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Review: Wacom Cintiq 12" LCD Tablet

{22 marec 2008}

Review: Wacom Cintiq 12" LCD Tablet

Official page

For many years, my only tool for drawing designs and artworks was mouse. I even made entire icon sets using notebook touch pad only :-) I have never been fan of tablets, despite all positive reviews I read from various designers. Once, I had little experience with little (A5) Wacom tablet (I think it was Graphire), but time after time, I found myself doing actual design work (not just fun) with mouse, not tablet.

And of course, I never considered professional pen-on-screen tablets before (such as $2500 Cintiq 21UX) - until Cintiq 12WX was released in 2007 for $999. After lot of thought, I ordered it, though it was clear that it was not essential tool for things I did at that time (icons, websites, interfaces). Did I ever regret? Not a single minute! (But more about that later :-)

Cintiq is meant to be able to be used as second monitor. As right-handed person, I find it more convenient to keep it on the left of notebook, because while using Wacom, I still need to type on keyboard often. This is how Cintiq looks with 15" Macbook Pro:



Unfortunately, the Cintiq screen is not nearly as sharp as Macbook Pro's, so I could not make myself use it for reading text or anything. I suspect there should be some magic material on top of display that reads pen movements, and it makes picture a bit blurred. So, I do not use it as second monitor, only as actual tablet. I do not regret it much either: I once wanted to buy 30" Apple Cinema Display very much... until I had a chance to work with it and realized I do not really need it! Suddenly, 15" notebook is quite enough for my design work.

Cintiq screen connects to a black box, which in turn has 2 connections to computer: USB and DVI. I put the box under the table, where all my wires are:


The DVI cable can be plugged in and out at any time, without restart or shutting down - very convenient!


The only program I use with Cintiq is, of course, Adobe Photoshop. Fortunately, there are some things that make them work very well together. First, you can customize everything in Cintiq configuration (sorry, I did not test on Windows), here is main screen:


And when you click Functions, you get this screen:


Cintiq has 5 buttons on each side, and you can customize each button. There are also 2 touch strips, so you can slide strip with your finger and change selected setting smoothly, but I do not use it for unknown reason.

So, for Photoshop, I set up my Cintiq buttons on left side to drag document (space), move layer (cmd), pick color (opt), show/hide palettes (tab). This gives me very, very productive workflow, where I can keep pen in right hand and click/hold buttons with left hand. On right side, I set buttons to quickly zoom in, out and 100%. You need to actually experience it to understand how great it feels. Pure magic!

Also, Photoshop has ability to have many "workspaces" (available from Window menu), so that you can save your palettes locations and load them each time you connect Wacom:


The drawing experience is beyond words. I knew it would be fun, but I could not imagine it would be so much fun! You can never achieve such smooth curved lines with the brush tool using mouse, or probably even usual tablet.





Let me summarize my opinion:

using as second monitor - not really well. Not too bad either, but fails in comparison with Macbook Pro's display.

screen size - 12" is quite enough for me. When you're able to quickly zoom in and out, size does not really matter, I found.

usability - excellent. Cintiq is light, comfortable to hold and work with. Wires are long enough. I never wanted to take it with myself out of home, but I imagine it would be not very comfortable - because of the additional black box and all those wires. So, this is not really portable thing.

drawing experience - unbelievable. I liked it so much that I decided to stop doing websites and all that stuff, and only draw wallpapers with Wacom! :-) Joke.

productivity - well, I would not say Cintiq increased my design productivity dramatically - if your work is not always about drawing with brush, then Cintiq will be more of expensive toy than actual work tool. It is true for me at the moment - I did not use tablets before, and I am only making first steps to draw wallpapers (which is now my full-time job) with Cintiq. Two wallpapers made mostly with Cintiq are Orchestra and Fire Dragon. But if you do use tablet at work now, I imagine Cintiq would make you 200-300% more productive and happy.

That's all I have to say about it so far. Thanks for reading! (Some more photos follow...)





