Wacom MobileStudio Pro Review: Slate up with a twist of awesome
It’s not perfect. But the Wacom MobileStudio Pro is strides ahead of the Cintiq Companion 2 and to its other competitors. I was lucky enough to try it out for this review.
This pricey all-in-one comes in two sizes, the 13 and 16, with five configurations going up to i7 with 512GB storage. The 13 has three configurations, from i5 to i7, with 8 to 16GB RAM and 64 to 512GB storage (the lowest I would go for storage is 128). Displays range from QHD to 4K. The 16 has a NVIDIA Quadro M600M graphics card. The others have Iris 550.
Download the MobileStudioPro_FactSheet
The MobileStudio Pro is a professional-level tablet for those who want a larger drawing tablet that’s a portable mobile workstation. The 13 at 13.3″ diagonal is larger than its closest competitors, the Vaio Z Canvas and Surface Pro 4.
The included Pro Pen 2 has 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity. It’s the same pen that comes with the 2017 Intuos Pro, Intuos Pro Paper Edition, and Cintiq Pro.
When not drawing, you can game on the MobileStudio Pro with the NVIDIA card. You can also edit video.
The 512GB versions in both sizes come with a fingerprint scanner to log in.
Type of tablet: all-in-one slate
Runs Windows 10
Digitizer: Wacom EMR
Pro Pen 2, batteryless, two programmable buttons, eraser tip, 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity
Tilt range 40 degrees, tilt recogniton 60 to -60
Display: QHD ((2560 x 1440) or 4K (3840 x 2160)
i5 to 17; 64 to 512 GB RAM
Intel Iris 550 to discrete NVIDIA Quardro M600M 2GB or 4GB GDDR5
Color: 94% of Adobe RGB
Dimensions: 16.4 x 10.3 x 0.8 inches
Weight: 4.8 lbs.
Both sizes have the 3D camera option (camera is on the back) in the 17/512GB configuration.
The 13 has six Express Keys; the 16 has eight.
Front and back cameras (5MP on front, 8MP on back)
What’s in the Box
Pro Pen 2 with 3 extra nibs (one felt tip, two standard)
Pen holder (attaches)
Ports: 3 USB Type C
MiniDisplay Port (when used with optional Wacom Link)
Kensington lock port
What’s NOT in the Box
Wacom Link (to plug into Mac or PC and use the MSP as second screen or Cintiq)
Carrying case or sleeve
Standalone pen holder
The first three items all came with the Cintiq Companions, which were 2-in-1s.
Power users may get as little as 2 to 3 hours, with lighter use getting up to 6.
High screen resolution, large files, screen brightness, and resource-demanding programs all take a toll on battery life. Turning off Bluetooth and Wi-fi when you’re not using them can extend battery time.
At about 5 lbs., I wouldn’t want to carry it around all day, or keep it on my lap. Wacom doesn’t make a case, and there are not that many than the 16 can fit into comfortably. The power brick is big and adds to the weight. Still, it’s a lot easier than carrying a Cintiq plus a laptop.
Drawing on the Wacom MobileStudio Pro
The pen glides smoothly, with the etched glass screen acting as advertised, providing a paperlike bite. It would be even more paperlike with the included felt-tip nib. Perhaps it’s a placebo effect of just knowing there are so many pressure levels, but it feels like butter.
In reality I don’t quite sense the difference and I’ll never use all the levels because I’ll never use a brush larger than 8,192 pixels. Some artists may actually need to adjust their pressure curve from their accustomed settings to make it more sensitive, because there are now thousands more steps. I also keep the pressure curve at near the most sensitive settings anyway, but if you’re closer to the other end of the spectrum you may have to adjust.
I prefer the etched glass to the old coating and it seems to let the light through better. The coating had a grayish tint, whereas this one is not terribly bright, with the whites being off-white.
One thing I don’t miss the greyed-out filmy look. In RGB, colors should not look oversaturated, but the screen protector tended to give that effect. Still, it was a worthwhile tradeoff to get the texture. Now there’s less compromise.
Would be nice if they made a 4:3 aspect ratio tablet.
The next step up in levels would be either 16,384 (double) or 32,768 (quadruple). Either would be excessive. I’m not sure what more they can do now, except perhaps make nibs that allow side shading like the Apple Pencil. Waiting to see what the Wacom-Microsoft pen that’s coming out will bring.
The grip and the way the pen balances makes it feel more like a paintbrush or ink pen. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still fine with the Apple Pencil. The Pro Pen 2 doesn’t have the Apple Pencil’s feature of turning it to its side to do shading. The pen has tilt from the tip.
While Wacom states there’s no lag, I experienced some in I believe it was Clip Studio Paint–I’d put the pen down, then see the mark. Wacom said that can happen to any computer, and that’s true. It was a big file. Subsequent drawing did not have any lag. So I think Wacom can say they’ve eliminated most lag, but it’s not infallible. A little lag now and then isn’t a dealbreaker, but the rarer the better.
MobileStudio Pro vs. Cintiq Companion 2
Times have changed. While the Cintiq Companion 2 felt great to draw on, it was plagued by loud fan noise and it wasn’t all that powerful. The pen still had a bit of parallax. The Pro Pen supported 2,048 pressure levels.
