Here's the thing with Wacom's latest Cintiqs: the bigger the display, the more straightforward the buying decision tends to be. The Cintiq 22HD and 24HD dominate at the professional high-end, but, as you get smaller and cheaper, more options come into play -- whether they're non-display tablets like the Intuos5 or complete PCs like Microsoft's Surface Pro (software issues aside). However, if you're looking for full-fledged Cintiq qualities in a smaller package, then this morning's announcement of the $1,000 Cintiq 13HD probably caught your interest. No, it's not the rumored standalone tablet, but our first impression is that it's a lightweight and handy option for serious work. Read on for more.
Wacom Cintiq 13HD hands-onSee all photos
Starting with the tablet itself, it's surprisingly light and easy to hold -- in fact, it's just half the weight of the aging Cintiq 12WX. The new pen-sensitive (not touch sensitive) 1920 x 1080 display makes things look small onscreen, but the pen has Wacom's usual accuracy so we didn't struggle to hit controls. Also, if you have a nice big primary display, you might want to continue using that for controls and just use the 13-incher for drawing.
The physical controls on the right should be instantly familiar. They require some serious bezel, but the pen-sensitive area is still much larger than the Intuos5, which outwardly has the same dimensions. A proprietary cable containing HDMI video, power and USB data juts out of the side and it could potentially be a hindrance -- although we're going to leave that question open until Billy Steele gets some review time. We've got to ask, though: where's some high bandwidth 60GHz wireless connectivity when you really need it?
The stand is simple but sturdy and light. Three lift-out flaps provide 20, 30 and 50 degree angles to work at, with 50 degrees being primarily for useful for displaying work rather than creating it.
The stylus brings a new feel, but it'll work with other current Cintiqs as well as with Intuos tablets back to the Intuos4. Rather than coming with some kind of travel holder to connect it to the tablet, the "Pro Pen" comes in its own travel box with a selection nibs and color-coding rings. Altogether, the Cintiq 13HD is a tidy package and we're keen to get more time with it. In the meantime, check out the gallery and video above to learn more.