In 2001 Wacom revolutionized digital artistry with the introduction of the first Cintiq interactive pen displays. Though pricey the Cintiqs were popular because they allowed artists to draw directly on screen, thus more closely emulating natural drawing. In the years since Wacom has refined Cintiq technology and in late 2007, Wacom introduced a redesigned 21UX and debuted two new and less expensive Cintiq models, the 20WSX and the 12WX; the latter is reviewed here.
Too Small to Perform Detailed Work
The 12WX features a 12-inch, wide-format, LCD display, Touch Strips, Express Keys, Grip Pen, and has the same resolution (5080 lpi) and pressure sensitivity (1024 levels) as the larger Cintiqs— everything you’d expect in a Wacom product. However, the 12WX does not ship with the dynamic Cintiq stand and instead features a retractable, built-in stand. At 16 x 10.5 x.67 inches the 12UX is about the same size as the wide format Intuos 3. Setup is straight forward, albeit a bit more involved than a standard display. The 12WX’s smaller size does have several benefits, namely its lighter weight, easy handling, and the fact that it takes up less desktop space. But for many pros, its size may limit its usability.
When tested in production with programs like Photoshop, Painter and Illustrator, the 12WX didn’t measure up. The diminutive Cintiq creates a two-fold problem. If you are retouching a high-resolution 8 x 10 portrait and want to see the entire image, you must zoom out significantly to the point where much of the detail is lost. Inversely, in order to make details clearly visible, you’ve got to zoom in substantially, thus greatly reducing the size of the area being worked. This makes working with the 12-inch display markedly more difficult and slower than working with the larger Cintiqs.
In addition, if you consistently use programs with complex interfaces like After Effects or 3ds Max, this tablet is simply impractical. Icons, menus and buttons all but disappear on its screen. Wacom is obviously trying to please both consumer and professional customers with this model. The company claims that the 12WX could be used in a pro shop as second display. Again, its small size makes that unrealistic.
While the 12WX shares the quality and pedigree of the larger Cintiqs, in our experience the 12WX is best suited for consumer use, where production demands are not as exacting. The 12WX could possibly augment a workstation that only has a traditional pen tablet. Its lower price also makes it a great option for someone transitioning from traditional pen tablets to Cintiqs.
The 12WX features a new specially designed glass cover, as do other current Cintiq models, that resists wear better than the older plexiglass cover. Also, the Touch Strips are beveled to minimize accidental zooming. The best part of the 12WX is that it is only $999 compared to $1,999 for the 20WSX and $2,499 21UX.