About a week ago, I got a Wacom Companion (1st generation)-- something that was originally far out of my sight due to its intimidating price tag. But then I got a job -- one that pays relatively well -- and it suddenly became a very real possibility for me.
These are just my rough, initial thoughts. I will eventually make this into a full-blown review later on, complete with pictures n' such, which I think is a very important thing for me to do. It's probably not unreasonable to assume that a lot of artists fantasize about having a drawing tablet that is also a screen AND a computer. Not many of those types of machines exist out there, and those that do (such as the Windows Surface Pro series and Motion Computing's LE1700) aren't necessarily built
for drawing on, at least not on a professional level. In the field of tablet monitor computers
, there isn't much to browse through. There aren't many options out there, and the options you do have are going to cost an arm and a leg.
So, obviously, getting the Wacom Companion is a huge, scary investment -- one that many artists can't make right away. I feel that it is imperative to throw yet another review of this thing out there into the void, and to help illuminate this subject further, purely because
it is one of the few options to pick from. So let's get on with it.
It is powerful as fuck
, for a "tablet". Beneath the hood, you have an Intel Dual Core i7-3517U CPU @ 1.90GHz 2.40GHz
. That's pretty beefy for something like this -- you're surely not going to be starved for performance in any drawing program you use.
RAM is plentiful at 8GB. Absolutely no complaints from me there.
The screen resolution is indeed full HD (1920x1080). You will not feel at all cramped working with this thing (unless you've moved onto the 4K displays and have gotten comfortable with those). It's bright and has vibrant, fairly accurate colors.
Battery life is pretty impressive. You'll get 5 hours, normally. Maybe a little less with more demanding programs. Certainly doesn't feel like you're on a quickly depleting time limit the second you unplug it.
The screen is also touch enabled, which I didn't think would be something I'd care for, but I end up using it a lot for scrolling (when browsing the internet and folders). It automatically disables when it detects the pen, so it's absolutely safe to lay your hand down on the screen with drawing.
It stays relatively cool. You can hear the fan kick on when the processor begins to sweat, but it certainly does its job at keeping the unit comfortably cool.
The buttons on the left feel sturdy and are completely customizable. However, I hardly use them. I instead have a small keyboard that connects via Bluetooth.
While the screen is bright and has good colors, a lot of it is hindered by this slightly distracting film grain
over it. It's likely part of the protective coating. Normally this wouldn't be a big complaint from me, but for the price of this thing and the fact that it's made
for design work, screen clarity is key
The wireless adapter is a bit wonky. Not sure if it's software related or not, but whenever I switch it over to battery, the wireless comes to a crawl before eventually malfunctioning and requiring troubleshooting. This could be a personal issue of mine and not necessarily a universal issue with all models.
The front and back cameras are ass
. A part of me was somewhat excited about the cameras because I could easily take pictures of myself for references on the fly, but holy god, they are absolute shit. You have to sit absurdly far away from the front camera in order to get your entire torso into frame and, predictably, it severely suffers in low light.
The on-board speakers are also ass
. Seriously, you can barely hear them even on full-blast, and they rattle. Really cheap.
Like with many other tablet monitors, the cursor wiggles away from the tip of the pen at the edges of the screen. A minor complaint, but it can get frustrating when trying to close out a window or clicking an icon at the bottom right.
Aside from the grain over the screen, this machine delivers where it counts most. Beefy processor, comfortable RAM, spacious resolution, responsive pen strokes... It definitely allows you to just zone out and get work done. The only thing that really pulls me out of that zone
is, again, the grain over the screen. It's just the right amount of obnoxious for me. I'd think that, for being a high-end professional
company that originally charged over $2,000 for this product, they'd have gone back to the drawing board to make sure the screen was as clear as possible, since it's one of the most important aspects of this goddamn thing.
So, is it worth it?
I wouldn't pay anymore than $1,300 for it. The first gen is discontinued (Wacom seemingly doesn't like to keep things in production for too long), so you'll likely be getting a used or refurbished model online somewhere. I purchased mine on ebay for $1,199, gently used. It came with a Wacom brand case, which is pretty nice I suppose. The original retail price is ridiculously overpriced
. I feel that Wacom has always overpriced their products, which is a shame. The digitizer technology is nothing new. It's been around for a while, and it isn't that expensive to make. Luckily, for regular tablets, there are many, MANY cheaper alternatives out there that offer the same amount of quality. But, for machines like this, well... Nobody's really trying to deliver affordable products and compete in that arena. It's a freshly baked pie that not many companies are dipping their fingers in. It's sad, really -- now would be the perfect time. We're able to make such incredibly powerful mobile devices at reasonable prices these days. The future is now, goddammit!
So, anyway, those are my thoughts. Please, if you have a question about this thing, I'd be more than happy to try and answer. More people need to know exactly what this thing can do before they make the daunting investment.