Parblo Island A609 Review

Warning:
This review is now well over 1 year old and may contain outdated information.
I suggest looking for a newer review if possible.


I was very curious about how good this budget tablet is (only 52 USD!) so I bought it off Amazon and gave it some testing. This tablet has a fair number of reviews, but I still wanted to make my own review about it, so here it is!

Please note!
-I am not a Mac or Linux user!! I only tested this tablet on Windows 8 and Windows 10.
-Prices may have changed since I wrote this review.
-Check when a review was written. Some aspects may improve or change over time, so it is in your best interest to concentrate on reviews which are less than 1 year old.



Table of contents



How good is this tablet?

Design and build quality: Very good.
Tablet drivers: Mostly customizable.
Drawing experience: Feels great!

Overall: A decent tablet for 52 USD.

When comparing this tablet to a Wacom Intuos, I would say that this tablet is worth the price. The bigger active area size of the Parblo A609 should be easier for beginners to get used to, and you won’t be forced to pay for the bundled art programs that come with the Intuos that you may not even want or use.

My verdict:
-If you are considering this as your first graphic tablet, then this tablet will fulfill that role fairly well for a cheaper price than the Wacom Intuos.
-If you have any experience with other tablets prior to this tablet however, you should keep this tablet in mind but continue researching all your options. I personally think you should concentrate less on budget and be willing to spend more on quality once you’ve become experienced with digital art.


Important specifications

Price: 51.99 USD (when this review was written) Amazon.com
Active Area: 8 x 5 inches
Pen Type: Battery-free
Pen Buttons: 2 side buttons, no eraser on end *bottom pen button is locked to double click
Pen Pressure: 2048
Pen Tilt Sensitivity: Yes, +-60 levels
Expresskeys: 4 buttons
Multi-touch: No
Special features: Pen tilt which most Wacom alternatives do not have.


What’s in the box?

2-Box

The Parblo Island A609 comes in a simple dark themed box. The box is very easy to open.

3-Box contents

The things that come in the box:

  • Tablet
  • Pen
  • Pen nib replacements x5
  • Setup Guide/user manual

The tablet doesn’t come with much, but it’s really not missing anything necessary for doing digital art either.
The reason there is no driver installation CD is because the setup guide tells you to go download the driver from parblo.com. That way you get the most up to date drivers available, and in turn get the best experience possible.
In this age of electronics, I think most people should be able to download and unzip the driver installer from the site, but maybe Parblo should have included a driver installation CD for the people unable to keep up with current technologies.

The tablet has a completely flat rectangle design with rounded corners. The plastic feels tough to the touch and the tablet doesn’t flex at all when trying to twist or bend it.

I don’t doubt the durability of the tablet itself, but I do have my doubts about the durability of the built-in cable. It will most likely be the place where your tablet breaks first if you don’t treat it with a little more care and respect than usual when carrying it around with you.

The tablet surface itself is somewhere between smooth and rough, so it has enough tooth to eventually get rubbed off from normal use, but it doesn’t feel too coarse. Testing it for around two days straight have caused some barely visible lines to appear in the middle of the drawing area where I used the tablet the most.
Texture rubbing off is something that will happen automatically on most rough tablets so it is nothing particularly worth noting. For example, on the Wacom Intuos Pro, these rubbed off areas start to appear from just the first few hours of usage because of how rough the texture on it is.

7-Tablet edge

The edges are not curved for ergonomics so anyone who really rests their wrists on the edges will probably feel it digging in. I personally don’t find it a problem, but if your table is very high, you may need to consider propping the tablet up on something to give it a slight angle to avoid the edge.

8-Tablet bottom

The underside of the tablet has an information sticker and four rubber feet. The four rubber feet do their job to prevent sliding.

9-Tablet expresskeys

The expresskeys are flat shiny plastic buttons that are level with the surface of the tablet. They are fairly loud to use and I personally cannot stand the sound and feeling of these kinds of expresskeys.
If this is your first tablet, then you probably won’t be bothered by these buttons, but when you’ve felt and used the luxurious buttons of the Wacom Intuos Pro and Huion Inspiroy Q11K, you probably won’t even be able to consider using these kinds of plastic expresskeys anymore.

The expresskeys work without a problem, but they are one point of the Parblo A609 where you can clearly tell this is a “budget” tablet.

10-Pen

The pen is made of a full matte plastic and feels quite decent to hold. It’s widest at the tip and gets thinner the closer you get to the top, and then it bulges outward once more at the very end. The weight is distributed more towards the tip than the middle so it has a good feeling of balance in your hand.
The pen button is completely flat with the surface, so sometimes pressing it without looking can be a little difficult.

This pen is longer than most of the other “beginner” tablet pens and that actually helps to make it feel a little more balanced and premium than the rest.

11-Pen grip

Even though it may not look like it, the wideness at the tip of the pen will help you keep your grip on the pen despite not having a groove or indent to catch your fingers.

12-Pen top

Since this is a battery-free pen, the top of the pen just has a plastic covering. The pen does not have an eraser at the top, but neither does the “beginner” Wacom Intuos so that’s really not a con either.

One special thing about this pen is that it is able to sense tilt angles, a feature that no other Wacom alternative tablet has offered up until this point.

I can make the tilt sensitivity work, but I have never particularly needed it for any of my art so I didn’t make use of it. I adjusted the graph controlling tilt sensitivity to properly get the thinnest lines when holding the pen at an angle, and the thickest lines when holding the pen straight up.

