When moving from traditional art to digital art, my first step was using a drawing tablet. I enjoyed the freedom this gave me to start over an unlimited amount of times with my drawings and store my creations easier.
But I found it hard to get used to not looking at my hand while drawing. I often noticed that I missed the simplicity of a lighter tool I could simply hold, look at, and bring everywhere with me.
In retrospect, a portable drawing tablet would have eliminated this issue long ago. In this Cintiq Companion 2 Review, you’ll find out whether this tablet can help you simplify your creation process and draw faster.
Things To Consider Before Buying A Portable Drawing Tablet
Traditional drawing methods can often mean broken leads, forgotten supplies, and messy pencil shavings. A drawing tablet can take care of all of these problems.
Drawing tablets are ideal for people who prefer to have everything they need for their art in a compact, portable package.
Consider the following when choosing the best portable drawing tablet for you:
What you will use it for
Portable tables are used for digital painting, 3D modeling, creating animations, and editing videos. All of these uses can require greater storage capacity for large files and RAM for processing 3D designs and complex images.
When you move to a portable tablet, you will have to start thinking about battery. Do you often work in 3-hour chunks and have time to charge between, or do you need the ability to get lost in your creations for 8 hours at a time? The answer to this will help you decide whether a more portable solution is better for you.
The software you use
Not all tablets will support popular drawing and editing software. Consider what software you use, and check whether it is compatible on your desired digital drawing device.
How you work
Drawing tablets are perfect for those who prefer a minimalistic approach to their creation process. They involve less mess, greater creative control, and better workflow.
Drawing tablets can be thought of as many different mediums in one. Instead of paint brushes, pens, and pencils, you have a single stylus to use which can create a variety of strokes and lines.
They also allow you to keep your creations in a single spot instead of needing to find physical space to store them.
How does the Cintiq Companion 2 Compare?
Image From Wacom
The Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 has a 13.3-inch screen and can handle creative software well. It comes with connection cables, a Pro Pen stylus, a soft carrying case, and an adjustable stand.
Cintiq’s last generation of the same product only came with two models, while the Companion 2 has more variety. It isn’t priced as low as an iPad, but you get many more features specific to drawing and design.
If you’re looking for the quickest, cheapest option out there in terms of a drawing tablet, this isn’t it, but it’s still priced affordably compared against most models.
- An Ergonomic Stylus: The pen comes with a comfort grip and flared design so you can use it for hours at a time without pain. An ergonomic design and proper holding technique are highly important for artists.
- Touch Gestures: Pan, rotate, or zoom seamlessly while you create with multi-touch gestures, getting all of those tiny details perfect and bringing life to your project.
- Shortcuts: The Cintiq can be customized with onscreen controls, side switches, and other shortcuts, saving you time.
- Compatible With Most Drawing Software: The companion 2 is compatible with most professional creative software. This include Adobe’s Creative Suite, AutoDesk, AutoCAD, Corel DRAW, Coral Painter, and much more.
- It’s Expensive: The Cintiq Companion 2 can be a huge upgrade for you if you’re looking to step up your art game, but it will definitely be an investment, and the quality of Wacom products is apparent for what you pay.
- Battery Life: The Companion 2 doesn’t have the greatest battery life and lasts 5 hours maximum if you’re using Photoshop CS5, while other tablets (like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 and iPad Pro) last closer to 10.
- Loud Fan: The fan on this tablet is quite loud compared with other devices.
Cintiq Companion 2 Features And Benefits
A Natural Feel
Image by Sticker Robot
This tablet has 2048 pressure levels and feels more like pen on paper than other drawing tablets. If you’re someone who usually prefers traditional drawing methods, it’s great not to have to sacrifice that familiar sensation.
If you are new to drawing tablets, you can learn more about how stylus pressure works here.
I’ve never really appreciated the “drawing on glass” feeling that other tablets have, so a more natural feel is a plus. You will have access to a variety of nibs for the exact stroke you’re going for and can tilt the stylus to get the angle you want.
This may even end up feeling more natural to you than a pencil after a while, but does come with the downside of needing to be charged.
A Matte Screen
The Cintiq Companion 2 has a 13-inch screen with 2,560 by 1,440 WQHD with 16.7 million colors. The screen has a matte finish that won’t turn mirror-like or reflect light when you use it outdoors.
This would have been very useful for me to have for drawing during my breaks at work, when the weather was too nice to pass up but my iPad screen was too reflective to draw on outside. But keep in mind that a matte screen means slightly dampened colors.
Glossy displays offer more contrast and deeper, more vivid colors. The colors will look more saturated and intense, with blacks looking darker. Reflections on these screens do make them virtually unusable in brightly lit locations, however.
If you’ve never owned a matte screen and aren’t sure whether it will work better for you than a glossy finish, ask yourself where you plan to use the device most.
If you are buying a tablet that will mostly be used in a dimly lit room, the bright colors offered by a glossy display could be better than a matte screen. If you want to be able to use your tablet in a variety of settings or outside on bright, sunny days, a matte display will lessen glare.
Lighter Than The Previous Generation
Portability is a very sought-after trait in electronic devices, especially drawing tablets where the entire point is bringing it along when you travel.
The first generation Companion by Wacom weighed nearly 4 pounds and while the Companion 2 isn’t a whole lot lighter, it’s steadily changing for the better and now weighs 3.75 pounds, instead. Wacom Companions aren’t as convenient to hold as a sketch pad and are still lap devices that you must sit to draw on comfortably.
