Wacom has just released a new line of tablet PCs called MobileStudio Pro. You can probably call them the iPad Pro or Surface Pro 4 alternatives or competitors. It looks like Wacom has chosen not to continue with the Cintiq Companions after just two generations. While the names may differ, MobileStudio Pro in essence will take over Cintiq Companion as Wacom's offering of a mobile drawing device. From the specifications I've seen, the new tablets have address many common complaints digital artists have faced on with the Cintiq Companion.
There are going to be two sizes: 13.3-inch and 15.6-inch. There are many configurations and below are the respective pricing:
13.3-inch MobileStudio Pro:
- i5 chip, 4GB RAM, 64GB storage: £1,399 / €1,599.90 / US $1,499.95
- i5 chip, 8GB RAM, 128GB storage: £1,649 / €1,899.90 / US $1,799.95
- i7 chip, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage: £1,799 / €1,999.90 / US $1,999.95
- i7 chip, 16GB RAM, 512GB storage: £2,299 / €2,699.90 / US $2,499.95
15.6-inch MobileStudio Pro:
- i5 chip, 8GB RAM, 256GB storage: £2,199 / €2,599.90 / US$2,399.95
- i7 chip, 16GB RAM, 512GB storage: £2,749 / €3,199.90 / US$2,999.95
As usual, UK and Europe prices are much higher. Just for comparison purposes, a Surface Pro 4 with 8GB RAM 256GB SSD is now selling around USD $1,050. An Apple Pro 256GB model cost $1,000 without the $100 Apple Pencil. Pricing of the MobileStudio Pro is right at the top among Surface Pro 4 alternatives.
Let's take a look at some key features.
High resolution screens
MobileStudio Pro 13 and 16 supports resolutions of WQHD (2560 x 1440) and UHD (3840 x 2160) respectively. Using such high resolutions on such small screens means that if you're using old graphics software such as Adobe CS6 and older, user interface elements such as buttons, menus are going to be too tiny to be used. This is the most common problem faced by digital artists and designers who buy into tablets or laptops that feature such high resolution screens. Sure you can change the settings to work with a lower resolution, but I am not sure if your work will look pixelated on screen.
Wacom says they are using a new etched glass surface to give you that pen and paper feeling.
Impressive Adobe RGB gamut support
MobileStudio Pro 13 and 16's screen gamut are at 96% and 94% Adobe RGB. This is really impressive and a welcome for artists and designers who work primarily for print (CMYK) output. Now you don't need a spare monitor just for checking colours.
Storage and RAM
The MobileStudio Pros support 4-16GB RAM and 64-512GB SSD storage. Booting, opening and saving files are going to be fast. There is also the option of expanding storage yourself with the included SD card slot (good move), but I guess that's more for photographers.
This is where it gets interesting. The 13.3-inch model uses Intel Iris Graphics 550. The 15.6-inch model uses either the Nvidia Quadro M600M 2GB or the M1000M 4GB workstation grade graphics card. Nvidia Quadro are the graphics cards recommended by 3ds Max and Maya. So now, these tablets are good enough to run powerful 3D software.
The small one weighs 1.42kg while the larger one is 2.2kg
Pressure and tilt sensitivity
The new Wacom Pro Pen 2 now supports up to 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity! I am not sure how different it will be in terms of performance when compare to 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity. But wow. Tilt range and levels still remain at 60 degrees and 60.
The pen has an eraser at the back. Carrying case for the pen is included.
There are 6 physical ExpressKeys and a Touch Ring. There will also be onscreen controls, radial menu and precision mode, all these are features available in their other products. It is a touch screen so it supports figure gestures too.
3 USB-C ports
If you need the rectangular USB port, you will need to buy an adapter. To connect to an external monitor, you do it through the USB-C port too, and you need an adapter as well. The Apple Macbook 3-in-1 adapter is fine, but too bad you cannot charge the battery with it.
There is a back 8MP camera and front 5MP camera. The back camera is a Intel® RealSense™ R200 3D scanning camera.
Battery life is rated to be 6 hours. For processor intensive tasks, that is going to draw the battery significantly, especially things like video editing or 3D rendering.
It runs on Windows 10
One of the main problems with Surface Pro 4 and the alternatives is the compatibility of the Wintab driver and graphic software. That compatiblity issue often affects whether or not there is pressure sensitivity support. I hope Wacom has included all the drivers nececessary because finding drivers and workaround is the tedious part of using Windows tablets as digital sketchpads.
Many such tablets that come with stylus suffer from the slow-diagonal-wavy-lines problem. The only tablet that does not have this problem is the iPad Pro with Apple Pencil. This problem and the Wintab driver problem is why we can't get the perfect Windows tablet for digital artists.
You have the option of Windows 10 Home or Professional depending on the model you choose.
This is an adapter that lets you attach MobileStudio Pro to a PC or Mac and use it like a Cintiq.
Other things to note
The 3-position mobile stand is not included. There is no keyboard folio but Wacom do offer an optional wireless Bluetooth keyboard. It might be cheaper to get the wireless Logitech keyboard instead.
Release date is expected to be in November 2016.
The new MobileStudio Pro may be pricey but Wacom has certainly included lots of features to make it feel worthy of your money. Actual performance should be a huge step-up from Cintiq Companion 2 because of the better specifications.
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