Wacom moving into portable tablet market this summer

This caught my eye on Techcrunch this week.

Wacom, the leading player when it comes to pressure-sensitive input devices aimed at photo and digital art professionals, has teased an upcoming mobile tablet product on its Facebook account. In response to what Wacom characterizes as outspoken customer feedback, the company says it’s working on a a device with “a pressure-sensitive professional pen, smooth multi-touch, an HD display, and other valuable features that you haven’t seen in other tablets.

I’m pretty sure I won’t bother to invest in one of these, at least for now. Unless it’s at least as powerful as a good tablet PC, it will also need to run a proper OS to be of any real competition to Autodesk Sketchbook Pro for tablets. It won’t be able to run Photoshop, Painter or Smith Micro products without either Windows or Mac OSX.. and you will never see Apple licensing OSX or iOS onto another company’s hardware. As has been pointed out, the Microsoft Surface is already partnered up with Wacom for the stylus, as is Samsung with the Galaxy Note. Android seem unlikely as an OS, as aside from Autodesk SBP there really isn’t much on Google Play that comes close to being a viable ‘art’ application.

Which leaves me wondering what the point is, really. And as far as hardware is concerned I’ve been a committed Wacom customer for about 15 years. I’ve had three intuos tablets, one of which I still use when I’m working remotely. I have a Cintiq 12WX which I’ve kept even though I moved up to a Cintiq 24HD, an Inkling and a Bamboo pen. Their hardware is second to none but the drivers, sadly I have had many problems with their drivers over the years, and until the last (very slow in coming) update to the Sketch Manager software for the Inkling, the Inkling itself was barely worth using at all. Again, I may have to cover that particular rant in another post!

Wacom Cintiq 24HD
Try getting that on your lap – Wacom Cintiq 24HD

I’m also rather dubious about their “HD” claims. The Cintiq 24HD is certainly large, and well-made but the pixel density is quite poor and the device is somewhat grainy, a complaint I’ve also heard about their new 22 inch offering. I’ll be interested to see what the reviews are like once it’s come out. The Cintiq 12WX has a better pixel density than the 24HD but has quite poor brightness and colour controls. Trying to calibrate it with a Datacolor Spyder was a complete waste of time, the results (when you could get any) were not any better than squinting a bit and using Nvidia’s settings for the graphics card.

What I will say, is that their pen tech is absolutely spot-on. The Cintiq 24HD has beautiful responsiveness, and the 2,048 pressure levels are wonderful, that level of sensitivity makes a real difference to sketching and painting. But is that enough to warrant forking out for a Wacom-created tablet when I already have a Galaxy Note 10.1 that does a perfectly good impression of a Wacom tablet? I guess we’ll find out this summer.

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