Wacom Companion

Photo Oct 01, 7 16 09 PMI wasn’t expecting to receive my Wacom Companion until after I returned to California, but I received an e-mail from Wacom saying they shipped my tablet.

It was like waking up on Christmas morning to find out your parents bought you a pony, a diamond pony. I’ve never owned a diamond pony but I imagine this is what it would feel like. Diamond pony tablet of awesomeness.

I quickly changed the shipping address to my hotel in Renton so that I could start using it immediately, plus I wanted to make the other guys jealous. Sam ended up getting his the day before I got mine, so I went to his room and oohed and aahed over his new tablet. He let me look at the stylus case. It was pretty.

The next day I think I checked the status of my package every 30 minutes. I ended up having to wait until I got off of work before I could play with my new tablet.

Let me say this, it is a lovely piece of equipment. Everything that came with the tablet is top-notch and almost perfectly designed. Here are some quick specs.

• Display Size 13.3 inch
• Full HD 1920 X 1080
• 2048 levels pen pressure, natural feel and multi-touch
• ExpressKeys™, Rocker Ring, Home Button, on-screen controls
• Adjustable stand
• Windows 8
• Intel® Core™ i-7
• RAM 8 GB DDR3
• 256 or 512 GB Solid State Drive (SSD)
• Dimensions 375 x 248 x 17 mm / 14.8 x 9.8 x 0.7 in
• Weight 1.8 kg / 3.9 lbs
• Price $1999 (256 GB SSD) $2499 (512 GB SSD)

I should probably mention that I bought the smaller 256 GB version. My Fujitsu only had 80 GB and my Asus had 64 GB so 256 seemed like plenty for me, plus it would save me $500.

I finally finished the video tutorial. If you don’t like reading, you can watch it instead.

Photo Oct 01, 7 07 31 PMThe Stylus Case

As soon as you see the case you think “Man, this thing is fancy.” Fancy indeed.

Each individual nib has its own slot and there are several different colored rings that you can use to give your stylus a more unique look. It also comes with a metal ring to help you change the nibs.

The design of the stylus itself is also very impressive. While the design is very similar to the previous versions, it has a few nice additions like the metal ring around the trigger buttons.

The case is heavy. Heavy is good, heavy is reliable. If it doesn’t work you can always hit someone with it.

Photo Oct 03, 9 05 38 PMThe Carrying Case

I guess I forgot that the Companion comes with a carrying case because I was surprised to see one.

It is a simple case, but very well designed. There is a special slot for the stylus case, the tablet, and an extra little section where you can put other things like the cleaning cloth. The case is made out of neoprene with a soft interior. It zips closed and has an extra magnetic flap that closes over it.

Problems

You might wonder if I can write an accurate review given the fact that I just got it a couple of days ago. In the past two and a half days I have clocked over 20 hours of painting time in Photoshop on the Wacom Companion.

At first I encountered several problems with my tablet. The first problem I found was that my tablet drivers would turn off randomly. The computer wouldn’t recognize the stylus at all and the express keys wouldn’t work. If you tried going to the Wacom control panel, you would receive an error message saying that there are no drivers installed. The only way to fix it would be to restart your computer or restart the “Wacom Professional Service” under the “Services” window.

If that wasn’t bad enough, I was experiencing extreme lag while working in Photoshop. It was so bad that it made painting extremely difficult. I tried just about everything. I reinstalled the tablet drivers, turned off Open GL, changed the amount of RAM Photoshop uses, changed the Open GL settings to Normal, Basic, and Advanced, I turned off various features in Photoshop, I turned off touch, I tried both the 32 and 64 bit version, I tried CS5, I changed the cache and tile size, I tried documents of various sizes, nothing helped.

I even tried changing the power options, but that didn’t help either. What I didn’t realize was that the “high performance” energy option is hidden by default. I must have not noticed this or maybe I was too distracted by the fact that my new computer didn’t work very well, either way, I didn’t try the high performance option. After contacting Wacom, they suggested switching to the high performance option. Luckily this completely fixed the problem.

I still have problems with the tablet driver randomly turning off, so I’m not entirely sure how to fix that. It seems to happen when I’m either messing with the express keys or when I’m using the on-screen keyboard. My other friends don’t have this problem, so it seems like I’m the lucky one.

