Without argument, Wacom is the king of graphic tablets and similar items.  But that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been others taking shots at the top: in the Graphics Tablet Game of Thrones, we’ve had other competitors like PActive/Yutron/XP Pen (whatever name they’re using this week), AMZDeal (who has recently left the tablet business, but you can find their stuff around), and Yiyinova (which in recent years, has started to become known for their graphics business), not to mention a dozen other minor competitors, and, if you can manage it, your regular tablet (read: iPad, Android tablet, Surface.)

But now a new player has entered the scene: UGEE and, irritating website aside, their newcomer to the US shores: the UGEE M708.  UGEE has been known for their work in European circles, and now they’re taking their game here to ‘Murica.  We got the black model so we can review it (and, well, because Ayne needed a new tablet).

So, how does it stand up to Wacom?  Let’s find out!

For those who only want to see the unboxing, just watch the vid.  After that, the full review follows.

The Baseline

According to UGEE, the M708 comes in white or black and comes with the following description:

Professional Level
Large active area 10” x 6”, 5080LPI, 230RPS and 2048level pressure sensitivity provide efficient performance with user’s inspiration.
Experience Intuitive Control–8 expresskeys
Its eight customizable ExpressKeys put your favorite functions at your fingertips—add, minus, adjusting brush, hand tools, eraser functions.Moreover, you can personalize your tablet and create effective shortcuts as you work. This slim, reversible tablet is made for both right- and left-handed users.
Settings for right or left-handed to use
M708 support right or left-handed using to meet different user’s habits, more humanized more comfortable to use.
Compatibility Information
The M708 Creative Pen & Touch Tablet is compatible with Windows Vista, 8, and 7 (32- or 64-bit), and with Mac OS X 10.4 or above. The tablet connects to your computer via USB.
What’s in the Box
A.    UGEE M708 Tablet
B.    Wireless Pen(one AAA battery)
C.    Pen Holder (8 pen tips + 1 Remover pen-clipper included)
D.   User Manual
E.    CD Driver

It should be noted that as of this time, the M708 white edition is likely being phased out.  While you can stlll find it at Amazon and other retailers, there’s no mention of it on UGEE’s website.

Installation

While installing, you’ll need a clean slate; that is, no other tablet drivers should be on the system at the time of installation.  It’s been noted that tablet companies do not like to play well with others and so you’ll have tons of driver conflicts; whether that is true or just an issue caused by Ayne’s older Wacoms and XP Pens are uncertain, but just it’s best to be safe and just nuke the other drivers.

Operation

That being said, how does it op?  After all, “the proof is in the pudding Jello”, as Bill Cosby would say.

The first thing that Ayne noticed about the tablet was its stylus.  She thought that though it was a bit on the light side, it also felt (unlike Wacom’s and much like XP Pen’s) like a real ink-pen barrel.  The rubbery grip near the nib feels much superior to existing default Wacom styluses (though she notes that the extra ones you can buy at Wacom’s online store may match the feel – she’s never bought one there, so she cannot compare that.)

The stylus’ buttons were also comfortable, and customizable via the software:

One thing that does seem odd is the “inkwell” penholder, which has a hole in it.  The instructions state that you should rest it on the side, but you can also rest it in the hole.  Granted, what they probably mean is that you can do either, but recommended that you do a side rest so that you don’t ruin your nibs (just like with physical ones.)  Fortunately, the M708 comes with a bunch of spare nibs, as located in the inkwell holder.

As for the unit itself, the buttons are a godsend.  Forget about Intuos and Bamboo and all that crap, the buttons on the M708 can be moved for either left- or right-hand function (something that Wacom’s layout really didn’t fit for) and the buttons are as smooth as silk.  So much so, that Ayne says she now prefers to control Manga Studio’s major and critical functions through the M708 instead through the keyboard.  And like the stylus, the express keys are customizable as well:

As for drawing, there’s no lag during this stage.  None.  Unlike the problems reported by some other tablet makers such as Yiynova, UGEE’s is swift and sure, and the cursor keeps up.  For an artist, this is a must and is not merely a high bar to be set, it’s an assurance of quality.  UGEE meets this bar and exceeds it.

It must be noted, however, that unlike Wacom’s products, there is a slight delay in initial responsiveness; that is to say, when you minimize the program you’re working with and come back to it, there’s a one to two nanosecond delay in the hardware kicking in again.  This may be due to the drivers, tie into Windows’ internal drivers, and thus aren’t as completely purpose-built as Wacom’s own.  However, the delay in responsiveness is so slight that it’s negligible for everyday use, unless you’re in the middle of Super Art Fight! or something that requires speed over finesse (in which case, you’re also likely not switching between programs.)

All in all, it’s one we recommend and we’re looking to get our hands on the UGEE drawscreen come Christmastime.

You can get the M708 at Amazon or NewEgg at an MSRP of $59.99.

UGEE M708 Review

Control: 75% - 1 votes
75%
A bit laggy at start, but smooth overall.
Feel: 90% - 1 votes
90%
Feels like a real pen.
Compatibility: 50% - 1 votes
50%
Needs dedicated drivers. Drivers work, though.
Value: 80% - 1 votes
80%
UGEE's entry may change the game.

Buy

It's not perfect, but it holds its own against Wacom perfectly.