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Wacom Cintiq 21UX - Screen quality, Controls and OSD

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



Our Score:


The monitor component of the Cintiq 21UX is a 21.3in, 1,600 by 1,200 panel. That’s right, as all you haters of widescreen displays will have noticed, that gives it an aspect ratio of 4:3 rather than the usual 16:10 found on professional monitors these days, or the 16:9 that’s (unfortunately) becoming ever-more common. In fact, if you’re after a square screen, this is one of the few new options on the market.

Its old school aspect ratio will probably be the most controversial decision about this Cintiq. Its smaller 12in sibling is a widescreen affair, so why go for an ‘outdated’ square screen on the top-end model? Part of it is probably to make it more manageable as a tablet, especially when rotating it or using it on your lap. Maybe it’s also to cater to the established fanbase

who are used to this resolution on the older models. To be honest though, we would far rather have seen a 1,920 x 1,200 panel here. It’s the industry standard, and going back to less simply feels restrictive.

It’s a real shame too, since otherwise the 21UX holds up well as a monitor. As you would expect at this price point, it doesn’t use a cheap and shoddy TN panel. Instead you’ll find a proper high-end IPS panel, with excellent viewing angles, dark detailing and colour characteristics. Despite a glass panel protecting it from wear and tear, it has a matt finish so reflections aren’t a problem.

Once calibrated this screen is a joy to use for graphics work. Viewing angles are nearly as good as it gets, with no significant contrast or colour shift no matter from where you’re viewing the screen – an essential attribute on a panel you’ll be using in various states of tilt. Colours are rich without being oversaturated, and though blacks are certainly far from the deepest we’ve seen, the panel easily distinguished between even the darkest grey shades without losing significant white purity, and doesn’t suffer from backlight bleed or clouding (it’s worth noting, by the way, that in order to enable brightness and contrast control on the Cintiq, the colour temperature needs to be set to Custom).

Nor are there any nasty artefacts, with smooth gradients and sharp text. We even found the 21UX’s response time holds up well, so all but the most avid gamers won’t be left wanting. And that’s a good thing, as some games (like Plants versus Zombies and other mouse-only titles) are a whole new level of fun when played with a stylus on a flat surface. Even trying an FPS or two is a very different and interesting experience.

Unfortunately the Cintiq’s screen controls and OSD aren’t exactly the most ergonomic or aesthetically-pleasing we’ve come across. The buttons are tucked away behind the bezel, and none of them act as a shortcut. You can’t, for example, select presets without entering the OSD. Even then, all the ‘presets’ you're offered are choices between colour temperatures. The OSD itself, meanwhile, is fairly straightforward but looks like something from 1992.

Still, these are all minor complaints really, and don’t detract from a good monitor experience. Just remember that if you intend to use the 4:3 Cintiq as your main monitor, widescreen movies will have black bars the size of placards, and we do hold the 21UX's lack of horizontal resolution against it.

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.



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! @.@


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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