Choosing among the 3 main art creative devices that uses Microsoft Windows & allows you to create artworks using full-fledged applications like Adobe Photoshop may not be easy, as each of the devices has its own ups & downs, and for that reason, I will present you a detailed comparison between all the 3. For one, the Surface Pro 4 has a reflective screen that makes it less ideal for drawing outdoor, but it has the best stand, not everyone may like drawing with it. Some may like drawing on it, while some others will love the lack of parallax in it. Having Expresskeys on Cintiq Companion 2 & MobileStudio Pro is an important feature, since you take those devices with you wherever you go, where having a keyboard may not be always ideal, the Surface Pro 4 lacks that. But you will surely appreciate the battery life the Surface Pro 4 provides. The comparison goes on & on.
I hope I was able to help you choose the best device for you & your budget. For that reason, you will notice that I didn’t pass judgment on which device is best here, but more like explorer where each of the devices perform.
Now I will leave you with the full comparison.
Quickly go to:-
- Pros Of Mobilestudio Pro
- Pros Of Surface Pro 4
- Cons Of Surface Pro 4
- Pros Of Cintiq Companion 2
- Cons Of Cintiq Companion 2
- Drawing Experience
- Battery Life
- Express Keys
- Stand & Ergotron Arm
- Connecting To Your Computer
- Known Problems
- Other Useful Things
- And Finally
- Sources & Useful Links
- See Also:-
- Offers 16-inches screen, an uncommon size for such pen displays.
- Can be attached to a computer & used as a Cintiq to draw.
- The screen is matte.
- Has an improved parallax.
- Offers the highest resolution among the 3 devices compared here.
Cons Of MobileStudio Pro
- Requires an external adapter to connected to your computer & be used like a Cintiq.
- A good portable computer for simple sketching or notes-taking.
- Has an official cover that allows you to use it like a laptop.
- Has the best stand among the 3 devices here.
- Has the highest battery life too.
- The screen is reflective, and can look like a mirror under certain lightings.
- Can’t be connected to your computer, at least I don’t know of any reliable way to do so.
- Lacks any kind of express key.
- Also has a matte screen, which won’t reflect light or turn into a mirror under certain lighting conditions.
- Can be attached to a computer & used as a Cintiq to draw.
- Wacom improved on the parallax on this device thanks to the driver they released lately.
- Depending on your power settings & the application you use, the Fan can be quite noisy for a mobile device.
When getting to buy a portable device to create artwork. One you could also use to run full fledged art programs (which is why the iPad Pro is not included here), there are 3 main devices one would consider buying. But since there are many differences between the 3, one may have an issue choosing the best one for the buck, so this comparison will hopefully help you choose the best one to buy.
As usual with my comparisons, I won’t pass a final judgment here, since this can change based on your need. None of the 3 devices is really better when it comes to all the aspects of the comparison anyway.
I already compared Cintiq Companion 2 with the Surface Pro 4 before, so some of the things I say here are going to be redundant, but since many people are going to compare these 3 devices together when they make their buying decision, I am going to proceed with that.
Now let’s start with the comparison~
To a degree, the selection of screen size is a matter of preference. Same goes for resolution, some don’t like to work on high resolution screens, as they make buttons & icons small to look at, while others prefer them since they work on high resolution images.
The Cintiq Companion 2 comes with a 13.3 screen with a QHD resolution of 2560 X 1440. The screen is matte, which means it won’t turn into a mirror or glares at you whenever a light is shed on it, something glassy screens suffer from.
When it comes to the screen size, MobileStudio Pro gives you more of a choice, compared to the other two devices. It comes in two screen sizes, the 13 model, with a 13.3-inches screen & the 16, with a larger 15.6-inches screen. This is one of the things I totally applauded when I reviewed MobileStudio Pro here, as most of the time, we always got the 13-inches screens or 19+ inches when it comes to pen displays(or 22+ inches only in case of Wacom Cintiq).
The screen resolution for the 13-inches MobileStudio Pro model is 2560 x 1440, while it is a 4K resolution of 3840 x 2160 for the 16-inches model. The MobileStudio Pro screen is also matte, just like its predecessor.
On Microsoft’s hand, the Surface Pro 4 features a 12.3 screen. The resolution of it is 2736 x 1824. Overall, the quality of the Surface Pro 4’s screen is much better. Unlike the screens of Wacom’s offerings, the Surface Pro 4 screen is reflective, which means that under certain lighting conditions, the screen will look like a mirror, which is not nice for a portable device. That can make it harder to use the device under such conditions, something that is not good for a portable device, but you could install an anti-glare screen protector in it, or raise the brightness of your the screen to the max to improve on things a little (at the expense of battery life).
