July 21, 2014

Cintiq13HD Review [English]

Two weeks ago I bought myself the Wacom Cintiq 13HD. So after using it for two weeks, here are my thoughts.

I will start by saying that after using it for about 15 minutes, I unplugged it, put it back into the box and called my husband saying that I would return it the same day. Fortunately, my husband is not as impulsive as I am and succeeded in convincing me to give it another try for a week or so. And I am so happy he did.
So why did I have this reaction ? I will talk about that later on. So let's get started :

1. How does it look ? How much does it weight ?

The design is really clean and simple. Nothing missing and nothing more than it needs. It even has an USB port on the right side. When it isn't lit you could almost mistaken it for an Intuos5m. And it fits perfectly into the protection bag I was using for the Intuos. It is a little havier than the latter one, but you can easily carry it around.

2. The cables

Actually, it is more like the “mega cable”. One one end you have three connectors : HDMI and USB which are plugged into your computer, and power which is plugged into a power cord. And the other end goes into the Cintiq. The thing I liked is that it comes with two power connectors: one for Europe and the other for UK.

3. The adjustable stand

The Cintiq comes with an adjustable stand which allows you to have three different working angles. However, I had trouble using it at first because I didn't know how to set it up. It took me a while to understand that you are supposed to stick it into the main body of the tablet and just leave it there forever. Maybe it is just me O.o

4. The Art Pen

First deception I had was when I opened the Art Pen case : it contained 9 standard nibs. The plastic black ones which will scratch your tablet's surface. So before you do anything else, you should replace the standard nib with a felt or soft nib.
The art pen has four color rings that you can use to customize it, just like the Inuos one had. It also comes with a plastic box that is useless in my opinion. It looks quite fragile and cheap. In my opinion, Wacom should have given us better nibs instead of custom rings and a pen box.

I don't like the new Art Pen. It is lighter than the old Intuos pen and I had troubles adjusting to it. So I put it back into its cheap box along with its cheap ugly nibs and I am using my old Intuos pen. Which brings me to my next point:

5. Installation, compatibility

I had troubles installing the Cintiq with my old Intuos still installed. So I had to remove the old installation beafore I could do a new one. However, big surprise when the Cintiq was installed : the software supports both my tables and both my pens and they can be used simultaneously. I have even plugged my two tablets side by side and just had fun sliding from one to another with the same pen. So I can use my old pen with my new tablet.

6. How does it work ?

6.1. General impression

The Cintiq is a real beast. But you must be willing to change all your habits in order to use it. My working space has two computer screens: a main big screen and a secondary smaller screen. On the smaller screen I usually open a secondary Photoshop window that I use to display my working color palette. So when I am working I keep on going from screen to screen each time I want to change a color. Only that with the Cintiq this action is no longer possible. Because if you have your main working window on the Cintiq and a secondary window on the computer screen, you have to put down the pen and use the mouse in order to get to the computer screen. You can do that once or twice, but not every time you want to change color. So I was forced to open my two windows on the 13HD display of the Cintiq. And I panicked. And then I got really sad. And then there came the moment when the Cintiq got back into its box and almost left my home to go back to where it came from.

After two weeks I have managed to find a certain balance. I usually open my two Photoshop windows on my Cintiq, and I also open the Navigator window on my main display. That way, I can always see the big picture even when I work on the details.

6.2. The colors

My main display is a professional display, so I already had high color accuracy. So I wasn't surprised by the colors on the Cintiq's screen. I found them to be normal. However, the contrast ratio is highly inferior to the one displayed by my main screen, so I find the Cintiq to be less accurate when it comes to darker colors. But that seems to be a known issue (or feature ?). So I always validate my colors and my final artwork on my main display.

6.3. Stop beating around the bush and tell us if this thing is works well or not

YES ! There is no gap between the pen and the cursor on the screen. There is no delay. It is like drawing on paper. You need to calibrate the pen from time to time, but it is an operation that takes less than a minute to perform. The screen becomes a little warm, but that is all. And it becomes cold again once you shut it down. Just like a normal computer screen.

6.4. The buttons

If you were used to the touch-strips of the Intuos model, you are going to be disappointed. No more touch-strips on the Cintiq. Only 2 + 4 + 1 + 2 buttons. You also get the possibility to customize an on-screen radial menu.
I never got used to the buttons on my Cintiq. I used the keyboard instead. But I absolutley love the buttons on the Cintq. Now I pnly use the keyboard to enter numerical values. So for me this is a real plus.

7. Ergonomic stuff

7.1. Position

I use the stand with the lowest angle. But after using the tablet for two weeks at a rate of 3hours per day, I am starting to have pains in my right wrist. So I will try to use it flat, without the stand.

7.2. Take better care of your eyes

After using the Cintiq for three hours without any break, my eyes feel sore and hurt a little. I know I am supposed to take a break every hour, but I have the bad habit of forgetting to do so. And that never bothered me with my normal screens. But it does bother me with the Cintiq. So maybe that is a good thing after all. Maybe it will force me to improve my work conditions.

8. Cleaning and keeping it safe

I am not particularly interested in keeping things as clean as new. And that is fortunate for me because after using the Cintiq for a day only, you can see greasy prints all over its buttons. Prints that will never go away completely. And a few prints on the screen also. The Cintiq comes with a really small cleaning cloth, like the ones we get when buying glasses. So any similar cloth will do. Just like for a normal tablet.
I store it in the protection bag I had for the old Intuos. But you can also leave it on your desk, connected to the PC. It has a power button that allows you to shut it down without unplugging it. However, that wasn't an option for me, since I have that cat that loves to lick my computer screen and loves to sleep on anything that gets warm and costs a lot of money.

9. So, is it really worth the price ?

That is the question I have been pounding in my mind for months before buying it. I agree it is really expensive (I don't know for other countries, but Amazon France is offering a discount of almost 150 euros on the official Wacom price). And in my case, the question was even harder, because I don't actually draw on my computer. I draw and ink on paper and then scan my drawing. I use the computer to do little corrections to the scanned artwork and to add color. However, using the Cintiq improved the speed at which I was doing all that stuff. I don't do better things, but I do them faster.
The indisputable big advantage is that you can draw directly on your screen. So you have a normal posture, and you make the same gestures you did ever since you could hold a pen in your hand. There is no learning curve, everything is intuitive and simple.

So, is it really worth the price ? Yes, if you draw almost every day and if you do more than 50% of your drawing on your computer. It will not make you a better artist, but it will make you a faster one.

10. Conclusion

Pros :

- the design (it's light, easy to more around, easy to store)
- the mega cable
- the screen
- the buttons
- the software and the fact that it handles old material also
- the power button

Cons :

- the art pen
- the nibs that come with the art pen
- for the price they could include a protection bag and better nibs
- the price

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