Pros: Styling guaranteed to turn any creative’s head, largest screen, programmable Express Keys and TouchKey boost productivity.
Cons: Too heavy to use on your lap for any length of time.
In September 2004, Wacom wowed creatives with a top-of-the-range Intuos3 professional graphics tablet. Six months on, the company has taken the stunning styling and features of the Intuos3 and migrated them to its Cintiq line with the release of the Cintiq 21UX.
The Cintiq 21UX is Wacom’s latest – and largest – offering of a graphics tablet and high-resolution LCD combo. This set-up lets you draw directly on the screen for a more natural pen-on-paper experience. It’s a great idea – yet the main drawback has always been price.
While not every designer will be able to afford one, the Cintiq 21UX offers great value for money given the cost of previous, smaller, and less capable models.
You certainly get a lot of screen estate with the Cintiq 21UX’s huge screen size of 21.3 inches. A native resolution of 1,600-x-1,200, support for 16.77 million colours, a brightness of 250cd/m2, a contrast ratio of 400:1 and a viewing angle of 170 degrees horizontal and vertical all mean a LCD of great clarity and consistency. Wacom also provide an ICC profile.
Unlike other Cintiq models, the 21UX’s screen is now flush with the display's bezel so working on the surface feels completely comfortable and natural.
The new Cintiq delivers support for pen tilt (±60 degrees), along with a doubling of the number of pressure levels to 1,024 and a resolution of 5,080 lines per inch. It sports two sets of four ExpressKeys and two Touch Strips.
Designed to reduced the need to resort to a keyboard for favourite shortcuts, the eight ExpressKeys come with pre-assigned keystrokes for the most popular applications but can be customized.
The Touch Pads help to boost productivity. Simply sliding your finger along the pad lets you zoom in and out of your work area with ease, or scroll, change brush size, or perform whatever function you assign to them. The Cintiq 21UX’s stylus is identical to that of the Intuos3.
The Cintiq ships with a stand that allows the tablet to be used from nearly flat to an angle of 60 degrees. The stand can also rotate 180 degrees. The Cintiq can be balanced on your lap but you wouldn’t want to for prolonged periods because leg numbness is a possibility. In fact, that’s the only drawback, bar a smidgen of imprecise tracking around the screen edges. Compared with all the functionality you do get, this isn’t a real loss. Simply put, for those creative professionals who enjoy a painterly approach to their art, the Cintiq 21UX is an amazing tool.