Today, things are different because there are numerous options to create pro level digital art on a drawing tablet that doesn’t need a computer. In the past a drawing tablet alone was not sufficient for art without a desktop or laptop attached.
A Standalone drawing tablet eliminates the need of a second device and will give you more portability, similar precision and minimal difference in pen input delay compared to a Wacom or Traditional graphics tablet.
As a digital Artist myself, I’ve created a list of the best standalone tablets for drawing that have been tested amongst very talented digital art experts.
The best drawing tablet that doesn’t need a computer is the iPad Air & Apple Pencil combination.
- Your alternative is the Microsoft Surface Pro + Surface Pen.
- There are no other standalone drawing tablets under $2k that are better than these options – Fact.
- I compare both here: Surface Pro 7 vs iPad Pro for Drawing & Art
These two tablets have a computer built-in and provide the same type of features as a Wacom drawing tablet.
- Related: Wacom vs iPad: which is better for Digital Art?
- Related: Best Wacom Tablets for Photo Editing & Photographers
I’ve even made a video on the best drawing tablets that don’t need a computer below:
Many Artists and professionals stick with the standalone tablet over the traditional because it provides a screen and pen input without the additional, bulky second monitor.
See our post on the ultimate drawing tablet setups for Digital artists.
- The best drawing tablet that doesn't need a computer is the iPad Air & Apple Pencil combination.
- At a Glance – Standalone Drawing Tablets that don't require a computer
- What is a Standalone Drawing Tablet?
- Best Drawing Tablets that don't need a Computer (Standalone)
- 1. Microsoft Surface Go 2 – Best budget portable Drawing tablet (No computer needed)
- 2. iPad Air – Best Drawing Tablet Without a Computer connection necessary (Apple)
- 3. Surface Pro 7- Best Portable Drawing Tablet that Doesn’t Need a Computer (windows)
- 4. Wacom Mobile Studio Pro: Best Wacom cintiq alternative (no computer needed)
- 5. iPad – standard: Best cheap portable drawing tablet for beginner artists
- Apple Pen – Does it work the same on the basic iPad as it does on the Air/Pro?
- 6. iPad Pro: Best tablet for illustration that doesn’t require a computer
- 7. Samsung Galaxy S7+: Best Portable Drawing Tablet from Samsung (standalone drawing tablet)
- Stylus for standalone Drawing Tablets
- What accessories do I need with a Standalone drawing tablet for drawing, animating, and digital painting?
- Is buying a 2-in-1 laptop and stylus a better solution than drawing Tablets & graphics tablets?
- When to consider a standalone tablet vs a drawing tablet connected to a computer
- Disadvantages of a standalone drawing tablet
At a Glance – Standalone Drawing Tablets that don’t require a computer
|New Microsoft Surface Go 2 - 10.5" Touch-Screen - Intel Pentium - 4GB Memory - 64GB - Wifi - Platinum (Latest Model)
|View on Amazon
|2022 Apple iPad Air (10.9-inch, Wi-Fi, 64GB) - Space Gray (5th Generation)
|View on Amazon
|Wacom Mobile Studio Pro 13" Windows 10, Intel Core i7, 512GB SSD: Second Generation
|View on Amazon
|Microsoft Surface Pro 7 – 12.3" Touch-Screen - 10th Gen Intel Core i5 - 8GB Memory - 128GB SSD – Platinum
|View on Amazon
It’s frequent to see digital artists replace their drawing tablet & Laptop (like a Wacom tablet), with one that doesn’t require a computer. Below are just a few of the best drawing tablets to use that don’t need a computer:
- Microsoft Surface Go 2: lowest cost, budget standalone drawing tablet
- iPad Air: Best for Pro Artwork, drawing & digital painting
- Surface Pro 7: The best 2-in-1 laptop replacement for drawing
- Wacom Mobile Studio Pro: Wacom Cintiq alternative (no computer needed)
The core differences amongst standalone drawing tablets is the operating system preference. iOS is hard to go wrong with as it has the procreate app, but windows competes due to its app compatibility. Android lags behind due to its lack of certain drawing applications some artists use.
