Any graphics professional or computer artist will know a graphics tablet is as indispensable as the hand they use to draw with. Wacom’s introduction of the Cintiq range and now, specifically, the introduction of the Cintiq 12WX and reviewed here, is this latest and more portable option in the line-up (that includes the larger, 21UX) balancing ease of use, that portability but maintaining the usefulness of the device.
The new, interactive pressure sensitive display tablet combines a high quality 12.1-inch TFT LCD colour screen with a more affordable sub-£1000 price tag. The slim line dimensions (405 x 270 x 17mm) compare well with the company's Intuos3 A5 wide graphics tablet and allows you to draw directly onto the display, taking away the sometimes disjointed feeling you get when using a more traditional graphics pad.
A 170-degree angle of view and its flip-out stand means it can be used on your lap or tilted at 25-degrees on a desk for a more impact-full display but without to many glitches as it is still usable at that angle. At around 2kg in weight, it’s not overly heavy when on your lap either so making mobile/portable use an attractive prospect, rather than one of numbed legs!
24-bit colour provides enough scope for it to be a primary monitor or one able to mirror an existing display set up and it can work equally well in a multi-monitor array as a second or third (interactive) screen option.
Because it behaves just like a "normal" pen graphics pad, you get a pressure sensitive Grip Pen that can work at a variety of angles and has 1024 pressure levels that combine well with the system’s 5080 lines per inch resolution.
Just like Wacom’s Intuos3 tablets, the 12WX includes those model’s 10 programmable ExpressKeys (five a side) and Touch Strips, one each side combined with the ExpressKeys. The keys allow fast activation of predefined settings such as keyboard shortcuts for CTRL, ALT, or SHIFT function/combinations and to help quickly activate other features such as the display toggle.
The Touch Strips meanwhile behave like a scroll bar, which takes some getting used to but is worth the effort since it really speeds up workflow. You can zoom in or out of an image in Photoshop or, for those more into video production, they can be used to scrub in, say, Apple’s Final Cut Pro.
In terms of driver software, like all Wacom tablets you get a broad range of controls over the tablet and pen behaviours. Including sensitivity, adjustments, for pen tip or eraser "feel", tilt sensitivity and assigning controls to any of the buttons or modifier ExpressKeys.
Calibration is built-in and once calibrated the whole ensemble works quickly and without any lag between a pen stroke and pixels appearing on screen exactly where you wanted them. Connectivity is comprehensive too with almost everything you’ll need for any eventuality.
A single cable connects to the 12WX's hub, which has a USB port and a DVI-I port. All necessary cabling is provided in the box including an additional VGA cable and all the supplied cables are plenty long enough at around 6 feet.
Looking at the price alone the Wacom Cintiq 12WX, it looks, well, kind of expensive. But once out of its box the quality of the display, build and the sheer usability of the thing it quickly becomes an indispensable tool for any graphics professional on less generous budget or for those needing a portable solution to their graphics art production. After all, the 12WX will fit easily in to a laptop bag.
Wacom’s Cintiq 12WX combines the best of its Intuos3 range of graphics tablets with interactive display technology in a portable format that is both flexible and great to use. As anyone who has used a graphics pad will tell you, once you’ve got one there’s no going back, well now after trying one of these, your old Intuos will be left gathering dust.