The 'Wacom iPad' is here: Cintiq Companion tablet launched with Windows 8 and Android versions

Digital Arts | 20 August 13

Wacom has surprised us by launching two tablets that combine its powerful pen tools with the ability to work wherever you want without being tethered to a laptop or desktop.

Originally hinted at back in March, and trailed by a promo video a few weeks ago, we've been wondering whether Wacom would create a full tablet PC – which would give users access to high-end creative tools such as Photoshop and Corel Painter – or a smaller Android-based 'digital sketchbook'. We weren't expecting both, which is what the company has delivered in the form of the Cintiq Companion and the Cintiq Companion Hybrid respectively.

Wacom Cintiq Companion specs

Spot the difference: the Cintiq Companion (above top) and the Cintiq Companion Hybrid (above bottom)

From the outside, both the Windows 8 and Android version are near identical. Both have 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 screens – the same as the Cintiq 13HD Wacom released earlier this year. Unlike the Cintiq 13HD, both tablets support multi-touch input like the Cintiq 24HD Touch. The tablets' overall design clearly draws on Wacom's Cintiq and Intuos lines of tablets – and feature the standard D-pad style Rocker Ring and ExpressKey shortcut buttons creatives will be used to from those previous Wacom tablets.

The 13.3-inch screens are high-quality IPS displays with 178-degree viewing angles both horizontally and vertically – which should make it easy to see what's on screen whether you're sketching in the park or train, or showing off your work to a group of clients.

As with the Cintiq 13HD, the Cintiq Companions both support 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity through the Pro pen, which ships with both a travel case (below) and desk stand to keep your nibs and coloured rings safe wherever you are. Both are also compatible with other Wacom pens, including the Art Pen, Classic Pen and Grip Pen.

Both tablets ship with an adjustable stand allows both tablets to be used at a range of angles from fully flat on a desk or your lap, to propped up a tad for more comfort, to near-vertical for presenting or demoing.

Other features common across both models include Micro-HDMI video out for adding a second display (such as if you're using the Cintiq Companion in a pitch presentation or lecture), front and rear cameras (2Mp and 8Mp respectively), 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, GPS, an accelerometer, and USB ports for connectivity. However, while the Windows-powered Cintiq Companion has two USB 3.0 ports, the Android Cintiq Companion Hybrid has a single USB 2.0 port.

Wacom claims at battery life of seven hours for each model, which should be long enough for a good stint in the park – though we've no news on how the screen will fair in the sunshine.

Wacom Cintiq Companion vs Cintiq Companion Hybrid

The differences are almost all internal – and in who the tablets are aimed at. The Cintiq Companion is a full-spec creative tool that Wacom claims is more than capable of running demanding day-to-day creative tools such as Photoshop, Illustrator, Corel Painter and Autodesk's Sketchbook Pro – while the Cintiq Companion Hybrid is for dooming and drafting using a set of Wacom's own creative applications (plus Android apps such as Photoshop Touch and that platform's version of Sketchbook Pro, we imagine).

The full-spec Cintiq Companion (above) has an Intel Core i7 3517U processor running at 1.9GHz and 8GB of RAM. You can buy it with either a 256GB or 512GB SSD drive. The internal storage can be expanded with Micro SD cards (which currently offer up to 64GB of storage).

Both run Windows 8, though the higher-end model runs Windows 8 Pro, which adds corporate network tools you probably don't care about. It has Bluetooth 4.0 connectivty.

The Cintiq Companion Hybrid (above) has an Nvidia Tegra4 quad-core processor and runs Android 4.2 (known as Jelly Bean). Again there are two versions: 16GB of storage or 32GB (both have 2GB of RAM). Again a Micro SD card slot offers up to 64GB of additional storage.

This Android tablet ships with two Wacom-created sketching apps: Wacom Creative Canvas for painting and sketching and Wacom Manga Canvas for, er, painting and sketching Manga artworks (us neither).

In a bit of technical wizardry, when you plug the Cintiq Companion Hybrid into a Mac or Windows computer, it turns into a standard Cintiq – allowing you to work in Photoshop, Painter et al as if you'd plugged in a standard Cintiq 13HD.

Wacom is selling an optional bluetooth keyboard for the Cintiq Companion – though you could use any Windows 8-compatible USB or wireless keyboard.

Wacom Cintiq Companion release date and pricing

Both models are due in October. The Cintiq Companion costs £1,375 plus VAT for the 256GB version and £1666.67 for the 512GB version. The Cintiq Companion Hybrid costs £999.99 for the 16GB version and and £1,083 for the 32GB version.

Digital Arts expects to get a first chance to get our hands on the Cintiq Companion and Cintiq Companion Hybrid at the IFA show in Berlin from September 6-11. Tune in then for our first hands-on review of the Cintiq Companion and Cintiq Companion Hybrid.

Update 10.50am: Wacom has confirmed that the Cintiq Companion has Bluetooth 4.0 and the Cintiq Companion Hybrid has Bluetooth 3.0. The eariler information was supplied to us was incorrect.

Update 21/8/13: Wacom has confirmed that both models of the Cintiq Companion have 8GB RAM. The eariler information was supplied to us was incorrect.


