Wacom Cintiq 16 vs. iPad Pro: A Buyers Guide
Torn between buying Wacom Cintiq 16 vs iPad Pro?
Let’s say we want to move into the field of digital art and are about to make a relatively expensive purchase to get there.
We could start by considering a dual-purpose tablet such as an iPad Pro.
It might also be possible to add some advanced drawing apps like Procreate to bridge the gap to a full-on drawing specific tablet such as the Wacom Cintiq 16.
However, if you are an artist, then we are up against some very difficult decisions.
Wacom Cintiq 16 is probably top of the range for drawing tablets, but the updated iPad Pro has some features that might outshine even Wacom.
Let’s get to know the pluses and minuses of Wacom Cintiq 16 vs iPad Pro.
When you have those facts side by side, we know you will be able to make a good decision based on your personal preferences.
Table of Contents
Here are the full technical specs from Wacom for the Cintiq 16.
Bear in mind any manufacturer of a product will highlight the pluses and downplay the negatives.
So concentrate on the specifications if you are a techie who is looking for that detail.
Let’s start by identifying some basics.
The Wacom Cintiq 16 is much bigger than the iPad Pro.
For artists, canvas or screen size matters quite a bit.
Many artists use a common technique to assess their artwork in progress to stand back at different distances.
See how it looks.
They also view their illustration in a mirror, and even with pinched eyes!
By slowly unscrewing their eyes, they can look at different aspects of the illustration as it and the colors and composition become more visible.
That is possible on the Wacom 16-inch screen.
It’s not as easy on a 12-inch screen as most large tablets, including the iPad Pro.
Remember that the Wacom Cintiq 16 is dependent on a MAC or Windows operating system.
Yes, it has plugs that join it to a computer because it’s only a drawing platform and not a computer.
That is not necessarily bad and can be very good.
Every square inch of the Wacom Cintiq 16 is dedicated to high tech drawing features and drawing software and does not waste any useful space on an operating system.
The Wacom Cintiq 16 is for artwork.
The Drawing Tablet
Every bit of the tablet’s integral design is specifically designed for graphic artwork.
It’s important to remember that when we compare it to the iPad Pro, which has powerful drawing software, it is a multi-use tablet for office work.
To further enhance the unique drawing capability, Wacom has probably the most authentic Pen onto paper textured feel.
Yes, the screen itself is not smooth like glass but has a special texture.
This also means that it is non-glare and easy on the eyes.
Here is a little more detail about this beautifully color vibrant screen.
The screen is configured to an HD definition of 1920 x 1080p.
Together with the Pro Pen 2, the screen delivers the most precise levels of accuracy yet reviewed.
The Wacom Cliniq 16 screen has vibrantly bright and clear colors and 8192 pressure levels.
It means the density of shading, density of color, and line sharpness has eight thousand one hundred and ninety-two pressure variations!
It’s unlikely that most artists have that degree of pressure sensitivity.
But if they do, then this whole tablet is designed around any artist’s requirements.
The Pen can also have pinpoint accuracy and automatically recognizes any angle that you choose and shading options that can be toggled when angling the Pen!
The Pen Pro 2 automatically recognizes the angle of the Pen.
That means you can also fill in a pencil sketch space with shaded, wide swathes of pencil or color.
The Wacom Cintiq 16 uses the NTSC color technology, and so has a color gamut of 16.7 million colors!
Wacom added that feature just in case!
To make it more understandable, you can choose and shade in color over 16 million colors, and this screen reflects your choice perfectly!
Another very basic but essential feature is the tilting foot bar at the back of the tablet to angle the tablet upwards.
It also has a comfortable hand rest to reduce drawing fatigue.
Unquestionably, this is an artist or graphic designer tool designed for professionals.
Pro Pen 2
The Wacom Cintiq 16 does not use a normal tablet’s generic scribe.
The Wacom brings its drawing specific Pen.
This is an incredible art tool that Wacom calls the Pro Pen 2.
It is designed ergonomically to fit your hand comfortably for hour upon hour of effortless drawing.
It has a soft, comfortable rubber grip and easily accessible buttons on the side of the Pen.
You can set up the buttons to make shortcuts to your favorite software.
For example, you may have a gallery running on your computer with photos or templates you need to toggle to and select.
It is also crafted for both left and right-handed users.
Similarly, configure the tablet for left or right-handed artists.
They are no more aching fingers syndrome after 4 hours of fine pen work!
Pro Pen 2 is battery-free and picks up its power through Electro-Magnetic Resonance right off the tablet surface itself.
Pretty awesome technology!
The Pen can have its nibs easily removed and replaced because of the textured screen and the possibility of pen tips wearing out, which we have not found recorded anywhere.
Odds And Ends
Remember this is a drawing tablet, and while it has a screen, it requires connectivity to Windows 7 upwards or MAC OS X 10.11 minimum to function.
Naturally, the boxed contents include the necessary 3 one connector cables, including HDMI and USB 2.0, and an AC adaptor.
The iPad Pro has endeavored to bridge a big gap in an emerging device niche: drawing tablets.
They have done this pretty successfully with pros and cons’ as usual.
Let’s start by identifying some basics, as we did with the Wacom Cintiq 16.
A quantum difference is that the Wacom Cintiq is a drawing tablet only, which needs an operating system like Windows or MAC.
In contrast, the iPad Pro is a computer tablet with drawing features.
The drawing features are very good but are they good enough to replace a drawing tablet?
What you draw, you see on your iPad screen.