There are two different types of drawing tablets that don’t require a computer:
- Name Brand Tablets (ex. iPad, Samsung Galaxy or Surface Go, Wacom Studio Pro)
- 2-in-1 Tables (ex. Microsoft Surface Pro or Lenovo Yoga)
These are both considered Art Tablets or Standalone tablets for digital art. Unlike a laptop for drawing, these are portable and do not need a secondary computer to operate.
Related: See the best drawing Tablet with screen built-in
Both options will work well to create pro-level art. However, if you go iPad or Samsung Galaxy, keep in mind you don’t get the accessories like a mouse or keyboard or a pen that comes along with the purchase.
What is a Standalone Drawing Tablet?
A Standalone drawing tablet is a device that does not need a laptop or computer to be used for drawing and animating. It allows for 4096+ pressure levels of sensitivity, tilt recognition, palm rejection, and shortcut buttons just like a standard graphics tablet.
You can draw directly on the display of a standalone drawing tablet. professional level creative work.
A Standalone tablet has a built-in computer that allows them to work independently without an external computer. This means it is a portable drawing tablet in many cases. This has a very similar use case as a wireless drawing tablet.
Compared to other devices: Regular drawing tablets that are connected to a computer via Bluetooth or USB are different from standalone drawing tablets.
Our tech team has tested these device and found that the standalone drawing tablets require a significant amount more power, technology, and resources. This is because it needs to operate on its own without the use of a secondary device.
Tablets have become more powerful and now work very well as a replacement of a Wacom type tablet.
Best Drawing Tablets that don’t need a Computer (Standalone)
These are some of the most popular and best standalone drawing tablets on the market today that don’t require you to connect it a computer though a usb or wired connection. I’m going to discuss my personal experience using them, expert opinions I’ve gathered as well as the pros and cons of each compared to a traditional graphics tablet or Wacom drawing tablet.
Which you choose will greatly depend on which operating system you prefer: Android, iOS, or Windows. I found the iPad and surface Pro to be slightly more responsive for drawing than the Android tablets, but not drastically. The overall feel and intuition used when drawing is more seamless as well.
1. Microsoft Surface Go 2 – Best budget portable Drawing tablet (No computer needed)
The latest Surface Go 2 is simply the most value-for-money standalone tablet for drawing (Windows based). Although its predecessor (Surface Go) was a reliable, robust laptop, Microsoft has gone more than one step forward with Go 2 when it comes to drawing.
Performance-wise, Microsoft has included a surprisingly impressive kit considering the price of the Surface Go 2. The Intel Pentium CPU combined with 8GB of RAM works like a charm, making this tablet the most robust budget Windows tablet.
To be more precise, this set can easily cope with the full-versions of graphic design software like Photoshop, Krita, FireAlpaca, Illustrator, etc. Moreover, the 8GB of RAM allows you to multitask efficiently and without any lag. You can even use this drawing tablet for Cricut Design space.
When it comes to its drawing capabilities, the new Surface Go can be used with the Surface Pen and pretty much any other active pen that connects via Bluetooth. However, when combined with the new Surface Pen, the Go 2 provides a fantastic drawing experience.
Microsoft Surface Pen
The Surface Pen is a stylus designed by Microsoft for use with most current models of Windows touch and pen-enabled devices. The design encourages a natural way to draw for most Pro level projects-as if it were a pen to write on paper.
With 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity, extremely fast response (no lag) and seamless integration with the Surface tablets, the Surface Pen is capable for Pro-level, studio quality art most. The Drawing experience was smooth and could compare to that of an Apple Pencil.
The only thing that Surface Go 2 (tablet) lacks is questionably power to manipulate heavy animation tasks and demanding 3D modeling software. While it may be able to handle it, the surface Pro 7 or iPad Pro would be the ideal choice for that.
Accordingly, if you are an experienced animator, video editor, or 3D modeler, the Surface Pro 7 is a the preferred premium option.
Nevertheless, the Surface Go 2 is a fantastic solution for 2D drawing (Illustrator, Autodesk Sketchbook), photo-editing (Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.). This is a great budget tablet for beginners or experienced artists who need a powerful (yet affordable) device for drawing.
