At the end of 2016, Wacom started shipping their newest mobile creative device, the MobileStudio Pro, which is the next advancement up from the Cintiq Companion 2, which I reviewed last year. The MobileStudio Pro is an amazing piece of hardware - a full-featured Windows tablet made for creative professionals, and I think the name suits it very well.
The MobileStudio Pro comes in two sizes (13" and 16"), with different configurations in each size. The unit I'm reviewing is the 13 inch, with 16GB RAM, 512GB solid state drive, Intel Iris Graphics 550, and the RealSense 3D camera.
The MobileStudio Pro comes with:
- Wacom Pro Pen 2
- Pen case with 3 replacement nibs, color rings and nib removal tool
- Pen holder
- AC Power Adapter and power cable
- Quick Start Guide
- Cleaning cloth
The look and feel of the MobileStudio Pro is excellent. It's really very nicely designed, and feels quite sturdy. The unit weighs just over 3 pounds and is comfortable to carry around. The large rubber grips on the back are also very nice.
The screen is wonderful, with a display resolution of 2560×1440 pixels (WQHD), and a matte finish that doesn't compromise color. Speaking of color, it is accurate to 96% Adobe RGB.
The MobileStudio Pro also comes with 8-megapixel rear and 5-megapixel front cameras. The 512GB versions of both the 13 and 16 inch, come with the Intel RealSense 3D camera on the back, which is especially cool.
One side of the MSP sports the volume control, orientation lock, sliding power switch, headphone jack, and MicroSD slot (which is great for extra storage).
The other side of the MSP has three USB-C ports and a Kensington security slot. The pen holder that comes with the MSP fits into this slot, allowing you to slide the pen in it for storage, or stand it vertical while you are working.
The Pro Pen 2 comes in a neat cigar-tube casing that also holds 3 extra nibs.
Pro Pen 2
If you're already familiar with the Wacom Pro Pen, this next generation pen looks and feels pretty much the same. However, the big difference is the amount of pressure sensitivity. Wacom boasts 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, as compared to the previous pen's 2,048. While I didn't notice the difference right away, after I made adjustments and calibrated my pen strokes in familiar programs, I soon found it was, indeed, quite a bit better.
It was honestly a bit hard for me to intentionally try and illustrate pen pressure difference in example strokes below, but I think you get the idea (the top strokes are with the Pro Pen 2, and the bottom strokes with the original Pro Pen). And I think you would really notice the difference in pressure in certain cases, as I thought it was especially noticeable in making really light strokes.
Greater pressure sensitivity with the Pro Pen 2 (top strokes with Pro Pen 2, bottom strokes with original Pro Pen)
A further big deal with the MobileStudio Pro and Pro Pen 2 is the absence of parallax (that noticeable gap between pen tip and screen). Now, as long as you calibrate the pen, you won't see parallax - brilliant! Overall, drawing/painting is very accurate with the MSP and I didn't experience any lag. Also, the etched glass surface has just enough texture to give you that real pen on paper feel.
ExpressKeys are a fantastic way to improve your workflow with Wacom tablets, and the MSP shines here as well. There are six ExpressKeys and a touch ring, which is fantastic for quick brush sizing. The touch ring itself also has four customizable positions as well as a home button. On the 512GB models, the home button is also a fingerprint sensor.
The ExpressKeys are fully customizable, even to the point of being program-specific. You can even call up on-screen controls as well.
Customizable ExpressKeys and Touch Ring on the MobileStudio Pro
MobileStudio Pro In Use
Another thing I love about the MobileStudio Pro - the name itself. It really indicates what this device is all about, where the Cintiq Companion name, to me, only indicates portability. You can do some serious work with the MobileStudio Pro. No matter what kind of digital artist you are, or what kind of work or creativity you unleash on it, the MSP is going to take it.
I loaded up several programs to put the MSP through its paces, including: Adobe After Effects, Photoshop, Corel Painter 2017, CorelDRAW x8, and Cinema 4D. Whether engrossed in painting projects, editing video, or several things at once, the MSP just rocks. And, the fans never got loud. In fact, they were so quiet most of the time, I couldn't even tell they were running, until a more processor-intensive operation let me know. This is a huge difference from the Cintiq Companions.
Battery life is good. It is listed as up to six hours on the Wacom site. Of course, this will always vary considerably with the work you are doing, as well as any battery-saving settings you choose. I've managed almost 5 hours during creative work, with screen brightness turned down a bit.
3D scanning a guitar with the MobileStudio Pro and Artec 11 software.
The MobileStudio Pro models with the RealSense 3D camera also come with a one-year license for Artec 11 Ultimate 3D scanning software. Though it's not something I would use, I made some attempts at testing the RealSense camera...and I certainly need practice. I did find out that the camera doesn't do so well with objects that are black (notice the absence of the black pickguard on the guitar I was scanning in the picture above).
Below is a video on using Artec 11 Studio software with the MobileStudio Pro, to give you a fuller idea of that workflow.
The Wacom MobileStudio Pro is a fantastic, and highly capable machine. Comparing this to the earlier Cintiq Companions, I think Wacom did a wonderful job. It's lighter, thinner, and...quieter! The addition of the Pro Pen 2, with greatly improved sensitivity, sweetens it even more.
The only real problem I have with the MobileStudio Pro is the lack of certain accessories, like a stand, or a case. These can be purchased separately through Wacom, but I would've liked to have seen at least the inclusion of a stand. Also, if you are looking for the ability to use the MSP tethered to another computer, you will need to purchase the Wacom Link adapter to do so. So, it's the additional purchases after the major purchase that bothers me.
Price, of course, is always an issue of great debate with most Wacom products I've reviewed, and I can certainly understand this. However, in my opinion, if you are a creative professional who relies heavily on dependable tools, you will generally be willing to pay for such. And, the Wacom MobileStudio Pro was designed for the creative professional. There is nothing on the market that comes as close to perfection in creative workflow, with as much precision and control. And this is why Wacom continues to be a market leader in this area - it's what they do.
That said, there are still a number of options with this line that might fit more comfortably in the budget, without sacrificing creative needs. It is worth exploring.
There are six configurations of the Wacom MobileStudio Pro. Generally speaking, there is the 13" model which is great for sketching/painting, and the larger 16" which is a bit higher-end with NVIDIA Quadro graphics cards for more intense work, especially for 3D. Then, it's a matter of deciding on the storage size you are looking for. Here is the breakdown of each configuration, along with the current pricing:
Wacom MobileStudio Pro 13
Intel Core i5, 64GB SSD, 4GB DDR3, Intel Iris Graphics 550 [$1,499.95]
Intel Core i5, 128GB SSD, 8GB DDR3, Intel Iris Graphics 550 [$1,799.95]
Intel Core i7, 256GB SSD, 8GB DDR3, Intel Iris Graphics 550 [$1,999.95]
Intel Core i7, 512GB SSD, 16GB DDR3, Intel Iris Graphics 550, Intel RealSense 3D camera and scanning software [$2,499.95]
Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16
Intel Core i5, 256GB SSD, 8GB DDR3, NVIDIA Quadro M600M graphics with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM [$2,399.95]
Intel Core i7, 512GB SSD, 16GB DDR3, NVIDIA Quadro M1000M graphics with 4GB GDDR5 VRAM, Intel RealSense 3D camera and scanning software [$2,999.95]