There is also the cursor drift issue when you get near the edges of the screen. Every tablet PC I have used has this problem and I hear that Cintiqs have this problem too. While it still doesn’t make it ok that all of these devices have this problem, it wasn’t unexpected. Update – Wacom just released the new 6.3.7-5 drivers and they seem to have helped with the cursor drift around the edges of the screen.

Photo Oct 03, 12 49 58 PMOne big gripe I have about the design is the placement of the power button. For some reason they decided to place the power button on the right side of the tablet near the bottom.

If I’m not working at a desk, I usually have to move the tablet around by grabbing the sides of the tablet, which is where power button is. I can’t count how many times I accidentally put my computer to sleep while trying to reposition my tablet.

My friend Sam kept doing the same exact thing. I think it would have been better to place the power button on the top instead of the side, or at least on the top of the side instead of the bottom. -1 for poor button placement.

Power adapters with a tiny pin also make me really nervous. The Asus EP121 has that same adapter pin, and mine ended up snapping in half. If you have ever had to replace an adapter, you know they are extremely expensive.

Speaking of adapters, Wacom decided to put the Windows 8 product key on the adapter. When you are setting up your computer for the first time and Windows asks you for your product key, look at your adapter. It took me the longest time before I realized where they put it. It is funny because a few of my friends couldn’t figure out where the key was either.

Performance in Photoshop CC

Now that I solved the lag problem, Photoshop works like a dream. Even when working on files that are 1.5 GB, I still don’t experience much lag. I can say, without a doubt, this tablet PC is by far the best one I have ever used. There is virtually no lag, the stylus is far superior to any other stylus, and the mixture of express keys and on-screen keys increases your efficiency dramatically.

I would expect nothing less of Wacom. The stylus boasts a whopping 2048 levels of pressure. Just to give you some perspective, the Fujitsu ST5112 and Asus EP121 only have 256. This machine also packs 8 GB of RAM, a 256/512 GB SSD, and an i-7 processor.

Untitled-2If the 8 customizable buttons weren’t enough, there are also various on-screen menus that you can customize.

You might be familiar with the PaintDock app I reviewed for the Asus EP121. The Wacom on-screen menus are very similar. You can see in the screenshot that I am using two different on-screen menus. I keep these open while working in Photoshop.

I will say that the PaintDock app is superior. What I don’t like about the Wacom on-screen menus is that they don’t disappear when you move the stylus over them. This was something that I loved about PaintDock. Right now my on-screen menus are under the “File” and “Edit” menu in Photoshop. That means whenever I open “file” or “edit,” they appear behind the on-screen menus, making them a bit difficult to read.

The other thing I don’t like about them is that they have that large push pin and config icon. I’m super picky about streamlining everything, which is why I like PaintDock. This isn’t much of a problem, it is just an aesthetic issue.

Untitled-1If you open the on-screen keyboard, it shifts the on-screen menus to appear above the keyboard. When you close the keyboard, it doesn’t replace the on-screen menus to their original position, which means you have to reposition them by hand each and every time. I have several issues with the Windows 8 keyboard, and Windows 8 in general, but that doesn’t have anything to do with Photoshop or Wacom so I won’t go into it.

Touch

The touch capabilities seem to be much better than other multi-touch tablets. Well, I’ve only really had one other multi-touch tablet, the Asus EP121. I always had a difficult time accurately pressing things on the Asus, even after calibrating multiple times. The touch on the Companion seems very accurate and responsive.

While you do have the option to turn off multi-touch, you don’t necessarily have to. When the stylus is within range of the screen, multi-touch is automatically disabled. This means your hand won’t make marks or do crazy stuff while you are working in Photoshop.

There have been a few times when I accidentally moved stuff around with my hand, but that was usually because I was in the process of flipping my stylus around to use the eraser. Yeah I know, I use the eraser end.

Of course that also means you can’t use the on-screen menus while you are working. You have to make sure to move the stylus far enough away from the screen before you can press the buttons. Sometimes I think my stylus is far enough away, only to find out that the buttons still don’t work and I have to move it farther away.

I would suggest keeping touch turned on, otherwise you can’t use the on-screen menus or gestures.

Speed

I’ve never had a computer with 8 GB of RAM before, so the first time I saved a file in Photoshop I had to double check that it actually saved. Booting the computer only takes 4-5 seconds. Zoom zoom!

I haven’t tested any games yet because I only use this computer for work. I try and keep it completely separate from anything that isn’t work-related. That being said, so far I am very happy with the processing power.

