Wacom revamps its hybrid Windows tablet for 2015

wacom

Engadget is reporting that Wacom has finally updated it’s original hybrid.

If you remember last year Wacom came out with an expensive but sweet little device called the Wacom Companion which was a standalone portable tablet that let you draw on the go, but also connect to your PC or Mac when you were home for a bit of added extra power. It was a clever concept but also in true traditional Wacom flair, expensive as Hell. Well, today Wacom released a new updated model with better specs as well as a reduced cost by $200. Not bad Wacom, not bad!

From Engadget’s site:

 For 2015, though, Wacom has added more configurations, and knocked $200 off the price. Just like its predecessor, the new Cintiq Companion 2 doubles as a handy pen display when you’re working at home, pairing with either a Windows PC or Mac via the Wacom Connect app.

You can read the whole article here.

A bit more about the Wacom Companion 2 from Wacom’s site:

Arriving early 2015. Available in 5 models.

Enjoy total creative freedom and a superior, natural pen-on-screen drawing experience with a Cintiq Companion 2nd generation. Engineered to run your professional creative software, the Cintiq Companion 2 is ready to inspire the most demanding artists and designers. Create under open skies or plug into your Mac or PC to bring each remarkable detail of your expression to life with exquisite accuracy

Cintiq Companion 2 Features

 

Mac and PC compatible
Powerful Windows 8 creative tablet that you can also use as a Cintiq when attached to a Mac or PC

A professional grade creative pen and a highly responsive glass screen that’s finished to provide the friction of a natural pen-on-paper feel while reducing glare.

13″ widescreen HD display

ExpressKeys™, Rocker Ring and multi-touch gestures

Pro Pen – ultra-fine precision, 2048 pressure levels and tilt recognition

Ergonomically designed for professional artists and designers (left-handed or right-handed, doesn’t matter!). Work comfortably with the Pro Pen in hand, using conveniently placed ExpressKeys™, a soft-grip tablet back and 4-position adjustable stand to easily work wherever, whenever.

Intel® Core™ Processing Power

Cintiq Companion 2 Specifications

Modes
Fully portable or plug into your Mac or PC

Display Size & Resolution
13.3 inch
2560 x 1440 WQHD display

Overall Dimensions
374 x 248 x 15 mm (14.7 x 9.9 x 0.6 in)

Weight
1.7 kg (3.75 lbs)

Advanced Controls
Wacom Pro Pen and multi-touch

Productivity Boosters
ExpressKeys™ and on-screen controls

Compatibility (when plugged in)
Windows® 7 and later
Mac OS X 10.8 and later

Operating System
Windows 8.1 or Windows 8.1 Pro

Processor
Intel® Core™ processors

Memory
Available with 4 to 16 GB DDR memory

Storage
Available with 64 to 512 GB solid state drive (SSD) storage

News: Motion Computing CL920 Rugged Windows Tablet PC Overview

If you’ve ever owned a Motion Computing product like the LE1600 or the LE1700 you know that until recently no one even came close to them in the Tablet Pc market and I would argue that even the Surface Pro 3  doesn’t quite get it right as far as my tests have revealed. In contrast, the old school LE1600 still pretty much works perfectly well as a digital sketchbook armed with Sketchbook Pro as long as you don’t choke it to death with the bloated XP Service packs Microsoft churned out to fix their security holes.

Anyway, today a Motion Computing partner CTS-Complete Tablet Solutions sent me an email about Motion’s newest endeavor the CL920 and at first glance it looks pretty sweet which doesn’t surprise me. At 1.9 lbs, (which is admittedly a bit bulky) armed with SSD drives, a 10″ Gorilla Glass 3 10 finger touch screen,  a spiffy Intel® Atom™ N2600 Dual Core Processor, sleek stylus, 8 hours of battery life, front and rear digital cameras, SD cards slot as well as micro HDMI, it’s really like a space age version of my old LE1600 FINALLY amped up for the 21st century. What also doesn’t surprise me is you can’t find anything on the site about pricing so I’m quite sure it’s going to be hella expensive. But still, with the Gorilla Glass and rugged chassis it likely won’t be scratching like the reports I’ve had about the Citniq Companion and the Surface Pro 3 screens are apparently doing. I’ve inquired about price and as soon as I know more I’ll update this post.

