About 3 years ago I bought myself a Wacom Bamboo tablet. It was my first foray into the world of graphics tablet.

From drawing storyboards to designing characters, it definitely improved my the quality and speed of my designs. Although I’ve predominantly worked in the digital medium for most of my career, using a mouse seemed so clunky compared to using a sketchbook and a pen. When it came to storyboards, I disliked using a mouse so much I would create all my frames by hand, scan them in and then import them into InDesign. Not exactly a speedy workflow. My little Bamboo changed this and allowed a greater sense of freedom.

Then, after starting work at Scorch London, I was given a brand new Wacom Intuos Pro. For a huge tech geek, it was like Christmas came early. Since then I’ve never gone back to using a mouse and even shelled out to buy my own Intuos Pro when I went freelance.

There was always one issue that bugged the hell out of me – the weird disconnect you experience whilst looking at the screen and drawing on the desk. As someone that loves to draw, this always felt incredibly unnatural. I wanted to buy a Wacom Cintiq but I could not justify spending over £1000 on one. A Cintiq Companion 2 looked great but it’s overpriced and the specs were pretty dated. Plus, as I use my custom PC and a MacBook Pro, I’d run out of licenses for my Creative Cloud account. I was tempted by the Surface Pro tablet but I’d read a lot about there being (tiny) issues with jittery pens and a lower pressure sensitivity.

 

Ugee 1910b

Then, I saw some overwhelmingly positive reviews for an Ugee 1910b. This little-known brand were churning out high-quality tablets at a fraction of the price. To buy a brand new one on Amazon cost just £319!!! How could I resist? A 21” Cintiq costs roughly £1349. I was incredibly excited and couldn’t wait to start using it. Once I had it all setup, disappointment struck and I realised that maybe it’s a case of you get what you pay for. The DVI port didn’t work (I tried multiple cables) and when I finally got it working, using a VGA cable, the pen made a horrendous squeaking sound that made me shudder every time the plastic nib scraped along the glass.

the pen made a horrendous squeaking sound every time the plastic nib scraped along the glass

Also the resolution of the screen is only 1440 X 900 and for a device that big it really showed every pixel. Surely bumping it up to even 1080HD wouldn’t result in higher costs for the company? As previously mentioned, the screen was made of glass and they advise you to wear gloves, which are provided in the box. I guess it’s better than looking at a screen covered in fingerprints but it feels a bit silly putting them on every time I went to draw.

Ultimately, I felt like the quality was poor and sent it back the next day. This might just be an isolated incident, plenty of others have had great experiences but I have very little patience for poor quality products.

 

Wacom Cintiq 13HD

So I decided to bite the bullet and get myself a Wacom Cintiq 13HD. When it arrived I instantly noticed the difference in quality. The matte screen had this subtle, paper-like texture and was a breeze to draw on. Also, there was very little parallax and no signs of lag. Drawing storyboards went from being a laborious task to a fun and efficient way to plan a project. The full HD resolution also looked really sharp compared to the Ugee.

The matte screen had this subtle, paper-like texture and was a breeze to draw on

It wasn’t all positive though. Whilst the screen is beautiful to draw on, the matte effect does mute the colours ever so slightly and the whites all had a subtle off-white look to them. Also, the stand is one of the poorest I’ve ever encountered. How on earth that managed to pass quality control I’ll never know but Wacom really needs to redesign it. Also the 16:9 aspect ratio is just too narrow height wise for drawing with. Saying that, for drawing characters and detailed shots, I rotate the screen so I get much more real estate (it feels like it anyway but you do have to hide the tabs). One aspect that really isn’t great are the cables. Man, this thing has such a weird cable setup and it makes it hard to just grab the tablet and start drawing straight away. Even though I’ve just listed a load of negatives, the pros far outweigh these design flaws and I’m sure once they work out how to incorporate wireless technology it will be a dream.

It’s not perfect, the cables are a nightmare, but it the experience of drawing on the tablet feels so much nicer than a glossy, glass screen. Now drawing storyboards and sketching out characters is far quicker than a traditional tablet and it feels as natural as drawing on paper. Also, the pen that comes with it is glorious. I absolutely love the pen! It’s like a luxury version of the standard model that comes with the Intuos Pros but it’s slightly heavier and just feels so nice to use. I’m not kidding when I say I could write an entire review around the pen itself.

 

Specifications

Ugee 1910b

Screen Size: 19 Inches
Response Time: 5ms
Screen Resolution: 1440 X 900
Resolution: 5080 LPI
Contrast Ratio: 800:01
Pressure Sensitivity: 2048
Tilt Range: 80°
Displayable Colours: 16.7 million
Active Area: 402mm X 255mm
Weight: 7kg
Connections: DVI, VGA
Compatible OS: Windows 8/10, Mac OSX Yosemite

Wacom Cintiq 13HD

Screen Size: 13.3 inch
Response Time: 25ms
Screen Resolution: 1920 X 1080
Resolution 5080 LPI
Contrast Ratio 700:1
Pressure Sensitivity: 2048
Tilt Range: 40°
Displayable Colours: 16.7 million
Active Area: 299 x 171mm
Weight: 1.2kg
Connections: HDMI
Compatible OS: Windows 8/10, Mac OSX Yosemite

Verdict

Although it’s a little unfair to call my write up of the Ugee a review, I did give it a chance and it just failed on every level. The screen is horribly glossy and the pen makes an awful squeaking sound when you draw. On top of that, the model I reviewed had to be sent back. Although Wacom are massively overpriced, at the end of the day you do get what you pay for. If Ugee improves their future models I would be more than happy to give them another chance but until then I’m happy with the Wacom Cintiq 13HD. It’s not perfect (please make a wireless version) and it would be great to have a bigger screen without having to sell a kidney on the black market to fund it (how on earth they can justify almost £2000 for the 27” model blows my tiny little mind) but once you get over the design flaws it is a joy to use. Also if you use a wireless keyboard alongside it then you can use all the usual shortcuts and don’t need to get the touch version. However, it won’t replace my Intuos Pro for day to day motion graphics work. Also, did I mention the pen? I bloody love that pen…

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