Wacom Cintiq 13HD - A Space-Saving Pen Display For Designers (Part 2)

9/11/2013 11:11:39 AM

Setup and General Use

Before the real fun begins, a quick driver installation is needed. While the CD with the necessary installation files is included in the box, who doesn't have an optical drive (such as MacBook Air users) will want to navigate to the Wacom website to download software.  When finished, connect the cables to both the 13HD and your computer, find nearby power and all the hard work can be completed in less than 5 minutes - of course, save for configuring those customizable buttons on the bezel.

Those who are familiar with Wacom's pen-enabled devices know exactly what to expect here. Performance of the 13HD is consistent with both the Cintiq and Intuos lines as far as stylus-aided input goes. Instances of lag between the pen and the cursor were few and far between in our tests with CS6 applications (mostly Photoshop and Illustrator). Like we've seen with the Intuos 5 touch and the Cintiq 24HD touch, those configurable keys lining the side come in handy for frequently used shortcuts and save extra movement with your pen/mouse hand. When the stand is not used, those smaller ExpressKeys feel quite comfortable on the bezel. Again, the HUD prompts appear on the screen by default when a new tool is toggled and Radial Menus allow 8 separate actions to be accessed with one single button.

The setting menu

The setting menu

We found ourselves constantly attempting to revert back to the touch-enabled ways we got used to with the Intuos5 touch and 24HD touch. It's not so much that the reduced real estate for our art boards makes for a cramped setup, but we feel natural to be able to pinch-to-zoom and rotate the item quickly with the ExpressKey fingers - especially on a tablet-sized screen. The supplement will also extend to the programmable options - multi-finger swipes and more would then come into play. However, this time, we have to force ourselves not to leave that soft-touch surface.

While the viewing angle of the stand is quite good for most of the work, we really want the screen fixed in certain cases to get a more comfortable vision. Of course, one way to do this is to remove the 13HD from its stand completely and use it as a tablet. Don't get us wrong, the size and weight make it a comfortable thing, but the fact a fairly hefty cord must remain affixed to one end makes the in-lap or hand-held orientation less appealing. If wireless option was available here, this Cintiq would probably jump to the top of our shopping list.

Additional Options

In terms of Wacom's pen-enabled display, the Cintiq 13HD is the cheapest option for $999. If money is not really the problem, the 22HD touch and 24HD touch offer significantly more real estate for that digital workbench, with the ability to use your non-pen hand for swipes and other gestures. However, we found these touch functions proved to be useful on a larger screen. You will have to spend $2,699 (22HD touch) and 3,499 dollars (24HD touch) for each model. For those looking for more space to work, non-touch versions of both the 22HD and 24HD will set you back $1,999 and $2,599, respectively.

In terms of Wacom's pen-enabled display, the Cintiq 13HD is the cheapest option for $999.

In terms of Wacom's pen-enabled display, the Cintiq 13HD is the cheapest option for $999.

Not sure about spending a bunch of money on a pen-enabled screen? Already have one screen that you like attached to your workstation? Well, we can introduce the Intuos5 touch. The pen tablet is available in three sizes (we prefer the medium option) and allows you to keep your eyes on the prize with its on-screen HUD reminders for Touch Ring and ExpressKey toggles. This accessory also has wireless capabilities that we desire so much, but it requires buying an extra kit to cut the tethers. They are priced from $229 to $469.


While the tablet form-factor has many advantages for those who are trying to jump on the pen-enabled screen display, the Cintiq 13HD leaves us wanting more. In general, the performance is true to what we can expect from a Wacom screen (and definitely a welcome alternative for the Cintiq 12WX), but the missing bells and whistles give us pause. We're still trying to break the habit of touch-powered swipes and zooms during work sessions and the hefty cable made attempts to break from the stand's four configurations a burden. Clearly we can see the problems with the wireless capabilities included here, but with the $1,000 price tag, which of course will likely ease your pocketbook. Even we are willing to spend a little more to be able to remove all wires.

While the tablet form-factor has many advantages for those who are trying to jump on the pen-enabled screen display, the Cintiq 13HD leaves us wanting more.

While the tablet form-factor has many advantages for those who are trying to jump on the pen-enabled screen display, the Cintiq 13HD leaves us wanting more.

Perhaps what we really require is a full-fledged tablet that was introduced in March. The ability to work wirelessly tethered to a laptop or desktop machine with the option to take a slate-style device on the go is quite a compelling thought. We know the problems will occur - such as a rechargeable battery and built-in storage - but for prosumers; Wacom is very suitable to take the leap. Those extra screen apps for Android and the iPad tablets don't offer the custom - and performance - that these peripherals do to speed up labor-intensive workflows. However, this time, we have a 13-inch pen display that's a quite capable connected peripheral for those who don't want to refinance their mortgages for a Cintiq 24HD touch. And if the company continues to follow its recent model, a touch-enabled version could be right around the corner.  Nixing one of our biggest gripes would certainly make us think again.


·         Price: $999


·         Comfortable form-factor

·         The pen input and excellent ExpressKeys

·         Good quality screen


·         No wireless option

·         Lack of touch gestures

·         The stand has some limited angles


·         Wacom's smallest Cintiq is a powerful accessory, but the lack of wireless connectivity and multitouch gestures make us regret.


·         Active Area: 11.75" W x 6.75" H (299 x 171 mm)

·         Color: Black

·         Compatibility: Windows® 8, 7 (32/64 bit), Vista SP1, XP SP3; Mac OSX v10.6.8 or later (Intel processor)

·         Included cables/ adaptors: Wacom 3-in-1 cable with video (HDMI), USB 2.0 and AC Power adaptors

·         Data Port: USB 2.0

·         Graphics Input: HDMI or Mini DisplayPort with adaptors (not included)

·         Pen Pressure Levels: 2048 on pen tip and eraser

·         Display Dimensions: 14.75” W x 9.75” H x 0.5” D (375x248x14 mm)

·         Stand Dimensions: 13.39” W x 8.43” H x 0.24” D (340x213x6 mm)

·         Power Supply Input: 100-240 VAC, 50-60 Hz

·         Power Supply Output: 19 VDC 1.58 A (max)

·         Stand Adjustability: 4 Positions (Three angles (22°, 35°,50°) and flat) ; stand is detachable

·         Warranty: 2 years (USA/Canada)

·         Weight: Display: 2.65 lbs (1.2kg); Stand: 13.5oz (.38kg)

·         Display brightness: 250 cd/m2

·         Color Gamut: 75% Adobe RGB

·         Color Management: Industry standard pre-sets including Adobe RGB with 6500° K white point default

·         Native Resolution: 1920 x 1080 – Full HD

·         Number of Colors: 16.7 million

·         Screen Size: 13.3” diagonal (338mm)

·         Viewing angle: 178° (89°/89°) H, (89°/89°) V

·         ExpressKeys™: 4 user-assignable, application-specific, 5080 lpi resolutions,

·         Interactivity technology: Patented electromagnetic resonance method

·         Touch Ring: 4-position customizable rocker ring and home button

·         Pen Grip: Latex-free silicone rubber

·         Pen Model: Pro Pen KP503E00

·         Nibs Included: Five standard, three felt, one stroke

·         Optional Pens: Art Pen, Classic pen, Airbrush

·         Pressure Levels: 2048 on pen tip and eraser

·         Pen’s Switches: Tip switch, 2 side switches, eraser

·         Stand/Case: Desktop Pen stand and pen carry case to hold Pro pen, extra nibs, pen color rings and nib removal tool

·         Stand’s Tilt Range: 60 degrees

·         Stand Type: Pressure-sensitive, cordless, battery-free




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