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The Cintiq 12WX combines the advantages of a wide-format LCD monitor with Wacom's patented, professional pen technology to form the perfect interactive companion for your Mac or PC.
Thin and light, the new Cintiq 12WX gives you the flexibility to work directly on screen as you would on paper. Easily rotate your display when working flat on your desktop to find the right position for your hand, or for grater comfort, recline the Cintiq 12WX on the desktop. Ergonomically designed for maximum comfort, it's even light enough for use on your lap. Any way you choose to use it, the Cintiq 12WX gives you a natural pen-on-paper feel in a digital environment.
• Display Panel: 12.1" a-Si Active Martix TFT LCD
• Resolution: 1280 x 800 pixels
• Contrast Ratio: 600:1
• Display Connection: VGA, DVI-I, DVI-D
• Pen & Eraser Pressure Sensitivity: 1024 levels
• Tablet Active Area: 261.12 x 163.2 mm
• Data Interface: USB
• Dimensions (W x H x D): 405.2 x 269.7 x 17 mm
• Weight: 1.8 kg (including a stand)
• Power Management: VESA DPMS, Energy Star
Power Consumption (with AC adaptor):
• Normal Operation (Blue LED): < 29 W
• Suspend / Stand-by Mode: < 2W
• Off: < 1W
• Windows: Vista / XP / 2000
• Macintosh: OS X 10.3.9 or later
• An available USB port
• An available VGA or DVI port
Even as a product reviewer, it is not often I get to play with such high-end gear as this little beauty. Looking stylish and sleek, all smooth curves and matt-black finish and a snazzy pen tool with an amazingly comfortable grip and easy-to-reach tilt-switch controls right under my index finger, this has to be one of the most remarkable pieces of 'entry level' technology available in the current market. Priced at a fairly reasonable nz$1800+/-, it's something to take considerable note of.
There are a swarm of pen-tablets out there, ranging from the ridiculously cheap and nasty right up to the high-end dedicated grunt-tools, and once you start looking into those upper reaches of quality and price, you see some remarkable units, with some truely scary pricetags. However, to find all the features you would expect from a $5,000+ unit available in a relatively lightweight (it masses about 2kg), easily portable (it'll fit into a fairly standard laptop case) format, for under nz$2,000, you have to wonder how they do it. Then when you consider that this unit has something that makes it the pack leader by a country mile: it doesn't just allow you to control what's happening on screen, it is the screen as well, you can only pinch yourself and wonder if you'll awaken to find it just a dream.
First things first: the obvious stuff.
This unit is a 12.1" widescreen running at 1280x800 pixels. If you are comfortable with widescreen laptops, you'll be fine with this. However if, like me, you prefer working with 4:3 aspect screens, you'll find that either your desktop scrolls (which can prove somewhat annoying if you happen to use a 1280x1024 desktop) or you lose some workspace. Failing that, of course, you set yourself up with a decent graphics card that will let you run both the Cintiq and a standards LCD monitor as dual desktops, and you keep the best of both worlds!
Colour is a big factor. If you are using something like this, you will want green on screen to be green on paper, and the same green at that. Right out of the box the unit was a tiny bit spectrally wonky, but a quick calibration with a quality tool soon solved that. It wasn't too far off, but the darker shades were a little clumped and needed spacing out to give definition. With a true 24-bit colour depth, this unit has some seriously stunning hues to play with and the detail possible is remarkable in this price bracket.
The pen is tilt-sensitive, and carries a whopping 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity. This means that when you run up the resources in something like Photoshop and start to experiment, you find whole new worlds of technique opening before you. You can link colour-shift, rotational orientation, diameter, spread radius, and a whole swag of other features to the pressure sensor, and give yourself some quite stunning abilities Vincent van Gogh himself would have given his left ear for. You can even reverse it and use the back-end to rub bits out without having to actually select the eraser tool in most graphics applications.
It has a fairly wide range of viewability, meaning you can get a very accurate image when looking at it from almost side-on in any direction. With standard LCD monitors you get some colour-shift depending on your viewing angle, yet I could see no major issues until I moved beyond about 50 degrees, which is more than enough really.
On the upper left and right corners of the frame, there are 2 sets of customisable buttons and touch-strips, basically similar to the touch-pads on a standard laptop. These can be set to a range of functions, and changed as easily as you change your mind. You can even assign different functions according to the application you are working with, for example having them operate a zoom controls in Photoshop, but drag-bars in your web browser, and speed controls in games. (Yes, this will happily support most games too!)
Though the pen is cordless, the tablet isn't. You have one cable that connects the tablet to a control box you will need to find a home for. From that you have three cables to connect. Firstly, and most obvious really, is to the power adaptor. Then a basic USB cable to carry command data from the tablet to the driver software on the PC, and finally the video connection. This comes in two flavours: a standard VGA connection for those with older video cards, and a more modern DVI connection for the cards that can handle it. I have a dual-output card and was able to test both. Though I didn't find any great performance difference between the two, I selected the DVI connection to enable me to keep my 4:3 ratio LCD monitor, and ran it in dual-desktop mode. This allowed me to keep my working area on the Cintiq, but all the control palettes on the LCD for improved productivity.
Next - software matters:
As mentioned earlier, the buttons and touch-strips on the frame edges are fully customisable. You can set up anything you need from a range of pre-defined options, or customise your own. If you have multiple displays, you can flip between them with a touch of your thumb. Need the 'SHIFT' key but the keyboard isn't right there, no worries, you have one on the edge of the display. Same with any other modifier key you need. You can assign functions across the whole array of applications, or set up a profile for each, giving you ultimate control no matter what you are working on or where.
Compatible with both Windows and MacOS, and through a third-party download, Linux as well, this is truly the most impressive and widely-accessible HID (Human Interface Device) to come along since the mouse. Any artist would find their work vastly improved in either scope or speed, or both, with one of these on the desk in front of them. An animator would be able to do far more in less time, with greater ease and production flow. A designer could prototype a dozen ideas in the time it would take to do three otherwise. I watched a friend of mine who builds 3d world models whip up a fairly detailed and textured model of my house in under 3 hours, then turn to me and tell me he would have taken all day to do the same using his conventional equipment.
Being a professional product packaging designer who uses most of the Adobe family on a day-to-day basis, I personally found this little beauty to be extremely hard to let go of. Being able to draw directly on to my workspace as though I were sketching on paper was nothing short of a revelation for me, and I plan to be heading to the nearest retailer and checking out prices.
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Joan Didion (1934 - ), 'Slouching Towards Bethlehem'