Wacom Cintiq Companion hands-on review
Price: £1,375 plus VAT (with 256GB drive)
After my dubious foray into the joys of the Android-based Cintiq Companion Hybrid tablet, I decided to try out the Cintiq Companion that's kitted out with the full Windows 8 PC operating system.
Those who have read my previous review will be aware that I was none too impressed (and if you haven't, clicky on the link above, I'll wait til you get back). It crashed – a lot – and was a bit slow: ;ike me in the morning. But I expected more from the PC OS. For one, it is slicker, faster and it's able to support the full version of Photoshop and the entire Creative Suite/Cloud. So far, so good.
When I first played with the 'big daddy' Cintiq 24HD Touch, I was overawed. It boasts a huge drawing space and it supplies you with everything you need for drawing and illustrating, and it's all there at your finger tips. The mini Cintiq is a someone between the Wacom tablets we all have on our desks, and the desk-straddling Cintiq: it's small enough to travel, and big enough to offer a nice area for drawing.
Photoshop worked well on Windows 8 and didn't crash once. The work came out fine, and the stylus was comfortable and responded well. It was uber senstive and gave me all kinds of realistic lines, including pencil, marker pen, crayon.
So why am I not rushing out to buy it? I'm someone who uses my Wacom Tablet all the time. I always plug it in for touch-up work in Photoshop and the occasional client edit for a hand-drawn piece. And this glorious piece of kit should be the next step for me, right?
Essentially, unlike the big Cintiq, the sheer pleasure of drawing eluded me. Maybe it's because the Stylus sync was slightly off, or that I wasn't used to the commands yet, but something about it was missing. As with the Android OS, my drawing arm continued to brush a mystery command that slowed me up. I would go back into settings and set up my drawing space again. And again. And again.
This kills time like a sad puppy kills joy. Everything about it seemed to limit my drawing style, and there was never that paper/pen connection that's so important to a traditional illustrator.
The Cintiq Companion feels like a toy, rather than a useful piece of kit to a time stretched professional. It's an impressive gadget, and it looks awesome. It gives great results fast, and is extremely portable.
Would I buy it though? In a word, no. Give me three grand and I'll buy the 24-inch desk monster instead.
Lizzie Mary Cullen
Wacom Cintiq Companion benchmarks
After Lizzie had finished drawing beautifully in Photoshop on the Cintiq Companion, I got a chance to run a quick benchmark to see how capable it would be with your creative applications.
I only got a chance to run Cinebench 11.5 – i'll run a full set of tests when we get a review unit.
The Cintiq Companion's Intel Core i7 3517U sounds like it should be highly powered, considering it's from the top-flight i7 range – but's final letter reveals its a low-power unit that is more about not draining the battery than giving your apps some welly. The Cinebench CPU score of 0.79 would be frankly pathetic in a laptop (where a score of 4 to 6 would be reasonable/good), but it shows that you can run Photoshop and draw or retouch images with a few layers. Or relatively simple vector artworks in Illustrator. Adding lots of adjustment layers and comped elements would slow it to crawl, and runing After Effects would probably kill it (until you rebooted).
The OpenGL test score of 15.98fps is also not in the territory we'd expect even from a basic laptop (where a score of 40fps would be considerded mediocre) – and you won't get much boost to OpenCL or OpenGL-accelerated tools from it. But considering the Cintiq Companion is essentially a glorified, expensive drawing pad – the longer battery life its low-gauge chips give it make them probably a wiser choice than something more souped-up.