While the weight of this generation isn’t very different from the original, it’s spread evenly throughout the tablet. The design is very similar to the Cintiq 13HD but for a tablet with a computer inside, it’s a sleek device.
The comparatively light weight of the tablet also means that if you want to import it from overseas, you won’t have to pay absurd shipping costs.
The Cintiq Companion 2 shouldn’t be thought of as a replacement for your desktop computer, but as something you can use while you’re out and then connect to your laptop or desktop once you get home.
Technical Specs And Compatibility
The Cintiq Companion 2 has venting slots at the back, along with slots for connecting the stand.
It can be used as a standalone device with Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 or attached to your PC or Mac. This versatility makes it a step up from tablets that must be connected with a desktop or laptop to function.
The model comes with a TPM chip and vPro technology for your security and has many connectivity options. Among these options, you will find three USB ports, two card slots, Bluetooth connectivity, Wi-Fi, two speakers, two HD cameras, a mini display port and an audio combo port.
All of these features and options could be useful for artists looking to simplify their digital creation process by only needing a single device instead of many.
Keep in mind that unlike some competitor’s models, if you want to use a keyboard with the Companion 2, it must be purchased separately.
The Companion 2 Runs Cooler Than The Companion 1
A noticeable improvement in the Cintiq Companion 2 is that it doesn’t run as hot as its predecessor. Though this does mean that it’s louder, the tradeoff of a more comfortable experience could be worth it to some artists.
Using a loud tablet in a quiet library, for instance, can be a little embarrassing, but to me isn’t nearly as inconvenient as a device that feels like it will spontaneously combust in my hands at any moment.
You must think about what you value more; silence or the ability to use your device for hours without it getting too hot.
Image By Wacom
The Companion 2 offers some of the best capabilities available relative to its weight and size. It enables you to carry the strength of an actual PC in your bag.
If you wanted to, you could even use it as a replacement for your desktop or laptop which could save you some money overall.
User Experience With The Cintiq Companion 2
I would primarily use a portable tablet like this for its video editing capabilities and zoom features to get more detail, but others may use it in entirely different ways.
To find out more about how the Cintiq Companion 2 worked for actual artists, I scoured the web and found a few user reports discussing their journey with the device.
Here’s what they had to say:
…the first gen Companion ran on 1080p, while the Cintiq Companion 2 [runs] on QHD, and the difference in the resolution and the image quality is absolutely huge, and besides that, it also gives you a lot more room on your canvases in digital art programs when working on the device, which is a huge bonus for artists because then your tools take up less space on the screen.
– Draw With Jazza (Professional YouTuber)
If you are a professional graphic designer and you are looking for that high quality display and you do love to travel and your work takes you all around the world this could not be a better product.
– Fin (Artist & Founder of SkyFin Media)
Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 Alternatives
If the Companion 2 isn’t right for your creative needs, you may want to consider these alternatives:
Image By Wacom
If you need something a bit more advanced, the Mobile Studio Pro came after the Companion 2 and has a wider range of features and will cost you about the same amount.
- Runs with Windows 10: The computer is powered by more recent processor technology and runs Windows 10 rather than Windows 7 or 8.1. Like the Companion 2, it can be used as a standalone device or connected with your PC or Mac and used as a display.
- Better Pressure Levels: The Wacom Mobile Studio Pro has been designed with a new and improved stand and has 8192 instead of 2048 pressure levels.
The Wacom MobileStudio Pro 13” could definitely be worth considering if you’re a professional considering alternatives to the Companion 2. It may be more expensive, but it is one powerful machine!
Image From Microsoft
We’ve already mentioned that the Companion 2 isn’t cheap, so if you’re looking for something more affordable, Microsoft’s Surface Pro is an option. It comes with:
- 1024 Levels of Pressure: There is a tradeoff with the lower price point as this tablet comes with 1024 pressure levels instead of 2048. This makes it suitable for beginner artists but less suitable for more advanced artists who need a lot of control. I don’t consider myself a beginner artist, so 1024 probably wouldn’t be enough for me, personally.
- Cursory Accuracy: The Surface Pro does have better cursory accuracy near the edges of the screen, though. It also has the benefit of coming with a keyboard instead of needing a separate one like the Companion 2.
When comparing the Companion 2 and this version of the Surface Pro, the screens come very close in terms of resolution. If you need to use your device for a lot of typing and need something a bit more affordable than the Companion 2, check the Microsoft Surface Pro out.
Image From Lenovo
The most affordable option on our list, the Lenovo Yoga Book is another 2-in-1 drawing tablet solution. Check it out if the following features appeal to you:
- 2048 Pressure Sensitivity: Like the Companion 2 (and most other drawing tablets), this option comes with 2048 pressure sensitivity.
- An Included Keyboard: The Lenovo Yoga Book also has a keyboard included, unlike the Companion 2. Use the 360 hinge to switch between using it like a laptop or tablet.
- Limited functionality: The Yoga book doesn’t have nearly as much functionality as the Surface Pro and Mobile Studio pro. It does run professional creative programs such as Adobe photoshop, however, if you try to use any of the slightly advanced features, you will run into problems.
Our Final Conclusion
Having to remember a variety of art supplies every time you leave the house isn’t convenient, but neither is having to purchase multiple devices or stay confined to one area just for a digital drawing solution.
If you looking for a convenient, powerful and portable drawing tablet then consider the Companion 2.
The Cintiq Companion 2 doesn’t need a computer to work, offers more flexibility in your creation experience, and can run useful software to take your art to the next level. It also doesn’t require sharpening!