

To answer your questions, I do have a solution that I love -- when I'm at my desk. When I have to travel, it's still a "make do" kind of situation.  

I'm now using a Wacom Cintiq 24HD at my desk and I adore it. When I don't need it as a tablet, it functions as an external monitor for my laptop, and it's big and bright and has great resolution. When I need it as a tablet, I simply pull it towards me, tilt the screen flat, and lower it down until it's comfortable. The weight of the device still rests on my desk, but the surface is right over my lap and it's so easy to draw and do graphic recording with the stylus on the tilted surface.

However.... it's terribly expensive ($2500 or so) and not at all portable -- it takes two people to lift it safely. When I'm on the road, I still use the smaller Cintiq (12UX) and just deal with the low resolution (1200 x 800) and small screen real estate. I sometimes use the Bamboo, but it's so difficult to control compared to the Cintiq that I don't like to use it for graphic recording.

An up-and-coming (but not quite there yet) option is the iPad. I'm looking forward to the time when the remote desktop control apps are smooth enough and fast enough that I can use the iPad as a wireless tablet. Not quite yet, though. Other than that, I don't know of a solution between the inexpensive-but-clumsy graphics tablet (Bamboo and similar) and the expensive-but-dreamy LCD tablet (Cintiq and similar). I understand that tablet PCs can be used for the purpose, but I've never gotten my hands on one to try it.

And I also know that my design-and-more guy here at 1080 Group, Mike Biewer, loves his Wacom, so I asked his opinion…

 This is why your Bamboo thing stinks for what you're trying to do: The one you're using is super small. Inside that little thing it is mapped out so that each pixel on your screen has a pseudo pixel inside the tablet. So the smaller the tablet, the more pixels associated with a point on the tablet. The only way to make it actually work the way you think it should work would be to buy a bigger tablet. I have a 17" one that maps really well to my dual monitors. 

But I use this thing for everything!!! My ass and back give out before my wrists do. And it writes/draws in Photoshop very well.

So, in short, you need a bigger tablet to make use of it during a presentation without it looking like a 2 year old is writing on the screen. 

Finally, I chatted with my new partner in Austria this morning, Daniel Holzinger of Colited, and found he has been quite happy with using pen-based input with web conferencing. Sadly, I forgot what he told me he was using.

Rob…it looks like we both need to cough up more coin, but I think it's encouraging that it can be effective.

Topics: Ask, Delivery

Roger Courville

Written by Roger Courville

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