Wacom's Cintiq Companion in Review
November 25, 2013 1:51 am
Imagine, if you will, having all of your digital creative tools with you wherever you go, whether presenting your work to clients, or completing projects while travelling. Perhaps you are well aware of how Wacom's Cintiq tablets allow artists the ability to draw directly on the screen. Now, imagine taking the Cintiq wherever your work takes you, as well as wherever those creative urges may strike. Well, imagine no more...Wacom has taken that next logical step. Their top-of-the-order Cintiq line has an ingenious subset now that allows you to do just that with the Cintiq Companion and Companion Hybrid.
While this review will focus on my experience with the Cintiq Companion, I want to mention first the differences between this and the Companion Hybrid. Both were developed for the artist-on-the-go, but you'll want to note a major difference before honing in on a possible choice between the two. First, the Cintiq Companion is a full-featured Windows 8 tablet, allowing you to work directly on screen with all of your creative software available to you anywhere you go. On the other hand, the Companion Hybrid functions like a Cintiq while connected to your computer, but is essentially an Android tablet. So, while you don't have the luxury of your creative software, there are Android apps that allow you to sketch out ideas on-the-go with it.
So, deciding between the two, the main thing you'd look at is how you prefer to work, and if you really need something fully featured while away from your desktop.
Cintiq Companion Features
The Cintiq Companion is a Windows tablet with a core i7 processor and 8GB RAM. It has a 13.3" display with full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution and the screen has a nice matte finish. For connectivity, you get 2 USB 3.0 ports and a mini DisplayPort to connect a second monitor, which is excellent. There is also a microSD card slot included.
There are two HD cameras included as well: a 2MP HD camera on the front and an 8MP HD one on the back of the unit.
You should also note there are two models to consider with the Cintiq Companion: one with a 256 GB Solid State drive and Windows 8, or one with a 512 GB Solid State drive and Windows 8 Pro.
Then, of course, there is the Wacom professional pen with 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity and tilt recognition, which also comes in a really cool case with 9 extra nibs, along with a few colored rings to customize your pen.
Another cool thing you get with the Companion is a nice, soft carrying case, complete with a place to hold the pen case and a place to hold an optional keyboard. Oh, and you do get a nice, durable stand to prop the tablet itself in 3 positions.
Cintiq Companion In Use
In the time I had a review unit in my possession, I took it everywhere with me to get the feel for how it would be to carry around, well...anywhere. There is some weight to it at just under 4 pounds, but I didn't find that a problem.
The unit I had was fully loaded with creative software, including Adobe's CC Suite, Autodesk's Sketchbook Pro, and Corel Painter. I mainly played around with the painterly programs, having lots of fun with the pro pen, which worked like a dream. Multi-touch gestures also worked very well.
Don't forget this is a Wacom tablet and you have plenty of options to make it fit your work perfectly, with 4 customizable Express Keys and 4 customizable positions on the Rocker Ring (with Windows Home button in the center) on the side of the unit. There is also a pop-up Radial Menu that can be fully customized as well. The pen itself, of course, can also be customized for functionality and sensitivity.
Battery life is advertised as 'up to 5 hours,' which, of course, depends on the work you are doing. It seemed to last me about 3-4 hours on a charge, but that was with working between several programs. You can, of course, change power settings, but you might get some lag in painting.
So, to sum up, a quick look at the main specs:
• Display Size 13.3 inch
• Full HD 1920 X 1080
• 2048 levels pen pressure, natural feel and multi-touch
• ExpressKeys™, Rocker Ring, Home Button, on-screen controls
• Adjustable stand
• Windows 8
• Intel® Core™ i-7
• Intel® HD Graphics 4000
• RAM 8 GB DDR3
• 256 or 512 GB Solid State Drive (SSD)
• Dimensions 375 ｘ 248 ｘ 17 mm / 14.8 x 9.8 x 0.7 in
• Weight 1.8 kg / 3.9 lbs
You can see the full specs here.
Pricing and Availability
As mentioned previously, there are two models of the Cintiq Companion to consider:
Cintiq Companion with Windows 8 and 256 GB SSD [$1999]
Cintiq Companion with Windows 8 Pro and 512 GB SSD [$2499]
Okay, so I know you're looking at the pricing, and are probably thinking about other lower priced options. But, you have to remember, the Wacom Cintiq Companion is a professional creative tablet. It is specifically designed for artists, and there really isn't a good comparison tablet out there that can stand up to it, and you're certainly not going to find one that offers 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity. Really, if you've used any of Wacom's professional products, you know the good, confident feel of working with their tools.
I have no gripes about the new Cintiq Companion, whatsoever. It's a well-designed product, and I would feel confident in using it for any creative work, anywhere. Sincere thanks to Wacom, and Doug Little, for providing the review unit.
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I went for the Cintiq Companion Hybrid myself. I have a nice laptop as it is, the Hybrid allows me the freedom to work where I want to. Artlow and Sketchbook pro on the go... manga studio, PS and all my regular apps on any computer I connect my Hybrid to. Nice overview btw.