Today is an exciting day for graphics-tablet fans in general and Cintiq fans in particular. When we reviewed the 20in Wacom Cintiq 21UX recently, our biggest complaint was the screen's 4:3 aspect ratio and sub Full HD resolution. We recommended Wacom bring out a model with a 1,920 x 1,200 panel minimum, and that's exactly what the company has done with its brand new Cintiq 24HD.
As its name suggests, the 24HD sports a 24in panel. But it's not just larger and with a higher resolution, Wacom has also upped the colour gamut and increased contrast. Meanwhile the chassis is a complete, ground-up redesign, with improved controls and an industrial stand that puts many architects' drafting tables to shame, as well as more connectivity options.
It's basically on a whole other level to the 21UX, and indeed both models will co-exist in the Cintiq range, rather than the 24HD replacing its smaller sibling. Wacom doesn't classify its 24HD as a graphics tablet, but rather as a "digital workbench". The only thing that remains unchanged is that it still uses Intuos 4-equivalent technology, so you can draw on the glass-protected screen using the included stylus, and the tablet part will pick up delicate lines or hard strokes, pen angle and more.
So let's get into the nitty-gritty. Haters of glossy will be glad to hear that the new Cintiq is mostly encased in matt black plastic, while the tempered, etched glass front sports a reflection-killing semi-matt finish. Build quality is superb, even better than on the already impressive 21UX. The stand feels like it's made from cast iron, featuring metal arms that provide enough strength that you can lean on the tablet even in its raised position (handy if you want to draw for a bit while standing up).
The impression of solidity isn't harmed by the 24HD's quite frankly astonishing weight of 29kg! That's nearly three times as heavy as the 21in model, and confirms this Cintiq's status as a permanent fixture on your desk (of course, that's a lot more viable now that the display is large enough, contains enough pixels and is of a high enough level of quality that it does a great job as your primary monitor).
A lot of the 24HD's weight is due to its 15.3kg stand, which has been balanced so that you can put the base at the edge of your desk and tilt the tablet/display over the edge at an angle. This is probably the most comfortable working position available, and the 24HD has been designed so that you can lean on it while working. Not only is the construction of this Cintiq strong enough to take your entire upper body weight, but the bezel has been significantly extended to give you plenty of area to rest your elbow(s) on.
In fact, there's almost as much bezel as screen this time around, and Wacom has used the extra space to add more controls and make the existing ones more accessible. The fully programmable eight control buttons (called ExpressKeys) on each side are now variously positioned and of different shapes and sizes to make it easier to know which one you're pressing, which we feel is a positive change. We also like that the touch-sensitive zoom strips - which used to be behind the bezel at the sides on previous are now the same rings as on the Intuos 4.
The three shortcut buttons at the 24HD's top are also welcome, especially one that calls up a virtual onscreen keyboard – essential for naming layers when you haven't got a physical keyboard easily to hand. The other two offer access to the onscreen overlay for the ExpressKey functions and direct access to the software driver for easy fine-tuning.