Yes, you can probably attach a large Monitor to your iPad, but its depiction of what is on your iPad will be affected by the monitor’s quality.
There are graphic art monitors such as Asus, which is very commonly used by top graphic artists and is very good.
But let’s stick with an apples-to-apples comparison (no pun intended).
The iPad Pro is small for a drawing tablet.
To get close to the quality of drawing that you can produce on a Wacom Cintiq 16, you will need to install third-party apps such as Procreate.
That’s another $10 or so, depending on which suite you buy.
You will also need to buy an Apple Pencil costing $130.
The Drawing Tablet
This is not specifically designed as a drawing tablet but has drawing tablet capabilities.
We think it’s fair that one should seriously consider buying the iPad Pro to draw because of its incredibly powerful and versatile computer.
This iPad can do everything and everything much better than previous iPad versions.
We don’t want to digress from our strict comparison as a drawing tablet.
But if you want to know what else you get if you buy this, then go to Apple’s iPad Pro page of specifications, which shows all its pre-installed apps, free apps, and features.
So back to drawing features.
It’s been mentioned that the iPad Pro does not have a pre-installed app for free.
However, the Procreate or the Autodesk Sketchbook App is available for purchase.
We recommend the Procreate app, and you will find a lot of reviews that support that recommendation.
It cost $10 for in-store purchases.
It’s simply way ahead of the pack with easy-to-use features, and most importantly, it seamlessly accepts the Apple Pencil and is designed around the Apple Pencil.
The drawing surface is available in two sizes.
12.9 inches and 11 inches.
In our review of the Cintiq 16, we have mentioned all the advantages of a big size for drawing and illustrating, so we will leave that subject.
What is very special about the iPad Pro is it uses Liquid Retina Display technology.
Let’s deal with what that means.
Liquid Retina Display
LRD is the latest display technology and is technically better than any other generation display such as LCDs.
It is backlit, which means you don’t lose color in bright light or outdoor situations.
It incorporates IPS technology, which means you have a wide viewing angle-you don’t need to be right in front of the screen.
You can work to one side, say, when sketching from a model or a photograph and lose none of the display’s brightness and color.
It’s pretty much the way displays are heading across all consumer markets.
Still, the iPad has been working with this type of technology much longer and, arguably, has a better take on the technological tweaks possible.
A major plus is this LRD simply out-lasts all other displays such as the common LCD or OLED displays.
However, an artist needs to know that the older OLED display has better contrast features.
OLED displays can selectively reduce pixels on darker parts of an image, whereas a Liquid Retina Display can only try and compensate by producing darker grey shades.
This is because the backlighting leaks out and illuminates the desired dark area.
OLED displays can therefore produce more natural deep blacks than Liquid Retina Displays.
So, for artists, you are losing some tonal and shading values there.
OLED displays also consume less power and give you more battery hours than the backlit Liquid Retina Displays.
But here is where iPad Pro may have an advantage.
It boasts 2732 x 2048 Pixels 265ppi over its nearly 12 inches of the actual drawing surface.
That may seem a lot, but this is 12 inches compared to 16 inches on the Wacom 16.
It IS much sharper, but we need to keep such statistics in perspective!
Let’s now look at one of the iPad Pros’ strongest pros: Apple Pencil.
The Apple Pencil is not part of the packaged items that arrive with your iPad Pro.
You need to buy it separately as well as spare nibs.
This comes in altogether at between $130 and $150.
The second-generation Apple pencil has a few differences from its generation pencil.
It has a flat on one side, which prevents it from rolling off tables or desks and damaging itself.
A common and expensive con of the Apple Pencil 1!
This flat side also attaches and charges magnetically to a strip on the tablet’s side, which is pretty neat.
The pencil was also specifically designed for the iPad Pro.
That is an important feature because every interactive feature between the pencil and the iPad Pro interface was considered.
Apple boasts that it is the leader in low latency, which means that as you write, draw, or paint, the nib appears to be very close or writing on the surface.
Note the no-gap between the pen nib and the drawing surface.
Our dislikes are that first, the pencil needs to be charged.
That is boring and old fashioned.
Apple claims its battery lasts for a max of ten hours, but many artists are reporting 7 hours or less.
However, it’s quick to recharge and takes a mere 15 minutes.
The pencil has a similar capability as the Wacom Pro Pen 2.
While the Wacom Pro Pen 2 has buttons to toggle to programmable features on the drawing tablet, the Apple Pencil has a neat feature whereby you can change tools by double-tapping the Pen.
There is excellent feedback from artists that the Apple Pencil is an accurate tool for drawing, sketching, coloring apart from its primary function of taking notes.
It recognizes tilt, and if you are using Procreate, then it’s a cinch to tilt the pencil for shading or applying wide swathes of color.
In making your choice between Wacom Cintiq 16 vs iPad Pro, there are some important differences that we have detailed above.
The Wacom Cintiq 16 is a pure drawing, painting, and sketching tablet.
Every aspect of its design was focused on artists and their particular needs and multitude of mediums and styles.
Wacom Cintiq 16 does not have its operating system and needs to be driven by a Windows or MAC operating system.
The iPad Pro is purpose-built as a multifunction computer.
It can do everything that an advanced high-end computer can do.
However, if you want to draw, illustrate, or do graphic design with it, then it can do that with the addition of a paid App such as Procreate or Adobe Illustrator Draw or similar.
Dollar for dollar, Wacom is way cheaper for an artist, yet the iPad offers much more in general because it is also a computer.
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