It finally happened, whether through available technology or consumer perseverance Wacom has blessed us with the obtainable Cintiq 16. I first played around with this back in January at CES, and everyone else has been gushing. An upgrade that legitimately fills the gap from prospering artists to aspiring students.
I’ve been saying this ever since my first Cintiq review about designers graduating to the holy Cintiq family: They’re glorious if you’re serious about your work, but prohibitively expensive and too uncommon to realistically appreciate outside a studio. However, things change with enough time and Wacom isn’t the only choice anymore. There are numerous—albeit some obscure—alternatives from GAOMON and Artisul—to the Surface Studio by Microsoft, and Apple with their iPad Pro and Pencil accessory.
What’s exactly the difference between this and the Cintiq 16 Pro? What exactly do you lose for less than half the cost? Well, barely anything that matters in terms of build quality and most projects. I say that because the stuff that is omitted and/or downgraded you will be able to live with satisfactorily. The biggest specs the Pro model boasts is a 4K display, 94% Adobe CIE1976 color gamut, and integrated USB Type-C connectivity for both Mac and PC.
Comparatively, the (now) regular Cintiq 16 makes do with 1920×1080 resolution, 72% NTSC gamut coverage, no touch, and use of a 3-in-1 cable thanks to the lack of those ports. One thing that the Cintiq 16 gains is a nifty reversible polyester loop that holds the Pro Pen 2 and keeps everything together, but it’s not as fancy as the standalone base with hidden nibs.
I’m going to jettison the main thing I don’t like about the Cintiq 16 off the bat, and it’s the proprietary 3-in-1 cable that debuted with the original Cintiq Companion (remember that?). it incorporates the HDMI (1.4), USB 2.0, and power into a split connector that’s too floppy and short in length for larger workspaces. This was “ok” five years ago but is laughable when all the functionality exists in a single interface like USB-C and Thunderbolt/USB4. Now, it doesn’t do you any favors when transporting from home to work or school. An unnecessary cost-cutting measure for Wacom to hawk leftover peripherals to reach that alluring target price.
But the good stuff about the Cintiq 16 is everything else. The technical stuff is intact for drawing precision and lose nothing if you’re worried or envious regarding the essentials. 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 5080lpi is accounted for. Likewise, the 8192 levels of contact pressure is a radical improvement over the prior 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.
The drawing characteristic of most Cintiqs is typically like a graphite pencil making contact with Bristol, a byproduct of layering sensors atop of the screen itself. 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 exist when opting for very large brushes or artisan tools of each program. Like the Pro models, there are foldable plastic legs grant you an 19° angle of ergonomic comfortable, although for whatever reason—whether its construction tweaking or specification error—the Pro variant is rated at a 20° angle.
Living with it
But the rest of the Cintiq 16 isn’t entirely verbatim. Although the physical attributes of the 1080p display maintain the same TFT (thin film transistor) liquid crystal display (LCD) and textured anti-glare overlay, but the picture brightness is noticeably dimmer than the Pro. Casual users will perceive the colors to be dull if they’re coming from an IPS monitor, but it’s much less of issue if you’re acquainted with the aspects of color accuracy or strictly working in an studio atmosphere. You can still adjust the display settings through the Wacom Desktop Center program, but black levels remain on the shallower side if you’re a photographer looking for exact digital representation.
A Cintiq For The People
I gave the proverbial thumbs-up when the initial Pro 16 came out, and Wacom has traditionally oriented this lineup towards creative institutions. This realization always came with grain of salt. as you had fork well over $1000 for a no-nonsense digitized canvas—even I found it challenging (though not impossible) to pitch recent Cintiq models for the majority. That said, the Cintiq 16 is the best pen tablet that semi-professionals can afford beyond the Intuos Pro. Although many photographers and established designers will still lust after the Pro models, regardless of price difference.
It might not include all the bells and whistles like enhanced resolution, connectivity or multitouch functionality; but all the other stuff that matters on a regular basis remains intact with its amazing value. This is as good as it gets if you’re determined to go all the way as a starving artist, it‘s more than capable and worth the dough.