Battery Life

Ahhh, everyone wants to know about the battery life. Well, I haven’t been able to test it that much yet because I’m always by an outlet, but I have tested it a little.

When I first got the tablet I went and worked in the hotel lobby with Sam. I spent roughly 2 hours and 20 minutes working in Photoshop and it had used 30% of my battery. That could mean over 7 hours of Photoshop use, although I haven’t tested all 100% of the battery yet so I can’t say for sure. I believe I was in the “balanced” power mode at the time.

So far this seems pretty amazing, especially considering I would get less than 2 hours of full battery life on my Asus while running Photoshop.

Update 10.6.13 – Today I tried working without the power adapter while running on “high performance” mode. After 3 and a half hours I had used 85% of my battery.

Price

Most of the complaints I hear from people about the Wacom Companion and Hybrid is the price. I posted a table comparing the Companion with some of the most popular current and past tablet PCs, and the Companion isn’t really that expensive, especially for what you get.

First of all, no other tablet PCs on the market offer 2048 levels of pressure. You also get 8 GB of RAM, an i-7 processor, and a 256/512 GB SSD. Just SSDs alone are expensive. Not to mention you also get a full HD 13.3 inch screen.

You also get the trusted Wacom name. Wacom has proven themselves time and again with tablet and Cintiq technology, so you know they are going to produce a high quality product. Take a look at the table again, you will see that the price of the Companion is very reasonable.

Photo Oct 03, 12 49 05 PMConclusion

I’ve only had the Companion for a few days, but so far I am extremely impressed. It has performed on every level. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s perfect, but it is close.

After the repair company broke my Asus EP121 and never returned it, I was planning on purchasing the Fujitsu T902 because it seemed to be the best option at the time. I am very familiar with Fujitsu tablets, so I knew it was going to be a good product. I had heard rumblings that Wacom was going to announce their new tablet over the summer, so I’m glad I waited. The Companion just seemed to be the better option for me.

Yup, I absolutely love this tablet. I don’t normally give out too many 5-star ratings, but I would definitely give the Wacom Companion 5 stars. ★★★★★

Most likely I’ll do a video review after I get back home, so stay tuned!

Update 10.6.13

Last night I was working in Photoshop while in “balanced” mode and there was no lag. I even tried large files and brushes and it still worked fine. I’m not sure why there is no longer lag while working in balanced mode, but I’ll take it!

72 thoughts on “Wacom Companion

  1. Thanks a lot for your review.

    Just a quick question on performances side. Coud you access the Windows Control Panel, then click on SYSTEM AND SECURITY. Click again on SYSTEM to have the global performance index.

    Could you expand the “WINDOWS EXPERIENCE INDEX” and provide the numbers you will get then ?

    Thanks again

  2. Hi Mike

    Good review …does it state anywhere that the SSD can be upgraded/replaced without sending it back to wacom?

    Cheaper to buy a bigger SSD and install it yourself ,SSD can be fussy thing sometimes so i would prefer to be able to swap it out if anything went wrong.

    Cheers.

    • John – So far it doesn’t get hot at all.

      Johnny – Yes it supports left-handed people.

      Simon – It is like the Asus EP121, there is no conventional way to open the tablet. You could probably pry it open somehow, but that would void your warranty and you risk damaging your computer.

  3. Cintiq companion it’s a dream coming true. I had a samsung slate series 7 that somehow broke too =/. The thing that I didn’t like was the pressure sensitivity that was pretty horrible looks like I was drawing with my foot. And now a wacom tablet pc it’s everything we wanted. And wacom update their drive every time I think they will fix some bugs. But wow! Congratulations daarken I think that santa come early this year! =D

    • Dylan – Yeah I believe so. I didn’t have any problems with it today and it only happened one time yesterday, so luckily it doesn’t happen very often.

      Chun Lo – Nope, it doesn’t get hot.

      Simon – Not yet. I’ve put in probably around 35 hours on it and I haven’t noticed anything.

  4. Hopefully the problem goes entirely. That was a major issue with my other tablet which resulted in me getting a new one. (Eventually the driver disappeared completely and I had to try new ones, which netted me the loss of a trigger button.)

  5. try turn on driver service manually. it should be in Control Panel -> Administative -> Services -> something like Wacom driver blablabla or Windows Tablet driver blablabla (dont remember how exactly it calls, but it always worked for me then I have the same problem with Intuos 4 on Win7 with my old drivers, with last driver problem is gone)

    btw is razer nostromo works with it?

