Wacom Cintiq Pro 13 Review
Staff Writer By: Barbara Din
My only Wacom product so far has been an old Graphire 2 (which I still have and use!). So in terms of comparison, I can only compare to that previous experience, but I think there are lots of people who have never used a pen display device, but only graphic tablets. In that case, you may find my point of view may help. Also, I've been dreaming about a Wacom Cintiq for about 15 years, so how do all those years of imagining using a device compare to the actual thing?
My first good impression was upon opening the box. I have to mention the packaging, which is super good looking. Being made for artists and designers, it's obvious every customer will be sensitive to this. The device itself looks gorgeous: sleek and minimalist. Nothing distracts visually, or texturally, which is great.
What comes in the box
Wacom Cintiq Pro 13 packs HD resolution (1920 x 1080px) into a 13" LCD display. It has three USB-C ports, a card reader and even an audio headset jack. It weights 1.1 kg (2.43 lbs) and has a screen size of 33.8 cm / 13.3 in (Measured Diagonally). And it is multi-touch so you can pan, pinch and swipe to your heart's content.
As I said, it looks good and will do both for righties and lefties, as it doesn't have protrusions anywhere. The construction feels top-of-the-line, detailed and deliberate.
For standing it comes with integrated pop-out legs for a 20° angle, which I found nice in its hardware side and the way they come out, but not so comfortable for working, since I have a rather low desk. There's an optional detachable 3-angle stand if the built-in legs won't do it for you. I'm still trying different positions, even one of my desk easels (that I use for painting). Don't settle for what's available, make your body comfortable when working because you may develop neck and back problems if you don't. Maybe that optional stand is not such a bad idea after all.
For connecting, it comes with the AC adapter, the power cable, Wacom® Link with USB-C, Mini Display Port and USB type A cable/connectors. If you have a system with native USB-C ports (mainly Macs), you'll be fine. But if you don't, like so many of us, you may have a bit of a struggle ahead of you. You'll have to use the provided Wacom Link, which splits the signal that comes from the USB-C from the Cintiq into video and data. Data is handled by a common USB connection, no problems there. But video... it comes with a mini DisplayPort - mini DisplayPort cable. You connect one end to the Wacom Link, and the other... do you have a mini display port in your system? Maybe if you have a laptop. But most GPUs come with display port (not mini). Easy, you think: buy a DisplayPort - mini DisplayPort adapter and that will be all, right? Wrong. I did just that, and it didn't work. I searched every corner of the internet for information and found a lot of puzzled people like me. But I'll save you the trouble: not all DisplayPort cables are created equal. And the adapter cable that I bought was a generic one (those were the only ones available in my country). If you're in my situation and need an adapter to use the Wacom Link, buy yourself this cable. It works and it's certified by VESA.
Pro Pen 2
The pen that comes in the package is the Wacom Pro Pen 2 and has 8192 pressure levels, both in the pen tip and the eraser. It has 64 degrees of tilt range and ±60 levels of tilt recognition. It is, as we are used to, cordless and battery free, so you don't have to remember to charge it or anything like that. It has two buttons that you can program globally and for each piece of software independently. It also comes with a beautiful pen holder that contains 10 replacement nibs (6 standard, 4 felt). The grip is latex-free silicone rubber that feels nice and comfortable. It's a bit different than the old Graphire 2 pen I was used to, so when I first grabbed it I wasn't sure about how I was going to feel about it, until like 5 minutes later. It took me no time at all to be comfy with it. Not to mention, of course, the sensitivity it has. It is pretty awesome, the closest I've ever been to the real stuff, but with the advantage of the digital world: no mess and so many variables to play with, depending on software and brush engines. Today there are lots of great software pieces that take advantage of the pressure and tilt capabilities, so you're in for a lifetime (or two) of exploratory fun.
Using the Cintiq Pro
I've tried many different graphic programs, and it performs beautifully. One thing to keep in mind is that lag depends a lot on the software, besides -of course- your system specs. Most programs allow you to configure some of the pen display behavior in general, but also each brush engine will give you more or less control over the pen for each specific brush. Spending time learning, trying, configuring and saving these settings pays off in the long run. But right off the bat, using the Cintiq Pro feels great. You'll also have the ability to configure the pen settings and touch features in general and/or for each program separately in the Wacom configuration window. All these will give you incredible precision for your preferences and needs.
I never had one, but I missed the ExpressKey Remote, since having to reach for the shortcut buttons on my keyboard proved a bit uncomfortable. It's now officially on my wish list.
The surface feels good and I got used to it in no time. You can also try the different nibs that come with the pen so you find the one that works best for you. It really is a great experience. So much so, that many times I had to force myself to stop after hours of holding the same position, playing and painting with it! (Don't be like me, though: take breaks every now and then).
There's a reason why Wacom is still king of the creativity input devices, and this proves to be no exception. After wondering for so long how I would feel working with a Wacom Cintiq, it was everything I dreamed of and more.
Barbara Din is a visual artist, graphic designer, painter, interior designer, crafter, musician and writer living in Argentina. Learn more about Barbara and her work at the following links: