Fstoppers Reviews the Parblo a610s, a Cheap Alternative to Entry Level Tablets

Fstoppers Reviews the Parblo a610s, a Cheap Alternative to Entry Level Tablets

When it comes to graphic tablets, one brand name always come up: Wacom. However, the Japanese manufacturer is not alone, and the competition is getting better. Parblo is probably among the best alternatives out there for the entry level market with products such as the A610S.
When Parblo contacted me asking if I wanted to review one of their graphic tablets, I thought the A610s would be the same as the Huion H610 Pro I reviewed over two years ago. But it’s actually not, it feels better, and it’s cheaper. Let’s dive in and talk about it in details.

Build Quality

The Parblo A610S feels plasticky when compared to my Wacom Intuos Pro but a bit more robust than the Huion H610 Pro. It’s not the most robust tablet on the market; however, it's still solid enough for those who don’t travel on a daily basis or are very careful.

The tablet is delivered with a passive pen, meaning you won’t have to recharge it like is the case with most Wacom alternatives. This is something I particularly liked about Parblo and hated about Huion, Ugee, and the like. Having to carry an additional cable — and not a common one you would have in your bag anyway — just in case your battery runs out of juice is definitely not the best idea. I’m glad Parblo understood this. The pen is good, but is entirely made of plastic and thus doesn’t offer an excellent grip. Those working short hours in front of the computer will probably not even notice the quality of the pen, but if you spend entire days retouching, it may not be the best solution for you.

The A610S relies on a standard micro USB 2.0 to connect to your computer. It’s not USB-C just yet, but at least it’s a quite common cable that you probably already have in your bag all the time. Hopefully, the next generation of Parblo’s tablets will carry USB-C like the latest Wacom Intuos.

For those wondering, no, the Parblo A610S cannot connect through Bluetooth, and there isn’t any optional module available. Cable only, but I honestly don’t think this is a big issue. With my Wacom Intuos Pro, I’ve had problems every single time I used it in Bluetooth. Cable is the way to go for a reliable workflow and no lag.

The name of the tablet comes from its active area: 6x10". It’s smaller than A4, but it’s larger than the active surface of a Wacom Intuos Pro Medium. It also offers a clean and simple design, with eight customizable buttons on the side and two additional on the pen. No wheel or anything fancy, just the bare minimum to get a working tablet that does its job. One last detail regarding the design of the tablet: the brand tag on the side can also be used to hold the pen when traveling. This is great for people like me who tend to lose their pen in their bags all the time! A small detail, but one I appreciate a lot.

Features

The driver is delivered with the tablet on a CD. Yes, you read that right, a CD, just like in 2000. If like me, you don’t have a CD/DVD drive, the driver is easily found on the product page on the official website. The installation was straightforward, and the driver hasn’t crashed on me once over the past two months. The configuration was very easy as well, but comes with a couple of limitations. The tablet and pen customizable keys are not fully customizable. There is a list of given tasks or keys they can be set to, but you can’t set them to any keystroke or shortcut you wish. For example, I like to set my pen buttons to cycle through layers in Photoshop; well, that wasn’t possible with the Parblo. Similarly, it’s not possible to set different shortcuts for different apps. The key customization is similar for all the apps you use.

On the brighter side of things, the Parblo A610S offers 8,192 levels of pressure, matching the Intuos Pro range. In the real world, it’s quite challenging to notice a difference between a tablet with 8,192 levels or 4,096, at least in my experience. So, all I can say is that in practice, it was good enough for retouching even fine details.

While in use, the tablet felt quite good; the surface wasn’t bad, but I prefer a coating with more grip. The one on the A610S is a bit slick, but I’m sure many won’t care or might actually appreciate it; you won’t go through nibs to quickly this way.

The only downside I’d have to note about the tablet when using it is that similarly to most cheap alternatives, it tends to jitter when drawing slowly or creating straight lines. In Photoshop, this can easily be corrected by using the smoothing option of the brush tool.

Pricing

At only $52.99, this tablet is an excellent deal! I know my review may sound harsh, but keep in mind retouching is about 50-80 percent of my time. Having a comfortable pen with a surface I appreciate and a highly customizable driver are very useful, if not required for me. However, for amateurs and enthusiasts, or even pros on a budget, the A610S is a fantastic alternative.

No charging pen, easy to use driver, clean and simple design, and micro USB cable to connect to the computer, that’s all one needs to get into retouching with a tablet. You may want to invest in a graphic monitor, a more robust solution, or a tablet such as the Wacom Mobile Studio later down the road, but honestly, when starting out, you may not need all the options these solutions would offer.

What I Liked

  • Very affordable
  • No need to charge the pen
  • Relies on Micro USB (quite common)
  • Comes with a glove
  • Easy to setup

What Could Be Improved

  • The driver can’t be customized as far as a Wacom
  • Feels a bit plasticky and not rugged enough for people who travel a lot

Conclusion

Will it replace my Intuos Pro? No, it won’t. But among the tablets I’ve tried, this is by far the best for the price. It’s an excellent product to get used to relying on a tablet before moving to a higher-end option. It could also work well as a backup tablet if you are on a budget or want a tablet at home when you can’t get to your office.

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4 Comments

Mauro Scattolini's picture

Does a tablet need to be rugged for traveling? I've never seen someone going for a hike and bring the tablet with them, and most of the smartphone are no even close to be hiking ready. Unless you plan to literally throw the tablet inside your backpack, don't think that not begin rugged is an issue while traveling. But of course that's just my opinion.

Jen Photographs's picture

Maybe not rugged in the sense that it should be able to take a beating, but in the sense that it should be able to withstand short drops or jostling in a bag?

My monoprice tablet is an early iteration of this and other similar tablets, and I don't think it could handle being flexed or dropped. The plastic is very stiff and feels like it'd snap easily. And get scratched easily.

Jen Photographs's picture

You should do a comparison review with other "affordable" tablets like Monoprice. Would be mildly interesting to see how the performance and features compare.

Serge Chabert's picture

Unfortunately not yet compatible with MAC OS Mojave.