Rob Redman takes the latest offering in Wacom’s Cintiq range, a small but high-resolution interactive display, for a test drive.
PRICE: £625 / $999
- Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 resolution
- 2048 levels of pressure and tilt sensitivity
- Single connection with three-way split
- Removable threeangle stand
- Pen with assorted spare nibs
Wacom has a reputation for making high-quality tablets and interactive displays. Its offerings are well built, with a luxurious and stylish finish. However there been some criticism that certain items, particularly in the Cintiq range of interactive displays, have been too unwieldy and too expensive. Wacom countered this with a range of 12-inch models – but unfortunately they fell a little short of the mark and, while usable, they weren’t the high-end input devices required for professional use.
This brings us to the Cintiq 13HD, with its high-resolution display, low weight and improved setup process, making it an attractive proposition for 3D artists.
Setting it up is a quick and painless process. Gone is the massive breakout box found on some other Wacom displays. Instead, you have one cable that clips into the side of the tablet and then splits into power, USB and HDMI connections. This raises one niggle, however: Wacom hasn’t provided an HDMI-to-DVI adapter (or a mini-DisplayPort-to-HDMI for Mac users), so keep this in mind if you decide to buy. Drivers and software come on a bundled disc, and can also be downloaded from the Wacom support site.
Once you have connected all the cables and installed the software, you are good to go. I chose to extend my desktop rather than mirror it, as I like to have other apps running alongside, such as reference images and email. The display appears far brighter than other Cintiqs, and the full HD resolution is sharp and crisp, with a good viewing angle and crisp blacks. The device as a whole is smaller and far slimmer than expected – it makes the 12-inch version seem pretty tubby in comparison – as well as making the screen itself feel bigger than it really is.
The supplied removable stand has three angle options, making adapting it for different workspaces easy. Being removable it also lets you work with the Cintiq on your lap, which feels very natural without the weight of a heavy cable.
This latest Cintiq uses the same design language as the Intuos 5 range, with similar lines and curves, and the sturdy construction and soft-touch materials all help the 13HD feel like a professional piece of equipment. It may seem like a small point, but setting up the 13HD made my studio feel cleaner and more streamlined. In fact, it is almost as thin and sleek as the Intuos I use as my daily input device.
After a few hours spent in Photoshop and Painter, I thought that I might find the smaller screen and higher resolution difficult to read, or at least tiring, but it was actually pretty easy on the eye. This is probably due to both screen brightness and crispness – and the portability, which makes it far easier to get in the best position for working with it.
The ExpressKeys work perfectly well: the buttons are easily assignable, as are the pen buttons, app by app, so you can use them as your favourite shortcuts/modifier keys. It’s a great tablet that works well in most situations, and it only really falls down when you want to see a complete piece with as much detail as possible – you may have to squint a little.
Other than that, and the cable – which is a pretty small niggle – it’s a joy to use for both 3D sculpting and 2D work. Navigating around your OS isn’t too bad either, as the small working area means less flying around with the pen.
- Light, slim and portable
- Excellent depth and brightness
- Responsive and accurate stylus
- Smallish screen
- Cable can be annoying
Wacom’s Cintiq 13HD offers artists a great balance between size, weight and high-quality display properties, in a sleek and well designed package
Rob Redman has been a designer and 3D artist for over a decade, and is 3D World’s technical editor
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