It is worth noting that Wacom use their own digitizer, which have been trusted by artists for a long time until now, and that’s one of the reasons Wacom is still the king of digital art devices (not to say others don’t make good drawing devices).
Cintiq Companion 2 has 2048 pressure sensitivity, which was the standard pressure sensitivity for a long time, and it is more than enough to draw, I tend to not recommend anybody to pay to pay more for anything beyond 1024 levels, unless there are other features in the tablet you really want.
Now that I said 1024, that’s exactly the pressure level the Surface Pro 4 supports, while the MobileStudio Pro has a whopping 8192 level, which I never expected it to have prior to its announcement (I expected 4096 levels or something).
When it comes to the initial activation force, which is a very important measure to evaluating drawing experience, as it dictates the minimum amount you need to press your pen on the screen to get a stroke. The Surface Pro 4 has really improved on that compared the Surface Pro 3, but it is still behind what Wacom offers in their two products. Drawing on the MobileStudio Pro is the best from what I know, though you could create great artworks in all the 3 devices, you won’t go wrong if you if you could afford it. If possible, I totally advice you to try all the 3 devices to see which one is better for you.
One important aspect of drawing on a pen display is parallax, which I will talk about in its own section.
Parallax is a small cursor offset to the position of the pen, which can be caused by the distance between the pen tip & the actual cursor. This can particularly happen around the screen corner. This problem have been more easy to spot on the Cintiq Companion 2, although Wacom released a new driver that makes it work really better.
The MobileStudio Pro has much less parallax compared to many other Wacom product, not sure if this has only to do with the new driver I just mentioned, or if the hardware also got better.
Since the Surface Pro 4 uses the N-Trig digitizer, which is generally better when it comes to parallax, you won’t have to worry much about this issue when it comes to it.
Since the prices of these 3 products can change with time, I won’t be placing prices here. But in general, the Surface Pro 4 is the cheapest one to get among the 3 devices, both when you compare the base price & the price for the top model, it is very clear that it is the device to get when you are on a budget.
However, if you don’t like the N-Trig digitizer, or if you are too used to Wacom devices, getting any of Wacom’s offering is worth it, particularly in case you also want to have express keys on your device. If you are on a budget, then getting the Cintiq Companion 2 is the ideal choice here.
If money is not an issue, I would pretty much get one of the high-end MobileStudio Pro models personally.
Battery life is a very tricky subject, since it not just depends on the configurations of your devices, but also on how you use it, and what are the power settings you set in your system. The rule of thumb is, never trust the official numbers manufacturers tell you, since they tend to be very exaggerated. So this part of the comparison is going to be a bit generic, so take it with a grain of salt.
The expected battery life for MobileStudio Pro is up to 6 hours, according to Wacom. The Cintiq Companion 2 features a battery life up to 5 hours, or 4.5 hours according to my review about it. While the official battery life of the Surface Pro 4 is about 9 hours. While both numbers are generally good, the 9 hours of battery life for the Surface Pro 4 means that you can use it for a whole workday without having to recharge it at all. Which makes it the winner of this round, even if you only got 7 or 8 hours out of it, it still wins this round quite easily.
If you have seen the Cintiq 13HD, then you have a good idea on what to expect with the Cintiq Companion 2. It has 6 hot keys and one rocker ring, the 6 buttons can do programmed to do all the things you want to do. The rocker button allows you to perform functions like the resizing the brush & the like.
MobileStudio Pro has very similar 6 Expresskeys & rocker button for the 13-inches model, while the 16-inches model has 8 keys, making it the model with the device number of express keys.
The Surface Pro 4, on the other hand, doesn’t have hot keys. So Wacom’s offerings win here. Normally express keys can be less important for many people, since you could just place your keyboard beside you, however, this may not be feasible to do on the go for some people, unless you can switch tools using the interface of your art program or use some sort of hot keys application.
You also have the option of using on-screen controls or customize the interface of your art program to get around that. Carrying a portable keyboard or using the keyboard cover are other options you have here.
|Surface Pro 4||Cintiq Companion 2||MobileStudio Pro|
Each of the 3 devices comes with their own kind of stands. The Cintiq Companion 2 & the MobileStudio Pro comes with a similar stand that allows you tilt it in 3 potations, it is an okay stand, but you may find it less ideal to carry with you on the go.
