Wacom Cintiq 13HD Review

I recently purchased a new Wacom Cintiq 13HD to replace my old Intuos 3 drawing tablet. Overall, it’s a great tablet but people have asked about specifics, so I thought I would share the good and the bad with this tablet.

GoodIt’s a Cintiq

In other words, you see what you draw.

This may sound stupidly obvious, but being able to see what you’re drawing makes such a difference. I loved the freedom I had from my intuos, but always felt odd that I was drawing in one place and watching what I’m doing in another place.

Cintiq tablet and pen

BadUses HDMI & USB

This probably annoys me the most. The tablet requires both an HDMI port and USB port. It could use bluetooth instead of USB, or better yet a Thunderbolt connection.

It’s just screaming for a Mac version that uses a single thunderbolt cable. I have a spare thunderbolt port just waiting for it which will handle both the display and the USB hub in one port. Oh well.

(Why is there even a USB port on the tablet? Just to make up for this fact?)

USB and HDMI cable

GoodIt’s cheap.

…For a Cintiq anyway. The price makes it a great investment and the speed difference it’s made on my drawing means it’s basically paid for itself in the first week.

It’s still a considerable amount of cash to spend, but it’s all relative. For a Cintiq it’s super cheap!

Wacom Cintiq 13HD: £750 (~$1000)
Wacom Cintiq 24: £2000 (~$2600)

Pound coin

BadCheap adjustable stand

I use the stand to keep a nice angle when I’m drawing, but it’s a bit unreliable. Once setup it’s no problem – but if you move the tablet it typically falls apart and you have to set it up. Again. And again.

Side view of the tablet showing the adjustable stand

GoodPortable size

The tablet is slightly larger than a standard 15″ laptop. It fits into my laptop bag no problem. It’s thin and lightweight – more like carrying around a large iPad, rather than lugging around a full monitor. I often need to take my work with me, so this makes life easier.

Comparison of size between the Cintiq and a 15 inch laptop

BadActually, not very portable

It may be small, but what a mess of wires. One thing to be aware of is that it requires it’s own power source… Which makes loads of sense when you realise it’s a fully functioning screen, but after using an Intuos that is powered from a single USB port, that obvious fact still surprised me.

Various cables included with the Cintiq

GoodHiRes screen

It’s a nice full-HD (if you care about TV resolution) 1920×1080. That’s pretty high density for a 13” screen! One of my biggest problems with the bigger 22” screens is that it’s the same 1920×1080 resolution just on a bigger screen. That means larger visible pixels… and that really bothers me.

So a nice high density display is a definite plus. What would make it better is if it were a HiDPI display (aka retina screen), so the UI can be scaled up nicely, but it’s not a huge problem.

Screen size of the Cintiq being measured

BadScreen glare

This may be a deal breaker for some: the matte screen is quite glare-tastic at certain angles. It personally doesn’t affect me – and I do sit next to a window – but within offices the fluorescent lighting may be an issue.

(It does help to whack up the brightness on the display as much as possible)

Cintiq screen reflecting sunlight

All in all it’s a definite good purchase. For all the niggling issues mentioned, it’s infinitely better and more pleasing to use over the Bamboo/Intuos tablets. The fact that it’s so much easier to use means that it’s already paid itself off many times over.

Oh, it also has pointless express keys… Does anyone use them?!


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