An entry into the professional drawing world

For digital artists and graphic designers, not many products can beat Wacom’s Cintiq lineup of precise and color-accurate pen displays. But what if you want to enjoy that experience without spending thousands of dollars? In that case, you might be turning to the Wacom One 13. It’s a portable pen display with a 13.3-inch touchscreen that claims to offer precision and color accuracy on a budget, retailing for around $600. Although you’d be right to push back on the idea that $600 for a drawing display is budget, compared to the other products in this space, it is.



The Wacom One 13 works by plugging into a macOS, Windows, or ChomeOS device and adding touchscreen and pen support to your existing system. It’ll also work with Android, but it requires an adapter. But because the Wacom One costs $600 and still requires you to either own or buy an accompanying device, it might be a tough sell for entry-level customers. Should you just get a great tablet and a stylus instead? That’s a more complicated question than you might think.

About this review: This review was written after a week of testing a One tablet provided by Wacom. The company did not have input in this review, and did not see its contents before publishing.

Wacom One

Starter drawing tablet

A great entry-level tablet for artists

$580 $600 Save $20

Wacom’s 13.3-inch One tablet is an entry-level drawing tablet that makes a few sacrifices to hit a lower price point. For one, it doesn’t work wirelessly, needing a USB-C cable for connection. But the Wacom One also gets a lot right, like the responsiveness and battery-less pen input. If you’re in the market for a drawing tablet that won’t break the back, the Wacom One might be your best bet. 

Active Area
11.6″ x 6.5″

Max Report Rate
240 pps

Resolution
1920 x 1080

Compatability
Mac, PC, ChromeOS

Brand
Wacom

Pros

  • The matte display, resolution, and responsiveness are all great
  • The pen has no battery, and uses replaceable tips
  • Setup is quick and easy, supporting macOS, Windows, and ChromeOS
Cons

  • The wired connection is a bit limiting
  • It’s still fairly expensive at full price
  • There should be a stand included, not sold separately

Pricing and availability

Wacom refreshed its starter lineup with a new Wacom One 13 in August 2023. The one I reviewed was the 13.3-inch pen display with touch, which is not to be confused with Wacom’s One 13 drawing tablet. It’s available from Wacom and select retailers, and sells for $600 at full price. The Wacom One is a niche product that can be tricky to find, and the best place you can get it right now is Best Buy. The Wacom One works with Windows, macOS, Android, and ChromeOS.

What I like

The software is excellent and the display is responsive

The display and software are two areas where the Wacom One really shines compared to your average tablet. The screen is 1080p and has a matte finish that just makes sense for use with a pen while making digital art. Anyone becoming familiar with the graphics display market for the first time will notice the thick bezels, but they’re normal on these types of products. My only issue with the display’s quality is that the brightness, even set to full, is a bit dim. The best monitors and laptop displays will likely blow the Wacom One out of the water in terms of brightness, which can be jarring when switching between the two.

The display and software are two areas where the Wacom One really shines compared to your average tablet.

The display will function somewhat without any extra software, and plugs in with just an included USB-C cable. However, you’ll want to download Wacom’s drivers and the Wacom Center app for the true experience. Luckily, everything is installed through a single application, and it only requires a few minutes of setup. In the app, you can customize things like touch gestures and the display’s settings. Wacom One is a good example of a product that can be used as simply as plug-and-play, but can be made better with customization.

The pen is great and doesn’t need a battery

If you’re considering a Wacom One, you should buy it for the pen and not for the touchscreen. Wacom’s pen is superb, and doesn’t even require a battery. It offers 4,096 levels of pressure, which is more than I’d ever need, but artists and designers will appreciate the precision. There are also neat features like pen hover and a side button for shortcuts that make the experience with the pen a lot better.

Wacom’s pen is superb, and doesn’t even require a battery.

The only gripe I had with the pen is that palm rejection is just okay. When the tip of your pen is close enough to the display for pen hover to kick in — that’s about a half inch or so above the display — palm rejection works great. However, if you start to lift your pen up, the display will sometimes perceive your hand as touch input. That’s why I turned the touch input off a lot of the time, which is easy to do via the hardware switch on the display.