It is worth noting that for the MobileStudio Pro, the stand is sold separately. Some of the Cintiq Companion 2 models, like DTH-W1310T, doesn’t come with one either.
The Surface Pro 4 comes with a much better stand, a continuous stand that you could adjust to many positions, and it is built in the Surface Pro 4 itself. I really hope Wacom would come up with a stand like that in the future~
Mounting your device on an Ergotron arm, and particularly a device you draw directly on, like our 3 devices here, can make a big difference in the way you work. Since you could rotate your device so some lines are easier to draw, and you could get the device adjusted to the way you sit, rather than the other way around.
Since all of the 3 devices were made for drawing on the go, they don’t have any kind of mount in them. But you could use some sort of easel or an adapter.
Using the dedicated cable for that, you could connect your Cintiq Companion 2 to your computer’s USB & HDMI ports, so if you have a more power computer, or you got one in the future, you could benefit from its capabilities. While benefitting from the Companion’s mobile capabilities to work as you go around, particularly in case if you got one of the low-end models.
The same can be said about the MobileStudio Pro, however, to connect it to your computer the same way, you will either need a USB-C port with that supports alternate mode, and that way, you will be able to connect it directly to your computer, or purchase the Wacom Link adapter, which allows you to connect it to a mini displayport Port or a regular displayport (using a cheap adapter to mini displayport). Connecting it in any other way may work, but I can’t guarantee that, this is a huge bummer for those with only HDMI ports on their laptop.
For more details about this, see the mini guide I made on how to connect your Cintiq pro to your PC computer with Displayport or HDMI.
As far as I know, the Surface Pro 4 can’t be connected to your computer & be used as a Cintiq, unless there’s a method for that I don’t know of.
Since these devices cost a lot of money, it can really help to know which kind of problems you can expect from them, especially since some of these problems can be deal breakers for you. So here I will list some of the problems in these devices.
The Cintiq Companion 2 has one nasty problem, sometimes the fans run very noisily. This won’t stop you from using the device & do what you want with it, but this is worth mentioning, since some people totally can’t tolerate that.
You could mitigate that problem by using a headphone, or play with the power settings.
Here are some of the issues for the MobileStudio Pro, you could see a full list here in this Reddit post. Since it is the newest product among the 3 I am comparing here, I hope these issues will be solved by Wacom in the future.
- After waking from sleep, the pen & Expresskeys won’t work:- putting it to sleep again solves this problem.
- Heavy applications that uses a lot of vram, like 3D applications, causes the 16-inches model to crash:- Forcing the device to use the Intel graphics chip solves this problem, but this beats the purpose paying all that money for the 16-inches model (unless you only wanted it for the bigger screen, but still).
- While hovering the pen above the screen, the cursor doesn’t pick up the small change in movement:- You could see that in the following video.
Credit for the video to:- HappehLemons
There are many issues people faced with the Surface Pro 4, these issues doesn’t mean it is a bad device, and many of them are unlikely going to happen to you.
- The eraser won’t work at times:- Restoring your PC can help here (yes, this can be quite annoying).
- Sometimes, the touch screen stops responding:- Restarting your device can solve this problem.
- MobileStudio Pro is equipped Intel RealSense 3D Camera, which you could use to capture real life objects.
- The 13-inches i7 512GB model of MobileStudio Pro comes with 12-months license of Artec Studio 11 Ultimate scanning software, which is compatible with SolidWorks CAD & Design X.
- The Surface Pro 4 is the only device in this comparison that has an official cover that makes it usable just like a laptop.
- Surface Pro 4 & Cintiq Companion 2 support up to 2TB MicroSD cards. I guess the MobileStudio Pro does the same, but I only confirmed that it supports at least 512GB.
- Cintiq Companion 2 has 3 USB 3.0 ports, Surface Pro 4 has 1 USB 3.0 port, MobileStudio Pro has 3 USB Type-C ports, but no regular USB ones.
Choosing one of these devices is already tricky, since none of the devices has surpassed the others when we compare all the features & price, and for that reason, I hope you found this comparison useful, and hope you get to create some great artworks with your device of choice.
|Surface Pro 4||Cintiq Companion 2||MobileStudio Pro|
- Wacom MobileStudio Pro Review – with comparison between 13 inches & 16 inches models
- Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Review, A possible Cintiq Companion 2 alternative for drawing digitally on the go (with comparison with Surface Pro 3)
- Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 Review – With a comparison table for the Value (DTHW1310T), Standard (DTHW1310L), Premium (DTHW1310M) & Enhanced (DTHW1310H) models
- Learn Photoshop CC With Pictures