Wacom Cintiq Companion Hybrid hands-on review

  • Price When Reviewed: 16GB £999.99 plus VAT . 32GB £1,083 plus VAT

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Illustrator Lizzie Mary Cullen gets her hands on one this year's hottest design toys: Wacom's first Android tablet. You can watch Lizzie trying out the tablet in the video above.

We've just had a chance to spend some time with Wacom's new toys for creative pros: the Cintiq Companion, Cintiq Companion Hybrid and Creative Stylus.

 Both Cintiq Companions are tablets with 13.3-inch screens that offer full Wacom pen support and 2,048 levels of pressure sensitively. The Cintiq Companion is a Windows 8 tablet, capable of running the full versions of Photoshop and other Creative Cloud applications (as well as the likes of Corel Painter and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro). It's available in two versions, with either 256GB of storage (for £1,375 plus VAT) or 512GB (£1,666)

The Cintiq Companion Hybrid is an Android tablet, so you're more limited in your choice of applications (to Android apps such as Sketchbook Pro, Photoshop Touch, ArtRage et al). It's cheaper than the Windows version, though with much smaller amounts of storage: £999 with 16GB or £1,083 with 32GB.

To review the artistic capabilities of these models, we tapped the talents of pen-based illustration genius Lizzie Mary Cullen. You can see her using the Cintiq Companion Hybrid above and read her initial thoughts on it below. She'll be back with her thoughts on the Cintiq Companion and Creative Stylus later this week.

The models we looked at were prototypes. We're expecting review units of shipping models in early October, so look out for reviews then.

What Lizzie Mary Cullen thinks of the Wacom Cintiq Companion Hybrid

Those who read my review of the Wacom Cintiq 13HD review will be aware that I was so enamoured of the gadget that I was on the verge of becoming one of those machine fanciers and mating with it. I mean, who wouldn't?  The stylus sensitivity!  The vastness of the of the workspace (compared to an iPad)!  Ooh yeeah.

Anyway, the one big problem with the Cintiq 13HD was that you had to use it tethered to a real computer. I wanted to be free from having to cart both it and a laptop around. Clearly Wacom have now received my pleading letters (written in blood) and are launching the new Cintiq Companion Hybrid, which is its own Android tablet. But an Android tablet with the artistic responsiveness – and pen support – of a Cintiq. Oh happy days!

(By some of technical wizardry, if you plug the Cintiq Companion Hybrid into a laptop, it turns into a standard Cintiq, though I didn't get a chance to test this devilishness).

You can only imagine my joy as I arrived at Wacom distributor Computers Unlimited's press event – the dubiously titled CU Exposed – ready to be wooed by this magnificent piece of machinery. It looks great,  and as light as a sketch pad for carting round when traveling.  The stylus is excellent and very responsive.  So do we hear wedding bells?

Honestly...no. The thing is so full of bugs I could start a flea circus (before making a career move into GM dinosaurs).

I was busy creating a dubious drawing when the Wacom Canvas app crashed.  Then it did it again.  And again.  Oh, and again.

I was assured repeatedly that this was a prototype, so I agreed to reserve my judgement on the bugs til I see a final version.

However, even when I forget about the bugs, there are still elements of the Cintiq Companion Hybrid that tell me that it's not designed for illustrators who actually draw. For example, whenever I rested my hand on the tablet's screen – drawing away happily – my hand would brush some mystery hidden button and my work would disappear.

This happened a few times, then I thought I'd found my solution when I disabled the touch control.  But then it happened again with the scroll bar. Perhaps I have ungainly gnome hands, or perhaps, this Cintiq is more for graphic designers or creative directors who want to rough out work than illustrators who want to begin – and perhaps finish – artwork on it.

In all fairness, if I set up the Cintiq Companion Hybrid to my exact specifications, it might work fine and dandy – but only up to a point.  While using the big daddy Cintiq 24HD last year,  I never once thought longingly of my pen and paper, abandoned in my studio.  While using this standalone counterpart,  it's all I could think about.

I also got a chance to try out the Cintiq Companion (non-Hybrid), which is a full Windows 8 tablet – so you can run the full Photoshop – and Wacom's Creative Stylus for the iPad. Except hands-on reviews of these soon.

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