Designer’s Wishlist: Touch Sensitive LCD Display

Here’s something to start your week off feeling grumpy and unfulfilled for not having one.

Forget those common daydreams involving garden-variety 21″ LCD monitors — it’s time to upgrade those daydreams as you take in the elegant lines of Wacom’s soon-to-be-released Cintiq 21UX Interactive Pen Display.

Apparently this 21.3″ touch sensitive LCD display ‘offers more screen area, greater pressure sensitivity, better pen control, higher resolution, and increased comfort over previous models‘.

I personally found even using a normal pen/tablet was a revelation after years of standard ‘mousage’. While the fine motor skills dexterity is awesome for retouching and the like, the real difference I found was the quality of the line you produce. Essentially ‘mouse drawing’ comes from small movements in the wrist. These muscles are really good at manipulating small objects by small amounts — tasks like watchmaking or sewing — but aren’t particularly good with smooth fluid actions.

Tablet drawing, by comparison, forces you to work from the shoulder and elbow. The effect of this is to give your lines a big, natural flow and weight that is very hard to achieve with only a mouse. In fact, there are great photos of Picasso working with his paintbrush stuck to the end of a broomstick to accentuate this flowing organic effect.

The slightly depressing part is the pricing isn’t so ridulous that you can just dismiss it ‘out of hand’ and get on with your life. With comparably-sized LCD monitors still retailing at around $US800-$1,000 and the larger Wacom tablets coming in at around $US500-$700, the Cintiq 21UX’s pricing (recommended retail: $2,500) really gives you something to think about.

Still, so far I haven’t been able to figure a scheme devious enough to get one onto my desk in the short term.

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  • http://www.nasi.com trigger

    I’ve been looking for a drawing tablet lately, and it seems like Wacom is the gold standard for drawing tablets, but is there anything more affordable that I should start with, and see how it goes?

  • splashpoint

    I’d be interested in any advice on a good entry level tablet too.

    I’ve had a Trust tablet for a couple of years, but I’ve never got on with it, it always seems to produce “jerky” results.

  • ComplexMinded

    Wow, what I could do with one of these..

  • http://www.fruitysolutions.com philwilks

    I can imagine having to constantly clean the thing to get smudge marks from my fingers and hand!

  • http://www.sitepoint.com AlexW

    I can imagine having to constantly clean the thing to get smudge marks from my fingers and hand!

    That issue occurred to me too, and I’m guessing that would be one of the key industrial design issues. I think I’d want to play with one of these before I splashed the cash — or least talk to someone who uses one.

    I’d be interested in any advice on a good entry level tablet too.

    I can’t talk with much authority on any brand other than the Wacom, of which I’ve had a 12×12″ since 1997. The pens are plastic and I’ve gone through 3 pens in that time but the board still works beautifully on XP, although looks a understandably scuffed after 8 years.

    In terms of use, you’re unlikely to throw out your mouse. I’ve always used my tablet as a mouse mat when I’m not using the pen.

    You would probably want to be spending a sizable part of your day in Photoshop, Illustrator, Freehand, Flash, 3D apps, Painter of similar apps to get value out a tablet. They work fine Word and Dreamweaver and various text-based programs, but the pressure sentivity is wasted, and the effort required to make simple text selections is significantly more than with a mouse. In short, if you’re churning text around most of the day, a tablet won’t help you much.

    If you mainly wanted to retouch photos every now and then, the smaller tablets might be ok. They certainly make less demand on your desk real estate, but you sacrafice the flowing, full range of motion that the larger tablets give you, so it’s a trade off. Personally, I know when I replace my current tablet, it will be with another largish one.

    Looking at the current range, if I can’t wrangle the Cintiq without incurring the eternal wrath of my wife, I think the Intuos 9×12″ or 12×12″ would be my option at the moment. The 6×8″ do look like great value if you want to limit your outlay.

  • splashpoint

    Thanks for the advise Alex

  • kris

    Wacom is what i use, but i think that the graphire is more for just playing around, so if you’re not buying it for your 10 year old son, then go for intuos and above.
    Wacom claims that the graphire3 is pressure sensitive, but i don’t really notice it though, plus it stops working once you tilt it.

  • Henrik Feldt

    My experience with the graphire3 board is that it’s only pressure sensitive within a very narrow range of pressure – it would be great to have a bigger range to be able to draw really thin lines.

  • http://www.ventanazul.com alexisb

    Hi, I just got a Graphire 3, it has pressure sentivity and works ok with Illustrator and Photoshop CS2, you just have to set your tool settings, often are the brushes, to get it working. However I don’t think I’m getting 512 pressure levels as Wacom promises.

    Corel Painter came with the tablet and has some nice tools that take advantage of the pressure sensitivity too.

    But anyway, I’ve just been using my new tablet for some hours and already got used to it, it’s so much easier to draw and paint with it.

    I’m sure more expensive models of Wacom are great but I wouldn’t say Graphire 3 is just a toy for kids, I find it’s a great productivity tool for any graphic designer, expert and novice, at less than US$ 100 you really need to have one, I don’t know how I could live without one.

    Regards!

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