Wacom MobileStudio Pro Review
Full disclaimer: I’m in love with ink, paper, nibs and paint. I adore the scratchy sound of the pen, the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and the blobs of ink I don’t realize I have on my elbow (or forehead) when I’m running errands.
That said, an equally important part of my toolkit is the Wacom Cintiq and now the MobileStudio Pro.
Fairly recently, I switched to creating my comic, Half Full, on the Cintiq. My process on the Cintiq is a MUCH looser layer of blue “pencil” since I can easily erase on the “ink” layer. I use the blue line only for placement and proportion. I love the freedom I have in “inking” without much of a pencil guideline. It took me a while to get comfortable with the ink line but once I did, I love how efficiently I can work. The Cintiq has sped up my comic process so much that I have more time to work on projects in traditional media and the looseness I have gotten used to in inking digitally has translated into my traditional work as well.
I have been using an Android Cintiq Companion connected to a MacBook Air for travel. The downside of this is the spaghetti-fest of cables that goes along with it and even with a light computer, the set up was a little heavy for a mobile studio.
And then along comes a true mobile studio, the Wacom MobileStudio Pro. I got this as a replacement to my Companion and was hoping I could have something that was truly a stand-alone device. I was skeptical of Windows at first. I’ve been a self-professed Machead since my Quadra 610 (which had a 230MB hard drive!) This model is Wacom MobileStudio Pro 13 i7 512GB Intel® CoreTM with i7512GB SSD and 16GB DDR3 RAM. It has 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, tilt and multi-touch support and 3 USB-C inputs. The high-resolution display is 2560 x 1440 and it ships with a ProPen 2, Pen case, Pen holder and AC Power Adapter + power cable.
For a Machead, Windows wasn’t as bad as I thought. Photoshop is the same except for the keyboard shortcuts (which I use obsessively). It took a little while to get used to using the control key instead of the command key (I kept launching Explorer when I was trying to transform an object) but I got used to it pretty quickly.
Set up was quick. If you have an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, you can download and run a Windows version of it on the MobileStudio Pro. The only catch is, you can only run Photoshop CC on two computers. The workaround is to log out of one computer or pay $10/month for another version of Photoshop CC for the MobileStudio Pro.
There have been quite a few noticeable upgrades since the Companion. The new non-glossy etched glass surface has more of a pen and paper feel with a greater amount of control of the pen. The screen is high resolution and vibrant. It is also faster and more responsive which makes a big difference in workflow.
It was great to sit on the couch and not have to be connected to anything. I tried using it without a keyboard (you can pop up a digital keyboard on screen as needed) but it’s nearly impossible for me to work without one. I had a Bluetooth keyboard lying around and once I connected it to the MobileStudio Pro, it turned out to be perfect for sitting on the couch. Wacom offers one as well.
I can easily toss the MoblieStudio Pro in my bag with the small keyboard and I’m good to go work in a coffee shop when I get tired of talking to the dog. (Ok, I never get tired of talking to the dog but sometimes I need to see what the rest of humanity looks like.)
I have the 13” MobileStudio Pro which has the same screen size as my Companion yet is considerably lighter. The thought of getting a 16” MobileStudio Pro was tempting for the larger screen size but it was 4.5lbs versus 3.31lbs. I really like the idea of it being easy to carry, especially when I’m traveling.
I’m really looking forward to using this on an airplane. The Companion, the way I was using it had so many cables and needed the laptop, there was pretty much no chance of setting it all up on the tiny tray table. In the spring, I’m looking forward to drawing under a shady tree and all the other places I can sit and work untethered.
I don’t mind that it doesn’t come with a stand, I prefer to use it flat on a table or on my lap. You can order a stand from Wacom. It fits nicely in small laptop case and I’ve heard that cases will be available on the Wacom site in March. You can also order a Wacom link to connect it to a Mac.
I was surprised to see that the pen nib was smaller than my other Cintiq pens (I have a stock pile of felt tip nibs) but this is the new Wacom Pro Pen 2 which is noticeably more accurate and responsive than previous pens. I also keep a Wacom pen stand in my computer bag because I like to have a place to keep the pen upright when I’m using it.
I’m using Dropbox for storage. I synced one Dropbox folder and am using it as a point of transfer to my other computers. I stocked it with my comic templates for dailies, strips and Sundays, greeting card templates and Photoshop palettes.
I set up the device with a password which is kind of a pain to fill in on the built in digital keyboard. I need to switch that for the fingerprint sensor login. I haven’t set up the express keys or rocker ring yet but I do like using the rocker ring for zooming in and out. I LOVE the touch screen. It's so great to zoom in and out with my fingertips as I'm working.
There are many other features that I probably won’t use, two built in cameras including a 3-D camera (although I saw this a demo of this Wacom and it’s pretty amazing! ) and most of the 3-D functionality.
Ed Steckley has a great review about more of the technical specs with an in depth look at the pros and cons: www.edsteckley.com/blog/general/wacom-mobile-studio-pro-unboxing-and-review.
Click here for the full list of features and specs on the Wacom site: http://www.wacom.com/en-dk/products/pen-displays/wacom-mobilestudio-pro-13#Features
About a week ago, I would have told you that Apple Watches were cool but that I had no real need for one. About 2 days into having one, I fell in love. Of course, that's what Apple is all about.
"People don't know what they want until you show it to them.” -Steve Jobs
What I like about the Apple Watch:
I was really happy with my Fitbit until I saw how amazing the Apple Fitness tracker really is. In addition to counting steps and heart rate, it lets you set exercise, calories and standing time goals. It tracks these goals using brightly colored circles that form a target. It's both satisfying and motivating to watch the circles evolve throughout the day. The "stand" function gives you a little tap if you've been sitting too long and suggests you take a walk around. If I'm deeply in creative flow, it helps to be reminded to get up and take a break. It also give you a big picture view of your fitness for the entire month.
I always use Siri or Notes on my phone to take down ideas as I have them. The Apple Watch takes it a step further. I use the Evernote app on the watch and with a quick click, I can speak my idea into my wrist like Dick Tracy and it immediately gets synced across all of my devices. This has worked great for cartoon ideas as well as things I need to remember to do.
The Apple Watch will let you know if a text or a phone call is coming in. I can glance at my wrist and either respond to or decline the call or text instead of jumping up and looking for my phone or digging around for it in my bag. Somehow, this seems to keep me more focused on whatever I'm doing.
4. Apple Magic
There are so many subtle, beautiful Appleisms in this thing. The watch stays off unless you pick up your wrist to look at it. If you have one of the image settings for a watch face (butterflies, flowers, jellyfish) they animate and subtly change each time you look at your wrist. I can use it as a remote control and to change the music I'm listening to. I can ask Siri to get me directions or any kind of information.
5. Dick Tracy Factor
There's definitely something sci-fi and futuristically cool about being able to do things by yapping into this tiny device sitting on your arm.
Do I look like a jerk when I'm talking to my wrist? Probably. I tried to take a phone call on my wrist at a social gathering and one of my friends immediately took off his shoe and held it so his head like "Get Smart" answering his shoe phone:
Can I live without it? OF COURSE. Like I said, a week ago, I had no need for the thing.
Then again, I could live without my iPhone too (maybe.) Regardless, it's pretty darn cool and a ton of fun.