Since this tablet doesn’t come with a pen stand, you should be careful about where you place your pen. It can roll off your table really quickly if you take your eyes off of it for even a split second due to how round it is.
Solution? Hold it with your mouth whenever you’re not using it.
Jokes aside, just make sure you pay attention to where you place it.


Tablet drivers

14-Drivers

The tablet drivers are fairly easy to install. You go to the Parblo website, download the latest drivers for your operating system, unzip the installer, and run it.
Like with any other tablet, make sure you’ve uninstalled all other tablet drivers from your computer and restarted before trying to install the Parblo driver.

Please note!
The Parblo drivers are extremely hidden! They don’t appear in your taskbar and searching “Parblo” on your computer doesn’t bring it up!
On Windows 8, click the Windows key and search “Tablet” and the Parblo driver should be the result called “Tablet Setting”. You can also find it by looking for “Parblo tablet” in your control panel.
On Windows 10, click the Windows key and go to the “All apps” tab on the left sidebar. Scroll down to “P” and there should be a folder named “Parblo Tablet”. The Parblo driver should be in there. You can also find it by looking for “Parblo tablet” in your control panel.

15-Driver options

Once you’ve found your driver, you should be able to customize the pen settings, mapping, and expresskeys.

In the Pen Setting tab, you should be able to customize the upper pen button and the pressure curve. To adjust the pressure curve, you spin that grey wheel thing to the right of the pen.

The pen button can be customized to basically everything except for the pen/eraser toggle function that most other tablets have. The bottom pen button is forever locked to left double click until Parblo releases a new driver allowing the user to change it.
I once brought up that issue with them and they told me they would consider changing it in the future, so who knows, maybe it’ll become customizable eventually?

17-Keyboard

When you select the “keyboard” option in the drop down menu, the above keyboard appears. It has all the keyboard buttons as far as I can see so you should have full customization with the pen button and expresskeys. The “clean” button clears the current function.

18-Mapping

In the Mapping tab, you choose which display your tablet is mapped to. The scaling of the tablet may also not match your display, so you can use the “auto setting” button to automatically adjust that.
If you use a multiple display setup, you may need to 1) select your monitor in the drop down menu, then 2) press the “all tablet” button, and then 3) press the “auto setting” button. Doing it in a different order can cause the “auto setting” button to map the tablet to both monitors despite having chosen a specific monitor in the monitor drop down menu.

Make sure you press the “Save” button after every change. Switching to a different tab makes you lose all the changes you made if you don’t click save before switching.

In the Key Setting tab, you get to choose what functions your expresskeys have. The expresskeys have the same amount of customization as the pen button so you should be able to map them to basically anything you want.

Overall, the tablet drivers are decent, albeit looking unreliable and old. The only problem I can see with the drivers is that the bottom pen button is locked to double click. That’s most likely something that can be fixed just by working on the drivers a bit so I don’t see why Parblo has left it like that thus far.


The drawing experience!

The pen tracking is sensitive! Super. Darn. Sensitive!
What I mean is that the cursor follows the location of the pen 100% real-time with no delay for stabilization at all. When drawing digitally, that no delay is really hard to deal with.
Since there are no options like “delay for stabilization” in the tablet drivers, you’ll have to use the delay settings that your drawing program offers. I turned on the “delay for stabilization” setting in Clip Studio Paint and I was then able to control my lines properly. If your drawing program doesn’t have any stabilization settings like that, then that could be a problem.

I only test my tablets on Clip Studio Paint because that’s all I use.
You should contact Parblo support directly if you want to know if the tablet is compatible with the drawing program you use, but most major drawing programs should be compatible.

Aside from the ultra sensitivity of the pen tracking which I fixed by turning on the “delay for stabilization” setting, the pen pressure control and tapering of the lines is very good. The pen tilt sensitivity works completely fine, and if you fiddle with the pen tilt settings in your drawing program, you can certainly make it affect your strokes the way you want it to.

The drawing experience is overall very nice and fair for the price. Since I can compare the drawing surface to a Wacom Intuos, I can tell that the texture is not as paper-y and smooth, but the Parblo’s texture is not inferior for drawing at all.
Basically, no one should be able to tell that the texture is not “perfect” unless they’re crazy about tablets like I am!

The expresskeys on the tablet… well, I don’t think that should be what you’re buying this tablet for. Even if you ignore the cheap feeling of the expresskeys, I personally don’t think 4 expresskeys is enough for drawing anyways, but maybe you’re fine with just that few.

You can see an extremely small amount of wiggle in the diagonal lines I drew with a ruler in the testing drawing, but it’s really minimal and shouldn’t pose any problem whatsoever.


Conclusion

This is a very decent budget tablet!
It’s the cheapest tablet that uses a battery-free pen on the market right now (if you ignore the super small Osu! gaming tablet offered by XP-Pen). It’s only 52 USD on Amazon.com and it’s a cheaper “beginner” tablet than the Wacom Intuos small. It even has a bigger active area than the Intuos so it’s surely worth your consideration.

If a beginner digital artist wants to give digital art a go, but doesn’t want to spend the 80-100 USD that Wacom demands, then I would recommend this tablet to them instead. It certainly isn’t the best graphic tablet available, but it is more than worth it as a beginner tablet for the price it’s offered at.


Places to buy the tablet

Amazon.com | Amazon.ca
People living in other regions should check their regions Amazon or contact Parblo directly to see if they will ship to them.

If you have any questions about the tablet, feel free to ask me!

Author: Nikage

I am a hobbyist artist. Ever since I bought my first Wacom alternative tablet, I've become interested in finding out what other alternative tablets are good, and trying to guide people to see that there's more than just Wacom on the market.

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