Saturday 16 May 2015

Wacom Companion and Cintiq thoughts

Here's a story regards Wacom and their products on my point of view.

So, most people probably already know that I owned a Cintiq Companion since last year after returning my surface pro. Surface pro was a very nice portable computer, it's light, great screen and decent battery life. I would have kept the surface is I'm just after a tablet, however drawing wise Companion is simply a much better tool.

Regards my experience with Cintiq Companion, it was great. I have been used Companion for the past whole year replacing my computer + cintiq 21UX setup. This doesn't mean Companion is perfect, the the battery life is consider poor for a portable device, screen size is rather too small and 8gb ram isn't perfect for processing my image. However it's bearable consider Companion is the only portable device built for drawing on the current market. Let's put it this way, there's no other device on current market that offer similar experience as Companion. I even brought my Companion to the Japan trip to finish one of my unfinished projects. As matter of fact I love my companion but things will change 1 year later.

Now this is what happened to my companion. Early this year the device decided to die out of nowhere. It is the power plug issue that Companion was well known for. I have this issue after 1 month of the purchase, Wacom Australia gave me a replacement and I been using the device til early this year. Knowing the power plug is fragile, I took very good care of it and the device should suffer from no physical damage at all. But no matter how much care I put onto the device, the power plug just decided to die on me.

Thankfully the power plug issue is still covered outside of the original 1 year warranty. Apparently all device made before July 2014 have fragile power plugs and they replaced the material on later designs. After knowing the issue Wacom Australia decided to be very kind to me and send me a new device. However after all this experience with Companion, I decided to sell the device and upgrade for a new one.

I have thought of upgrading to Companion 2, however knowing original Companion was this fragile, I can't help but worry about the durability of companion 2, so unless the review of the device is overwhelmingly positive, it is not an option.

The new Cintiq 27QHD is what really catches my eye right now. It offers 97% Adobe RPG and have a pixel density of 110. Regards pixel density, For normal monitor it might not matter as much, however for a device that usual put right in front of your face, you can't help but noticing the physical pixels on the monitor. Companion having 180 ppi, is perfect, however since the screen size is only 13 inch, I would still have a bit of issue looking at my work. The new companion 2 and Cintiq 27QHD upgraded their display to 2540 x 1440.

Here's the problem I have with Wacom and their design of products. They are never up to date with technology. When companion first released, 4th gen intel cores were already available, it was a major upgrade on battery, this is especially important on tablet device, however Wacom decided to release their Companion anyways with the old 3rd gen core. Cintiq 27QHD, although this device have upgrade to 2540 x 1440, I can't help but ask why don't they just simply go all the way to 4k since this technology is widely available already. They decided to upgrade the resolution on companion 2, but this is pointless since the pixel density on that device is already great, the actual problem is the screen size of the device. I would rather have the device upgrading to 15" screen instead of the resolution upgrade. Overall I have to say Wacom do try to make their product a better experience for customer however what they offer is usually not what we wanted. And though out the years, Wacom's product have suffered from a downgrade of quality, not just the hardware but the software too. Here's a great video from David Watson regards the poor touch function of Wacom device, although to be fair half of that was Adobe's problem. In comparison, my 8 years old 21UX is still functioning to this date.

After all this talk, I still want to have a 27QHD, yes it's not a 4k display, yes there is reports on the buggy remote but what really stop me from buying the device is actually dead simple. The price. I been sitting on my computer, checking Wacom Australia product page daily with my credit card ready, hope to buy the device right away once it is released. And when the product is finally release, the price shock me. It is 4.3k Australian dollar and it does not comes with the stand. The stand is sold separately for 500 dollars, so you are looking roughly around $5000 dollar for a drawing monitor, not to mention it's not even a 4k display. So, a full PC would cost less that 1.5k, An iMAC with 5k display cost less that 3k, A decent 2nd hand car cost less that 5k, why would I spend 5k hard earned money on a drawing monitor. Oh and the stand, are you telling me this 18kg weight somehow worth the same as my smart phone?(I know international postage are expensive but same goes for any electronic device on the market right?)

Final thoughts on the problem, It is sad to see what Wacom have done in the recent years, their product quality went down greatly from the past years but the price is kept going up. What we really need now is another company to join this market, stop this total domination, and hopefully we will be looking at better quality products from Wacom at more reasonable price. However as for now, I would still be a Wacom customer, because regardless all that, we don't have a 2nd choice.

That's all I have to say and....... does anybody want to buy Companion?

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