|Wacom Cintiq Companion in the studio, teamed with Bluetooth keyboard, mouse and speakers|
So - it arrived! I now have a Wacom Cintiq Companion tablet on loan for 40 days in return for some testing/reviewing/blogging, so here we go ...
The screen quality, and the response of the all-important pen, are as good as hoped, and it runs the software I've installed so far perfectly ably. Unfortunately, there isn't so much of that because ... problems. The audio subsystem basically didn't work - no sound output from the headphone jack, and the internal speakers are barely audible even at full volume. I also found that the front-facing (selfie) camera isn't working at all, so - I haven't installed a lot of software for testing yet because it's about to be exchanged for another unit which is on its way from Germany - an unfortunate start to the review period. Guys - if you're going to send out a review unit (and hope I'm going to keep and pay for it at the end) - you should probably have someone systematically test that everything works before mailing it, OK?
One other note about the screen - it's a full HD 1920 x 1080 pixels, which at 13.3" actually means the writing is a tad small for my 57 year-old eyes - I had to increase the text size to be able to use it comfortably, and using the XenoDream interface, which has a lot of little boxes full of numbers to fill in, is a bit of a strain. Not Wacom's fault, but it would be a lot easier if pinch-to-zoom actually worked on the Windows 8 desktop, which it doesn't. Frowny face.
Hardware conclusion - very chunky - not a tablet in the sense of the iPad, but more of a portable graphics workstation. Design is good (the function keys are already coming in useful, and the pen quality really is great, with 2048 pressure levels, 5000+ dpi, and 60 tilt levels). Screen density is a bit high for legacy apps. Build quality - meh. Two return-to-base faults, and I haven't even tested everything. I hope I just got a dud and this doesn't normally happen but rest assured, when the replacement arrives, I will be testing absolutely every port and feature before even thinking about a purchase.
So .... I'm waiting for the replacement hardware before spending a lot of time installing software to test, but in the meantime, the one thing I really wanted to try was Wacom's own Bamboo Paper, just made available for Windows 8 and Android. I had the idea that I would have this instantly available as instant ideas sketchpad and notebook - maybe even use it for lecture notes during my MA course (about to happen in September. Yes, I know, I'm 57. Whatever). Hmmm... it works nicely. I can sketch and write, it feels natural, looks great and apparently there are new creative packs with different papers etc. coming soon which will make it even more useful. Now, let's save my sketch as a picture file. Oh. you can't. There is no 'Save to file' option, only 'share' to other installed apps. Specifically, OneNote and Mail. That's it. Sharing to OneNote is broken - the image doesn't appear in the note. Sharing to mail is OK but ... it's a bit of a clunky way to get a sketch into ArtRage where I need it, isn't it? What happened to 'Save file'? Now for the notebook. Can I export my notebook to archive my lecture notes - nope. There's no export function either. Bamboo Paper notebooks can only be read in the Bamboo Paper app. Yes, I know, it's not specific to the Cintiq Companion, but seriously ... looks like I'll be using OneNote for lectures.