  6. Hi, thanks for the review!

    I see on the wacom’s site (http://us.wacom.com/en/support/drivers) that they published Companion drivers for mac – MacOSX – Driver 6.3.7-1 (10.6x – 10.8x).

    What it means if it runs under win8?

    Or maybe it means that you can install hackintosh on Companion? That would be heavenly awesome though!!! Hopes…

  7. Thank you very much for the review!
    Can you say something about the display quality? I have the cintiq 13 HD in the office and find the sparkling, diamond dusty antiglare screen really anoying – do you experience the same on the companion?

    • It really depends on what you consider loud. My Fujitsu was really loud, so the Companion seems quiet to me. It is louder than the Asus EP121, but it still doesn’t bother me. Plus it isn’t a consistent loud fan. It only turns on every so often, unlike the Fujitsu which stayed on constantly. That thing was like a jet engine, hah!

  8. Hey man, thanks a lot for this review!

    For the past few years I’ve been using a mini laptop (HP mini-110) for my homework from the institute(like photoshop, illustrator, etc) and I’ve been looking for a replacement because the laptop is falling short in some of these activities, most of my coming work for the next quarters is multimedia oriented, so do you think this tablet can be a good replacement for an actual laptop?

    Thanks in advance!

    • The Companion is a laptop. Really the only difference between this and a laptop is that it isn’t the traditional clamshell design. It has a full Windows OS, so you can run any program you would normally run on a “normal” laptop. I haven’t tried any of the heavier programs like ZBrush, so I can’t really say how well those programs will perform.

  9. Would it have been possible for you to provide a sample wav file of the noise created from the companion?
    It would really help as check this aspect as well – Maybe in conjuction to another laptop/pc so that we may check the loud deifference ?
    Would that have been possible ?

    • The problem is, you can’t really tell the difference between the fan noise and the ambient background noise when you record it. I tried earlier today, but it didn’t work. Sorry.

  10. as far as Battery life is concenrned:
    - Does it last about 4 hours in high performance mode only?
    - How does it last in non high performance mode ? What are the limits in such a mode ? Do apps prevent from working ? Are they way slower ?
    - How does i7 relate to haswell ? SurfacePro2 is said to last about 8-9 hours and if I am not wrong that is for same speed with i7 and high performance mode, wrong ?

    • If you take a look at the “Battery Life” section you will see that my computer used 30% of the battery after 2 hours and 20 minutes while working in “balanced” mode and 85% of the battery after 3 hours and 30 minutes while working in “high performance” mode.

      All apps will work in other modes but some might be slower, like Photoshop.

      As for the performance and specs between an i7 and a Haswell, you will have to Google that information because I don’t know.

  11. This looks like a great product idd, thank you for the review, Daarken! I came to your blog to ask if you are still active in enliighten, and if you have a min, I’d like to ask you to stop by and check some posts on the Finished art section in the forum(March for revenge expecially). That’s what I came for and I lost a good hour and a half reading the posts :D About the 100$ fee post I have thoughts on it- imo it isnt that bad for a begginer to charge less than normal. Isnt putting all your man hours in painting making you better than doing some crappy work and being all tired and not in the mood to draw in the evening? I guess that is a personal choice, I do agreet though that after you become a name working for that minimum payment is madness. Srsly, we artists are among the professions that take most time and dedication to master. pure man-hours, no luck. We should be making as much as architects or lawyers. You’ve worked in a studio, istnt it better that way? Tnx

  12. Is it possible to provide us full battery life review ?
    Meaning, how much does it really lasts (not a % of usage after some time – just full battery usage till end either in high performance mode or in the lower one so that we have full reference how wel it goes ?

  13. you said that no other tablet pc has 2048 levels of pressure, this is AFAIK incorrect since the lenovo helix has 2048 too, and comes with a faster i7 than the companion.

    unfortunately the pen it comes with is crap, something like the up-817e (I Think the up-911 also should work) is much better (but AFAIK that pen is only 512 levels), or the new feel bamboo stylus.

    is it true that the intuos 4 pens don’t work with the companion? strange since wacom recomends the art pen and airbrush pen for the companion.

    does the companion use the same nibs as the intuos 4/5/new cintiq’s?

