Look Ma No Paper! Wacom Cintiq 12WX Review

Wacom graphics tablets have always been in a league of their own. If you are looking for a professional tablet it’s not a question of what brand to buy, only what model. The Intuos range has been a solid choice for many years offering the portability the Cintiq 21 couldn’t. The Cintiq 12WX however created waves on its release as it made the Cintiq 21 technology portable for the 1st time and did so at an impressive price. Here at Yanko we have been reviewing the Cintiq 12WX for over 6 months and have become quite fond of it to say the least.

Function:

On initially installing and plugging in the Cintiq 12WX on Windows XP, things were a bit of a battle. Windows didn’t seem to like the new peripheral too much, and toggling between displays was a bit awkward and not as intuitive as a simple 2 monitor set-up. Thankfully though once all the settings had been optimised things ran well. Using it on a Mac was a impressive, with setup virtually non existent and the two displays working in perfect co-operation. (If you are using a Mac you will need to buy a mini DVI converter).

In use there is a slight gap between the tip and the pen and the display when you draw, which allows for parallax error. Due to this you need to calibrate the Cintiq 12WX to your drawing style and the position that you hold your head so your lines appear where they should. Once this is done there are really no problems, the gap becomes more or less negligible.
The Cintiq 12WX has impressive tech specs and features nice resolution for a 12” and sharp display. There is no lag between pen tip and screen even when drawing at insanely fast speeds at high resolution.
The list of applications that support Wacom tablets is impressive and ever growing, though my personal favourite is the humble Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, which is what I’m referring to for the majority of this review. It is of course functional in all situations, and applications that feature streamlined keyboard shortcuts such as Bunkspeed’s Hypershot.

Once you start drawing the benefits of a tablet display are clear to see. The feel and experience is second to none, and productivity increases markedly. There really is no point in comparing it to an Intuos or an RSI inducing brick mouse. Plastic rulers and drawing templates can be used directly on the screen without fear of scratching or damaging the glass surface and the touch strip/buttons are a productivity enhancing joy. Cintiq tablets include an additional shortcut button for toggling between screens which makes it easy to arrange tools and palates on your main monitor and use the full 12 inches of real estate for your canvas. The only function I miss is the chisel tipped pen nib you get with markers. Wacom does make an “Art Pen” which is designed to take care of this. My Copic markers seem resigned to their fate. If you prefer the upright position of the tablet for general use, the stand will allow you to change to and from the 2 positions during use with minimal disruption making it possible to reap the benefits of rotating the tablet even if you prefer this upright position.

Build Quality and Design:

When the tablet 1st arrived I was instantly underwhelmed by the rotation mechanism on the underside of the tablet. I had envisaged a small separate base with integrated cable that the display would rotate on. What I saw was a rather rudimentary hemispherical foot in the centre that simply provided a pivot point for everything to rotate on. This I thought presented the following issues;

  1. The cord would rotate with the Cintiq 12WX and possibly get in the way of general use.
  2. The solid pivot would make the unit unstable in the flat position causing it to rock as you draw.
  3. The unit can only be rotated in the flat position.

On using the Cintiq 12WX these fears were mostly allayed. However it is still true that rotation can only be done in the flat position, and that the cord occasionally gets in the way if you rotate the tablet frequently. On that note, the cord itself is rather thick and rigid, no doubt due to the number of cables running through it. Though it is much more desirable than having several thinner cords to accomplish the same task.
The stand appears to be a solid aluminium pressure die-casting, has a lovely feel and is rock solid in the upright position with all the parts finely toleranced resulting in a beautiful fit and finish. Part lines are small and more importantly placed off the front face so your hand wont catch in them during use.

Portability:

The Cintiq 12WX is essentially an LCD monitor with a built-in Intuos 3, so you could expect it to be a little more cumbersome than an Intuos to transport to and from the office on a regular basis. However I was surprised to find I could fit everything in a standard laptop bag with room to spare. If you look at the technical specs you will see that at 1.8 kg and 17mm thick it is both thinner and lighter than a 13” Macbook. There is however a standard power brick as well as a plastic box which is presumably related to the display. The result is a bit of a wiring mess that somewhat reduces portability.

