Product Review: Page (1) of 2 - 03/11/05 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at MyDmn.com).print page facebook

Wacom Cintiq 21UX

21-inch pressure-sensitive LCD graphics tablet By Dave Nagel
Summary: The Cintiq 21UX has all of the features of Wacom's top-end Intuos3 line combined with a large LCD display for drawing directly on screen, all at a price that is simply amazing, given what smaller, less capable devices were going for just a couple years ago. It used to be that if people would ask me what the "best" tablet was, I'd say either the Cintiq or the Intuos3, but I'd have to qualify my answer with an explanation of the features of each. Now the answer is simple: the Cintiq 21UX. It's not cheap; but, if you make money in the visual arts and can justify the expense as a productivity enhancer, you will know from the first second you use it that it was money well spent.
Recommendation: Must Buy
Users: Professionals in the visual arts
Platform: Mac OS X and Windows
Price: $2,499
More information: http://www.wacom.com

Let me start by saying that Wacom's graphics tablets are all great. I've never used one that was useless or even merely adequate, but rather found all of them to be superb tools for working in visual arts programs--and even for everyday use. In fact, I've given up a mouse altogether and use my tablets exclusively for everything from simple navigation to drawing and painting. I've owned four Wacom tablets since the advent of the USB models, and all of them (the oldest from 2000) are still viable. They're well made, and they get the job done.

Really the only question about most Wacom tablets is which one you can afford. Essentially, the more money you spend, the more features you get and the more surface area you get to work with. If you don't have a whole lot of money but need to work in a pressure-sensitive environment (or simply prefer a stylus over a mouse), you go for the Graphire3 line, which starts at $99.95. If you have more money and want more features--like the ability to take advantage of pen tilt, more levels of pressure sensitivity, larger tablet area, etc.--you go for the Intuos3 line. Really you can't go wrong either way.

But then there's Wacom's Cintiq line. A Cintiq is a special kind of tablet that incorporates an LCD screen--along with the kind of quality that has made Wacom far and away the top tablet manufacturer--allowing you not just to use a pressure-sensitive tablet, but to draw directly on a screen as well. It's a sensation that no visual artist could experience without some degree of longing. But the Cintiq models have always come at a price, and not just the high cost relative to other Wacom tablets. There's also been a tradeoff in terms of features. Yes, you could draw directly on the screen, but Cintiq models didn't support tilt, and there were fewer levels of pressure sensitivity than what's found in Wacom's non-LCD tablets. There was also some clumsiness involved in using a Cintiq tablet in that the size of the screen was somewhat limited, and, of course, if you were using dual monitors, there was always the awkwardness of switching between the Cintiq and a secondary tablet, especially because Cintiq models wouldn't recognize pens from other tablets, and vice versa. (Incidentally, despite these limitations, I did buy a Cintiq 15x, and I've loved it ever since.)

Now along comes the newest member of Wacom's Cintiq lineup: the Cintiq 21UX, and all of a sudden all of the previous limitations of the Cintiq line are gone. It has all of the features of Wacom's top-end Intuos3 line; screen real estate to spare; and a price that is simply amazing, given what smaller, less capable devices were going for just a couple years ago--hell, just last month. It used to be that if people would ask me what the "best" tablet was, I'd say either the Cintiq or the Intuos3, but I'd have to qualify my answer with an explanation of the features of each. Now the answer is simple: the Cintiq 21UX. It's not cheap; but, if you make money in the visual arts and can justify the expense as a productivity enhancer, you will know from the first second you use it that it was money well spent.




Features
The main selling point of all Cintiq models is, of course, the LCD screen, which allows you to work directly on the screen, rather than on a separate device. It's an experience like drawing on paper or painting directly on a canvas, and there's really no substitute for it. In fact, though I've had my (smaller) Cintiq for a couple years now, I'll still catch myself doing things with my tablet that I would do when drawing on paper, like trying to wipe away non-existent eraser bits. It's just fantastic.

But the screen on the Cintiq21UX is by far the largest ever offered for this type of device. At 21 inches, it provides an active display/drawing area equivalent to a tabloid page or a full magazine spread (17" x 12.75"). It offers a native resolution of 1,600 x 1,200, support for 16.77 million colors, a brightness of 250 cd/m2, a contrast ratio of 400:1 and a viewing angle of 170 degrees horizontal and vertical. As a little added bonus, the colors are accurate and even, and Wacom includes an ICC profile with the display.



The drawing surface on the Cintiq is also superb. Unlike other Cintiq models, the 21UX offers a seamless acrylic surface, so that the entire work area is flush with the display's bezel. The surface is also lightly textured and resists glare.
 

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Related Keywords:wacom cintiq 21ux, tablet, graphics tablet, pressure-sensitive, drawing tablet, lcd

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