    • Thanks for letting me know about the ThinkPad Helix. I looked at their site but they make absolutely no mention of how many levels of pressure it has. I watched some video on YouTube with a guy saying it had 2048 but then another site said 256, so who knows. The Companion recognizes the Intuos 4 stylus, but it doesn’t work correctly. Maybe you have to install another driver, I don’t know. All I know is that the Intuos 4 stylus didn’t work correctly when I tried it. As far as I know, the nibs look the same.

  14. How does the color look compared to anything else? I’ve had my cintiq 12wx for a while now and I’m completely disappointed in the color no matter how much tweeking I do. If the color improved here with the companion?

  15. Thank you for the nice review! The companion sounds like the answer to my needs.

    Have you tried upgrading the Windows to the newly released 8.1? Do you know of any compatibility issues?

    • Thanks! Yup, I upgraded yesterday. After you upgrade you have to reinstall the Wacom drivers, otherwise your stylus won’t work properly. Other than that I haven’t had any other problems with it.

  16. Hey Daarken, thanks for the review! Finally pushed me over the edge to getting one.

    Couple things:

    1. Do you know if PaintDock will work with the Companion? I’ve been searching around but can’t find any word on it, so it either works flawlessly or nobody’s considered it yet.

    2. The Wacom driver deactivating/going missing has been an issue I’ve had on lots of computers for six years now. They’ll be working fine and then suddenly either lose pressure sensitivity or stop working completely. AFAIK it’s a very small incompatibility with Windows and Wacom drivers that very infrequently crops up. Haven’t ever been able to find the trigger, but luckily doing that Services trick you mentioned is an easy fix.

    Thanks again!

    -Tyler

    • I’ve already tried PaintDock, it doesn’t work. I haven’t encountered the driver issue since I last posted. Since then new Wacom drivers and the new Windows update has come out, so one or both of those fixed it.

  17. Thanks for the nice review Daarken, it’ a really tempting device =)

    One question : can you attach it to a PC so that it works like a normal Cintiq (and uses the PCs rather than the tablets computing power) ? Or is this feature only available to the Companion Hybrid?
    cheers

  18. thank you for the review ! that was more clarifying than other reviews I found on youtube!

    I have to ask you somethings:
    did you bought the companion before 2014 (there will comes something like 30 tablet-pc in january) mostly because it is a wacom product or because you needed to substitute your Asus ?

    There are rumors of really high resolution TabletPc, like Samsung Ativ Q with 3200×1800 13″ wacom 1024 pressure levels, or Fujitsu T904 with 2560×1440 13″ wacom 2048 pressure levels, probably at the same price of the companion but whit haswell too, that grant better battery duration and graphic performances…

    I was waiting for the companion but the price even if it’s excused by the actual competitor, is probably higher than what the actual competitor will cost in a month by now when there will be the upgraded version of them…(for example the T902 will be replaced by the T904 http://www.fujitsu.com/fts/products/computing/pc/notebooks-tablets/superior/lifebook-t904/ )

    I’ve seen your recent video review on youtube, can you tell us which dimension is the painting you did there? in which resolution do you work usually ? and if you have gone big, did you noticed lag of any kind ?

    Can you check if the Companion’s stylus work on your other wacom powered devices (or do you know if it will work) ?

    • I bought the Companion now because I needed a new computer. My Fujitsu is really old, so I needed a replacement. There are always going to be better computers that come out each year and the price will always go down each year, so when you buy something is up to you. If you keep waiting for the next best thing, you will end up waiting forever because technology (for now) always gets better. I know Wacom produces great products and I needed a new computer, so I went ahead and bought it.

      I say the dimensions and resolution of the painting in the video. I also mentioned in the video whether or not I noticed lag with really large files.

      The Companion’s stylus does not work on other Wacom enabled devices, I already checked.

  19. thank you, may be I missed it, english is not my first language, I’ll check once more the video :)

    about the progress in technology, (just in case) I wasn’t naming you as a “wacom fag”, I was just checking if you had urge, and bought the “best at the moment”, or you bought it because you trust wacom (like android user who buy a nexus), and you are surelly right about the “nonsense in waiting the best”, but I was expecting an haswell in the companion too, since wacom told us they was doing a tablet pc after intell released to the market the 4th gen processors and fujitsu (1 month before the companion) and samsung (the ativ q is ready since the summer) told us they where upgrading after october to haswell as they was waiting for michrosotf to release windows 8.1…I mean: it has born already old and it cost like the new “better hardware”, so I think it’s not that cheap at the end (still a quality t-pc indeed)…