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Komentáre {23}

spleaner 22 marec 2008
Супер вещичка.. Надеюсь когда-нибудь приобрести такую же (ну или к тому вермени современный аналог) :) Спасибо за обзор!

cypo 5 apríl 2008
got a question: are ther some graphic-problems wit the 12wx? In use the 12wx as the second and your mac-screen as the first monitor in photoshop(PS). By putting the canvas in fullscreen-mode at 12wx and let the main menu of PS on ur mac-screen. So if u are zooming in-and-out and moving around by the picture on the 12wx!? may there some problems on the 12wx? thx 4!

Vlad Gerasimov 6 apríl 2008
cypo - thanks, I understand now. No, no problems at all. I work in Photoshop on Cintiq in full screen mode all the time. All works well.

cypo 6 apríl 2008
thank you very very much! now is all clear! so, this 12mx which i had in use must be broken?! THANX!!!

Vlad Gerasimov 6 apríl 2008
cypo - sorry I cannot answer this. Try using tablet with another computer?

cypo 6 apríl 2008
that was a new intel-mac with 3 displays... the third was the 12mx. maybe broken. Thanks anyway! Which a nice day! :)

Рустем 15 apríl 2008
А надо покупать именно этой марки? Другие плохие?

Someone 21 apríl 2008
Why didn't you just get a Tablet PC? I've seen a nice one that costs $100 less than your tablet.

stalkier 21 apríl 2008
Wow that is WAY nicer than my 12" Tooya Pro tablet. It also is a lot more expensive. Mine retails for $169 vs the hundreds of dollars you paid for your Wacom. However, mine is simply a tablet and not a secondary monitor system such as yours. Very nice for someone such as yourself that has extraordinary talent. Great work!

Jamy 25 apríl 2008
Thank you Vlad. I think i really like the feeling to work with a tablet, but my mind tells me..can you really use it or is it just gonna be a expensive piece of equipement.. but thx.

Ктото 17 máj 2008
Нечево не понел , в англиском не силен ((( А картинки прикольные ))))

Vlad Gerasimov 24 máj 2008
Jode - hmm. What you actually want to do is connect 2 external monitors to Macbook Pro. Does your macbook have 2 DVI outputs? If yes, no problem. If no, I'm not sure it is possible. Try googling for "macbook 2 external monitors".

Jode 25 máj 2008
Thanks... it is looking more and more unlikely that I can do it :(.

Marko 24 marec 2008
Excellent review :).

Миша 31 marec 2008
И штука классная и написал хорошо!

Sarah W. 4 apríl 2008
My husband just bought me the Cintiq 12wx, even though I am just learning to draw. I tell you, I love it. I am still just learning to use Photoshop and Illustrator as well as draw. So it is nice that the Cintiq is so easy to use. Congrats to you for getting one.

Vlad Gerasimov 5 apríl 2008
cypo: sorry but I did not really understand your question. Thanks.

cypo 6 apríl 2008
GRAPHIC - PROBLEMS on the Cintiq12mx. Thanks for your quick respond and this blog. Sorry for my bad english too ;) i will try to explain my problem again by the following situation: Working in photoshop(CS3). the first monitor or your mainmonitor is your macbook. as the second monitor you are using the cintiq12wx. Ok, your workspace with the patterns and stuff are on the macbook-screen. Now put your picture-windowframe in fullscreen-mode (by pressing F twotimes) on the second screen which is the cintiq12mx. Now enlarge the picture or zoom in-out and pulling around on your cintiq 12mx... are there some graphical problems on your cintiq12mx now? hmmm...that is my situation. maybe the 12mx can not handel the fullscreen-mode as a second screen?! Thank you.

Jamy 25 apríl 2008
Hi , I want to use the tablet for making websites and posters, is it easy with the tablet to,for example, use the rectangle tool or gradients etc. to design websites? Greets Jamy

Vlad Gerasimov 25 apríl 2008
Jamy - you do not really need tablet for website design. It is good for drawing and illustrating, not for designing.

occutit 16 máj 2008
hi, i'm thinking about buying this one, but i'm still looking for Modbook,

Jode 24 máj 2008
I just purchased a Wacom 21 UX to use with my 17" MacBook Pro. Until now I have been using my MacBook with a 23" Apple Display and a intuos tablet. Do you know if it is possible to keep the 23" display in the loop or do I have to disconnect and reconnect every time I want to switch from the 23" display to the Wacom 21UX. Jode

7 jún 2010
Thanks for information !

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