The MobileStudio Pro’s included Pro Pen 2, which can be used on the Cintiq Pro as well, gets 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity. There’s zero parallax, bringing it up to par with the Surface Pen in the parallax department. That’s because Wacom, like Microsoft, is now using optical bonding, bringing the surface of the glass closer to the digitizer layer, thus eliminating parallax.
The fans are, sensibly, now on the side instead of the bottom, so the air blows out instead of getting trapped onto your desk or lap. Now they are quiet. The unit can get warm, but I haven’t heard complaints about excessive heat.
The build materials are premium; it’s metal, not plastic. MobileStudio Pro’s bezel is smaller than the Cintiq Companions’. It doesn’t have the inner bezel the Companions do.
The MBP sports chrome-trimmed Express Keys rather than the the utilitarian rounded rectangles of the Companions and Intuos Pros. I’m not a big fan of the chrome trim, but it does make it easier to see the buttons. The MPB has a luxury look and feel. The color is close to black.
The Companions’ screen protector, like on other Cintiqs, provided Wacom’s signature matte finish. The MobileStudio Pro has an etched glass surface that gives the slight resistance that emulates a pen and paperlike feel.
The MSP’s back has convenient grips to keep us butterfingers from disaster. The Companion 2 was QHD, like some models of the MSP. The Cintiq 13HD is HD.
The functions are similar; there are six keys on the 13 and eight on the 16, and the Rocker Ring with Touch Ring. The batteryless, Wacom EMR pen still has two programmable buttons and an eraser tip with the same 8,192 levels of pressure as the pen tip.
The included pen case is cylindrical and resembles a cigar case. The pen holder clips onto the lock port. You can slide the pen in, or stand it up. It doesn’t come with a, standalone pen holder.
In all the models you can use a variety of 2D and 3D programs, such as Photoshop, Illustrator, zBrush, and Corel Painter, Paintshop Pro X9, and Mosketch, a program for 3D character animation.
The processors can run an array of 2D and 3D programs. The discrete NVIDIA M600M graphics is the same as in the Lenovo P70 mobile workstation, which has the 2GB card. The models with Intel Iris 550 are also powerful enough for 3D.
The highest model of MobileStudio Pro, available only in the 16, possesses 3D Intel Real Sense. That’s a 3D camera, aimed at industrial designers or engineers who use CAD and 3D sculptors who start with real objects. It comes with with a year’s license for Artec Studio 11 Ultimate scanning software.
Being a slate, it doesn’t have a dedicated keyboard that can be attached. You can use the Wacom Mobile Keyboard (optional purchase) or any Bluetooth or USB keyboard. There is a fingerprint sensor to log in.
Adobe icons look small due to high-res display. That’s them along the bottom.
Icons will look small due to the high-res display. Not every art program will get all the possible levels of pressure.
One MobileStudio Pro review remarked upon lag and other problems in Illustrator. Perhaps this is related to the Clip Studio Paint issue I experienced. Hopefully this will get ironed out as much as it can be.
Most MobileStudio Pro reviews from artists so far are very positive, with many on Cloud 9, and some detractors. Since the tablet only just came out, users are now bringing attention to bugs for the company to look at. When you buy something that just came out you become sort of a de facto beta tester, even if you don’t want to be. Wacom’s customer service is often an issue for those who try to get repairs or returns.
In this MobileStudio Pro review I’m trying to take various viewpoints into consideration. I loved using this. But I can understand why some feel it’s too expensive. It would nice if Wacom included the accessories that came with the Companions, such as a keyboard and the Wacom Link, considering the price tag.
Sensitive, responsive pen
When used with Wacom Link, can attach to Mac or Windows and use as Cintiq
Battery life not great
Some bugs and glitches such as lag or bootup issues on some occasions
Type C ports means you will need dongles for peripherals, for now
Does not come with accessories
This is a pricey proposition, even more so because it doesn’t come with the stash of accessories the Companions came with. So if you get one, use it well. It’s a great thing; I’m sure future editions will be even better.
I prefer the all-in-one form to using an attached Cintiq, since it takes up so much less space.
A Wacom MobileStudio Pro review isn’t just about specs, it’s about how the tablet is to use.There are other options with the same amount of power.
This is not the most lappable, because 5 lbs. on your lap can add up.
The MSP 13 is a good sequel to the Cintiq 13HD if you don’t like having to attach a computer. The 16 is more of a commitment in price but expands your capabilities in multimedia and rendering.
A tablet that’s a computer makes you stuck with the OS unless you’re using the Link as a CIntiq. It also limits its resale time a bit, but it should last for years with proper updates.
Having a large screen, portability, and all the Wacom art controls makes this a joy to work on; you may have to live with a few bugs and imperfections.
In designing, the MobileStudio Pro, Wacom has listened to consumers and is, so far, still winner of the art tablet game.
Wacom’s site states that these previous generation pens are compatible: the Airbrush, Art Pen, Classic Pen, Grip Pen, and Pro Pen.
Artisul Freestyle Stand fits both sizes (if you don’t want to get the Wacom Stand)
Wacom Link and Stand
end of Wacom MobileStudio Pro review