WCIGAWW? Can I use a PC tablet to replace a Wacom Cintiq Display?

By | February 10, 2016

Android is no good, what about using a PC tablet to replace a Wacom Cintiq Display?

Can a PC tablet replace a Wacom Cintiq Display? Yes, as long as it has conductive capacitance (multi-pressure sensitivity). While this answer may seem like a no-brainer, using a PC tablet to replace a Wacom Cintiq Display was not always a foregone conclusion.

That’s because not all tablets were created with the ability of conductive capacitance (multi-pressure sensitivity). Once upon a time, it took lots and lots of searching to confirm whether or not a PC tablet would be able to take full-advantage of Photoshop and ZBrush’s software features. The companies producing tablets with multi-pressure sensitivity didn’t know enough to advertise it! I was able to snatch up my Asus Eee Slate B121-A1 new at half-price due in no small part, I believe, to Asus’s inability to educate the consumer as to the potential of the tablet. It still remains my favorite piece of tech (as evidenced in my perennial Nickel City Pixels Workspace II! video).

As with any workaround, it has pros and cons.

Wacom Cintiq Display Pros:

  • Potentially larger work area
  • Nearly limitless performance
  • Looks good in a Kickstarter video

Tablet PC Pros:

  • Price
  • Portability
  • Multifunction and configurability

The Wacom Cintiq is built for a singular purpose: to facilitate the creation of art. It does this well. Essentially a multi-pressure-sensitive monitor tethered to your computer, performance is limited only by that of your desktop PC. A Tablet PC’s performance is limited to begin with and nearly impossible to upgrade. That being said, my Asus Eee Slate B121-A1 with it’s paltry 4GB RAM chugged away quite nicely in ZBrush (until inserting something like 100s of feathers). And for the price of a similarly-sized Wacom monitor you get a fully functional portable PC!

Of course to be truly portable, you need to do away with keyboard and mouse. Paring down your art input was likewise not always easy. Thankfully, with a PC Tablet, this can now be accomplished in software using Autohotkey. Check out the upcoming Freebie Friday for a free Autohotkey application that will facilitate truly mobile ZBrush use!

//update

I’m now of the opinion that to be truly able to replace a Wacom Cintiq Display a tablet must use Wacom’s own “Wacom Penabled” technology. Wacom owns many pressure-sensitivity patents and licenses them to tablet manufacturers at great cost (so that their own tablets and displays aren’t made irrelevant). In chat discussions I’ve been told that the new Microsoft Surface Pro 4 has done away with the Wacom Penabled tech. I’ve also been told that Microsoft’s own pressure-sensitive technology is not as good as Wacom’s. Therefor, I’m issuing this additional caveat to my original claim that you can replace a Wacom Cintiq Display with a conductive capcitant PC tablet: make sure it uses Wacom Penabled technology.

//update

Now in addition to the tablet I have a Yiynova graphics monitor. It doesn’t uses Wacom’s tech and the pen needs, *gasp*, a battery! The battery needs replacing/recharging about once every 6 months so this isn’t an issue. I don’t notice any performance differences either. One weird thing (that Wacom my be guilty of too, I haven’t tested it), is that when streaming my microphone picks up noise from the pen when it’s in contact w/ the display.

The Yiynova is a quarter of the price of a Wacom and works in Linux!


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