However, this tablet with a 4k display might not happen anytime soon, and even then it might come with a hefty pricetag.
The thing I was complaining about the most, was that Wacom used the term HD for marketing purposes when in reality they catched up with resolutions that every other company was using for years.
Most ridiculously; the only tablet deserving the "HD" in terms of "High Definition" was the 13 inch one and the Companion line with around 169ppi(!). (For comparison; the 24HD has only 91 ppi and the 27QHD has 108 pixel per inch).
In early 2013 I got my first Cintiq, the 13HD and that was a huge leap forward to me and I thought it would be the investment of my lifetime.
Why a Cintiq or Pen Tablet at all?
This question can´t be easily answered, well, I gravitate towards natural contact with a medium and a pen display lets you exactly do that. When I switched from a regular Intuos Tablet to a Cintiq it shaked my little artworld immediately in a way that I will never go back to a tablet - ever!
The issue with the 13HD at a glance:
While the 13HD tablet is a wonderful device, switching between desktops and using the mouse to handle dialogs becomes pretty annoying over time. In my regular setup Photoshop ran in fullscreen mode and the rest of the user interface was spread over various screens. For many menu operations you have to get on your other screen and either use the "display change button" or your mouse to do so. In a day this might make 5 minutes, that turns into 25 minutes a week, 100 a month and 1200 hours a year to consider wasted.
So I gave that 27QHD flagship from Wacom a go and see how it would compare - and send it back if it would be rather a disappointment. The goal was to use Photoshop including its complete user interface in "one" display for once and for all.
The first impression: Wow, that thing is huge! My regular 26" NEC monitor looks tiny behind that monster! Getting this thing mounted on the Ergotron arm was a biggie, but with a pillow and some good will, it turned out working.
Here is a video from Marc Brunet aka Bluefly unboxing the monster, check out his tutorials on youtube as well:
Use a Display Port Cable! When it comes to the resolution I was a bit on the bad side at the beginning as the DVI-to Display Port solution was not working, it did not detect any input.
Below you see an area that I would suggest anyone to care about; it can take some time until you adjust your arm to be capable of lifting and withstanding the 9Kilo thing, eventuall it will sink down to the arm and to prevent scratches, I did some felt tape on the back of it and on the arm.
As you can see above the thing is quite big and even if 9 kg is not that much, you´d be well advised to ask a friend for help when mounting the arm as the Ergotron arm itself is very sturdy and for one person alone it will be difficult holding the Monitor and the arm to get the first 2 screws of the Vesa mount in. There are some screws that come with the Cintiq for mounting.
*Update* After 2 weeks of using, I can say there is a small problem with the arm as the lower part of the tablet will always lift up a bit from the table. The only workaround for this is to do a kind of spacer between the part where the tablet meets the arm. I use a thin piece of wood for this. A more vertical position is no problem. My guess is that the pivot of the tablet is more on top and because the arm is mounted below the middle it is inevitable that the bottom wants to go up.
The spacer solution worked quite well for me. *update end*
QHD or not to be? Now in the the native resolution of 2560 x 1440px, it works pretty well (click image above for full size) The distance to view pixels has to be around 10cm to even recognize that there are any - so for a working distance it is not quite retina, but on the other hand it is abolutely fine to work with. Long time observation has yet to be done. Definitely have to revise my opinion about the 4k so far - unless I have a 4k version to compare with... (that was a call to you Wacom:)
Screen protection hack: Above you see that I added a glass plate to it, however that is not necessary (see edit below). The 13HD Cintiq got a nasty scratch in the middle of the display after a few weeks and I hate when that happens. The 13HD, 22HD and 24HD Cintiqs appear to have a plastic surface with a coat and on these this hack appears to be the most useful if you don´t want sratches! (not to mention the amount of nibs this hack is going to save you:) The other advantage of the glass plate is that you don´t need a glove, I hate to wear gloves.
*Edit* I gathered some more information about the surface and it appears to be glass. With the 24HD this was not the case, so the glass protection might not be necessary, unless you press reall really hard *edit end*
Remote hack: Another useful gadget is that the EK Remote of the Cintiq, which is a part of the new line. It is mobile opposed to the buttons of previous Cintiq models and can be placed anywhere. So I placed it where my left hand is all the time. It has a metal aluminium body which is quite nice and with the magnetic border of the tablet it could be placed on there as well, but for me it makes the most sense on the G13. Didn´t had a use for the display on the Logitech at all so the remote has a perfect new home there.
Keyboard hack #1: One important thing that I got used to with the cintiq 13HD was the keyboard on top of the tablet, it gave me a nice position to write and kind of natural/ergonomic stance when writing. The problem with the 27QHD is that the top border is smaller than the bottom part and on top there is additionally the I/O switch in the middle which causes any keyboard placed over there to switch the device off inadvertently.
Keyboard hack #2 To get the keyboard to work on top, I used a metal ruler as a base which is mounted on top with tartape and isolation tape. On top of that I added a thick cardboard on which the keyboard sits very stable. (See sketch in the pic above for more explanation.) The edge of the glass and the edge of the tablet shapes the distance which is needed to have the keyboard lifted a bit. Having it hang down would not be that ergonomic but that is probably a matter of taste.
Pen holder hack: The Cintiq 13HD came with a nice case in which the pen along with some nibs can be carried.
I ripped that part out as it is sturdy silicone and with some double-sided tape I quickly mounted that part on the edge of the panel. The round pen stand has some metal in them that holds on to the magnetic surface of the frame, but as soon as it is tilted too much your pen and the stand goes straight to the floor. This one keeps the position even when turned over = Idiot proof.
Comparison: Finally the fun part: The comparison between Cintiq13HD and the 27QHD, do I need to say more?
Sure, the 13HD was intended for mobile use, however, anyone considering one might be better served with a Companion. These tablets can be used as standalone tablets and plugged into any computer they become a regular Cintiq 13HD - which is definitely nice if mobility and flexibility matters much to you.
13HD vs. 24HD vs. 27QHD specs
It might be a bit unfair, but the comparison chart below shows a decent pluspoint for the 13HD which is its power consumption of 9Watts, and (not listed) the 169 pixel-per-inch-density which is still way ahead of its league. but thats it.
The takeaway from the above chart might be that if you want power, space and maximum expandability, the 27QHD is the best bang for the buck. If you need mobility and less power consumption the 13HD is still a better tablet than the 22/24 HD.
The 22HD is not in the list as it is mainly the same than the 24HD but without the clumsy stand and less screen real estate by costing nearly the same as the 27QHD - which is ridiculous.
Another pluspoint is that the cursor does not drift away towards the edge as the 13HD does. I don´t know how the 24" and 22HD behave, but with the smaller display it is definitely an issue if you tend to use programm palettes on the outer side of the screen - if you use it only for the drawing area it might not matter much.
A word about touch
On a companion which is more a tablet it makes sense but even then I experienced that the touch functionality is better on a Surface Pro 2 tablet than on any Wacom. From what I´ve seen, touch rotation and pinching lags big time and that is not nice to watch, don´t know if that is the hardware or software causing this.
The reason I never considered touch is that I´m faster and more capable with one hand on the keyboard. It might be open to debate, but working with a keyboard is so intuitive that I honestly would not even waste a thought on changing that.
In the previous sections of this series I covered the heart of your investment, the input devices that are critical for any serious digital...
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Fantasio aka Oliver Wetter is an independent artist and Inceptionist. He is a part time lecturer for digital art, and a blogger. Occasionally he works freelance as illustrator, corresponding with international clients.