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Product Review: Wacom Cintiq 18SX

September 15, 2002

I've played with LCD pen tablets at trade shows before, but doing actual production work on Wacom's Cintiq 18SX is incredible - not that my co-workers let me get much work done when it showed up on my desk. Once the word got out that we had one of these down in our lab, every artist in the company traipsed through my office with nothing but cries of glee for this amazing tool. I had to wipe their drool off the monitor several times.

The Cintiq 18SX LCD Tablet

The Cintiq 18SX combines a high-resolution 18.1-inch LCD display with a pressure-sensitive pen tablet. The tablet sits on a cast-aluminum swivel stand so you can move your artwork to fit your position. If you're a lefty, it tilts the way you hold your regular pen and paper. I found that taking the tablet off of the stand and putting it in my lap like a sketchpad worked the best, but at 17 pounds (without the stand) it was just a bit too heavy to be comfortable for long periods of time. All the connection cables (the Cintiq supports both USB and serial and works with either a DVI or VGA video connection) are in one umbilicus, so there's no tangling. I can say that using the 18SX completely changes the way I interface with my computer.

Although I tend to like my monitor resolution way up in the "can't see it" range, Cintiq's 128031024 maximum resolution and 24-bit color depth are really great for Photoshop projects. After a bit of research, I was able to hook both the Cintiq tablet and my 24-inch monitor to the same workstation. Being able to work in Photoshop on the tablet and then switch to my 3D program and the mouse was a dream come true.

The response time of the tablet, rated by Wacom at 27 milliseconds, and monitor is fantastic. Being used to a bit of lag when working on larger images, I was pleasantly surprised to find the response time of the Cintiq was better than my current stylus. This had the effect of removing even further the interface barrier between my artwork and me.

The pen and tablet have the same intuitive and adjustable settings that I use on my "old" Wacom tablet, so I had no problem setting the pressure settings correctly and getting to work. Cintiq offers 512 levels of pressure sensitivity, so using this thing with the new brush modes in Photoshop 7 is amazing - just like painting with a brush.

The Cintiq 18SX includes a two-button grip pen with an eraser. The tablet is also bundled with Wacom's Pen Tools software and Corel Painter Classic, and Wacom offers an add-on kit for Irix-based workstations.

Simply put, this tool is revolutionary; not only does it simplify the computer for traditional artists, it introduces a whole new method of interface for us hardcore digital art geeks.

Cintiq 18SX




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