2. iPad Air – Best Drawing Tablet Without a Computer connection necessary (Apple)
Apple’s iPad Air doesn’t need any introduction. As one of the most popular tablets ever created, the Air is also one of the best standalone drawing tablets available. With a slight compromise on design, camera quality, and performance, the latest iPad Air provides everything an artist needs at nearly half the cost of the Pro model.
The iPad Air can easily handle any 2D drawing, photo-editing, and sketch application. When it comes to performance, the A14 Bionic CPU of the Air is slightly less potent than Pro’s chipset. However, now that M1 has been released things have really improved.
The tablet has the same drawing capabilities as the iPad Pro, and it is the only Air model that allows artists to use the best active pen on the market, the Apple Pencil 2. Likewise, the overall drawing experience on Procreate and other drawing apps are simply top-tier.
Although the Air’s screen is relatively more minor than Pro’s (10.9” instead of 12.9”), the Retina display is simply impressive, and the almost 11 inches are sufficient for 2D drawing. Moreover, the iPad Air is exceptionally lightweight and smaller than the iPad Pro. Thus, this is an ultimately portable drawing device.
Many are using Procreate with their drawing apps, which is iPad only: See Which is the best Procreate iPad
As a digital artist myself, I found the uniqueness of the Apple Pencil extremely intuitive and useful when drawing serious art projects.
Apple Pencil – The gold standard for standalone drawing tablets
The Apple Pencil is in a league of its own. An innovative pen built for digital artists with extremely fast response times, unparalleled precision, and intuitive “gestures” features that are unique to no other pen. This means this digital pen’s shortcut buttons are actually not in the form of a standard button, but can be used tapping the pen to switch from tool, to eraser.
The Apple Pencil has a rechargeable battery and outshines many of the major pens available as its capable of integrating with the Procreate app and has pressure sensitivity that competes with that of the Wacom Pens.
To summarize, if you are an Apple fan and you don’t need a device to run extreme animation or advanced 3D projects, this is the best standalone drawing tablet for you. No matter if you are an experienced or beginner artist, Apple has included everything a creator asks for in the iPad Air.
3. Surface Pro 7- Best Portable Drawing Tablet that Doesn’t Need a Computer (windows)
Even though it all comes up to personal preferences, Surface Pro 7 is one of the best standalone drawing tablets out there. Microsoft’s flagship brings a lot to the table and has everything the budget choices like Surface Go and iPad lack and more.
In a few words, we can only compare the Surface Pro 7 to the iPad Pro when it comes to performance. To be more precise, both the i5 and i7 versions of the tablet can easily cope with any 2D or 3D drawing software, animation apps, and pretty much any project.
With its hardware kit, the latest Surface Pro is a highly portable full computer rather than a tablet.
Accordingly, the 12.3” display is simply breathtaking, the camera is terrific, and the 256GB of storage is more than enough for vast drawing projects. The Surface Pen (and Surface Pen Slim) work ideally, and the drawing process on the Surface Pro is top-tier. With only 20ms of response rate, sketching on this tablet feels like drawing with a traditional pencil.
Surface Slim Pen
A Microsoft standalone drawing tablet pen with pressure sensitivity that matches that of the other premium stylus for drawing (4,096 levels). It provides one of the most natural experiences for drawing amongst the stylus I’ve used. While it can’t compare to apple in terms of innovation with gesture shortcuts; it rivals its functionality in creating pro-level art, design, and graphic art.
The Slim Pen by Microsoft is useful for digital artists using a tablet to draw (without a computer). It’s utility extends to its compatibility with the optional Surface Pro X keyboard; you can store & attach the Surface slim Pen conveniently for when you’re ready to draw.
Microsoft is truly able to bring a premium drawing experience for those swapping from Apple, as well as a Wacom or Huion Tablet; two of which do require a computer/laptop. One drawback is the Surface Pro Pen battery isn’t always easy to replace.
The Surface Pro 7 is lightweight (1.7 pounds) and has one of the best batteries on the market. Thus it is effortless to carry this tablet with you everywhere and draw on the go. To summarize, Surface Pro 7 is the absolute best choice for those who want to create professional artwork on a Windows drawing tablet.
