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(continued...) The surface has an anti-glare coating that is moderately effective in dealing with an issue not encountered with a sketch pad plus a second textured coating to simulate the feel of paper.
Surface hardening should withstand heavy usage and the structure avoids distortion under pen pressure.
Express keys and Touch strips along the edges provide access to keyboard shortcuts, scrolling, zooming or brush size adjustment but are frequently disabled to avoid hand strokes inadvertently scrolling the display.
The pen is very comfortable, of good weight and size being battery free and easily manoeuvrable, although in a busy studio it can be far too easily put down and mislaid.
Variable tip pressure is regarded as the single best feature, indeed when turned off by accident working was a completely different experience.
It allows sketches to be built up using either pencil or airbrush rather than having to get the line right first time, effectively reproducing traditional soft pencil, or fineliner technique.
Given this similarity to a traditional illustration feel, the other killer function is having an undo command.
Once tried its difficult to imagine working without it; it encourages greater experimentation with technique than can be risked with an almost complete artwork or rendering.
Tablet functionality comprises a very high resolution 5,080 lpi and 1,024 levels of tip and eraser pressure sensitivity for control.
The Cintiq uses USB for pen input and either DVI or VGA for video.
It can be used in conjunction with an existing mouse or traditional Wacom Intuos3 tablet if required and can be installed as part of a multi-monitor combination or as a single monitor as the stand allows a near vertical position although the coatings tend to make the display very slightly less sharp than a dedicated LCD display.
It is supplied with Corel Painter Essentials 2 although Sketchbook Pro is an ideal companion for sketching.
This is one of the rare products that users love immediately.
It feels like a product that has been created by designers for designers, or at least by someone who really understands what it is like to use a traditional sketch pad.
Of course there are a few minor criticisms like slow, though not extensively tested, technical support and being heavy to carry around.
A handle for removing from the stand and a dedicated carry case would be useful, but overall it feels robust and likely to survive heavy use although time will have to tell on the scratch resistance of the screen.
It provides an intuitive facsimile of pen and paper hand-eye coordination combined with the benefits of a fully digital workflow.
Final word of caution? Donít try the Cintiq unless you can find the budget (RRP£1,899 or £2.26 per day leased from Wacom) - our designers rated it as 9.5 out of 10 and simply would not give the loan unit back - we had to buy two.