On the surface, not much has changed from the older models; however, don’t judge a book by its cover. Combining a digital drawing tablet and a tablet PC in one makes it obvious Wacom wanted to create a device that appeals to a broad audience.
With a high price tag, this is a device for uncompromising individuals that expect the graphics tablet experience of a Cintiq (see our review here) with the utility of a Microsoft Surface Book. So, let’s find out if this is a jack of all trades or a master of none.
First Impressions of the Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16
Although it’s undoubtedly what’s inside that counts, as a designer, you probably can’t help but care about looks as well. In comparison to previous Wacom tablet PCs, particularly the Cintiq range, there has been an upgrade in the overall looks. The MobileStudio Pro 16 is sleeker, thinner, and less boxy. That being said, it’s still relatively easy to mistake it for the previous MS models.
However, it’s not quite as attractive as its competitors in the tablet PC space, the Microsoft Surface Book, and Apple Macbook. You can also throw the newly released and massively hyped iPad Pro into this mix.
The Wacom doesn’t stand out in any specific way, but there’s nothing wrong with how it looks either.
For busy designers on the go, what undoubtedly attracted you about the MobileStudio Pro is the word “Mobile.” Unlike the Cintiq, the MobileStudio Pro 16 is an entirely standalone device. With Windows, it’s a computer in its own right with roughly 6-hours of battery life. And, at 4.45 lbs, it’s almost a quarter the weight of the Cintiq.
That’s still relatively heavy compared to ultra-mobile devices like A Surface Book, MacBook Air, or iPad Pro. Still, taking from home to the office every day, or even to your favorite coffee shop, shouldn’t be a backbreaking exercise.
A slightly more compact design also means you’ll easily be able to fit it into a laptop sleeve, for example.
Additionally, when handling the MobileStudio Pro 16, there’s a distinct feel of quality about it. The exterior has metal and plastic components, but it feels solid.
As this is a full-fledged PC tablet that comes with Microsoft Windows 10, compatibility is much less of an issue. You can run any Windows software, such as Photoshop or the entire Adobe CC Suite, as long as your hardware supports the minimum requirements. Unfortunately for some, there isn’t an iOS version.
For charging or connecting peripherals, you have three USB Type-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 40Gbps support. That should be enough bandwidth to connect 4K displays as well as almost any other peripherals.
Again, unfortunately, this also means you might need some adapters as there are no standard USB ports.
Controls and Functionality
You might also notice that the tablet doesn’t come with a keyboard. The primary way of interacting with the device is through the touchscreen interface. There are eight programmable shortcut buttons and a four-way ring that you can use for scrolling or another function. The center of the ring is also a fingerprint reader to lock and unlock your device.
These buttons are easy to reach with your free hand, especially when using the stand. The buttons also have tactile nibs to feel your way around if you can’t tear your eyes from your artwork.
You also have standard up-down controls for speaker volume and a power switch along the side. The device can also be flipped for a left-handed orientation without any problems.
Screen Look and Feel
First impressions of the screen are superb with a 4K display with 85% Adobe RGB coverage. Some other graphic tablets claim to have up to 99% SRGB coverage, but many argue Adobe RFB has more differentiation and is better in most circumstances.
However, Wacom’s top-of-the-line Cintiq range of drawing tablets comes with up to 94% RGB coverage.
Regardless, the visuals are incredibly crisp and detailed. Only the most conscientious and fussy users will notice the dip in the color range. For everyone else, they will be extremely vibrant and real.
When it comes to the “screen feel” your preference will determine how you feel about it. The MobileStudio Pro 16 does have a subtle matt finish, which will give you a bit of traction and control.
Of course, the matt finish also means you’ll lose out on a touch of crispness when looking closely. Everyone will have their own feeling about compromising a bit of image quality for a more work-friendly surface. As always with a matt screen, you’re going to struggle if there is direct sunlight on your work surface.
Drawing Area and Stylus
The flagship model is the 16-inch device with a 15.6-inch drawing surface. There is also a smaller 13-inch version for those who want something a bit more compact.
This drawing tablet shines when it comes to how much Wacom was able to reduce parallax between the screen and stylus. That is due to the optically bonded screen that’s a lot thinner than most other devices out there. Especially with large surfaces like these, the pen can get pretty inaccurate at the far edges. However, the MS Pro 16 seems to stay spot on.
In general, the Pro Pen 2 is everything you’d expect from a Wacom. It’s comfortable, accurate, and has excellent sensitivity. The only issue is that there is a little bit of pen lag, especially when using more resource-hungry programs. However, it’s still within acceptable parameters and expected for a tablet PC rather than a pure digital drawing tablet.
It also has an astounding pressure sensitivity of 8,192 that sets it apart from other computer tablets and even most digital drawing tablets.
The Pen can also easily be clipped to the side of the tablet.
This is where things get real for the new MobileStudio Pro 16, and where it goes some way to justifying its high price tag. It comes with an 8th generation Intel i7 8559U processing chip, 512 GB SSD storage, and 16 GB of memory. That’s better than most people’s gaming computers. It also packs NVIDIA Quadro P1000 4GB graphics.
If that’s still not enough, you can easily upgrade or replace the RAM or storage through the backdoor panel. There are two RAM slots, which means you can add to your original RAM.
The new MobileStudio Pro 16 2019 also ditched the spotty 3D camera at the back for a regular 8 MP camera and a 5 MP front camera.
In our experience, though, the battery only lasts about 2 to 3 hours, depending on the workload and brightness.
When you first start browsing the Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16 with an eye on buying it, the price might have you asking: “Is this even right?” Unfortunately, the answer is yes.
The MobileStudio Pro 16 2019 will start at $3,500. That puts it firmly at the highest end for digital drawing tablets.
That might seem like a dealbreaker, but the fact of the matter is that the MS 16 is so much more than a digital drawing tablet. As you can see from the hardware, software, build quality, and, yes, the price, it’s a full-blown tablet PC on top of being a highly specialized digital drawing tablet.
Even by those standards, it’s pricey. But, that’s because it’s not aimed at your everyday graphics tablet user. It’s aimed at highly skilled “prosumers” who make a serious living off design, animation, or digital illustration.
For that price tag, a buyer doesn’t expect to make any compromises. And, the MS does try to comply in that regard.
What’s in the Bundle?
The Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16 comes with a Pro Pen 2, a pen holder, some extra pen nibs, color rings to decorate or distinguish your pen, and a USB to Type-C charging cable. As some handy extras, you also get a microfibre screen cleaning cloth and a super convenient stand that used to be sold separately.
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There’s always a danger when a new device tries to bring a little bit of everything to the table. The Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16 caters to a particular audience but tries to satisfy all their needs. With 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, the Pro Pen 2, and a 4K display, it’s definitely up there in the highest echelons of drawing tablets.
With plenty of horsepower under the hood, it’s also a powerful tablet computer. However, with that price tag, you’d be able to afford a decent tablet PC and a drawing tablet. If you want to cut your losses and get both in one, and your a serious illustrator that demands something approaching the best, then this is for you. Few can do pen computing like Wacom, and the MobileStudio Pro 16 enforces that.
Watch this space for release date information.