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Wacom Cintiq 21UX early review: Quick on the draw

Wacom has redesigned its 21-inch Cintiq tablet screen, with new touch-sensitive controls and increased sensitivity, making it an even more powerful tool for wannabe artists

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Richard Trenholm
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
Richard Trenholm
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Wacom has redesigned its 21-inch Cintiq tablet screen. The 21UX has added new touch-sensitive controls and increased its sensitivity, making it an even more powerful tool for artists, designers, and geeks with delusions of artistic ability.

Wacom is noted for making tablets such as the multitouch-sensitive Wacom Bamboo Fun Touch, which let you draw on to the tablet and have your scribblings appear onscreen. The Cintiq 12UX and 21UX go even further, allowing you to draw straight on to the screen.

The Cintiq uses a stylus pen to draw directly on to the screen. The pen holds different nibs to replicate different types of pens, pencils and brushes, and the screen senses 2,048 extremely fine levels of pressure so you can recreate the effects of pressing lightly or hard with your drawing tool of choice. The 21-inch 4:3 screen has a resolution of 1,600x1,200 pixels.

The Cintiq only recognises the pen so you can lean on the screen as you doodle, scribble and draft. There's no raised bezel, so you can use rulers, templates and French curves on the screen surface.

The pen sits in a small holder, looking like a plastic inkwell. It opens up to store the spare nibs and a nib-changing tool. Pens come in different shapes and sizes, including one shaped like an airbrush, each with quick-click buttons on the side to replicate mouse buttons.

The Cintiq is a professional tool for designers, artists and illustrators such as comic art legend Dave Gibbons, but that doesn't stop this Craver wanting one like an MP wants a clean moat. Click 'Continue' for more new features, and the price tag.

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There are eight express keys on either side of the screen, giving you 16 programmable buttons. These can be set up to carry out almost any tasks you want. If you forget, there's a handy key map feature that shows you what all the buttons do.
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There are also touch-sensitive strips on the back. These are also customisable and application-specific, offering up to four functions on each strip, such as zooming, scrolling and rotation.
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The stand adjusts from 10 to 65 degrees incline. As well as adjusting the lean, you can rotate the screen up to 180 degrees, to convert it to portrait or just angle it slightly to draw more comfortably. The endless customisation means you get to focus on your drawing and designing, rather than having to work around the Cintiq's design. The Cintiq 21UX costs £2,000.

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