iPad Pro vs Surface Pro 3 vs Cintiq Companion by Spencer Nugent

More artist reviews for the iPad Pro are coming out. The previous one I featured was ArtGerm's take.

This video below is from Spencer Nugent, the artist and designer behind Sketch a Day. The text below is the transcript.

In the video Spencer compares the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil against the Surface Pro 3 and Cintiq Companion 2. He doesn't have the Surface Pro 4 yet.

Spencer says that whether or not the tablet will be suitable for you depends a lot on your workflow. He uses the iPad Pro for quick sketching but for the heavy lifting stuff, such as 3D work, he will go with his desktop.

Apple iPad Pro and Pencil

iPad Pro is light and very portable. It does not have a fan but does not warm up with work. Battery life is phenomenal.

The Apple Pencil is a Bluetooth stylus with capacitive touch.

The stylus has a nice tip and surface finishing. It's well made with a nice weight. It could do with a better grip because it can be slippery in hand. There's no eraser at the back of the stylus. It's not a big deal but it's would be more intuitive to have the eraser at the back. The tip feels smooth against the glossy screen.

Performance is good, responsive. Tracking is great. The stroke keeps up with tip of the pen. It does well with handwriting. There's no parallax between the tip and the stroke.

Pressure sensitivity works well. One nice feature is there's tilt sensitivity in the stylus. With Procreate, you can tilt the Pencil to draw, just like shading with a real pencil. There's something delightful about that experience. It feels natural when drawing.

There are some downsides. The Apple Pencil is designed to charge from the port of the iPad Pro. With the pencil pointing out from the iPad Pro, there's a chance of breaking it from the port if you accidentally hit it. The other downside is it's quite expensive at USD $99. Spencer however has two Apple Pencil, one at work and at home so that he does not have to bring them around. The cost adds up.

Palm rejection works typically well, but not all the time.

Microsoft Surface Pro 3

It's a similar tablet in the sense that it has a capacitive touch screen. Size is slightly smaller. 12-inch vs 12.9-inch of the iPad Pro. It is a bit thicker and slightly heavier. One good thing is it has a built in kickstand which will give you a nice angle to draw at an inclined angle. The clip on SP3 pen is good and prevents it from getting lost when you clip it to your pocket.

Spencer likes drawing in the SP3. Tracking is good but there's still some slight lag, discernible if you're looking for it.

It comes with a stylus so you don't have to spend extra on that. However the stylus uses disposable battery. There's no tilt sensitivity like the Apple Pencil so the Pencil feels more like a drawing tool if you need that dimensionality.

If you sketch really lightly, the lines may get cut out. You don't get that sensitivity level as compared to the iPad Pro and Wacom Cintiq. Palm rejection works well, but not all the time. This is an issue with most digital stylus.

One advantage of SP3 is there are shortcut buttons on the stylus. You can set the button to use the eraser without the need to get into the menu or press any buttons on screen. SP3 stylus is the most slippery of the three. The plastic tip on glass really glides. SP4's pen now has better tip and more friction.

The main advantage of SP3 is since it's running Windows, you can run full desktop software. If you want to run 3D modeling software, you can do so.

Wacom Cintiq Companion

As a drawing tool, the Cintiq Companion is most specific. It is super capable. It's a full computer just like SP3 that runs Windows so you can install desktop software. Cintiq does get hot when work's getting done. The fan cycle on and off quite a bit.

It's the heaviest tablet of the three. It has the widest screen, not the biggest screen. Check out this review.

There's a built in tip and eraser in the battery-less stylus. The texture on the screen has the best feel. It has enough texture on the screen that it feels like paper. It's a subtle thing. It totally wins hands down in this aspect.

Out of the three tablets, this has the most fine tuned stylus in terms of pressure sensitivity. There's a lot of variation you can get with the stroke. In terms of drawing ability and pressure sensitivity, the Wacom Cintiq definitely wins out. The lines tend to be a lot better.

There are physical buttons by the side of the screens. You can set them to common functions to the drawing app that you're using, e.g. Photoshop. So you can switch tools or access a function at a button press.

There are other ports like audio jack, USB, display out, which the SP3 also has.

What tablet should you buy

The tablets are not going to replace pen and paper.

If you looking to elevate your sketching, you can think of using this as an art studio on the go. If you go on a trip, it's easy to travel with a tablet. You can draw an image on the screen and show the client quickly.

The best tablet is the most accessible. And because of that Spencer prefers the iPad Pro as it's thin and light. For more serious work, he would go for the desktop.

It really depends on your workflow. If you like quick sketches, iPad Pro has great potential to be the daily use machine. Ask yourself how digital sketching fits into your workflow. It does not make sense to spend money on an expensive tablet if you don't have the foundation skills. The tablet is not going to make you draw better. You'll still need the basic drawing skills so that when you do go digital, you can produce awesome stuff.

If you're looking for something more inclusive, an all-in-one, then SP3 is your choice.

More reviews

Here are more guest artist reviews of competing products on the blog

Also check out the reviews on Amazon for iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4 and Cintiq Companion 2.


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