Price: £1,195 plus VAT
Wacom’s latest combined graphics tablet and LCD – the successor to the PL-500 – the Cintiq 15X offers the kind of technology creatives dream of, at a price that most can afford. Comprising of a high-quality LCD that works as both a computer screen and input tablet, it lets you draw directly on your screen from a wide range of applications, as well as perform all the general navigational functions you would with a mouse, such as accessing menus, opening and drag-&-dropping files. At £1,195, the Cintiq is also half the price of the PL-500. The Cintiq’s 15-inch screen has a top resolution of 1,024-x-768, plus support for 24-bit colour. An easel-type stand on the back lets you adjust the screen’s tilt to any viewing angle from an upright position to an almost-flat tablet. I was very impressed with the LCD’s quality. Compared with the PL 500, it’s substantially brighter, with excellent colour and contrast across the surface. The screen is surrounded in a stylish, dark-grey case with thin slots on either side that accommodate a sliding track-mounted holder for the pen – to suit left- or right-handed users. Wacom’s previous LCD pen tablets suffered for a surface that was both slippery to the touch of the pen and imprecise. The PL-500’s drawing layer was so thick that there was a real difference between the cursor and where you touched the screen with your stylus. A much thinner drawing layer on the Cintiq reduces this parallax effect and makes for more accuracy in fine detail work. A special coating also gives the screen a small amount of resistance to simulate the effect of drawing on paper. Unlike the Intuos2 range with its more comfortable Grip Pen and range of input devices such as airbrush and stroke pens, the Cintiq comes with a single, standard Ultrapen that doesn’t support tilt. It does, however, support 512 levels of pressure, has a two-function programmable rocker switch and an eraser. Setting up the Cintiq is straightforward. With both a VGA and DVI ports available, you can easily connect it to a wide range of computers and both USB and serial are supported. You can use the Cintiq as a second monitor, but you’ll need an additional video card. With three in use (power, monitor and USB/serial), the Cintiq’s cables can be a bit of bugbear. They’re going to get in the way at some point, especially if you want to work with it on your lap. With more features than the PL-500 and at half the price, the Cintiq should become become an indispensable tool for creatives in numerous disciplines.