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The Wacom 24HD Drawing Tablet Review

Evan Goncalo tests the new Wacom 24HD to see if it may indeed be the end-all-be-all of graphic tablets.

The new Wacom 24HD graphics tablet. All images courtesy of Wacom.

The Wacom 24HD is without a doubt the king of the hill when it comes to drawing tablets – and it has most certainly earned the title.  I’ve had the opportunity to work with one at home and have fallen in love with this beautiful tablet.  So, what makes the 24HD the end-all-be-all of graphics tablets?  Keep reading!

First and foremost, the 24HD is a huge leap forward in terms of display technology when compared to its predecessors.  The 21UX, the model one step down, has a 21 inch screen that boasts a 4:3 aspect ratio with a 1600x1200 display resolution.   The 24HD, on the other hand, is a whopping 24 inches with a 16:10 aspect ratio and a 1900x1200 display resolution.  This adds up to a difference of 384,000 pixels!  Wacom didn’t stop there either… they also increased the contrast and added a better color gamut.  Needless to say the display itself is beautiful and images are a sight to behold.

The 24HD’s design is strong as well – and you need to be equally strong to pick it up (it weighs about 65 pounds).  The weight alone speaks to how solid the stand and device are built.  The weighted base keeps it in place and sturdy, and its metal arms make adjusting the screen angle a breeze.  The tablet’s bulk is both a blessing and a curse.  In terms of finding a sturdy surface, and moving it around it can truly be a challenge.  I lugged the device to my second floor and got it set up to find myself sweating afterwards.  Call it a testament to my lack of fitness, or its incredible weight – it still proved to be an issue.    The tablet itself is all black plastic with a matte finish screen.  In my case, the screen saved me from the terrible glare that comes in through my nearby windows.  The stand also makes it possible to really put your weight against the device while working – leaning your body against it, or resting your elbows on it.

In terms of usability, the tablet has controls along both sides, featuring a touch-sensitive scroll wheel on each side, as well as eight more command buttons.  These controls, called “ExpressKeys”, allow you to program their functions with ease, using an application Wacom provides on the installation disk. I was constantly messing around with commands until I got them into a sweet spot for my workflow – their functionality is fantastic.  Using them you can do things like move backward and forward in Photoshop history or manipulate brush settings easily.  Along the top of the display is another series of buttons that allow you to access various screen tweaking functions as you’d expect on any normal display – things like contrast, brightness, etc. 

As for the actual drawing/painting capabilities – the Wacom 24HD doesn’t miss a beat.  It has 2,048 levels of pressure, angle and tilt sensitivity, a rocker switch, and a pressure sensitive eraser.  What do those all add up to?  An absolutely dreamy drawing experience.  This tablet is pretty much as close as you can get to working on paper/canvas.  I’ve been doing a lot of drawing lately on traditional easel and canvas – using the 24HD made me feel right at home.  I used it for a variety of projects, ranging from free hand drawing in Photoshop, creating vector art inIllustrator, to tooling around in Zbrush.  Even though I’m not super strong in terms of Zbrush work, the 24HD made me feel like a pro.  In fact, while using the pen I experienced no lag or accuracy issues.  The drawing felt 1:1.

So now that I’ve raved on and on about the 24HD’s awesomeness, I believe it’s only fair to mention two minor issues.  The 24HD requires a connection to not only a display port, but a USB port as well – these two requirements can make cable management difficult depending on its location.  Lastly, for all you tablet dreamers out there living on a shoestring or student budget, break open your piggy bank as the 24HD retails for around $2,750.  This price tag is enough to break the bank for most non-corporate users but it’s completely worth it if you can front the cash!

Overall, the Wacom 24HD has been a fantastic addition to my digital arsenal.  It’s helped to make my work more efficient and of a higher quality.  The 24HD’s ease of use, solid build, and extensive functionality all contribute in making this a highly recommended purchase. Trust me, you won’t regret it.  Thanks for reading… I’m off to give my Wacom 24HD a hug.

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Evan Goncalo is a video game industry professional who currently resides in Massachusetts.  He is a student in the Digital Media program at UMass Dartmouth.  Since 2006, Evan has worked in a variety of roles at Boston based AAA video game studios and has lectured for the Game Creation program at Bristol Community College.

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