Wacom has barely managed to cling on to its position as the chosen graphics tablet brand for artists and designers in the past couple of years. Its dominance has been seriously challenged by the arrival of the iPad Pro, with its uber-luxe display and larger screen. Clubbed with the immensely popular Apple Pencil, artists and designers were flocking in droves to it. But the Japanese manufacturer has turned the table of late with a slew of new and impressive products in their range that was for a long time dominated by the obsolete Cintiq 12WX and the mundane Intuous 5.
At the forefront, is its smallest and most compact offering, the Cintiq 13HD Interactive. With a form factor that borders on tablet turf and a bunch of other features, (including a touch screen full HD display) that manages to impress even Apple aficionados, the Cintiq 13 HD can easily be termed Wacom’s most promising offering in the past few years. Here’s our Wacom Cintiq 13 HD review that puts this swanky new design tablet to the test and answers the most important question that users may have. Does it justify the high price tag?
Sleek and practical
At first glance, you can’t help but notice the similarity of the Cintiq 13HD to the Wacom Intuous. It is noticeably smaller but retains the same all-black matte casing and the set of express keys on the left. The keys are slightly smaller too but have a more tactile feel to it. They have the same soft veneer finish which provides some much-needed respite for the fingers after a long and exhausting design session. You can customize the keys and set shortcuts for frequently accessed tools and functions, which makes life simpler, especially with repetitive tasks. On the opposite side of the control panel, there is an LED indicator light and the connectivity ports.
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In the center, is the beautiful semi-gloss LED display, which is pen enabled by the way. It is approximately 13.3 inches when measured diagonally and weighs a pleasant 2.65 pounds, which translates into easy portability unlike its larger brethren, the beefy Cintiq 24HD Touch.
On the connectivity front, you have a USB 2.0 port and a cable jack with a uniquely designed cable that borrows the 30 pin connector from Apple’s 13HD on one end and splits into HDMI, USB and power adapter connections on the other end. If you are a new gen Mac user or Laptop user with a Display Port output, then that’s an indication that you’d need to invest in a converter cable.
The package also includes the stand with multiple viewing angles. You can use the slots for 22, 35 and 50 degrees or even keep it flat. The Cintiq 13HD stays rock steady allowing the artist to work to their comfort.
Bright and Sharp display with excellent responsiveness
The standout feature that makes the Cintiq 13HD a desirable proposition for artists and designers is the semi-gloss display with a 1920×1080 resolution in full HD. With 16.7 million colours and 250 cd/m2 brightness, it offers the perfect bright surface with a gamut of viewing angles. Irrespective of whether it is exhaustive design work or cumbersome photo editing, the colours pop out and the razor sharpness ensures precision.
The Pro Pen is Wacom’s answer to the Apple Pencil and it really shines with its pressure sensitivity (2,048 levels). Wacom has given the pen a much-needed external makeover. It boasts of a sleek carrying case, a dual tone external casing with a hint of chrome. Performance wise, there is minimal lag between the pen input and the cursor responsiveness.
The express keys with the frequently accessed shortcuts, the radial menu with one-button access to eight different actions and the tilt sensitivity of the Pro Pen speed up your drawing. While it is not nearly as popular as Wacom, it would be unfair not to mention the Artisul D13, which nearly rivals the Cintiq HD 13 in performance and beats it hands down in the price bracket.
What we liked the most about it
- Sleek and compact form factor
- 13 inch (diagonal) LED display with full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution
- Quick access shortcut express keys which are fully customizable
- Detachable stand with preset viewing angled slots
- Dedicated home button
- Pro Pen with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity for both nib and the eraser
- Excellent viewing angles
What could have been better
Despite being one of the most ingeniously designed offerings in recent times from Wacom, we did find a few nits to pick with the Cintiq 13HD. The most important one would be the lack of wireless connectivity. Considering the money outlay, staying tethered to the laptop or the mac feels limited. Furthermore, if you like to move about as you draw and are habituated to lift and turn the device, the tablet disconnects occasionally as the 3-in-1 cable connection is a tad weak. While this is not a major flaw, it does mar the experience of a seamless workflow.
With a super bright display, excellent resolution and Wacom’s Pro Pen, the Cintiq 13HD is an excellent package. Is it worth the price tag? It would be fair to say that it is. With the portability of a tablet and Wacom’s durability, you’d be hard pressed to find a better performing graphics tablet at this price point.