Tops for quality, expansive work space, hefty price tag.
Mfr. Recommended Age:
Total score: 94 points
Assembly: Good (70 points)
Artistic potential: Excellent (96 points)
Quality: Excellent (89 points)
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Chalk colors pop
Chalk doesn't erase well
The Tri-Side is the primo art easel on the market today. It's built to last with a high-quality wood frame, and the large working surfaces are sure to delight little artists. It's got all the basics we expect of an easel (chalkboard, magnetized dry erase board, paper dowel) plus a large felt board. All that quality does come at a cost. It's a pricey model and assembly will take you an hour-plus. Still, if you're willing to splurge, the Tri-Side won't disappoint.
It took our reviewer about an hour and a half to put the Tri-Side together.
The directions are easy enough to follow. The Tri-Side took a bit of a hit on its assembly score, though, due to a few factors that made assembly more difficult than it needed to be, including: the easel is packed with styrofoam that cracks and spreads when removing the easel; the paint cups arrived firmly stuck together (we ultimately had to use a mix of hot water and ice to get them to separate); assembly requires a Phillips-head screwdriver that's not included; and it's difficulty to get some of the twisty bolts all the way in.
The Tri-Side has it all. Chalkboard. Magnetized dry erase board. Dowel for paper. It's even got a large felt board. When it comes to features, there is no easel that offers more.
How well it works
The Tri-Side has the largest working surfaces of any of the easels we reviewed. Not even taking into account that the Tri-Side has a full extra board beyond that offered with any of the other easels, the Tri-Side's chalkboard and dry erase boards are the largest of the bunch.
The Tri-Side did very well on chalk visibility and nearly as well on dry erase marker visibility. But while the dry erase marker erases just fine, the chalkboard doesn't erase well. Even with a lot of elbow grease behind the eraser (certainly more than a child would use), the chalk markings remain distinct. The board does come pretty clean, though, when wiped with a wet paper towel.
The Tri-Side had the best paper system of the bunch. The dowel feeds paper down from the top and through a slat at the top of the dry erase board. The paper secures at the bottom with two clips. This system keeps paper securely in place.
The Tri-Side comes with:
The Tri-Side is tops when it comes to quality. No splintering here. It's frame is made up of sturdy, smooth wood pieces that are built to last. It's also height adjustable.