What hardware should 3D artists invest their hard-earned money in? That's a difficult question to answer definitively, but what we can tell you is which ones artists like the most...
That's because every year, the CG Awards (opens in new tab) sees the industry vote for their favourite tech. And in the Best New Hardware Innovation category category, here's the hardware that came out on top in 2014.
In the meantime, here's the hardware that was voted overall winner and runners up, respectively, in last year's awards...
01. Cintiq Companion (opens in new tab)
The power of a laptop and the functionality of a graphics tablet are combined in the Cintiq Companion: a new Wacom device that provides a complete mobile studio for creative professionals on the go.
The first truly portable version of Wacom's pen display technology, the Companion allows users to draw directly onto the screen of a high-performance Windows 8 tablet with a pressure-sensitive pen, enabling artists to work with full-featured creative software wherever, or whenever, their inspiration takes them. In addition to the stylus, the tablet offers full multi-touch control.
Mobility and flexibility are key to the development of the Cintiq Companion. As Rüdiger Spohrer, vice president of marketing at Wacom Europe, puts it, "being able to literally grab your studio in only one device and carry it to any place you like is an invaluable opportunity".
The Cintiq Companion is a unique concept, adds Spohrer: "no other product currently available on the market offers the same
kind of precision, power and productivity." Read our full review here (opens in new tab).
02. Kinect for Windows v2 (opens in new tab)
Last July saw the launch of Kinect for Windows v2, the latest in Microsoft's line of motion-sensing devices. Version 2 was developed with a set of technologies shared with its console counterpart, and provides a 1080p full-colour camera with higher depth fidelity and a wider field of view than its predecessor, along with new active infrared capabilities.
Its improved skeletal tracking promises more accurate, stable output, and third-party developers like Mixamo are already using it to pioneer new body-scanning and motion-capture workflows.
03. Quadro K6000 (opens in new tab)
Last year the CG community welcomed the launch of Nvidia's Quadro K6000, claimed to be "the most powerful pro graphics [card] on the planet". With 12GB of fast graphics memory, advanced display capabilities for large-scale visualisation and support for high-performance video I/O, the K6000 proved an industry success.
"The Kepler features are key to our next generation of real-time lighting and geometry handling," commented Guido Quaroni, Pixar's vice-president of Software R&D at Siggraph. "We were thrilled to get an early look at the K6000."