For graphics - Cintiq still better than a modern touch-screen?

Curious about this question, as I’m about to have another go with graphics. Last year I got a good handle on Photoshop with a small second-hand Wacom, but as someone who used to draw a lot as a kid, it’s still ingrained in me that I’d like to see the line appearing at the end of my implement.

A few years ago, the Cintiq was the dog’s bollocks but hugely expensive. Is that still the same, or are the modern touch screen devices (iPad, touch screen monitors, etc.) at the same level of usability, and relatively cheaper now? What sort of styli can one use on an iPad or Windows 8 computer? I’d imagine that the Cintiq is more sturdy for continuous professional use? What are the similarities and differences?

All comments greatly appreciated.


I own a Cintiq 12wx. It is a very nice device, though I wish it was a bit more portable. All of the cables and power packs make it very bulky. Would love to haul it around with a laptop, but doing so is impractical. It does have the advantage of being paired with my hefty/powerful desktop, so running Photoshop with high resolution images is not an issue at all.

I also have an iPad and a Pogo Connect. It’s actually a fairly nice sketching platform. The thick pen is of course a bit of an issue, but for fiddling around it’s a pretty nice combo, lots of great apps, and so very portable. It would never replace my Cintiq, but to be honest I use it more often. For a casual digital sketchpad, I’d prefer to be able to go sit on the sofa.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the Surface Pro, perhaps as a more portable replacement for my Cintiq, but don’t think I will make the leap until I see how the 2nd generation pans out. I worry a bit about Photoshop performance, but from the sound of things it’s pretty viable (apart from the issues with the pen drivers and Adobe apps, which will hopefully get resolved). For not much more than the cost of the Cintiq alone, you are basically getting an entire computer rather than just the screen. Hard to justify the 12" Cintiq for new purchases, I think. Now the 22" Cintiq is a whole 'nother story.

One of the Penny Arcade guys gave the Surface Pro a shot and the results were promising. He does make specific mention of Adobe needing to get busy supporting the pen, but the experience seemed pretty good overall . I imagine generation two will be very good. This was originally posted here in either the Win8 or Surface thread.

It comes down to your goals and your price point, really. I LOVE my 24" Cintiq but I still want a Surface Pro when they fix the pressure sensitivity. I would be using the Cintiq for heavy work and the Surface for sketching and sculpting noodling/practice.

However, the Cintiq is about 5 times the cost of the Surface and it’s really just a monitor (unlike the Surface which is a whole computer) so … there you go. :)

Oh, and every stylus I’ve tried on the iPad is absolutely terrible. The pressure sensitive ones especially. Just awful. Don’t bother with that, wait for the Surface to do it properly.

I’ve been using my old ( bought in 2010) HP Touchsmart TM2 laptop as a centiq-alternative… it’s an i5 with ATI 5450, 6 gig of Ram. I can have illustrator, photoshop and sketchbook pro open all at once and be drawing away with my wacom-built stylus. Pressure sensitivity isn’t as perect as the centiq, and the screen is cheap, meaning not great for colors or viewing angles, but for drawing it’s fine. Seeing as it’s Win7, I imagine win8 might be better for touch apps, but overall I’ve been very pleased. Issues are weight, battery life.

I’ve been looking at all the new win8 tablets, but I think that while sketchbook pro is great without hotkeys, you do still want a keyboard for Illustrator and photoshop. Also, I’ve been finding when painting it’s actually really nice to have the screen at an easel-like angle to the keyboard in your lap. For drawing I flip it into tablet mode since I need my elbow lower on a table.

The new Lenovo Thinkpad Helix looks like the best of most worlds, except for the widescreen format… I’d be worried it’s too squeezed height wise, especially with a software interface like photoshop up, to get nice lines when drawing. I hate how the more 4:3 format is being abandoned.

Whatever you buy, do make sure the stylus is wacom technology-based. Mine has a nice pointy nib, just the right size, no battery, very light. Makes all the difference.

Ah yes, and one thing that the centiq does very well is the screen surface… matte, with pen-on-screen friction resistance, which feels very much like paper. Most of the tablets (and my laptop) have a reflective glass screen which is brutal on the eyes for drawing in daylight, and very slippy for the pen… not too bad for quick sketching, but drawing precise straight ink lines (without smoothing assists) is very hard without that friction. I bought a matte screen protector film that somewhat gives me that feeling, but the screen gets kinda dithered and sparkly. so I stopped using it.

Wacom announced the new Cintiq 13HD as a replacement for the 12wx. Screen is higher resolution than the 12wx, and it’s apparently more portable (just one cable rather than the mess of boxes and cables involved with the 12wx).

It looks quite nice, but at about the same price of the Surface Pro (for just a screen, versus an actual computer), it doesn’t seem like a great option. If it were priced at maybe $600 or $700, I think it’d be a no-brainer for a digital artist. At the $1000 price point, it’s still only as portable as your computing platform (and for true portability you’re going to need a laptop anyway).

Bummer for me is that it probably undermines my ability to sell my 12wx for a decent price, since the market will soon be flooded with used ones.