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Wacom Cintiq 21UX review

Ardjuna Seghers

By

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

User Score:

Pros

  • Similar experience to drawing on paper
  • Beautiful IPS display, excellent build
  • Matt glass layer doesn't reflect
  • Fully and easily adjustable
  • Generous, intuitive controls

Cons

  • Expensive
  • 1600 x 1200 resolution
  • No hardware display profiles/presets
  • Heavy

Key Features

  • 21.3in 1600x1200 IPS panel
  • Intuos 4 pen, controls and nibs
  • 2048 pressure levels
  • Matt glass protective layer
  • Fully adjustable to flat or upright
  • Manufacturer: Wacom
  • Review Price: £1,749.00

Until recent competition from Hanvon, Wacom was the default choice for any digital artist or designer looking for a graphics tablet. Indeed, we gave the company’s latest Intuos 4 a whopping ten out of ten and our top Editor’s Choice award. With a tablet that’s already that good, how could it possibly get any better? Well, being able to see what you’re drawing on the actual tablet is always nice, and Wacom has its Cintiq line for exactly this reason.

Essentially combining a graphics tablet and a monitor, the Cintiqs aim to give you the best of everything, allowing you to draw, sketch and doodle on their lightly textured surface just like you would on a piece of paper, and instantly displaying the results on their high-quality IPS panels. However, when we reviewed the Intuos 4, the Cintiq line was outdated, as it still used the tablet tech of the older Intuos 3. Now Wacom has rectified this, and its latest Cintiq 21UX sports all the specs and refinements of its newest Intuos stablemate. Does this make it the best graphics tool available?

First, let’s talk models. As Wacom hasn’t updated its smaller 12.1in 12WX, if you want the extra pressure sensitivity and features of the Intuos 4 on a Cintiq, the 21.3in 21UX is your only choice. It’s big and - at around £1600 - doesn’t come cheap, so let’s find out if it’s worth the outlay.

Thankfully, you can feel every penny of that money when you take the 21UX out of the box. Mind you, at 10.2kg that’s not the easiest feat and this tablet is far from portable. Its weight is reflected in the brick-like solidity of the tablet and the quality of the metal stand. The tablet itself is finished in smooth matt black plastic, which looks stylish and feels both rugged and pleasant to the touch. In combination with nicely rounded curves, it’s a pleasure to hold, and happy to rest on your lap (as long as you’re not bothered by its weight).

Out of the box, you’ll find: a pen with base that doubles as nib holder; the tablet itself, with a thick captive cable that terminates in data, video and power plugs; the external power brick; video adapters (including DVI to VGA and DVI-D to DVI-D); and the heavy metal stand. It’s a shame the tablet’s cable can’t be detached. And it would have been nice to see an HDMI adapter to go with this Cintiq’s native DVI connector and VGA adapter. The DVI conversion cable could also have done with being a little longer so that it could have done double duty as an extension, but otherwise we have no complaints.

Setting the tablet up is as easy as can be. Simply place the base on your desk and slide the tablet into it. A protrusion around the cable on the Cintiq’s back slots neatly into the base’s curved cradle, a bit like a ball and socket joint. Together with the stand’s ingenious tilting design, this makes for an incredibly flexible setup. The ‘circle and socket’ arrangement allows the tablet to be docked or removed without any effort, and also lets you rotate it whichever way you want. We wish there was a little more resistance to tell us when the tablet is in its perfectly level horizontal position. However, once you do find the perfect level, you can lock the screen in place using two provided screws.

Meanwhile, the stand’s unique folding legs allow the tablet to be tilted as flat as you like, so that you can draw on it just as you would on a piece of paper. These tilt adjustments are made by gently pulling two levers to the sides of the tablet, which then allows you to slide back the base’s rear feet. This also means that ‘flattening’ the Cintiq won’t require you to remove any items that might be in front of it, such as your keyboard and mouse. In its upright position (mainly when being used as a monitor) the 21UX is always at a bit of an angle though. Unlike your average monitor, it can’t stand completely straight but makes for comfortable viewing regardless.

Carl Abudephane

August 24, 2011, 4:25 pm

A few questions:

1. Where is this available for less than £1600? And is this still not yet available to buy from Wacom's own online store, and if so, why not? Have you communicated in any way with Wacom regarding this device?
It's non-availability at their online store worries me a little, and I also wonder about after-sales 'service' as I have read of people being disappointed with some aspects of this tablet.
It's a shame that Amazon UK don't stock it as they are great at replacing/refunding products due to usability issues. The US Amazon store does so but of course that doesn't help us much.
I've seen this for sale at around £1800, and that £200 difference is important when comparing it's stateside price of $1999.

2. You seem to be aware of if not an imminent update, then at least an update which is on the horizon? Again I wonder where this comes from? Wacom? As I said, they don't seem in any rush to be selling it themselves in the UK, so ...
I have been thinking about the 21" Cintiq, but it goes without saying that ANY genuine news of it being updated would put me on hold; it's just whether that update is four/six months away or a year-plus. Based on your source for this information, what do you reckon is the more likely?

3. Lastly, did you use this with a Mac? Lion? Again, I've read of 'issues' with drivers on Macs.

Thanks.

TechVegan

August 24, 2011, 8:54 pm

@Carl Adudephane:
1. To give but one example, Okobe.co.uk have it in stock for £1565.
I did question Wacom about the lack of availability from its online store, and was told it would likely be replenished at a future date.

2. Keep your eyes peeled for Wacom news on our site towards the end of the month, though the idea of a 24in Cintiq is more of an educated guess than confirmed news ;). You may also want to hang on a while for the review of the Hanvon 12in SenTIP.

3. PC only I'm afraid.

Thanks for your comment, hope this helps.

Breanna S

April 18, 2013, 4:25 pm

Duuuuuude! How much is this!! Where can I find this!!!!!!!!! O: Me want! @.@

Gman

August 31, 2013, 7:40 am

I find funny that your review complaints about the aspect ratio. One thing I hate about the profusion of widescreens is that it's an awful format for drawing anything else than landscapes. Try to draw a portrait in a widescreen and you'll find you are only using a very small percentage of the screen, have to work very zoomed in, etc. Widescreen is great to watch movies, but 4:3 was simply much better for working on it.

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