4. Wacom Mobile Studio Pro: Best Wacom cintiq alternative (no computer needed)
Wacom is the leading brand when it comes to the development of drawing tablets. Although most of their devices are computer-dependent, with the latest Mobile Studio Pro, we don’t need an external PC to draw.
However, compared to an iPad Air, the price tag in my opinion didn’t justify itself when I tested it, but this is subjective. Yes, it was an improvement, but how much of an improvement deems worthy of thousands of dollar cost difference? Still a great tablet overall for top tier level artists who want a change.
This is one of the few standalone Wacom tablets and by far the most expensive device on the list for good reasons. First of all, the brand has included one of the most advanced hardware kits we have ever seen on a tablet. The Studio Pro 13 has a super-fast i7 CPU and 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD to store all your projects, and every connectivity essential you might need (Thunderbolt 3, etc.).
Apart from that, the main reason why the Studio Pro is two times (if not more) more expensive than the iPad Pro is the high ceiling of drawing capabilities it offers. In fact, this tablet was created by artists and felt like it was aimed to be used by serious creators when I had it in my hands.
Would I use the Wacom Mobile Studio over the iPad Pro? Most likely if the price tag was lower. If II was back in the art studio I’d probably just use a tablet with a computer connected to it instead of this standalone tablet. The end result in the art project I tested would had allowed me to get away with an iPad.
The 13” WQHD (2560 x 1440) display constitutes a breathtaking canvas, and its multi-touch Surface helps the drawing experience. The Wacom Pro Pen 2 is simply amazing, and due to its 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, it makes you feel like drawing on actual paper.
Wacom Pro Pen 2 – Does it beat the Apple Pencil?
In a word, Yes. However the Wacom Pro has Pen 2 offers 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity and has tilt response unparalleled to others. These specs are is extremely high compared to other available standalone tablets stylus’. In my opinion, this high level of pressure sensitivity and responsiveness issn’t particularly necessary for most and aims to give a boost to those creating art that is studio level only.
There’s no charge necessary and this stylus has an eraser tool built-in with Bluetooth LTE for connecting to mobile devices (very useful).
The only disadvantage we could find around this device is that the new Wacom Studio Pro isn’t as portable as other tablets like the iPads. However, Wacom has developed this device for professionals that need the best editing and drawing experience on the market.
Thus, Wacom Studio Pro is simply the most premium standalone drawing tablet if you are a professional
5. iPad – standard: Best cheap portable drawing tablet for beginner artists
If you are an Apple fan who needs a reliable budget device for drawing, then the new iPad might be the best choice for you. Even though the regular iPad model isn’t as fast as the Air or Pro, it offers a relevant drawing experience at a much more affordable price tag.
In a few words, Apple developed the iPad for casual uses like browsing and streaming. However, it performs well when it comes to light photo editing and drawing apps like Procreate or Adobe Lightroom. Thus, if you don’t need a performance-beast tablet like the Pro, then the regular iPad is an amazing choice.
When it comes to the drawing experience, the iPad provides a lag-free process of sketching software. On the other hand, the regular model can’t be used with the latest Apple Pencil 2, so you are limited to work with Apple Pencil 1.
Apple Pen – Does it work the same on the basic iPad as it does on the Air/Pro?
The Apple Pencil in the standard iPad will work just as it would with the iPad Air or Pro. Which pen you chose will depend not he compatibility. See our post, Apple Pencil 2 vs 1: differences compared for more on this.
Even though Apple’s 2nd generation active pen is innovative in numerous ways, the 1st gen model also provides a professional drawing experience. It utilizes the same pressure sensitivity and an incredible response rate (20ms).
Thus, if you are a beginner who needs a reliable Apple tablet and you don’t want to spend an enormous amount on your standalone drawing device, the iPad is a great budget solution.
6. iPad Pro: Best tablet for illustration that doesn’t require a computer
Apple’s flagship, the latest iPad Pro, is simply the most innovative tablet ever created. As a specially constructed device for artists, the Pro edition combines a breathtaking performance, top-tier drawing capabilities, and ultimate flexibility. The iPad Pro is a great drawing tool for professionals and a superb first drawing device for beginners who have the budget.