  20. oh, about the self erasing drivers problem: I think it’s because of Windows 8, I bought a Fujitsu T902 last year and sand it back because it has problem with drivers and really bad lag, I’ve checked Fujitsu ad they told me it was impossible and a software problem if there was a problem so I checked the local Fujitsu to ask for the solutions, after some misunderstandings (they wasted a month by doing nothing) I told them to give my money back instead, but I needed a tablet pc to work on, so I checked a friend who repair pcs, and he told and showed me, LOTS of different W8 computers who self erase drivers and even system files, causing malfunctions and loop, so, in the end, may be downgrading to windows7 had resolved my problems… You should try to reinstall w8 if it causes you big problems or check if it is compatible with windows7 and if you can downgrade without loosing guarantee (an original back up should be enough).

  21. Hi – Thanks a lot for this helpfull review. I’m not really english-spoken neither used to write in pages like yours so please excuse me if it’s a bit complicate what I want to ask :
    I actually use a rugged t-PC from MOTION (J3500/i7/u640@1.20GHz 64GB/4GB) that works quit well but it becomes a bit old and slow and so I’m looking for a new one. They brought out a J3600 with i7/u3687@2.7GHz-vPro with SSD 256Go/up to16GB Ram but it’s more expensive and the screen is only 11.6″. I think that the companion could be a good alternative.
    I’m not an artist but a craftsman and I’m using most of the time CAO software like AutoCAD, Inventor, Revit but also Sketchbook Designer/Pro, other soft for sketches or annotation of Photos or PDF-files (drawings). Last but not least, I need also soft for typical officework on the same machine.
    - Do you have any information if the companion is also suitable for such combinations ?
    - What about built-in Bluetooth that would allow to combine with such a mouse/keybord?
    Thanks – Frank

    • Yes you can use a keyboard/mouse with the Companion. You can either use a Bluetooth or USB one. I haven’t used other programs like AutoCAD, but I’m sure they would work.

  22. Hi,
    Fine review!
    After a lot of research I was finally going to order a Companion yesterday, when I ran into this:

    http://forum.wacom.eu/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=15898

    There seem to be a serious debate concerning jagged lines in Photoshop using Companion. They even go as far as stating that the problem includes ALL CIntiqs (and Intuos?) on Photoshop in Windows!
    Are there any truth here?
    Would be great to hear your opinion about this. Thanx!
    /Alex

    • I had never noticed this until someone e-mailed me about it. It seems to only happen when you are working zoomed out to 25% or more and you paint very slow small marks. I never paint slow small marks while zoomed out that far, so I had never noticed it and it has never affected my professional work. Even zooming in by 50% seems to solve the problem. I wouldn’t worry about it unless you make a habit of painting slow small marks while zoomed very far out. I could barely even see a problem when someone asked me to try it out.

    • It depends on what your goal is. You can’t compare this to a desktop+Cintiq because they are completely different and they serve different purposes. The entire point of the Companion is mobility. You can’t carry around your desktop and Cintiq. If you plan on working outside of the house/studio, if you travel a lot, or if you want to paint on the couch, then get a Companion. If you don’t care about being mobile, get a desktop+Cintiq.

  23. Hey Mike

    Any sign of any scratches yet? Keep adding it to my basket on the Wacom site then crapping myself and pulling out haha …. its a lot of money…

    Thanks.

    • Nope, none whatsoever. I always take really good care of my devices though and I make sure to clean the screen regularly. I also changed the pressure sensitivity one notch closer to “soft” so that I don’t have to press as hard on the screen. I’m always paranoid that I’ll press too hard.

  24. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for the great review!
    You mentioned you have some issues with Windows 8, I’m curious to know if it affects your workflow in Photoshop on the Companion. (I’m a little hesitant to switch back to Windows because of all the strange little things that kept happening in Photoshop, like brush sizes or shortcuts suddenly not working.)

    Thanks!
    Gemma

    • Nah, it doesn’t really affect me that much in Photoshop. The main thing that annoyed me was that when you opened the on-screen keyboard it would move all of my on-screen menus and then I would have to move them back by hand each time. I actually stopped using the on-screen menus and switched to using the radial menu. I also use a different on-screen keyboard now.

      I have noticed that since the latest Windows update, the swipes don’t work all the time. Hopefully Microsoft will fix that soon.

