So I purchased the Cintiq 24HD on Sunday and started working on it pretty much immediately after I set it up. Less than a week’s worth of time spent on it is hardly enough to give it a full review, but here are my thoughts about it so far (mostly positive):
Immediate impression that this thing is big. The screen is a 24-inch IPS, but the additional bezel and side panels make it as large as a 36″ monitor. It’s extremely heavy at about 66 lb (monitor itself is 35 lb) and takes up a lot of space. I need a new desk. The weight means that most VESA arms will not support it; you need a pretty durable one to make sure it can support it.
The build quality is extremely solid though, and the adjustable stand is pretty strong, but easy to adjust. Due to the enormous size, I’ve had to re-arrange my desk space and move a lot of things around. It’s a little bit more uncomfortable, but that’s just a result of my crappy desk. Actually using it is fine, and I can adjust to to reach over to my lap, which is my preferred working position. My current keyboard tray is actually completely hidden by my Cintiq which overreaches the desk, so it’s sometimes problematic when I need to use the keyboard. Once again, this is mostly attributed to the bad desk positioning, but the keyboard position is most certainly limited when working on the Cintiq.
The monitor is said to have a 92% gamut on sRGB, which is not the best, but it absolutely needs to be calibrated when setting it up for the first time. I’ve noticed the colors are wee bit too saturated compared to my more reliable Dell UltraSharp, so I need to do a bit of color-correcting if I paint on it. Not a horrible, but a minor annoyance. It would be ideal if I get a physical monitor calibration tool and get more accurate results on all my monitors.
People complain about the heat on Cintiqs, but the 24HD is extremely cool, aside from the top where my hand does not ever reach. I suspect it is because of the fan that is new to the 24HD, which I do not hear either. People also complain about cursor lag on a Cintiq, but I have noticed no difference compared to an Intuos (which is not lag-free either, but just less obvious). Lag is highly dependent on the computer though; I tested the Cintiq on someone’s Macbook Pro and there was significant lag, though it didn’t really bother me. Another common complain is the imprecise cursor mapping, which is caused by the distance of the glass to the LCD panel. I find this is only applicable near the extreme edges of the Cintiq, which at that point, I wouldn’t even be drawing on. This is largely negligible. There are some of the usual Wacom driver hiccups, especially when switching between windows and adjusting a multi-monitor setup, but that’s common for all Wacom products in my experience.
So why did I buy a Cintiq? I’ve been working on a tablet for nearly ten years (Graphire3 4×5 in 2003 and an Intuos4 medium in 2011), and I’ve noticed that my coordination with the tablet had stopped improving nor getting noticeably better several years ago. As my actual skills started to improve, my technique on the tablet failed to catch up as much. I became increasingly reliant on flipping and rotating the canvas to make the curves I wanted, and as well as hitting undo MANY times to get the strokes I wanted. While this is not a bad thing in any way, I did notice I was not working as fast as I would have wanted. As I started to do more design and concept work, my instructors and friends mentioned to me that a Cintiq would be a great investment if I wanted to go professional. So I thought about it for a month before making the purchase. Richard let me test on his Cintiq briefly before I made the purchase.
At first, I was incredibly fearful that I would hate working on the Cintiq as soon as I started to use it. However, I adjusted to it fairly quickly, as if it was simply a logical step from using a tablet. I noticed several improvements to my workflow. I was flipping, rotating, and undoing a lot less. It was easier to work zoomed out, so I was able to grasp scale more quickly on a sketch. This led to establishing my proportions a lot more quickly without having to cut and resize pieces. I didn’t necessarily draw better, but I worked more efficiently, which is all I could have asked for. In a sense, drawing on the Cintiq just seemed…fun, compared to the Intuos anyway. Doing quick little sketches on the Intuos seemed like a chore for me, but I was enjoying myself doing them on the Cintiq.
Did I absolutely need to buy the Cintiq? Does it make me draw better? Is it perfect? No.
But as someone with poor tablet coordination, it let me approach digital drawing with more enthusiasm and efficiency. However, it is not for everyone, nor should you buy one if you just started digital art. Learn the ropes with a tablet first, and if you feel like you’re comfortable enough with it, then you just saved yourself a lot of money.