If you recall in my article titled ‘The artist’s guide to sketching and drawing on a Chromebook‘, I drove home the point that Wacom’s graphics tablets weren’t able to be used with Chromebooks due to their reliance on software drivers which were only compatible with Windows and macOS. Instead, artists would need to purchase a Chromebook that had a touchscreen and the ability to connect a USI stylus in order to get creative or take notes directly on its display.
A graphics tablet is an input device consisting of a flat, pressure-sensitive pad that the user draws on or points at with a special stylus, to guide a pointer displayed on the screen.What exactly is a graphics tablet?
Introducing the One by Wacom
However, today’s news changes that entirely – I am pleased to announce that Wacom, the leader in creative pen technology and the most popular brand in its space, now officially offers a graphics tablet that is fully compatible with Chromebooks and has even received the Works with Chromebook certification! The “One by Wacom” – not to be confused with the “Wacom One” – can now be connected to Chromebooks running at least OS 87 and kernel version 4.4+ in order to extend their digital input functionality – that means that over 60 Chromebooks can use this little guy right out of the box!
If you’re interested in seeing whether or not it’s compatible with your device, simply press CTRL+ALT+T on your keyboard in order to open up a terminal and type in “
uname -r” without the quotations. If you’re running the proper operating system version and this command spits out 4.4 as the first two digits of your kernel, you’re good to go.
– One by Wacom pen tabletWhat’s in the box?
– One by Wacom pen
– 1 meter USB cable (Micro USB to USB-A)
– 3 standard replacement pen nibs
– Nib removal tool
– Quick start guide
– Regulation sheet
Price and specifications
You can pick up the small One by Wacom from the company’s official store (out of stock as of writing this), Amazon, and select retailers for just $69.95 USD. (if you live in Germany or various other regions, you can also pick up the medium-sized version!)
The device, weighing in at just a half-pound (250g), has a 6″ active surface area that can be used left or right-handed and is plug and play, so there’s zero setup or software installation necessary in order to start using it. Should you have only Type-C USB ports on your Chromebook as I do with the Pixelbook Go, you’ll need to buy a USB type A to USB type C adapter to get it hooked up if you don’t already have one laying around.
If you have a USI stylus for your Chromebook, the included Wacom stylus, which weighs 9g, uses battery-free EMR technology and won’t interfere with it because it works solely on the tablet’s surface, not on your screen. The upper right button can be used as a right-click too, though the other button on the pen doesn’t do anything at this time. I should also mention that the pen has 2048 pressure levels, which is the most you’ll ever care about if you fit Wacom’s target audience for this device, despite what anyone else would have you believe. With that amount, you’ll feel like you’re drawing on paper and there will be plenty of natural and fluid variation in your line thickness and pressure.
Wacom is stepping into the Chromebook market and providing one of its products at a vital time in history. As more students and teachers transition to online education faster than they had anticipated doing so thanks to the pandemic, the challenge has been to bridge the gap between physical and digital mediums, especially while communicating with one another over long distances rather than in person.
Chromebooks and Wacom devices have always broken down barriers to education separately, so it makes perfect sense that they begin doing so together. That’s why Wacom’s focus with this match made in heaven is on the education sector, at least for the time being. The One by Wacom should primarily be seen as a tool for teachers and students, and perhaps even beginning artists, and not as much for creative professionals for now – more on that later.
“Digitalization has great benefits for the education sector. But it has proven to be challenging,”
“As a pioneer of digital pen technology, Wacom is committed to providing teachers, students, and administrators with reliable, sustainable, and easy to use solutions. The new compatibility with Wacom pen tablets and displays will make creating, working, and teaching digitally as natural and intuitive as possible and offer users more possibilities to work with their Chromebook.Faik Karaoglu, Executive Vice President of Wacom’s Branded Business
In order to promote the tablet’s use for handwriting notes, solving math problems and scientific equations, quickly sketching or marking up documents, and brainstorming with whiteboards, along with other STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics), Wacom has partnered with five of the top educational software applications which all provide powerful tools for collaboration and learning – Collaboard, Explain Everything, Kami, Limnu, and Pear Deck. You’ll also get 3 free months of complimentary access to each of them when you register your tablet and get a Wacom ID (offer valid until November 30, 2021). Don’t forget that you can use Chrome Canvas, Google Keep, and Jamboard as well just to name a few others!