When it comes to performance, the iPad Pro is a high-speed device, as it has a similar (and in some cases faster) performance with Microsoft’s Surface Pro. Thus, no matter if you deal with photo-editing, drawing, video editing, or even animation, iPad Pro can easily handle any design software.
Moreover, the iPad Pro has one of the most vibrant displays on the market (12.9” Retina), perfect for drawing and editing software.
When it comes to portability, this is a highly lightweight device with a beautiful, compact design. The iPad Pro seamlessly connects to any Apple device for file transferring or other reasons.
You can also connect it to your Macbook and use it as a canvas on apps that you couldn’t use on your iPad (e.g., demanding 3D modeling software). If you are using MacBook, you will want to see the best Drawing tablets available for Mac.
Apple Pencil 2 – The ultimate drawing experience with no computer needed
Again, the Apple Pencil 2 is extremely useful when used in combination of the Pro because it boasts all the benefits most stylus have, but with additional features such as magnetic caps (so yo udon’t lose them) and a way to store the pen. When it comes to precision, the Apple Pencil is capable of creating digital art any expert artist would be proud
To sum up, when combined with Apple Pencil 2, the latest iPad Pro is a top-tier drawing tool for professional artists.
7. Samsung Galaxy S7+: Best Portable Drawing Tablet from Samsung (standalone drawing tablet)
Samsung entered the drawing tablet world and managed to create reliable devices that were able to provide a drawing experience any level artist could appreciate.
Accordingly, the new Galaxy Tab S7+ is the best Samsung tablet that doesn’t need a laptop or desktop to support it for drawing. It is designed for professional creators and has numerous features to justify its relatively high price.
Performance-wise, the S7+ has a similar performance to other flagships like the iPad Pro and the Microsoft Surface Pro. Thus, as one of the strongest tablets on the market, the S7+ will easily cope with everything you ask.
It has an impressive 12.4” display, which constitutes an excellent canvas size for Android editing apps like Photoshop and drawing apps like Illustrator and Clip Studio Paint. The redesigned S Pen provides a natural feel and approaches the drawing capabilities of Apple Pencil 2. Mainly due to its 9ms latency, this is one of the best active pens on the market.
However, the most noticeable downside of S7+ is its OS. The Android OS is extremely fast but doesn’t have all the apps a creator might need. Thus, even though Google has included many top-tier design apps like the Adobe suite, the lack of top-tier drawing software like Procreate is distinguishable.
As mentioned previously, the S-Pen rivals that of the Apple’s and Microsofts digital pencils; however the S-Pen is compatible with Android OS on the Samsung Galaxy S6, S7, Note and various other Samsung models.
It has the pressure sensitivity, tilt control, and shortcut buttons to design projects as well as the Apple Pencil or Surface Pen, but when I used it side-by-side with the Apple Pencil I found the over feel to be slightly less response (not drastic, though)
To sum up, the latest S7+ is an extremely fast standalone drawing tablet with unique features. Thus, if you make sure Android has the apps you use as an artist, this is a great solution.
Stylus for standalone Drawing Tablets
When using a stylus on a drawing tablet that doesn’t require the assistance of a computer, you’ll want to consider the type of Tablet you’re using. If you choose a name brand product like Samsung Galaxy, then the pen that is most ideal is the one that comes with the device since third party pens don’t communicate with the standalone drawing tablet in the same fashion a native stylus pen will.
Qualities to look for are high pressure sensitivity levels, tilt control technology, Palm rejection, shortcut buttons, and the ability to switch between eraser and brushes easily. The operating system will dictate which Stylus’ are compatible for your standalone drawing tablet.
If you do decide to go with a third party stylus and you’re going with the Apple iPad as your drawing tablet, then see our post: Zagg Pro vs Apple Pencil vs Adonit Note+ vs Adonit Pixel to understand the differences when using a stylus.
