Wacom has unveiled its next-generation high-end professional graphics tablet, the Wacom Cintiq 21UX.

The product combines full graphics tablet abilities with the added use of acting as a large format, high-resolution 21.3-inch display. It's also compatible with Wacom's Intuos3 range of tablets, so an Intuos can be used in conjunction with a Cintiq. Wacom describes its Cintiq as "setting new standards for digital pen-based imaging".

This model replaces the 18SX, and offers a larger screen with UXGA resolution (1,600-x-1,200 pixels, 24-bit colour depth), but at the same price as its 18-inch predecessor (£1,899, excluding VAT). Another slight improvement in comparison to the previous model, which had several connection cables, is Wacom's move toward a more elegant all-in-one cable to carry data.

The industrial-strength removable stand can also be disengaged, for those who want to employ the product on their knees. When on the stand the tablet can be rotated through +/- 180-degrees (horizontal to vertical), and can be tiled into multiple positions from 10-60 degrees (horizontal to vertical) - the digital equivalent of moving paper around a board, Wacom maintains.

The company has also introduced a flat bezel around the screen, making for more natural hand and pen movement when drawing (as your hand doesn't hit the bevel). The product also carries an accurate ICC profile for colour management.

This iteration adds programmable ExpressKeys and Touch Strips on the unit itself. These can be programmed and configured for any application, and are designed to replace keyboard and mouse commands for common operations.

ExpressKeys are a pair of four-button keypads – the unit ships with such frequently-used modifier keys as CTRL, ALT, SHIFT and SPACE pre-programmed, but these can be changed as required. The Touch Strip is effectively a touch-sensitive scroll bar, preset for zooming and scrolling when working within certain applications.

For realistic digital drawing, the pen matters, too. Wacom has redesigned it, adding an ergonomic grip in an attempt to prevent stress-related injury. This version of the pen offers 5,080 lpi resolution and 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity in both the pen tip and the eraser. Also available is the Intuos3 Airbrush, which has similar features adding a finger wheel for controlling ink flow or brush size. The pen now ships with changeable pen nibs, with both a stroke and a felt pen nib included. The Cintiq 21UX ships in mid-February.