Tuesday, August 20th, 2013 Posted by Jim Thacker

Wacom announces new Cintiq Companion tablets

Earlier this year, Wacom announced that it was working on a new multi-touch tablet for graphics professionals. Today, it made good on that promise – doubly good, in fact.

The developer has just announced two new tablet products, the Cintiq Companion and the Cintiq Companion Hybrid, each of which itself comes in two different configurations.

Good screen size and connectivity
Both Companion and Companion Hybrid combine multi-touch and stylus input, the latter offering Wacom’s trademark 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity and a choice of 10 nibs.

At 13″ and full HD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution, both are larger than non-specialist alternatives like Microsoft’s Surface Pro, and should prove comfortable for professional work.

Both also connect to a PC or second display via HDMI or USB 3.0 (and MiniDP, in the case of the Companion), and come with an optional BlueTooth wireless keyboard.

That means that both product lines can function either as conventional Cintiqs, or as standalone tablets.

Windows 8 and Android options
Where the two product lines diverge is the choice of operating system and internal specs.

The Companion runs Windows 8 on an Intel Core i-7 processor – although it’s a third-generation chip, not a fourth-generation – and offers either 256 or 512GB of solid state storage.

Being a fully fledged Windows machine, it’s capable of running standard 2D tools – Wacom says that it’s “optimised” for Photoshop CC – although performance with 3D apps remains to be seen.

The price is fairly steep, though: either $1,999 or $2,499. For that money, you could get yourself a touch-enabled 22″ conventional graphics tablet.

The Companion Hybrid is more affordable, but lower-specced, with a Tegra 4 processor and either 16 or 32GB of storage, priced at $1,499 or $1,599 respectively.

Being an Android 4.2 device, you’re more limited in your choice of tools when running as a standalone tablet, though – Photoshop Touch or SketchBook Pro for Android, rather than Photoshop CC – although you do get Wacom’s own Creative Canvas preinstalled.

Desirable, but at a price
Both product lines look set to become objects of desire for graphics professionals, but whether you can justify one probably depends on how much you need a tablet, or just a graphics tablet.

As a point of comparison, Wacom’s existing 13″ Cintiq 13HD costs $999.

Both the Cintiq Companion and Cintiq Companion Hybrid are available for pre-order now, and are expected to ship in October. You can find more details on Wacom’s slick microsite.

Read more about the Cintiq Companion and Cintiq Companion Hybrid on Wacom’s site