In short the Cintin 12WX is a serious tool with some serious benefits. For the professional designer the pay off period is very short and the question of whether to purchase is a no brainer. For the student it is a good investment for the future and will certainly prove its worth ($999 USD).

What we liked:

  • Unparalleled digital drawing experience
  • Excellent build quality
  • Top quality display
  • Excellent Portability
  • Low Price Point
  • 1280 x 800 resolution

What could be improved:

  • Cord can become annoying while rotating the tablet

Designer: Wacom [ Buy it Here ]

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11 Comments

  • BlueBrat says:

    The fact that it is still wired sucks. I have one and love it, and thankfully CS4 finally has a Painter-type canvas rotation feature, since this is what you need to make up for not being able to rotate the tablet completely/comfortably due to the cables.

  • Will says:

    What they should really do is make the panel rotatable on a base, of which is wired. That way we could easily rotate the panel without having the wire bother us. Kinda like 360 degree rotatable monitors, except the panel would be on a circular base.

    I think making a wireless tablet would be like making wireless speakers – they’re always bad quality due to so much bad data transmission.

  • BlueBrat says:

    That’s a good compromise with the base.

    But I argue the wireless capabilities of today. I own a few logitech wireless devices for various HTPC’s in my house/office. I spend the extra $$$ on their products because their wireless is flawless. Even some pro-gamers use their wireless mice in competitions.

    It’d probably allow Wacom to triple the price on these though, they’re expensive already…

  • Chung Dha says:

    With few bucks more you can buy a whole tablet pc means you don’t have to plug it to your computer because it is the computer or laptop I mean. I got one from HP and works with Wacom Driver and is pretty smooth and works well. There are more alternatives though, search for Navisis it got adaptors to change your normal screen or laptop to tablets with just a clicking it on your screen and plug it in your usb and install the software and you are done also way cheaper too, about 150 euro so if you buy a cheap 15inch about 100 euro your still far cheaper then buying a cintiq.

  • Supermoto says:

    I bought one of these a few weeks ago. I have the 21ux at work and besides the screen real estate I think I like the 12wx a bit better. I don’t think it’s quite as cumbersome as the larger version. One good thing about the 12wx over a traditional tablet is the lifespan. If you update your computer along the way this tablet/monitor can come with you. I use mine with a few different systems. The cords are a mess but once set up the whole thing is a joy to use.

    Just my 2cents – I also don’t think that a wireless setup would keep up with the information. I don’t use wireless mice anymore because they don’t feel as precise to me, again, just my opinion. I think we’ll get there someday but not quite yet…

  • pouet says:

    really wanted to get one about 9 month ago. When I saw the size of the unit (quite big for only 12″), the weight, the cables… I went for a HP tabletPC, for the same price.. and I’m loving it. (even if I’m a Mac user and needed a Wacom for my office/home computers)

  • simon says:

    Hey just saw your review, I think this wacom is an awesome product but… this is where it gets ugly, I bought one, and right out of the box it was broken, then I got a new one and 2 months after having it the pen would jump when it moved over a certain area, then i sent it back and i got a new one which also had exactly the same problem as the one I had before, alas after 3 tries and many wasted hours going to and from the distributor I refunded it, I found it to be really shoddy. I would save for the bigger one hoping that that one had a better standard of quality.

    I not trying to diss wacom here as I have an all intouse which is still going after 7 years and im about to buy a smaller intouse to carry around with me.

  • Niiamh says:

    Yes Please!

  • robert says:

    Hi,

    is it possible to work with 2 monitors in in addition to the 12wx tablet?

    thx

    robert

  • Maarten says:

    for Robert: working with 2 monitors:
    I have it installed with 2 monitors, I splitted up the right monitor and I now have control over the right monitor with the Cintiq 12 WX and with the normal Intuos 3, that I am using parallel on it.
    I have a spread desktop, covering left and right monitor. So for the control of the left monitor I use the Intuos and for the right, I can use both.
    It works rather well and fine.
    You only have to put/move your sketching application towards/on the right monitor, which works fine.
    Good luck!

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