Otherwise here is a chart based that identifies stylus’ that work well with standalone drawing tablets:
|Standalone Drawing Tablet compatibility
|Active or Capacitive
|Apple Pencil 1st Generation
|iPad models only
|Apple Pencil 2nd Generation
|iPad models only
|Samsung Galaxy, Note models
|Microsoft Surface Pen
|Windows Tablets only
|Microsoft Surface Slim Pen
|Windows Tablets only
|Lenovo Active Pen 2
|Lenovo Tablets only
|Adonit Note+ (iPad Only)
|iPad models only
|Adonit Pixel Pro (iPad only)
|iPad models only
|Wacom Pen 2
|Wacom Studio Pro tablets
|Adonit Pro 4
|Universal, all touchscreens
|Adonit Dash 3
|iPads and iPhone (select only)
If you’re having trouble choosing the best stylus pen for your drawing tablet (the type that has no need for a computer), then the models listed above will help guide you in the right directions as I’ve tested and used each of these with success for Studio quality art & design. (even animation)
What accessories do I need with a Standalone drawing tablet for drawing, animating, and digital painting?
What accessories does someone using a Standalone drawing tablet for drawing, animating, cartoons, illustration, graphic design and more?
For most, there is no need for anyone to buy expensive accessories with a standalone drawing tablet because the performance of the device itself is already good enough.
owever, there are some items that will make your drawing significantly more enjoyable and efficient; though they are optional for many. For Pro artists, these will likely be neccissities.
These include a Keyboard, Mouse, Screen protector and more. This makes using the tablet very simple and efficient.
Screen Protector – Matte or Glossy
you can get a glossy or matte green protector, a good one I’ve used is called ‘paper-like’ and works well on the iPA specifically, you can find various versions of this for Android and Microsoft tablets by checking their site.
In most cases the display of the tablet works just fine without a protector, but only if you’re using a premium, name-brand tablet (in most cases). If you’re not using a premium tablet/pen-not you may want to consider a screen protector when using a third party stylus because it could scratch the screen if its not designed properly.
For Apple users who want more on this topic, see our: 7 best stylus for procreate.
Most prefer a keyboard. All the major brands have a dedicated keyboard which is worth getting if you plan to create pro level art without frustration-especially on one that doesn’t need a computer because you’re lacking the functionality of a desktop.
This is crucial for many that are serious digital artists. If you’re more casual than you can get away without a digital keyboard, but as a artist myself I find it very useful to have a keyboard since it makes the navigation significantly easier.
Whether you’re using a Wireless drawing tablets or not, you’ll still need a tablet accessory scubas a kick stand a keyboard for more precise drawing/writing.
Is a Mouse needed for a standalone drawing tablet?
You can use a mouse for drawing apps. It’s useful because it allows an artist to navigate easier. It’s also useful because it allows the artist to zoom in and use the Tablet like a computer. using a mouse on a drawing tablet helps because it allows you to quickly scan through the drawing area and utilize the menu of the drawing app easier.
This is very useful for when you’re using a tablet for drawing that doesn’t need a computer to work.
It also allows you to function as if you were using a laptop and a Wacom tablet because you can perform actions outside fo just the drawing app quicker, such as exporting your work and utilizing google drive or adobe creative suit. For more on Adobe, see our post: 7 Best Drawing tablets for Photoshop & Illustrator
Is buying a 2-in-1 laptop and stylus a better solution than drawing Tablets & graphics tablets?
Although many creators prefer 2-in-1 laptops for drawing, tablets are a better solution for specific reasons. Especially when it comes to drawing, most tablets are more affordable, portable, and powerful enough to handle design software.
Thus, if you don’t need a full PC for other tasks (e.g., demanding gaming or 3D modeling) and want an ultimately portable device to draw, browse and stream, there is no reason to prefer a 2-in-1 laptop over a standalone drawing tablet. Moreover, the top-tier tablets like Microsoft Surface Pro, iPad Pro, and Samsung S7+ are actually faster than most laptops out there.
When to consider a standalone tablet vs a drawing tablet connected to a computer
Even though buying a drawing tab is also an excellent choice for artists, drawing tablets that don’t require a computer are simply much more than just that. The first advantage of devices like iPad Pro is that, not only are they portable, but you can use them for other things.
From checking your emails to watching movies and browsing, the latest tablets are pocket-sized, fully-functional computers.
Apart from that, a standalone device for drawing allows you to work on the go. Most Wacom’s drawing tabs on the other hand, for example, are lightweight and compact, but you have to carry a laptop with you too. With a standalone tablet all that is required is the tablet itself and a compatible active pen.
