I Have Had A Good Time With Wacom Devices, But Now I Am Happy With An Alternative, It’s Time To Say Good Bye
While I used an Aiptek tablet for a very short when I started with digital art. I consider my real beginning with it was when I got my first Intuos4 tablet back in 2010. And I continued to use their tablets for years, until I jumped to Huion pen displays later on. Which not only provided me with a better drawing experience with less issues, but they also cost must less, which was also a factor in my decision.
Below you can find the main 3 reasons that made me switch from Wacom to Huion. You can use them to see if you should switch as well, or to just know about them for future reference. It’s all up to you.
Quickly go to:-
Let me tell you my story with Cintiq Pro 16 (reviewed here). After it came out, I ordered one so that I could use to create my Lolita Caramel skits. My unit arrived, and I was excited to start drawing with it.
At first, I faced several driver issues, which I will talk about them below. Few weeks after I had it, the corner of the screen started to flicker with patterns appearing on the corner whenever it’s fully black, so I had to return it, since that wasn’t normal at all. Since I don’t live in the US or any country where returning such product is easy, I had to loss some money in the process of returning it.
There’s a good chance that I was unlucky & ended up getting a defective unit, but since ordering & returning it many times wasn’t an option, I opted for the cheaper Huion KAMVAS GT-191. Which shipped for free from China to my country. Since it was much cheaper, there was much less risk in case it turned out bad (which could happen).
Besides my own story, there are many other hardware issues you hear often, like how the graphics card in MobileStudio Pro could fry itself, or how updating the BIOS could brick some Cintiq models. Cintiq 13HD is known for its unreliable cable too. That’s why whenever I write a review of any device in this blog, I try my best to cover as much of such issues as possible, or else my reviews will be a demonstration of features, which can hardly be useful.
If you have been around for long enough, you will know that Wacom devices are notorious for their driver issues. You can make a quick Twitter search to see people complaining about them in real time. They happen too often that you’re likely going to face them sooner or later. And the reason why these issues have been there for long without being solved is beyond me.
Here are some of the issues I faced personally:-
- Whenever I connected my large Intuos Pro wirelessly, some driver versions never managed to detect it. The tablet led just kept on blinking.
- When connected in wireless mode. My Large Intuos Pro turns itself off after 2 minutes, even when I set the timer to turn it off in 20 minutes.
- From time to time, and more often than not, I get wobbly lines whenever I draw slowly with my Intuos Pro Large. This forced me to draw faster than I want, since I prefer to draw some lines slowly.
- With many driver versions, including the latest driver at the time, my Cintiq Pro 16 wasn’t detected at all. It took me multiple drivers versions to get it to work.
- Even after managed to find a driver I could use with my Cintiq Pro 16, the touch is often mapped to the wrong screen. This didn’t stop me from being able to draw with it, but it triggers the question, why?
Some of the other issues I hear others complain about often are:-
- Settings & express keys configurations are often wiped.
- Pressure sensitivity randomly stops working.
- Brushes lag (there are many variations to this issue).
These are just examples of the possible driver issues you may find with Wacom devices, you may counter other issues, or you may be luck and never encounter any issue at all, depending on your situation.
Don’t get me wrong, Huion and other Wacom alternatives also have their own share of driver issues, and some of them can be quite silly too. I just found it easier to deal with them once, then continue working on my artworks. At least I never encountered the wobbly lines issues with Huion, which is a huge on its own for me.
You probably expected this to be the main reason, but it’s not. I can totally understand that asking for a high price in exchange for a quality product is a must for many professionals, and sometimes consumers.
The thing is, the high price of Wacom products makes one wonder why one is paying all that when there are many issues with them. Especially when you could buy multiple alternatives with that money. For the price of most Cintiq models, I could buy one of the Cintiq Alternatives, and a screen to use to check out my colors accuracy, and still save some money on the top of that.
I have talked about Wacom pricing in more details in my post Why are Wacom graphics tablets & products very expensive?, where I tried to explain why Wacom devices are often too expensive.
While many of us could easily switch to any of the alternatives. There are still some features that almost only exist in Wacom devices, and those who need them may not have the choice of switching to any other brands for now. I sincerely wish I could see them in Cintiq Alternatives.
To mention some of these features, Wacom devices tend to have a very low Initial Activation Force (IAF), which means for a click or brush stroke to be registered, you only need to apply very little force using the pen. This makes drawing with them very convenient. Many of Wacom alternatives are also good when it comes to that too. But I would still recommend Wacom if you want a really low IAF, particularly if you plan to use the tablet as a mouse alternative for tasks like web design, video editing or more.
Another almost-exclusive feature is Tilt sensitivity, which is similar to pressure sensitivity. It allows you to tilt the pen to change the shape of your brush. This is a niche feature most artists don’t need, and it is almost only available on Wacom devices.
By the time of writing this post, Wacom is the only company that offers pen displays that support 4K resolution. Some artists prefer that for drawing, and until Wacom’s competitors start to make pen display like those, which I believe will happen eventually, 4K will be a Wacom-exclusive feature.
From what I know, Wacom used to have a much better reputation when it comes to the quality of their products. This makes me wonder what happened that they are having these issues these days. I hope I managed to be fair in my assessment of them, since the goal of this post is not to bash them, but to tell you why I stopped using their products, and to help you see if you should do the same or not.
I didn’t mention Wacom’s support for variety of reasons, while they sometimes give useless advice, like telling you not to plug your tablet to a USB hub (something that rarely cause an issue), and while they sometimes refuse to acknowledge that they have an issue with their products. They have their upside too, like they sometimes replaced devices even after the warranty is over. I am not saying their support is top notch, but I have to be fair about it.