Wacom Cintiq 22HD Touch and 13HD

Torn Between Two Lovers

For the record, I think Wacom has some of the best creative tools on the market. If you're doing any creative project where precision and efficiency are necessary, then you owe it to yourself to look into at least one of these wonderful products. In case you think I'm getting special consideration from Wacom to say these glowing words, know that I spent four years trying to convince my boss in a previous job to buy the original Cintiq 21UX. When he finally bought one, I took that machine from work to home every day so I wouldn't have to work on anything else. For eight years I used and abused that machine; it became an indispensable part of my workflow. Hands down, I'd give up just about anything (including my camera) before I'd give up my Cintiq.

Now, with that preamble out of the way, let's take a look at two of the newest pieces of creative goodness: the Cintiq 22HD touch and the 13HD. I've had the pleasure of taking both of these machines out to see what they can do, and to be honest, the toughest question isn't "Should I get one of these?" but rather "Which one should I get?" (Or maybe, "Can I sell a member of my family and get both?") Each is a marvel of productivity and responsiveness, and they automatically go in the "What's Hot" category in my book. So what are the differences and which should you choose?

The decision is really based on what kind of work you do, and the environment in which you work. If you mainly work at a desk (home or office), then the Cintiq 22HD touch is for you. It's a sleeker, lighter version of the Cintiq 21UX with more ExpressKeys and the added bonus of touch capabilities. Working directly onscreen using pressure sensitivity will make you faster and more precise. And ExpressKeys are the greatest things since sliced bread: You set up a button on the sides of the screen with shortcuts for each specific program. Thus, instead of hopping back and forth between the screen and your keyboard, you now get to stay focused on the screen and the task at hand—less chance to get distracted and more time being creative. You add the extra layer of being able to incorporate touch and gestures to your workflow, and you may never have to use your keyboard again!

If, however, you do a lot of traveling, or find that you're more creative outside the office or in coffee shops, then by all means get the Cintiq 13HD. (I call it the artist's secret weapon.) It's the same size as a MacBook Pro and fits perfectly into a computer bag. In one package that can go anywhere, it has HD resolution and all the great stuff you've come to love about a Cintiq.

Now, I never have to make do with anything less than a Cintiq. And, since the Cintiq is a full working monitor, it allows me to take advantage of two screens for increased productivity.

There's no way I can do justice in such a short article to how great these products are and how much I love them. (I've yet to meet anyone who has bought a Cintiq and not fallen in love it.) My litmus test for how good a piece of technology is comes down to this question: "Do I feel cheated and inhibited if I can't use it?" Yes! My art and workflow is diminished when I can't use a Cintiq and that's the best critique I can give for how important these products are to me.

Company: Wacom
Price: $2,499 (22HD touch); $999 (13HD )
Rating: 5
Hot:  Pure hot