Why are standalone drawing tablets more expensive than drawing tablets?
The main reason why standalone drawing tablets are more expensive than drawing tabs is that they are not just drawing. As mentioned above, an artist can use a standalone tablet for numerous tasks and projects.
Likewise, when it comes to standalone devices, brands have to include a complete hardware kit (CPU, RAM, Hard drive, OS, etc.) for the device to be functional, which lifts the production costs. On the other hand, a traditional drawing tab includes simple drawing software, an active pen, and a touchscreen to transfer your hands’ gestures.
Do standalone drawing tablets lack connectivity features?
If we answered this question five years ago, we would probably have said yes. However, most brands have developed numerous innovative ways to include all the connectivity essentials to their tablets.
For example, all the standalone tablets on our list have more than one way (from USB-C and Thunderbolt ports to Bluetooth and Mirroring) to connect to external devices seamlessly.
If you’re using an Android device as a standalone drawing tablet (without the use of a computer), then you can view ideal third party stylus as an alternative: See our post: Best Stylus for Drawing on Android
How to draw on a computer without a separate drawing tablet attached
To Draw on a computer without a separate drawing tablet attached, you’ll need to consider a touchscreen tablet, like the iPad, Samsung Galaxy, or the Surface Go, or a 2-in-1 touchscreen tablet that works also as a laptop like the Lenovo Yoga or the Microsoft Surface Pro.
These will allow you to draw on the screen without ever having a separate tablet, and will let you have the quick, easy accessibility that a tablet provides.
When you draw on a touchscreen device without a computer, you’ll want to consider how comfortable it is to work with your original piece of art. While it may be easier to get started inking or coloring something while looking at the screen than when holding something away from it, ultimately you may want to hold your device in an angle where you have less glare and light around the edges of the screen and more focus on your task.
These devices will work well for sketching rough drafts of drawings that can then be recreated on paper later when you first working digitally.
Disadvantages of a standalone drawing tablet
The disadvantage fo a standalone drawing tablet typically has a slightly more limited tool set and smaller drawing area than a large drawing tablet that requires a computer, like the Wacom Cintiq, Huion, or XP-Pen 21.5 inch.
It also doesn’t offer the exact same level of customization, but a very slight step-down from when I used the two side-by-side.
The technology behind a standalone tablet appears to be slightly less powerful since tablets in general are less powerful (source), which can result in more lag time when working on complicated projects or detailed work.
A standalone drawing tablet is also commonly referred to as a wired vs non wired drawing tablet and the disadvantage is just that- there’s a wire needed to make a graphics tablet connect. For those using Photoshop or adobe, it might be best to understand specific tablets that work best for those apps since the operating system differ. See more on this at: Best Drawing Tablets for Photoshop & Illustrator
A Cintiq offers a bit more in-depth set of tools that make it easier to create artwork at the highest professional level, but many beginner, intermediate, and even pro artists I talk to have discussed moving to tablets since they’re more portable and generally as powerful when it comes down to drawing-only.
Related: If you’re Lenovo Pen is not working, then you may also want to view our guide on how to fix that (before you spend extra on a new device)
Overall, If you’re an artist that does not desire the requirement of a computer to draw in combination with their drawing tablet, then you can combine the two by choosing a standalone tablet like the ones discussed in this post. (iPad models, Samsung Galaxy/Note, Microsoft surface Go/Pro, Lenovo Yoga models)
The benefit of a standalone drawing tablet is that it’s so much more portable. It’s lightweight, not having to carry around a bulky and heavy graphics tablet. Now that tablets are more powerful than ever, there are drawing tablets that don’t need a computer available.
What can also be great about these tablets is the lack of software needed for the computer. You don’t need an pricey graphics card… or anything else on your computer for to draw or work either.
Designers and artists can draft out exactly what it looks like before actually starting production on it… and for artists who like to draw in their spare time but need more room than their dining room table gives them, there is no better option than this type of tablet.
I’ve also discussed how to use the tablets as well as my personal in-depth experience. Which you choose will depend mostly on which type of operating system you prefer as well as the precision levels, tilt control, palm rejection and other aspects of drawing you require.