The Poor Animator’s Guide to making it in a Digital World

So let’s say you’ve decided to become an artist, or you came up old school and have yet to traverse across the digital bridge to the 21st Century. Of course there are devices that work well such as the Wacom Cintiq, The Surface Pro, The Wacom Companion and the Lenovo Helix, but all of these are expensive as hell, and you might wonder what you can do to keep the hard earned cash in your pocket. Fear not animators and artists, Animation Insider’s got your back for cheap alternatives! One look at the items necessary to be a professional digital artist these days can make you think twice about continuing in your endeavor. In order to buy all the essentials like a Wacom Cintiq, Storyboard Pro, Adobe Suite, Autodesk Maya you’d almost have to sell a kidney to have the cash to shell out for these fine items.

Or do you?

Hardware
For digital drawing hardware there are many cheaper alternatives out there to the industry standard; the Wacom Cintiq and while honestly none of them are as high quality as a Cintiq, if you’ve never used one to begin with you’re unlikely to notice a difference.

Yiyinova MVP22u

The Yiyinova MVP22U is a capable Cintiq replacement and about half the price but for now that’s the only alternative to a desktop Cintiq alternative I can recommend and even that has the caveat of shipping from China. To be fair though if a Cintiq breaks you’ll have to ship it to Germany so it’s a fair enough tradeoff.

Luckily there are other smaller devices you can buy as well that work decently enough.

The Asus EP121 tablet PC is a decent tablet that even has a touchscreen. No it’s NOT an iPad but honestly I’ve found those to be crappy at best while trying to produce professional art, and they won’t run professional programs like Storyboard Pro, or the Adobe Suite. Besides I find it hard to support a company that will not listen to the artists out there by purposely excluding a stylus option for the iPad despite a clear market for it.

For the record a much better alternative for artists is the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2, which while it will not run the above mentioned applications either it DOES come with a stylus and that alone makes me think it’s worth it. We reviewed it last year if you want to take a look.

Asus-Ep121

The Asus EP 121 will run all the standard applications artists use today in a professional environment and do it well. Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, and Premiere all run handily on the Ep121. It will even handle Maya, 3D Studio Max, Mudbox and Motion Builder and sometimes you can even find it for less than $300 bucks. Right now the cheapest I’ve found the 64 gb configuration for is $550 (which you’ll need to install all that software) but still with a Cintiq costing $2000 you’re getting a good deal. It will even support an external monitor too boot.  It comes with a wireless bluetooth keyboard as well.

I happen to be selling one of these right now if you’re in the market so give me a shout if you’re interested.

Used_LE1700_Tablet_Motion_Computing_EE544523252_view1

The old standby though has to be the Motion Computing’s Motion series, in the form of the LE1600 and the LE1700 both of which run Sketchbook Pro like champ and if the studio is asking you to use Photoshop, it natively handles .psd files perfectly. The LE1600 is the cheaper of the two and for that you’ll sacrifice a bit of computing power but it still will run decently for the price. You can get a Motion Computing LE1600 at Gainsaver for $107 bucks! Not bad huh? It will even do light Maya chores, which for $100 is pretty damn spiffy in my book!

The more powerful device is the LE1700 though and for the extra price you can get a much more powerful processor. Granted it will NOT run Storyboard Pro, but it WILL run Flash, Photoshop and Sketchbook Pro. You can get a LE1700 cheaply at Gainsaver for about $125 bucks but if you do, I would suggest you change the processor configuration to the Intel 1.5 ghz Core 2 Duo and have them install Windows 7 on there for you. I would also bump up the hard drive to 80gb. This will only set you back $374 bucks but you can ‘probably’ get away with the default configuration if you just use Sketchbook Pro. Also this handy lil’ device WILL run Maya which is pretty cool but you won’t be able to have dozens of characters and huge backgrounds in one scene. It’s great for modeling. animating and rigging though. It’s not going to run any serious games or anything processor heavy but you can easily draw and animate with it.

