Tag Archives: Cintiq

Review: Wacom Cintiq Companion 2

A video editor puts this tablet to the test

By Brady Betzel

If you’ve ever used a Wacom Intuos or Cintiq tablet, then you know how efficient they can make your workflow, regardless of your job title. I’m a video editor, and after using a Wacom Intuos 5 I immediately noticed less wrist pain when compared to using a mouse.

Wacom makes very high-quality products that do not disappoint. The Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 is a tablet with the power of a laptop, coupled with the precision of the company’s famous line of pen tablets. Whether you’re an illustrator, a visual effects artist or even an editor, you should check out this tablet.

Under the Hood
While there are multiple configurations of the Wacom Cintiq Companion 2, I will be reviewing only the version I received to test. It’s loaded with the Intel i7 dual core (four thread) 3.1GHz processor, 8GB of DDR3 memory, 256GB SSD Toshiba hard drive and Intel Iris Graphics 5100 graphics card. It comes pre-loaded with Windows 8.1 Pro (if you purchase one with an i3/i5 processor it comes Windows 8.1 standard). This configuration retails for $1,999.95.


Other configurations run from $1,299.95 all the way up to $2,499.95. In addition, the Companion 2 also comes with a carrying case, stand, the Pro Pen (my favorite accessory), an AC adapter and the Cintiq Connect cable. There is a set of six express keys that I don’t often use — except when doing some Photoshop work — but they are programmable and they are there. Around the outside you get three USB 3.0 ports, a display port,a microSD card slot and a headphone port.

I really liked Wacom’s Cintiq Companion. I thought it was great, but there were a few things I felt could be improved: the stand; the power supply, which was cumbersome and had many problems (Google it); and the ability to use it just like a normal Cintiq when connected to another computer

With the Companion 2, Wacom has listened to what its customers wanted. They addressed the bad power supply connection, although the power connection still hangs off the side. Wacom also made a great improvement — allowing the Companion to be used in conjunction with the Cintiq Connect Cable and perform the same functions as its famous cousin the Cintiq. To use this function, however, you must download the drivers to the computer you want to use the Companion with, as well as have a computer with HDMI out and USB ports.

Unfortunately one of my biggest problems with the Companion is the stand and that has not changed. While it’s not a deal breaker, I find it cumbersome and, in my opinion, should have been built-in, much like the Microsoft Surface.

Testing it Out
Once I got the stand attached, the computer turned on fast, and within five seconds I was up and ready to run. If you haven’t used Windows before, don’t worry. It comes loaded with Windows 8.1 Pro and recently has been suggesting that I upgrade to Windows 10. If you are thinking about upgrading to Windows 10, I would be careful because currently many pro apps are not yet certified.

I immediately downloaded the Adobe CC Suite, specifically After Effects and Premiere. When using this tablet, I wanted to concentrate on its video capabilities as opposed to its well-known illustration abilities. As most reviews and articles will tell you, the Companion 2 has 2,048 levels of sensitivity, as well as tilt and multi-touch offerings.

Not long after launching After Effects and Premiere I discovered that I really like to use touch over the Pro Pen for the most part, which is a true testament to Adobe and the improvements they have made to their apps for touch. The exception came when I was using bezier curves, masks or adjusting color curves. I could not get the same level of accuracy as I do with the pen.

Nonetheless, using the CIntiq Companion 2 as a video editor and effects machine proved to be a great experience — including the fact that I was able to use Video CoPilot’s Element 3D without a problem. It should also be noted that there will be some hiccups when editing multiple video layers; you will need way more memory and a dedicated graphics card. This brings up another point: technically the Cintiq Companion 2 cannot be upgraded, so if you order the 8GB memory version, that’s it. My advice would be to spend a little more money and max it out as much as you can, your renders will thank you.

IMG_5336 IMG_5338

I tested the machine with an XDCAM 50 MOV file. The XDCAM codec is a notoriously processor-intensive codec that gives even the largest Mac Pro or HP z840 a run for their compression money. The Companion stayed in the race nicely. I compressed the nine-minute, 11.2GB XDCAM MOV using Adobe Media Encoder, compressing to the YouTube 1080p preset and harnessing the OpenCL acceleration in 12 minutes and 52 seconds — with OpenCL turned off, and using only the software acceleration, it took 11 min 37 seconds. It definitely kept up with rough realtime encoding, but with 16GB of DDR3 we may have seen a slightly faster time.

Summing Up
If you have the money and/or the need for Wacom’s high precision and craftsmanship, the Cintiq Companion 2 is the mobile Cintiq for you. In addition to the precision, the Companion 2 boasts a QHD screen with a resolution of 2560×1440 (an aspect ratio of 1.778 or 16:9) and a color gamut of 72 percent NTSC. While this isn’t the fastest tablet on the market, you will not find one with the same precision and quality that Wacom has become famous for.

I leave you with these highlights: the Companion 2 offers 2,048 levels of sensitivity with the Pro Pen; the Cintiq Connect Cable allows you to use the Companion like a standard Cintiq; and it offers QHD 2650×1440 screen resolution.

Brady Betzel is an online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood. Previously, he was editing The Real World at Bunim-Murray Productions. You can email Brady at bradybetzel@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter, @allbetzroff.