Vintage Graphire said: Wacom, why not Mac????? I need a full photoshop but i don't wanna deal with any viruse

Guest said: It was about time... before we grew old and grumpy about not having it sooner ;-)

technocloud said: I love my cintiq I hate ipads I've Bought 2 and returned both never have I thought about returning my cintiq, don't belittle the cintiq with association with apples products

Brendon Thompson said: Apple is behind on this. Wacom's Cintiq Companion sounds like its what this artist always wanted Apple to introduce rather than the disappointing iPad. I am excited about buying a Windows compatible product. And to think it will work with my Mac or PC. Very cool, Wacom.

Naptunian said: Too bad Wacom used a Tegra 4. According to the benchmarks, it hasn't kept pace with the Snapdragon.

M.C.R said: Wacom Ipad?, more like Wacom Windos tablet rigth?, you know, because it has windows....or reason to put there ipad at all lol.

swiftyspade said: Why do you refer this as a junk iPad. Since when does Icrap come with windows 8?

Will said: Just saw the update. Ah well

Will said: Thanks Neil That's encouraging about the 16GB being a possibility. Fingers crossed

Rodrick Dalton said: Stop insulting Wacom by describing it as "iPad".... I love every Wacom product I have owned. I returned the iPad I considered buying after 48 hours.I hope that someone ports Gimp to Android, seeing that I only ever want to use Windows for games.

Neil Bennett said: The original information we received from Wacom said that the more expensive model would have 16GB. They've not let us know this is incorrect - it was an older document apparently.We've asked about the battery life and will update the story based on what they say.

Neil Bennett said: We should be getting our hands on one at the IFA trade show in Berlin in early September. We'll let you know.

Neil Bennett said: Yep, it supports the 802.11b/n/g wireless networking standards.

Jeeti Sindhu said: Does it have WiDi connectivity is my concern…I hope they will have Haswell in their future iteration !

Tim said: Thanks very much for the review. Both devices sound great. I am leaning toward the Hybrid as it is cheaper, but I'd like to know more about the capability of the apps provided for working on the go without a computer, ie: what is the resolution and quality of the images that they generate (around 240 dpi would be great), and is it easy to transfer these images to a computer once it is connected. I am wanting only to use the device for creating artwork - I have plenty of access to the internet, email etc with my iphone, ipad and home imac, and so I am not planning on using the Companion for these functions - but can I create artwork on the Companion without having wifi? It's the ability to both sketch on the go as well as working at home on my mac that really appeals to me, but I'd rather not have it connected to the internet if possible.

charliesheenhardcore said: The lack of Haswell is sad, but not a deal breaker for me if it gets at least 6 hours on the battery. It definitely has the power. We have to remember SSD changes everything. Many people are using a Macbook air to design on today. When you combine SSD, with 8 GIGS of ram and a i7 you have a pretty powerful machine. Sure nothing crazy specced, but the specs are better than my Macbook pro, and i've been using it for years without any problems. Is it as fast as my desktop quad core? Definitely not, but it's not far behind. Especially with what you would be using this thing for. I will be using it for all of my hand drawing illustrations and painting, combined with graphics. It's pretty much perfect for that. My 4 gigs of ram 72RPM hard drive Core i5 macbook pro handles very large photoshop files and everything i've tossed at it since i got it in 2010. I'm on it right now, and i design on it every day. So i'm sure the Cintiq will be just fine.

charliesheenhardcore said: That thing is powerful, SSD combined with 8 gigs of ram and an I7 is going to be pretty powerful. Check out some of the top illustrators and designers setups today. They are using Macbook Air's with the SSD and 8 Gigs your pretty solid. Especially for graphic design/illustration.

Daniel Buxton said: The lack of a Haswell i7 that would increase battery life and improve processor speed (i.e. the lack of an i7-4560U) is a sad omission.

Dian said: Does anyone know who did the artworks that appears on the promo images? those creatures are cute

CKP said: Too bad they both can't be tethered to a desktop, just the hybrid- that's not coolAlso, too bad it can't be wifi tethered to desktop without the stupid Wacom cables- they should get advise from Lenovo on Wireless monitors.Neither one of these is a complete option for professionals but at least the hybrid allows you to connect and use your main computer's power. Think I'll wait for the sub $400 wireless Lenovo monitor with Wacom Stylus- but I don't know for sure- need to see these in the wild and hear real reviews.

Will said: I would also like to know this. Also, where is the info about the 7 hrs battery life for the Windows model. I am of course, hoping you are right

luke said: I think the Pro high end version still only comes with 8 gigs RAM max. Their site claims nothing about the bump to 16 gigs. Is this a typo or insider information??

Kristy M said: I'd much rather be using the Cintiq13HD with a powerful computer for drawing or designing on art software, but this is a great move by Wacom and I hope it sells well!

Daniel Thomassin said: Bonjour;en effet cet un bon compromis d'allier plusieurs technologie dans un même produit !!

Clarion Portfolio said: Definitely want one of these - if Wacom want someone to try it out, they can give us a call at The Clarion Portfolio anytime!