If you purchase this tablet for the classroom or for your home, you should check out the Wacom for e-learning hub that the company has set up in order to provide you with tips, tricks, and more so that you can unleash its full potential. Should you be interested in getting a quick glimpse at the free form spaces that can be created using the aforementioned software applications, I’ve dropped a few screenshots below, but you should click the links above to visit each one individually and see everything that they’re capable of.
You should know that you can’t use the Wacom Desktop Center to manipulate the tablet’s preferences because it’s unavailable on Chrome OS. It’s exclusively a Windows and macOS software solution, but despite this, the One is initially shipping as an annotation and collaboration tool more than anything, so it really isn’t a big deal at this time. Besides, you can still register your tablet for support by creating a Wacom account. Here’s to hoping they find some way to provide this experience in the future though.
The One by Wacom is lightweight and ultra-portable. It can be chucked into your laptop bag or simply carried on top of your Chromebook as you travel around campus or even from your car in the Panera Bread parking lot to your coffee and sandwich. Seriously, this thing is small, but it’s still a fantastic size for the things it’s being marketed to do.
I would actually describe it as complementary in size to most Chromebooks, meaning it feels more like you’re carrying around a super-thin book than another full-sized device. It weighs just a half-pound (250g) and the stylus that it comes with weighs practically nothing as well (9g).
Speaking of the stylus, if you’ve ever used a Wacom pen before, it’s nothing to write home about (yes, I went there). Don’t be mistaken though, while it’s just like most other entry-level Wacom styli in shape, material, and feel, it still works extremely well and is comfortable to hold. It lacks a grippy material, but other than that, it’s fine and helps you feel like you’re holding a normal writing utensil commonly used for physical mediums, which is the point.
Let me just sum up the experience like this – I went to a coffee shop and pulled out my Pixelbook Go and a Wacom drawing tablet and started to make some art for a video game I’m creating, and it definitely drew some eyes. Normally, using a graphics tablet in public isn’t really something you do, and if you were to, it would be on a hefty twelve-pound beast of a laptop – not a thin, speedy Chromebook. All I have to say is that having this combination on the go is super cool, and makes my computing experience feel a lot more complete.
A major milestone for Chromebooks
The launch of the One by Wacom being focused on the education sector wasn’t just strategic, it was necessary. Yes, it was the perfect timing and Chromebooks are the perfect partner, but had Wacom launched this and aimed it at hardcore artists, they wouldn’t have been able to reach as many people, nor be taken as seriously, but that’s not their fault.
First of all, the Chromebook audience has always predominantly consisted of teachers and students, though they’re becoming much more widely accepted in recent years. Businesses have deployed Google’s laptops at scale, and more regular consumers buy them in big box stores than ever before – trust me, I know from experience. Second, and more importantly, while Chromebooks have been exploring ways to provide powerful software applications to users in an effort to usher in creatives (that adequately compete with Adobe’s offerings), they’re still not quite there yet.
Though that’s true, we did recently have a major announcement in this space. Clip Studio Paint announced support for its software to run on Chromebooks and is even giving away three free months to Chromebook owners via Google’s Perks page. Honestly, beyond that of Krita and even of web applications like Photopea or Pixlr, Clip Studio has proven to be the closest thing we’ve ever had to a true Photoshop competitor on Chromebooks. It’s far from perfect, but in my time using the One by Wacom in conjunction with Clip Studio Paint, I’ve found it to be extremely usable and it’s given me the first hints of what it may one day feel like to fully work from my Chromebook without the need to switch over to my Windows PC for creative purposes! The software is high above average, but it became all the more worth using once I plugged in the tablet.
Let me just put this plainly – having a Wacom graphics tablet support Chromebooks that’s a huge deal. Many have begged for this for years and I can’t tell you how many parents and students have come into retail stores where I used to work and asked if they could use their tablet with the Chromebook I was about to sell them only for me to say “nope”.
Though this graphics tablet is aimed at education today, that does not at all mean that artists can’t start using it to get their hands dirty. If you’re interested in seeing me demonstrate some art on this little guy via a video tutorial showing you how to set up and use Clip Studio Paint with the One by Wacom on a Chromebook, let me know in the comments.
The fact that Wacom has considered Chromebooks as a partner has me desperately hoping that more powerful pen tablets and even possibly display tablets will one day become Works with Chromebook certified and fully compatible with Google’s laptops. I am now more exciting than ever for what the future holds for creatives like myself as Chrome OS continues to grow and mature into the laptop for everyone. In the meantime, Google and Wacom will continue doing what they do best – connecting people and solving problems using incredible innovations.