Wacom has cemented their reputation among graphic professionals and anything that required an inventive approach with the Cintiq. For a little over a decade now it’s been impossible to separate this particular device from occupations that range from Illustration, production animation, even engineering firms heavily utilize them within CAD workstations.
The entirety of the current Cintiq lineup has gone through some transformative pangs. The Cintiq Companion 2 didn’t feel that old at the time, but it probably didn’t help that Wacom quickly introduced and the updated MobileStudio Pro spin-off. Ultimately, it was marginally better than before and was the only creative device of its segment. I liked using it, but the awkward timing and release didn’t seem to justify another “blushing” review.
Fortunately, something like the Cintiq Pro 16 is refreshingly straightforward in its core objective to the point of endearment — just the essential components with no gimmicks thrown in.
Now that I’ve aired out my thoughts, I can say that the Cintiq Pro still has solid ground of its own even today. It’s a pen display that falls in line with more traditional Cintiq models (22HD/24HD/27QHD) that people have used (or have dreamed of using) as a digital canvas for intricate projects. This is supposed to be the end-all-be-all for stationary assignments. Granted, this is nothing new for the Cintiq Pro but you’re certainly going to be paying for it, in fact you are more likely to see this in a design studio rather than tucked away in somebody’s bedroom.
The look is austere thanks to minimalist elements coupled with good materials. The appearance is practically made of glass and a solid piece of aluminum, bordered by a rubber strip on the sides that bonds both sides together. Almost every physical button except for the power (I/O) is done away with, instead opting for contact-operated buttons that show up as LED-lit icons whenever the display is turned on. Ergonomics is another smart tweak that eliminates a bulky stand thanks to the addition of two legs that can be flipped out or hidden flush quickly, this is great because it doesn’t take up any more room and helps in reducing wrist strain (carpal tunnel).
Type C or Wacom Link
Connectivity of the Cintiq Pro will initially be accommodating with three USB-C ports and a lone SDXC card slot. This is a prime setup that only utilizes one cable with any single port — that is, if you pair it with a recent Retina MacBook, fourth-gen MacBook Pro or iMac Pro from Apple. If you’re stuck with an x86/x64 PC you’ll have to jump through more hoops to get video and control running with the Wacom Link adapter. This method is quite cumbersome but necessary with a separate Y cable, along with another USB-B and compatible mini DisplayPort (DP) cable. Honestly, this approach will be a complete pain in the ass for anybody not running MacOS, nor will you be able to output to 4K without a direct USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 option either.
One other important thing to note is that you cannot substitute HDMI to DP as a workaround, so it’s all or nothing. Alternatively, the Cintiq Pro can act as a peripheral hub for two other devices and we imagine photographers will appreciate the aforementioned SD card access for convenience.
Familiar Texture but Exceptionally Fluid
If you read my review of the Intuos Pro Paper Tablet then you already know that a lot the technical stuff is openly shared between the Wacom professional range, specifically centered on their EMR-based pen technology being the anchor. The Pro Pen 2 is once again included with the features intact for the Cintiq, so everything discussed before like 40°tilt range, ±60° levels of tilt recognition, ±0.01 accuracy, and 5080 lpi is accounted for. Likewise, the broad 8192 levels of pen contact pressure is a radical improvement over the previous generation.
Of course, its battery-free design means you can expect a similar weight and feel with the Pro Pen 2 (zwei), taking little time to get acclimated with the shape and function. Some of the heft has been relocated for comfort and the button placement is naturally suited for index finger reach and programmable, although you can pick up the Airbrush Pen and Pro Pen 3D if you need a specialized touch to complement whatever process you adopt. Even if you stick with the Pro Pen you’re treated to a base that houses ten nibs with an integrated removal tool.
Despite the advent of display, the general characteristic of previous Cintiqs was like a graphite pencil making contact with Bristol, a byproduct of layering sensors atop of the screen itself. The Cintiq Pro also exhibit these familiar qualities, but the on-sensor capture is substantially less restive when the digital muses take you. The responsiveness is much smoother while happily taking abrasive linework, short of downright abuse considering it’s still a thin monitor. Typical suites of applications like Photoshop, AutoCAD, and Corel Painter are all accounted for and precision remains 1:1, although minor input lag and parallax error does exists when opting for very large brushes or artisan tools of each program.
Art in 4K
Without a doubt, the 4K display (IPS UHD high brightness) is the defining feature of the Cintiq Pro 16. Even though it’s only a 15.6-inch with a 176° viewing angle and 1000:1 contrast ratio, they’ve managed to pack a beautifully detailed 3840×2160 screen into a body no thicker than .57 inches. This is something you’d expect in a criminally-expensive gaming laptop except for the unremarkable 25ms response rate.
Color accuracy is exceptional too, with HDR imaging and bolder hues are important so capturing 94% of the Adobe RGB gamut is a crucial for the Cintiq Pro. The outcome is a monitor with an extraordinarily rich color space and top benchmark among its peers overall, just as long as you have the right machine equipped with USB-C like anything Apple makes.
Throughout the years I’ve reviewed Wacom tablets I’ve always given praise whenever it was warranted, and the Cintiq Pro is an evolution of a unfailingly supreme professional pen display tablet. Hyperbole unintentional.
Admittedly, the price will be a little high if you’re a casual individual with a flicker of imaginative soul, being more of an investment at $999/$1499 (13 and 16-inch respectively) rather than visceral purchase. It’s almost ideal as a permanent fixture on any workbench so I’d steer newcomers towards the regular Intuos, which is excellent in its own right. However, with prominent technology the Cintiq continues to be serious hardware targeted for career artists.