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Wacom One Pen Display
Gadget Reviews

Wacom One Pen Display

For blossoming artists or lifestyle hobbyists, Wacom manages to bring their excellent pen display well below the five-hundred dollar mark.

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Wacom has been in a perpetual battle for mainstream recognition, with a vibrant image overhaul and renewed brand focus on amateur artists. In the case of the Wacom One, there was still plenty of room in the entry-level segment to justify its existence below the Cintiq 16, yet another pen display that I initially praised for being relatively affordable last year. Apparently, that statement was premature and I’m left with some proverbial egg on my face, because the One hits an unprecedented $399 price point.

This is something that prospective users have always complained and/or whined incessantly about, as the price gap between the Intuos and Cintiq was just simply too wide to make an upgrade feasible for many people. Of course, nothing good ever comes free but I even can empathize for people who had to decide between creative aspirations or paying rent that month. For what you get and not for lack of trying on their part, I think Wacom finally struck an ideal balance, because the One hits an unprecedented $399 price point.

Cintiq-Like

If you’ve seen current professional Cintiq models then you’ll have a good idea on the general aesthetics of the Wacom One. What it is appearance-wise is a clean, though basic contrast colored slate with a 1920×1080 pixel anti-glare 13.3-inch screen that features AHVA (advanced hyper-viewing angle) technology, which offers similar characteristics to an IPS display with minor tradeoffs in color accuracy.

It measures at 0.6 x 14.1 x 8.9 inches and sports a thick 1.3-inch bezel, it’s not the sleekest but you can rest your drawing palm comfortably on the edge. Functionality on the One is decent with a fabric loop holder for the pen and a lone USB-C for main connectivity and power, around back a black strip conceals two folding legs for a 19-degree prop angle. Also stashed in a bay under one of the legs are three extra nibs for the pen, so you don’t go wanting.

Wacom once again includes a digital EMR stylus for the One except they halved the effective pressure response down to 4096 levels, versus the regular 8192 on the Intuos Pro and other Cintiqs. In reality you don’t lose too much compared to the Pro Pen 2 with performance being more than adequate for any project, and a figurative improvement if you’re still rocking an Intuos 5 after all these years. You can argue about the efficiency, sensitivity and lack of programmable buttons professionals are accustomed to, but many artists will be perfectly happy with the physical feel and accuracy of this pen. Multi-touch integration, a feature I’ve always loathed is omitted on the One to keep costs down—I love that Wacom had to leave it out, but others may not be as thrilled.

The One features a new four-way adapter called the X-Shape Cable, aptly named due to its design. On one end are USB-C plug for connecting to the One and a USB Type-A plug that connects to an included 10-watt power plug; and the other two cables end in an HDMI and another USB-A plug, for connecting to a computer for video and accessory power. It’s important to note that while it may be technically possible to use a single USB port to power the display, the Wacom One needs the wall outlet to work properly and avoid possible internal damage.

The Doodler In You

Much of the experience is standard Wacom fare for anybody with an ounce of talent and/or curiosity will easily think of this display as a godsend. I’ve been using it for a couple weeks side-by-side with the vanilla Cintiq 16 and I never felt like I lost anything in terms of productivity or enjoyment, which the highest compliment I can give the One despite being wearing its “stripped down” moniker. Any concerns from users graduating from most non-display drawing tablets probably won’t matter after getting acquainted, and other shortcomings are easily manageable for moderate workflow if you’re willing adjust minor settings in the driver menu. The drawing surface is a little firm and color presentation is between netrual and somewhat reddish, the screen is compensating at 1000:1 contrast raito but you still get a proper drawing canvas.

I also noticed that the One display—either intentionally or circumstantial—has attracted users of the “lifestyle” variety who just want to explore new hobbies such as handwriting, doodling, or animation. If you’ve seen other reviews or unboxing videos the overall verdict has been favorable and this could be the creative gateway somebody’s been looking for (or never knew they needed). Apparently everyone loves the idea of sketching digitally but unwilling to pay the premium for the Cintiqs—which has been a point of contention for a while now. I can easily see the One being utilized for graphic students inside and outside the classroom or personal studios.

Android Mirroring: Assembly and Prayers Required

Another thing to note is screen mirroring capabilities between select Android smartphones, and while it sounds promising you’ll be jumping through some hoops to get it working, or with some apps for that matter. First off, it’s kind of a pain in the ass to hook up because you’ll need a separate adapter hub to bridge the One and its X-shape USB/HDMI connector between the phone; and then you’ll need to hope that your phone is compatible with the mess of cables.

It’s going to be a crapshoot if your device is not recent, and especially if it’s not a Samsung Galaxy (via Samsung DeX). It really is a feature with a ton of unrealized potential and a shame that I couldn’t take advantage of it with my ASUS ZenFone 5Z, but that’s probably the reason Wacom barely mentions this feature due to its limited implementation.

Conclusion

The Wacom One is a pen display draped in the notion of being fun for beginners, and despite some cost-cutting measures it really does gear itself for all manners of sketching and (to a lesser degree) notetaking. It’s obvious some superficial things had to be changed or removed in order to hit that sweet target price, but we’re still left with something that’s versatile not just everyday but as a semi-professional artist tool. The One may not be a Cintiq but the core experience is left intact and absolutely solid.

About the Author: Herman Exum