Wacom Tablets : Bamboo to Cintiq

Before the Cintiq, I owned three other Wacom tablets. My first one was a small second generation Bamboo, worked well and perfect for three years till I accidentally dropped and broke my pen—replacement at that time would take weeks, so instead of waiting, I bought and upgraded to my second tablet a medium sized Intuos5. It had the pro features, more pressure, tilt, touch ring and lots of express keys. But I found it too big, heavy and expensive to be carrying it around in my laptop bag. So I then got my third tablet a smaller Intuos. I wasn’t doing heavy work while on the go, so missing the pro features wasn’t really a big deal.

I’ve been lusting over a Wacom Cintiq for years. Then half a year ago I finally got one. I was trying out a demo unit at the Wacom booth at Graphicon Davao 2015. It was the first time I got to try a Cintiq, although I only did a few scribbles and menu clicks to feel it’s accuracy. All the doubts of it being expensive went out the window. The decision was made, I need to get one.

Wacom’s Cintiq line are on screen pressure sensitive pen tablets. Mostly used by creative professionals. Wacom has five current generation models of the Cintiq. They have the 13HD, 22HD, and 24QHD all of which has two versions, a pen only and touch, then they have the Cintiq Companion 1 and 2 which are stand-alone Windows based pen tablets.

Cintiq 13 HD Specs

Display: 13.3 inch
Resolution: Full HD 1920×1080
Pro Pen: 2048 Levels of Pressure
Color Gamut: 75% Adobe RGB
Express Keys and Rocker Ring : 8 Customizable Buttons

Full Specs

There was a bit of learning curve when I started using the Cintiq, especially after using a pen tablet for years. Pen on-screen means your hand is blocking some of your screen view and with the Cintiq being the second monitor I still was looking up to my main monitor during the first days of use—the habit of using a normal pen tablet. So to solve this I disconnected my old monitor to remove the habit.

But there are two things I wish they added made different on the 13HD. One is more buttons, I’m a heavy shortcuts user and I have a full-sized keyboard and I can’t make it sit right beside the tablet, it’s always at an awkward angle causing some wrist strain after long periods of use. More buttons on the tablet would free up that problem—though the Wacom ExpressKey Remote maybe the solution.

Second is a sturdier connector, it’s using something similar to an older iPhone. The screen flickers a bit if the wire is moved. That is the only part of it that feels weak and could break easily.

Reality for the cool factor yes, it’s pretty badass and direct on-screen tablets are pretty awesome. Will it make your work better? In terms of workflow… yes because it feels more natural. But in terms of — will you get amazing results compared to using a normal pen tablet? No, it’s not a magic potion to make instant amazing work.

So is it necessary? No, it’s not. Whether you’re on a Cintiq, Intuos Pro ( 4, 5 ) or Intuos ( Bamboo), work output is still dependent on your skill level.

But if you can afford a Cintiq, then get one. It’s a great investment for the serious creative. But if you’re on a budget, go for the medium sized Intuos Pro and for the hobbyist and Wacom virgins go for the small Intuos line to start or if you’re going for a medium sized Intuos I suggest get the small Intuos Pro. It’s at almost same price point, so I’d go for the small pro for the 2048 pressure and tilt functions vs buying just for tablet size.

All of my older Wacom tablets are still working great and I still use them all the time on my other machines. Even the older Bamboo which I gave away is serving it’s new master well, he ordered a replacement pen and everything is running as it should even after all these years.