Wacom Cintiq Companion – Windows 8

Wacom Companion

Another leap out into the void that is ‘going pro’. Since Wacom finally made the leap into full blown PCs, and with my life now consisting of carrying everything I own in two bags and moving pretty much every day, I decided to bite the (giant) bullet and buy a Companion – the Windows 8 model – not the Hybrid.

First – the cons:

  1. Cost. These things are still ridiculously pricey. Look – I get it. You’re the industry leader, and it costs to play with the industry leader. Still – at more than double the nearest competitor, this seems just goofy.
  2. Design flaws. This one would be funny if it wasn’t so frustrating. Flaws in the design of this device seem painfully obvious to me. A power button in the lower right corner – where you’re most likely to grab the device to move it on the tabletop has had me swearing out loud on more than one occasion. Don’t get me started on the piss poor speaker(s?) in the back of the device.  Add those to the wonky (at best) ‘stand’ that is a separate piece on the back – requiring both hands and the agility of an acrobat to maneuver, and I’m just… frustrated. I mean – we’re not talking about Microsoft here. We’re talking about a company whose product is used by designers all over the world. You  would think that they could have come up with something better – even their first time out.
  3. Size/weight. This has a bit of that sense of “lugging it out” that I mentioned I had when using my Intuos. It’s not nearly as bad, and I’m happy to have the screen real estate when I’m working, but it seems a bit much. Between the 13″ working area and the programmable buttons on the one edge I need to shop for 15-17″ laptop cases when I go looking. This is probably a minor thing for a lot of folks (after all – there’s a lot of people who like 15-17″ laptops) but I’ve always believed that if you’re looking to be portable, be really portable.
  4. Service. I’ve already had a problem with mine which required I send it back to Wacom. I’ll write that experience out in another post (it’s warranted) but for now, let me just say that Wacom is clearly new to the “supporting PCs” world, and they’re not very good at it.

Now, the pros:

  1. It’s Wacom. I’m not going to lie. Working with the Cintiq – like the Intuos before it – is really a leap away from the other devices I’ve used. Now, being able to work directly on the screen I’m looking at as well as having the fluidity / functionality of a Wacom? That’s a little bit of love right there.
  2. It’s a full PC. As mentioned, I live on the road. When I pack up and I don’t have to pack both a laptop and a tablet, I’m very happy.
  3. Everything works (pretty much). While I did have a bad experience (mentioned above), for the most part, I find the tablet screamingly fast and happy to do what I want it to. I’ve always been a guy who frankensteined together his machines from bits and pieces and having something that just says “how high?” whenever you say jump is really nice.
  4. It’s Wacom. If / when I’m ever ready to make the jump into full time artist, it’s nice to know that I’m already working with industry standard equipment. Is it a requirement? No – of course not – good art is the requirement, not the right tool. But it’s nice.

Edited to Add:

It looks like I’m having a new problem with this device (which is already my second unit). There’s a ‘plugged in/not charging’ issue which I’ve found is a common issue. (See examples here, here, and here.) On one hand, I get it – that’s what I get for buying the first model. On the other – this is (by far) the most money I’ve ever spent on a PC, and it’s a niche that you would think Wacom would know well by now. I have to say that I’m pretty frustrated with this device, and yet I certainly do not want to send it back. Again. (Especially since I’m hearing a lot of horror stories from folks who have received multiple replacements with the same issue.)