Wacom, the makers of the best (I’m saying it, I don’t know if it’s official but it is to me) tablets money can buy has release a few new products today. Two are fully functional tablets. The Cintiq Companion, a fully functional Windows 8 tablet with Wacom’s pen technology build into the screen. The Cintiq Companion Hybrid, an Android tablet that also features their pen technology. Lastly, a pen for the iPad called the Intuos Creative Stylus that allows pressure sensitive sketching with their accompanying app. I find the Companion product like to be fascinating. Both resemble the 13HD which is their $999 tablet that plugs into your computer as a second display and allows you to draw right on the screen which the Cintiq Companion Hybrid still allows you to do in the traditional sense where the Companion allows you to plug a second monitor into it. TechCrunch reported that the prices for the Cintiq Companion, running an Intel i7 processor, Intel’s 4000 HD graphics and 8gb of ram will be sold for $1,999 with a 256gb HD (I assume based on the side this is an SSD of some kind) and $2,499 for 512gb. This kinda baffles me. It is a cooler looking and seemingly more functional tablet than the Microsoft Surface, mostly because of the pen integration by Wacom which is an industry standard. But for approximately $50 more I could buy a 13″ Macbook Air with the i7 and 8gb of ram upgrade and the already released 13HD Wacom Tablet. Now the 13HD isn’t a multi-touch device and you’d get a bigger hard drive with the Companion at that price but you would have a laptop with a keyboard and all the functionality that goes with a full system. I’m not sure which is really the better deal and a lot of things have to be considered when choosing based on your needs. If you are the kind of person that just wants the smallest thing you can carry on you at all times and you are an artist that is actually making money in your field (because lets face it, as freelancers it’s hard to do) then maybe the $2,499 isn’t a big deal to you and you’ll have the best sketching device out there as well as a functional tablet computer. The Companion Hybrid actually leaves me scratching my head more. It’s priced so far above any Android tablet that I’ve seen at $1,499 for 16gb and $1,599 for 32gb (again according to TechCrunch) that I can’t imagine it appealing to the core Android crowd. Anyone who has the $1,499 to buy that would be wise to save up for a bit longer and get the full Windows 8 version in my opinion. I understand that tablets of this quality, having their own screen, the I/O and all of that are very expensive to make but when you release a pen for $99 for the iPad at the same time I wonder why they didn’t do the same thing for existing Android tablets. There will be drawbacks to the Intuos are that it still has to have that odd fat tip to interface with the touch technology Apple uses for their screens. The pressure sensitivity and other functions are measured in the pen and transmitted to the iPad via bluetooth 4. But a lot of people own iPads already and I predict most will look at the Cintiq, say how great it would be to have one, then buy the $99 Intuos for the tablet they already have. All of these products look amazing and if it’s the right fit for you don’t hesitate because Wacom is a great company and make great products. Personally I just don’t see the new Cintiqs doing well. Microsoft couldn’t even sell a Windows 8 tablet priced and half of what Wacom is asking. This is a gutsy move on their part and shows them breaking out of their input device box. I hope to get some hands on time with one of them soon and some direct pricing information.
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