Last year Wacom teased that they would release a mobile art tablet, and by the summer they announced the Cintiq Companion line. Consisting of a pair of 13.3" standalone tablets in multiple configurations, one running Windows 8, the other running Android. This was very exciting news to anyone whose ever used or owned a Cintiq or any other Wacom product. After seeing a few options in the marketplace lately such as the Surface Pro and Lenovo Helix, we were seeing Wacom's answer to mobile productivity.
I was fortunate enough to have a review unit sent to me from Wacom to test out and I happily put it through its paces. I was sent their higher end Windows model which had an impressive list of specs for sure, but the real question was, “how does it perform?” As with my Lenovo Helix review, I used my Surface Pro and Wacom Cintiq w12x as my reference point for some items.
- Display Size 13.3 inch
- Full HD 1920 X 1080 Resolution
- Advanced control 2048 levels pen pressure, natural feel and multi-touch
- ExpressKeys™, Rocker Ring, Home Button, on-screen controls
- Ergonomics Adjustable stand
- Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro
- Intel® Core™ i-7 7-3517U processor, 1.9 GHz
- 256 or 512 GB solid state drive (SSD)
- Intel® HD Graphics 4000
- Micro SD slot
- 8 GB DDR3 RAM
- Multi-touch display
- Pressure Levels 2048, both pen tip and eraser
- Extra Nibs 9 standard
- Pen carrying case
- Resolution 5080 lpi
- Video out mini DisplayPort
- 2 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports
- Headphone jack
- Bluetooth® 4.0
- Wireless 802.11 b/g/n
- Cameras: Front-2MP HD; Back-8MP HD
As soon as I first turned it on I could already see that it was a speedy device. Boot times were quick and launching apps like Photoshop opened speedily. The pen touch was very responsive with little to no lag. Pressure sensitivity preformed admirably in the suite of software I tried. I loved the fact that they used a matte screen instead of a glossy one. Its nice to have some texture as you're drawing rather than just gliding around a glossy screen. I tested it out using Photoshop CC, Manga Studio 5, and Sketchbook Pro and it preformed well in each test. Next I tested the expresskeys that are placed on the left side of the device. Anyone whose used a Cintiq or Intuos tablet is familiar with these programmable shortcut keys located right where you need them, next to your work. After using them its hard to go back to using only keyboard shortcuts. These keys functioned well and my only complaints were that there were only a set on the left side, as I'm used to having them on both giving me more shortcut options. However given that this would have increased the overall size of the device, I understand why this decision was made. My other gripe is that the key in the middle of the ring is a Windows key and did not seem reprogrammable. I would have liked to change this to my own short cut, even if it only functioned as such in my art applications, it just seems like a wasted button. Though I wished that there were more buttons, the fact that screen is also a multi-touch display helped to make up for it. I was able to use multi-touch gestures for zooming in and out which worked pretty nicely, though I was unable to use rotation in anything but Sketchbook Pro so Adobe need to work on that. I did encounter one issue with the multi-touch that became a bit annoying. Depending on how I moved my hand, the canvas would sometimes jump off screen. I believe this had to do with the way I rested my hand on the screen When I began to remove the pen from the screen it started to detect my palm and caused the canvas to jump. This could be remedied by turning multi-touch off, or leaving it on and using a cutoff artist glove.
The colors on the Cintiq are relatively good. While not quite as accurate as the Surface Pro, it does an acceptable job, far better then my Cintiq 12WX. Colors were not as vibrant or sharp, but keeping in mind that the Surface Pro has a glossy screen and higher brightness setting, it isn't too surprising. Colors were cast a little more to the orange side, but should probably calibrate well. It didn't bother me much however and it is definitely usable out of the box.
The weight of the unit itself, while hefty, was not bad. Some friends have noted it was a bit too heavy for them, but I found it acceptable given the screen size and everything you get. It's a good tradeoff in terms of size and weight.
In Conclusion, despite the fact that the Wacom Cintiq Companion is an expensive purchase, with all that is featured, I feel it is a premium device that definitely makes you feel that it was money well spent. Even with the few issues I had, for the artist on the go, I would definitely recommend this product.