Also, with Sketchbook Pro’s latest addition of the Flipbook 2d animation timeline, you can now animate in 2D for a VERY low startup price using both of these devices.

Software
For software, of course you can always buy used software on eBay as well, but quite often that’s just pirated software packaged to look legit and when you get your disks delivered sometime programs won’t register so I’d stay away from that.

There are alternatives as well and so you don’t really have to go to your friendly neighborhood software pirate to get decent software. Most don’t know this, but there are many academic sites that offer the ability to buy cheaper software legally. All you need is a scan of a student’s report card (and if you’re taking classes ANYwhere you qualify) which you’ll upload and they’ll create an account for you which will allow you buy all SORTS of discounted software.

The best I’ve found is called http://www.journeyed.com/ but there are others and they all offer around the same discounts.

Watch for our Artist’s Guide to Tablets 2014 to get advice on everything you could want for an artist coming next month.

Cintiq Killer? The ThinkVision LT1423p

Lenovo-Thinkvision-1423P

SurfaceProartist.com is reporting a review for a relatively unknown new Cintiq competitor called the ThinkVision LT1423p Touch Mobile Monitor and while they seem to like it more or less there are other reviews on the Lenovo forums are iffy. I will say that some of those reviews seem to stem from not understanding the device.

The ThinkVision LT1423p is a 13″ penabled touch screen tablet which you connect to your PC or Mac to draw on much like a Wacom Cintiq albeit smaller and not as reliable as you’ll see below. The device apparently uses two USB3 to power it so if you don’t HAVE USB 3.0 you’re done with this mini review right now. It also appears to work wirelessly but the reviews on that were poor so I wouldn’t trust it. The pen is total crap (like the Lenovo Helix’s) too but I would imagine any Wacom penabled pen will work so that’s a relative non issue. I have always been impressed with Lenovo’s build quality and the video supports this.  The video reviewer talks quite a bit about troubles with the drivers, which is odd to me since Lenovo usually places quite a bit of attention to detail with their own software. This makes me feel like it’s almost a throwaway device and they don’t support it much which worries me a bit.

I’m actually pretty impressed with the drawing lag or lack thereof, which seems to be very low if you check out the video at around 10:29 or this point and it’s one of the reasons I’m even pointing to this device at all.

The corner tests seemed good as well, and what I mean by that is that you can draw all the way to the very corner of the device without losing connection of th pen or having the cursor stray from the pen’s point which isn’t always the best even on Cintiqs I’ve tried, especially the 12″ one. This being a touch enabled monitor, I’m pretty sure the Palm rejection is crap since no one seems to be able to get that right yet. Luckily on a PC it’s sort of a non issue since you can disable to Touch driver, but on the Mac, I’m not so sure how you’d disable it but you could use a Smudgeguard glove to disable the touch which is actually a decent tradeoff and works beautifully.

 

The forums led me to the Youtube video above which were fairly positive albeit some hiccups with driver issues.

“I’ve confirmed pressure sensitivity works in Photoshop, Sketchbook Pro (x86), Paint Tool SAI, OneNote, Sticky Notes, and Sculptris. I’m guessing this isn’t much of a surprise for any of you.

All in all, this seems like a solid product. I have an Intuos 4 Large and use the monitors shown in the youtube video as a reference to measure my subjectivity. The screen looks great, and is responsive. I have detected some parallax effect, but that was anticipated. It is worse when the stylus is not tangent (90 degrees) to the tablet surface. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by how little the offset was after calibration. My biggest hardware complaint I would have to be the dinky stylus, but thankfully other compatible ones are available.

EDIT: Eraser and second side-switch functionality do not work on this device, even if the stylus has those features itself. This is based on testimony from others in this thread, as well as my own. I spoke with Wacom representatives in person, and they told me that the device supports those features, but it’s in Lenovo’s court as to whether or not to activate them. ”

 

You can read more of that discussion here.

All in all it seems like if you can get past the driver issues at $600 bucks,  it’s a decent alternative to a Wacom Cintiq.

You can buy a ThinkVision LT1423p here on Amazon.