Cintiq 12WX full review

Two things, until now, have restricted the popularity of the Wacom Cintiq interactive display range. First, the premium price – more than many computers. Second, bulk of up to 21in and 22.5lbs has meant you have needed both big pockets and a solid desk to support one. The introduction of the Cintiq 12WX reduces the price and size significantly, and while still a serious investment, it is in the reach of many more professionals and dedicated enthusiasts.

Light enough to place on your lap, it offers some flexibility, cables permitting, to work free of your desktop or on location with your laptop. Promoted as Wacom’s first hybrid product, it combines the advantages of a Cintiq interactive pen display with the portability and compact size of a traditional Intuos3 pen tablet.

Pen friends
After installing the latest tablet driver software you’ll need to connect a jumble of cables to a small black converter box that supports the DVI or VGA connection, the USB cable, and the power supply. The lead from the converter box is a good length to guarantee some creative flexibility and freedom of movement.

With a working surface in 16:10 format, the Cintiq 12WX looks sleek and stylish with a TFT active matrix LCD of 31cm (12.1in). Built to last, the quality feel extends to a base that includes an adjustable stand which can be angled to suit from horizontal to between 25 and 80 degrees. The widescreen format enables optimal usage of the entire working surface in multiple monitor environments and when using widescreen displays, including laptops. For added value, the Cintiq 12WX can easily be used as a second or third monitor.

Correctly setting up the active area requires a little additional work, although onscreen prompts provide guidance. Setup requires you to calibrate the pen display tablet in order to align the screen cursor with the position of the pen on the display screen. You can further tweak settings under your Mac’s system preferences to personalise functionality and performance. The colour display, with 1,280 x 800 pixel resolution and 24-bit colour depth, is vibrant and easy on the eye. Despite its modest size, the display shouldn’t cause problems over extended use as long as you take regular breaks and position yourself to suit your chosen screen angle.

The Cintiq range can also be mounted to articulated arms or other third-party stands meeting VESA 75 specifications. With little or no screen glare, Wacom claims an impressive 170 degree viewing angle. A Cintiq colour profile is added during installation, although you may need to select the 12WX profile in the Mac’s ColorSync utility control panel to activate this.

Response time is excellent, with no noticeable lag between stylus and what you see on screen, although this is likely to be dependent on your Mac’s age and performance. The supplied pen is at the top end of the Wacom range and is a joy to use, even at length, thanks in part to the comfortable rubberised barrel. Pen calibration appears a little off the further you drift from the centre of the screen, although this may be magnified due to user error during the fine-tuning stage. However, Wacom has acknowledged this as a potential problem and it hopefully will be addressed in software updates.

Like the Intuos range of pen tablets, the Cintiq includes a series of customisable ExpressKeys and Touch Strips that enable you to speed up many common tasks in popular graphics applications, eliminating an over-reliance on keyboard and mouse. Press the ExpressKeys to change tool properties and perform frequently used functions or keystrokes.

The Touch Strips allow you to slide your finger up or down, zooming and scrolling through applications, and once assigned can adjust brush sizes, for example, in Photoshop. It all requires a bit more effort, but once mastered you’ll appreciate the time saved. The converter box also includes buttons to access on-screen display (OSD) settings to adjust and optimise a variety of settings, including original factory defaults.

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