The Wacom Cintiq Companion

Posted: May 7, 2014 in Ramblings

I just spent a good 15 minutes writing this review, and Wacom’s site won’t let me post it unless I log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google or LinkedIn, none of which I use. So I’ll post it here. Maybe someone will stumble across it and get some use out of it.

I currently own and use daily a Surface Pro for my computing needs, and when I want to draw, I connect an Intuos 4 and an external monitor. (The Surface Pro screen is too slick to draw on with its stylus.) But I’m just a dilettante; I draw fan art and sketches for knitwear designs and ideas for home décor, nothing serious.

When I began to run out of hard drive space on the Surface I cast around to find a bigger machine – both a more robust one, and a physically larger one for better viewability. The Cintiq Companion seemed to be all I ever wanted in a machine – big SSD, more RAM, larger screen. So after months of dithering, I ordered it with the intention of replacing my Surface Pro entirely.

With great excitement I loaded Painter 12 onto the machine, and sat down to draw. The first problem was that I couldn’t calibrate the pen. Tried it several times over the course of the day, but kept finding myself watching the little dot on the screen instead of being able to put my pen down and draw. The next problem was the weight. It’s not that much heavier than the Surface (3.9lbs compared to the Surface Pro’s 2), but it was heavy enough to be cumbersome. It dragged my tote bag all out of proportion and I felt a more sturdy bag ( = additional investment) would have been required, in order not to rip the bag open and drop the expensive hardware on the ground.

Lastly, I’m baffled by all that wasted space around the edge of the screen. I understand the plastic bits where the Wacom buttons are (though I have never bothered to learn what these are for, on my Intuos), but between the edges of the display and the thick plastic frame, there is still almost an inch of dead space, like a frame itself. To be fair, the Surface has this same problem – but the Surface doesn’t have the giant plastic bezel with extra buttons on it like Wacom products do. A 13.3″ screen with no frame around it would have been awesome (and I’m investigating 2-in-1 convertible ultrabooks now for that reason), or even a 15″ screen with the frame.

See the darkest black bit? That’s the actual screen. Everything around it (paler grey area as well as the plastic machine frame) is excess.

In short, for the amount of time I would have spent actually drawing on the screen, I felt this was an expensive (and heavy) piece of machinery that wouldn’t suit my needs. I’m sure it’s great for people who draw at a desk all the time, and people who can calibrate the pen properly, but for me, for just doodling around in Painter 12 and needing to carry it around for my other work, it wasn’t worth the expense, and I sent it back.

The Wacom Cintiq Companion. A 13.3″ screen inside a 15×10 frame.

  1. vallere says:

    Several factors could influence the bezel size. The CPU may be higher powered than a normal tablet and require extensive heat sinking. This may have to be spread out to keep the device thin. It may require extensive circuitry to process the signal and update the image. This is all speculation, of course.

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