Wacom launches Cintiq 27QHD, Companion 2 at CES 2015

During CES today, Wacom launched two versions of the Cintiq 27QHD featuring updated pen-on-screen performance and a 27-inch glasswork display — a  pen-only version and a pen and multi-touch version. The Cintiq 27 QHD’s new ExpressKey Remote, which can be placed anywhere on the screen or desk, gives users more flexibility as to how, when and where customizable keyboard shortcuts and modifiers are implemented. Additionally, the Cintiq 27QHD offers a variety of stand options.

Wacom also introduced the Cintiq Companion 2, a touchscreen tablet for professional creators of digital content. More on that shortly.

According to Wacom, pros with color critical workflows will benefit from the Cintiq 27QHD’s life-like color quality which displays 1.07 billion colors and 97 percent of Adobe’s color gamut. This allows artists certainty that the colors match the printing or other output phases of a project. This is thanks to precision color matching with the Wacom Color Manager, powered by X-Rite (purchased as an accessory at the Wacom eStore), which sets and fine tunes the colors for a near exact match.

Cintiq 27QHD with new ExpressKey Remote 2

Both versions of the new flagship product feature a 27-inch 2560×1440 seamless edge-to-edge glass screen. The extra wide viewing angle enables designers, artists, game or film developers to create rich, detailed, large-scale work directly on the screen. Users can incorporate different pen nibs to increase the natural feel, including the felt nibs, which provide a realistic pen on paper feel.

The Cintiq 27QHD allows users to speed up their workflow using a combination of pen, multi-touch (Cintiq 27QHD touch), on-screen controls and a Radial Menu. Cintiq’s Pro Pen emulates the feel of a traditional brush or marker. Users can draw, paint, design and edit directly on screen with the Wacom pen and its 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity.

The Cintiq 27QHD Touch is an option for those who want to experience simultaneous pen and touch with the latest touch enabled OS and software. It provides an even more intuitive and natural way to work by closely replicating the experience of working with two hands when using traditional materials such as paints, markers and clay. Multi-touch allows users to directly manipulate their work with fingers by rotating, pinching and moving it around. The ability to manipulate a 3D model — or pan, zoom and rotate an image with one hand while simultaneously sculpting or sketching with the other delivers a completely natural experience — enables artists to stay completely in their creative zone.

Cintiq 27QHD with Stand

Cintiq 27QHD with Stand

Wireless ExpressKey Remote, Ergonomics
Helping improve workflow and creative output, the Cintiq 27QHD comes with the new ExpressKey Remote. This hand-held set of shortcut keys and Touch Ring helps creatives to focus on the creative. It can be placed wherever is most convenient while drawing — either on screen, in the hand or beside the keyboard on the desk. Up to five ExpressKey Remotes can be attached at one time, which when combined with the onscreen controls, gives users dozens of options to customize shortcut keys by task or application.

As with its predecessor, the Cintiq 27 offers ergonomics that benefit graphic designers and illustrators who work long hours and have to be very precise. The integrated stand means the Cintiq can either be laid flat (five degrees to be exact) similar to a canvas or positioned at a 20-degree angle by extending the legs. An optional Ergo stand or third-party VESA arm give users the option to adjust the position even further to whatever angle works best for them, whether sitting or standing.

The Cintiq 27QHD ($2299.99) and Cintiq 27QHD Touch ($2799.99) replace the Cintiq 24HD models and will be available in late January.

Cintiq Companion 2
The Cintiq Companion 2  mobile solution from Wacom works either as a fully fledged Windows 8 tablet with all the creative input capabilities of a Cintiq or, when the need arises, will connect, via Cintiq Connect, to the home or office Mac or PC and function as a primary or secondary Cintiq display.

With 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity and tilt recognition, the Cintiq Companion 2’s Pro Pen performs like a traditional brush, pen or marker when used in combination with creative software applications from such companies as Adobe, Autodesk, Pixologic and many more.

Cintiq Companion 2

Cintiq Companion 2

The pen and high-resolution screen (2560×1440) interact to provide a realistic pen-on-paper feel with limited glare that allows artists and designers to quickly produce detailed and accurate material without ever having to worry about art supplies. The four-position adjustable stand allows users to work comfortably in a variety of environments including studios, client sites, planes, trains and wherever else creativity has a home.

By incorporating the Pro Pen, multi-touch, six ExpressKeys, Rocker Ring, Radial Menu and Cloud Services all onto the Companion 2, pros can work anywhere. It’s the ability to be able to set an ExpressKey to a particular shortcut or use multi-touch to manipulate an image that Wacom says “defines the creative tablet’s intuitiveness and flexibility.” Additionally, a digital workflow allows for immediate feedback from colleagues or clients and this type of collaboration can improve production significantly.

The Cintiq Companion 2 will be available at the Wacom eStore in several configurations this February – Entry (64GB SSD, $1299.99), Value (128GB SSD, $1599.99) and Standard (256GB SSD, $1999.99). The Premium (512GB SSD, $2499.99) version is expected to begin shipping this spring.

Case Study: Teaching tech with tablets and tutorials


Digital-Tutors, an online training center that offers training and tutorial library for CG, 3D, animation and VFX, offers over 1,100 full-length courses on over 50 software packages to beginners and experienced artists looking to grow their toolbox.

“We know artists can be skeptical of learning resources, especially when a financial or time commitment is required,” said Justin Marshall, lead modeling tutor at Digital-Tutors (www.digitaltutors.com). “Over the last 12 years, we’ve dedicated ourselves to not only proving why our content deserves both; but also to the idea that if we do our job, then a whole community of great artists can either begin to or continue to do their job at the highest levels of film, game, and ad industries.” Continue reading