I just spent the last six weeks creating concepts for WotC, three of which were done on-site. During my final week I was able to work on a new 27QHD. I was able to clock 40 hours of testing on the 27QHD, so I feel pretty confident with my review.
I’ve never actually had the opportunity to work on a large Cintiq like this; the only Cintiq I’ve worked on is the Companion. I also tried the Huion GT-220, but we all know how that went. It has been over a year and they still never sent me a replacement unit like they promised or contacted me again for that matter.
As you can imagine, this thing is huge. It was actually a little intimidating working on something this large. Tyler Jacobson had been using the unit for the previous week, so I stole it when he left.
I probably spoiled myself because now when I work on my Companion, it feels so tiny.
First I should mention that this is the normal 27QHD, not the touch version. I also want to post the specs of the computer it was attached to so that you can have some idea regarding performance.
- Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2609 v2 @ 2.50GHz
- Windows 7
- 32 GB RAM
- Nvidia Quadro K2000
- 18148 MB Total available graphics memory
- 1729GB Free (1863 GB Total)
Start with the Bad
I usually start off with the bad stuff because that is what I tend to notice first. I have a really bad history of finding bugs and breaking tech, so I could always pursue a career as QA.
You might think the new remote is cool, but I personally don’t really care for it. There is one huge problem with the remote; sometimes the remote will get confused with another 27QHD if it is too close to your unit. This is a huge flaw for artists working in a studio environment. If you work from home by yourself, you won’t really need to worry about it.
Sometimes my remote would start controlling the 27QHD next to me, so we would have to turn one off and try to get it paired with my unit again, which was pretty annoying.
At one point my remote completely stopped working after it got confused with another unit. The computer wouldn’t recognize anything I was pressing. I tried rebooting, I tried turning off the remote, I tried reinstalling the drivers, I tried using the other unit’s remote, nothing worked. Eventually I just reset the remote by holding the off button until the light started blinking.
I use a radial menu for most of my shortcuts. One button selects the brush tool and another selects the eraser tool.
For some reason whenever I pressed either the brush button or the eraser button, it thought I was pressing ctrl plus the button. So when I pressed the brush button, it would open color balance (ctrl+b) and when I clicked the eraser, it would merge my layers (ctrl+e).
This would happen every couple of minutes, so it was incredibly annoying trying to get it work. I would usually have to click another button, like resizing the brush, in order for it to start working correctly again.
Sticky keys was already turned off, but there were a few options that were checked. I made sure to turn everything off, but I think the culprit was “lock modifier keys when pressed twice in a row” under “options.”
Even though I wasn’t actually clicking ctrl, the computer thought I was. I should also mention I wasn’t using a keyboard of any kind, so the keys weren’t getting stuck.
After turning off all of the options, I never ran into that problem again. So if you ever encounter something similar, try turning everything off relating to sticky keys.
Several times Photoshop crashed, surprise surprise. Usually when Photoshop crashes you just open it back up and hope that you didn’t lose too much work.
This time whenever Photoshop crashed, it would completely disable the Cintiq drivers. It wouldn’t recognize the stylus and when you opened the Wacom Desktop Center, the top part that usually says “Updates” (that allows you to download drivers) was no longer there. This required a reboot in order for the Cintiq to recognize the drivers again.
I might have been able to restart the drivers by going through services, but I didn’t test it.
I wonder if the screen is actually too big. It is awesome having all of that real estate for reference and whatnot, but the screen is so huge.
Typically you need to get pretty close to the screen in order to draw, so I felt like my face was being blasted by the screen. It was like looking into the sun. I’m sure it isn’t great for your eyesight. I felt like I needed to take more breaks while working on a screen that size, which is probably good.
Call me a pansy, but my arm actually started to burn when trying to utilize the entire screen. Going from “file” over to your palettes on the far right and then back over to your tools on the far left and then back again requires a lot of arm mileage.
I’m used to working on a small screen, so I’m probably just not used to it. By the second day I don’t think I had much of a problem with arm fatigue, but I did feel like I was wasting a lot of time moving from one area to the next.
I have my color cube open on the far right, so constantly covering that distance and back to the center again to paint wasted a lot of time. I ended up moving my color cube to the top center of the screen. Sure it used up some valuable real estate and got in the way when I zoomed in, but it saved a lot of time.
End with the Good
Ok, enough with the bad stuff, you want to know how awesome this thing is. Even though there were some problems, the 27QHD is indeed pretty awesome.
Screen & Color
The 27QHD is another story. Not only did I not have to alter any settings whatsoever, but it comes with a fairly robust color calibration control panel, which I hear is new.
The screen was bright, the contrast was great (the blacks looked black and nothing looked crunchy), and the colors looked correct compared to other computers I used.
Another problem I’ve heard in the past was the screen getting too hot. I was clocking 8 hours a day, but the screen never got hot. It barely even got warm.
There wasn’t much distance between the stylus and the cursor and I didn’t notice any cursor wobble around the edges of the screen. Offset between the cursor and stylus around the edges was pretty minimal.
I also didn’t see a single speck of dust under the screen. Take that Huion!
Like I mentioned before, it is great having the real estate to have reference open next to your painting. I guess you could always use a second screen, but I prefer having my reference next to my painting so that I don’t have to look at another screen.
Since the Companion is much smaller, it’s harder to work zoomed out. I usually end up having to work zoomed in. The 27QHD is large enough that you can work zoomed out but still have the ability to paint some smaller details.
The one cool thing about the remote is that you can move it anywhere you want. Although, once you find a good spot you probably won’t move it again.
Due to the size of the screen, it was actually more comfortable to put the remote lower on the screen. Typically buttons are in the center, so it is nice being able to move the remote. Plus I’m sure left-handed users will love the ability to move the remote.
I’m still not a fan of the touch ring, I much prefer the old touch strip on the Intuos 3, so I never use the touch ring.
The remote has a lot of buttons, but I only used the top buttons because most of my shortcuts are accessed through a radial menu. It’s good to have options though.
What can I say, it is a Wacom. That means you are getting top quality that no other company can compete with when you compare performance and disregard price.
Of course that kind of quality demands a higher price tag, but I think it is worth it. The Huion GT-220 is $800 (compared to $2299.95), but it was basically unusable. You get what you pay for.
If I had the money and a good desktop I would probably buy one, but I don’t, so I will have to rely on the memories of the good times I had with the 27QHD. Those were the good days, I will miss you.