This was originally published on a Twitter-thread...
In this post I'll share my opinions on the TabMate device a product by Celsys, the same company of the painting and drawing program ClipStudioPaint.
Basically a "mini-bluetooth-keyboard", shaped like a Wii nunchuck, that you can use to trigger commands and shortcuts.
This is the 2nd iteration of the device. The first one was a White cord controller, with 6 buttons + Control Stick (like a gamepad); The new one is Black, has 12 buttons and it's Wireless.
The gamepad-like stick was replaced by a Clickable-Wheel on the newer model...
The connection with the Computer is made through Bluetooth;
It's **IMPORTANT** to check what version of Bluetooth your computer can handle since the Tabmate it's a 3.0, Class 2 device. In my case I needed to buy one of those USB 4.0 Bluetooth dongles.
INSTALLATION TIP: Make sure to close CSP **BEFORE** you turn the device on and made it recognize by your OS. When it's recognized and working, the Tabmate will have a red light always on. If on Idle it's switch off automatically saving power (1 AAA battery)...
The core of the little device it's in the Configuration Window. Here you can associate *almost* every command of the software and it's tools to a button on the device. If you press a button on the device the correspondent option is highlighted on the UI;
CONFIGURATION TIP: add a 'CANCEL' command to any of your buttons; this is the equivalent of pressing ESC on your keyboard... you'll miss this option when you use the bucket tool on a 10K px canvas by mistake.
You can have 4 configuration sets at the time. To switch between then you just click the Celsys button. Clicking and Holding it will turn it off/on.
The little light on the device blinks/color differently for each set. The idea here is to have a set for each step of your process (Sketch, Inking, Flatting, Painting...)
Next my opinions why you WILL or WONT need to occupy your mind with another gadget instead of focusing on your art... (nerd alert!)
About Form Factory / Build Quality
The plastic on the Tabmate feels light and fragile.
Imagine an original a PS2 controller and a similar knock-off. One feels like a tool you'll use forever, other feels like a toy. I have the sensation it will crack after the first accidental drop.
About it´s Size
It's a very small device. Maybe too small.
If you have normal to big hands OR long fingers you may find it a bit unconformable.
Looks like the Tabmate was made for an specific target audience... (only a conjuncture here)
About it´s Buttons
The buttons are built too small. Specially ABCD ones.
The DirectionalPad is a bit 'shallow' and hard to press.
The buttons use that common click type of mechanism over a simple pcb board. They're not that great to press. (and the sound can be a bit annoying...) . Again. Feels like a toy, not a tool....
** CHECK ** this thread by the artist Redjuice; he took the customization of the device a step beyond. There´s also some pics of the internal guts of the device:
Ergonomics and Grip (part1)
The Tabmate is also 'Slippery' - the plastic doesn´t have any tactile rubber or rough surface to make sure sweat hands don't drop it. Browse the #Tabmate tag on twitter and you'll find tons of DIYs to fix this issue.
My solution (and suggestion) for Celsys: a nylon+velcrum strap that you can use to hold the Tabmate AND slide it over your palm while typing.
**patent pending** ;-)
While you're typing ???
The selling point of this device is to free up your non-drawing hand, so you can have better posture and, somewhat, focus more on your work.
BUT if you use CSP alongside File Browsers, Engine Exporters, eg... you'll have to keep using your keyboard. Keep that in mind.
No Ipad support yet ?
To this date, the Tabmate can't be used on the iPad (WHAT??!!)
That's a bummer because I would say the only people who would benefit more of the gadget are the iPad users. I'm sure this would be fixed on following CSP updates.
As said before, you can toggle between 4 sets to have different configurations.
The sets are indicated by the light on the device BUT I would prefer some OSD info on the interface. A little colored icon on the corner so I can see, on the screen, what set is being used.
[ Conclusion ]
The #Tabmate seems more useful Artists on the #IpadPro.
#Cintiq (or similar devices) Artists would benefit from the ability to trigger shortcuts without a keyboard nearby.
If you have a desk tablet OR are serious about speed/efficacy, I would skip it.
** EXTRA (1) ** :
I don´t have any idea about availability on US/International marketing. Looks like it can be bought through Amazon Japan but I'm not sure. Please, do your own research on that.
** EXTRA (2) ** :
An alternative to all this is to setup a USB Controller, Bluetooth Keyboard or GamerPads and use an app like Joy2Key to create the connection between Button-to-KeyboardLetters; you'll miss some specific features available on CSP **but** it does the work.