The touch switch on the Wacom One.

However, that isn’t a reason to avoid the Wacom One. The pen is the selling point here, and it’s a good one. I’m not an artist by any means, and I’d have to say I prefer taking notes on my iPad Pro instead. That isn’t an equal comparison though, because my iPad runs iPadOS and the Wacom One is sporting macOS through a computer. In that sense, Sidecar is a better comparison, and I much prefer using the Wacom One to Sidecar.

Wacom also sent its STAEDTLER Noris Digital Jumbo Pen as well, and I strongly recommend it as a $35 upgrade. It looks pretty cool, and the eraser on the top actually works to erase content on the One.

What I don’t like

Needing a wired connection limits the Wacom One’s convenience

The Wacom One drawing tablet on a desk.

The Wacom One’s thin form factor makes it perfect for on-the-go creation, but I can’t help but feel limited by the required cable. A wireless version would be much more convenient. However, this is one of the sacrifices you must make to get a precise $600 drawing tablet. Luckily, it only needs one USB-C cable that comes in the box to connect. That means it should plug right into most setups, with no fumbling with adapters necessary. But the cable still makes the Wacom One better suited for a desk workstation than a portable setup.

There should be a stand included in the box

A desk setup showing how flat the Wacom One is compared to a monitor.
Without a stand, the Wacom One feels absurdly flat on a desk setup. 

With that in mind, it would make a lot of sense for the Wacom One to come with a stand. If you have a monitor with any sort of height to it, working with the Wacom One and the monitor at their natural heights will be nearly impossible. Having the Wacom One at a slight angle would be better ergonomically, both for drawing and for switching between your other monitors and the pen display.

If you have a monitor with any sort of height to it, working with the Wacom One and the monitor at their natural heights will be nearly impossible.

Wacom knows this as well, since it sells a stand separately that is designed specifically for the One. To me, a bundle of the pen display, the pen itself, and a stand all included would be the perfect starter kit.

A Wacom One running Pixelmator Pro with a pen on the display.

I mentioned that I turned off the touchscreen most of the time, and that isn’t necessarily a knock on this product. But if you think you’ll be like me, you can get the Wacom One 12 for a few hundred dollars cheaper. It’s slightly smaller and doesn’t have a touchscreen, but it still works with the great pen that I tried on the Wacom One 13.

A Wacom One drawing display on a table.

You should buy the Wacom One 13 if:

  • You do (or are learning) digitial art or graphic design
  • You want a precise and color-accurate display on a budget

You should NOT buy the Wacom One 13 if:

  • You have the money (or the need) for a more expensive, professional display
  • You would get by with an iPadOS or Android tablet instead

The Wacom One 13 is a niche accessory made for people who are just starting out in the digital art or graphic design spaces. It’s affordable enough to be justified as an accessory to be used as a hobby, whereas more expensive drawing tablets are better justified as an investment for professional work. After reading this review, you should know already whether the Wacom One is a good fit for your needs or not. It’s a precise and color-accurate display that connects to a desktop OS, combining the power of your great Mac or PC with the precision of pen input.

Personally, I’m content with my iPad Pro, and I think a regular tablet is good enough for most people. But for the ones that need more than a tablet can offer, the Wacom One is here. And unlike the other great Wacom displays, you won’t need to pay a four-figure price tag to get it.

Wacom-One-Product-Tag

Wacom One

Starter drawing tablet

A great entry-level tablet for artists

$580 $600 Save $20

Wacom’s 13.3-inch One tablet is an entry-level drawing tablet that makes a few sacrifices to hit a lower price point. For one, it doesn’t work wirelessly, needing a USB-C cable for connection. But the Wacom One also gets a lot right, like the responsiveness and battery-less pen input. If you’re in the market for a drawing tablet that won’t break the back, the Wacom One might be your best bet. 

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