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August 2014
Issue: August 1, 2010

REVIEW: WACOM'S CINTIQ 21UX

By: San Charoenchai
PRODUCT: Wacom’s Cintiq 21UX

WEBSITE: www.wacom.com

PRICING: $2,000

- easily adjustable
- intuitive, fluid workflow
- durable
 
I want to start off this review by saying, I don’t use a Wacom tablet regularly and only use Adobe Photoshop for about 10 to 20 percent of my work. I mostly focus on 3D animation and After Effects, so I may be outside the desired target group for this produc.Maybe you are too — that doesn’t mean this tool can’t help in your work.

Because I am not a regular tablet user, there was a little learning curve with the Cintiq 21UX, but I’ve been drawing since I was a kid and this took me back to my roots.

POSITIVES

First off, what’s great about the Cintiq is the huge display; it’s really nice and bright. It’s also really fun to work with. Easily adjustable, I could rotate it into any position that was comfortable while at the same time, it seemed very durable.

After a day or two of using the Cintiq, my workflow started to become really intuitive and fluid. Working directly on screen brings any artist back to that “sketching” mentality — creating something with your hands — and I feel it helps with the creative flow of things. With a mouse or even a regular tablet, there is always an extra step your brain has to take of orienting yourself to the tool. With the Cintiq, you skip this step.

Also, the side buttons are easily customizable to suit specific needs, and helped appease some of the problems I encountered when dealing with dual monitors.

LEARNING CURVE

The biggest problem I had was using the Cintiq together with an additional monitor; it definitely created some problems, at least initially. Prompt windows tend to pop up on your main monitor rather than the Cintiq monitor, and your instinct is usually (and stupidly) to click “OK” with the Wacom pen on your main monitor. I did try switching to “Mirror Displays” on the Mac OS and it felt a lot more comfortable, but then you lose a lot of your monitor real estate. [Editor’s Note: Wacom offers many videos on its site that go over setting up multiple displays with the Cintiq.]

I also experienced some inconsistencies with the panning/scrolling options. It worked on certain occasions with Firefox and then suddenly stopped working. However, the people at Wacom have told me that this has been resolved in the latest driver update (6.1.5-2).
There also seemed to be a few strange scanlines buzzing on startup, especially when switching between a Mac and a PC. On one occasion it carried on into the Mac OS where the display only showed up only on the top left quarter of the Cintiq and the remaining three quarters were just buzzing scan lines. It did go away after restarting though, and I didn’t see it happen again after that. Wacom says using a different display adapter (Kanex) rather than the regular, MiniDisplay, will resolve this issue.

SUGGESTIONS

Yes, the Cintiq is huge and beautiful, but there are a few things missing that I felt would have made it a total monster.

The resolution is 1600x1200, which is fine, but most monitors these days are 1920x1200 or at least 1920x1080. This creates a bit of inconsistency when working with dual monitors. Adding those extra pixels would reduce the effort you need to constantly shrink or expand windows, etc. Even using it as a single monitor, the resolution is still a bit too small.
Another idea, although this may be a pipe dream, is that it would be great if there was a touch screen option or toggle, it would really add to the functionality and value. Imagine working in Photoshop with just your fingertips. We do have the iPad for now, but that’s not a real computer.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I feel the Cintiq is really geared toward hands-on artists and designers, so if that is you, I would recommend it. It is a great tool that improves your flow of creativity. However, if you are a picky technical nerd like myself, it may be lacking in certain aspects.

San Charoenchai is a 2D/3D Animator with UVPhactory (www.uvph.com) in New York City.