  25. Hi Mike,

    Well i bit the bullet and have ordered a companion :) The girlfriend has kindly gone halfs with me for a Christmas present :D
    Anyhow i was just curious to see whether you use the normal nibs or a different one,on some Wacoms people report certain nibs being better for the screen/surface etc
    On my intuos 5 the felt nibs seem to be much more forgiving on the drawing surface.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Wacom actually suggests that you don’t use the felt nibs because they can cause scratches more easily since pieces of dirt and debris can get caught in the nib. The Companion only comes with the normal nibs.

  26. Ahhh ok cool ,
    To be honest the normal nibs were scratching into my intuos 5, ends were going sharp,might have got a duff batch,who knows..anyhow thanks for the quick response one further thing i was reading the fundly thing for your better half(hope shes well) any way i could send something via paypal?

    • Yeah no problem. I had just recently read Wacom advising people against using the felt nibs, so I figured I would pass along that information.

      She is doing well, thanks for asking! Yeah that would be awesome and much appreciated. My Paypal is daarkenart@daarken.com. Thanks!

  27. Hi Mike!

    Hope your well..

    Well i got my CC,and now i’m getting used to it its feeling better to use.I was just curious as to what setting you use in Photoshop regarding performance and file handling,and what size canvas you generally work off?(screen grab if you have the time please)

    I’m getting some up and down performance issues using balanced and high performance mode,some times balanced works ok,other times not so good and lags badly,high performance seems good but eats the battery badly.
    Thanks in advance Simon.

    • Yeah no problem. I usually don’t have any problems using balanced mode. Most of my files are 6k-10k pixels wide at 300dpi. Usually my files are 1-2GB. My RAM allocation is a bit lower than normal because sometimes I use Camtasia while I paint, so I need to save RAM for that.

      pshop settings

      pshop settings

  28. Thanks Mike you’re a star!!
    I don’t think your settings are much different to mine really,will play a bit more see if i can find a sweet spot.

    Oh on a side note i’m using your brushes as well.

    Cheers Simon.

  29. Dea grandmaster ;) could you suggest one or two alternatives for the Cintiq which costs around 400$? Something like the ST5112 would be perfect I think, but it’s too outdated like you wrote as well. It would be very nice if you included the amazon link for the wacom stylus I need to buy as well (because there are different models). Greetings from Germany :)

    • Unfortunately you aren’t going to find any options for $400, especially not a system that has an OS like Windows. The only way you would find something that cheap would be if you bought a used tablet PC like the ST5112, but like you mentioned it is pretty old.

    • They actually don’t make my stylus anymore (Axiotron Studio Pen). I haven’t tried any other pens, so I can’t really say which ones are good. Usually the only ones I can find are ones that are comparable to the pen that comes with the computer.

  30. Hi!
    This article was really helpful, thank you. I have a question about a non-photoshop issue, and can’t seem to find anyone else experiencing the same.

    I got my companion on the 23rd, so I haven’t had it for that long. I’m for the most part satisfied with it. But I’m finding little things irritate me, and make me wonder if I did something wrong (I got PS and AI from Pirate Bay, but I haven’t done much with anything outside of using Photoshop and web browsing.) or if it’s just the computer

    1) The express key settings keep changing.
    I actually haven’t had a problem with this in the last four or so days, but It happened at the most random of times. I thought it had something to do with the computer being put to sleep, because the keys had changed when I woke it up.
    2)By far worse is the keyboard. I was going to say it’s just the on-screen keyboard, but it isn’t. There are times when I’ll be typing to put in a URL or to search for something on Youtube, or enter my email to login, and the Companion treats it like I’m using shortcut keys to control the computer. Like the run command or a search command or sending me to the desktop or opening certain utilities. I don’t understand why it’s happening, but it’s a this is a regularly occurring thing (it’s happened at least four times today), and it drives me mad. I tried to get out of the loop of typing anything and having it perform some sort of action, and I used my Bluetooth keyboard–it did the same thing! If I can’t type with the on screen or the Bluetooth keyboard, then I’m 100% out of options for input. Have you experienced anything similar?

    One other thing…narrator.
    I HATE hatehatehate narrator. And it just comes on, and I always miss what I’m doing to set it off because as soon as that little computer voice comes on, I see red! It’s frustrating.

    Sorry for being so rambly, I just wanted to give as much info as I could….thanks :)

  31. Hi Daarken, thanks for a great review. One question: How did you switch your CC to High performance? I couldn’t figure it out. Thanks

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