Review: New Wacom Mobilestudio Pro

October 13th, 2016 | Posted in It's All Geek to Me!

img_3940Last week Wednesday Wacom unveiled their new MobileStudio Pro device at an event at the Society of Illustrators in New York City. I was one of a handful of artists who were there as part of the event, and who had been sent one of the new devices to test drive beforehand. Now that the MobileStudio Pro has been announced, I can share my review of the unit. I had the 13 inch version with the I7 processor, 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD.

I have been using the Cintiq Companion 2 for some time now, and while I liked that device just fine (see my review here) I found the MobileStudio Pro to be a significant upgrade. It has addressed a number of the “cons” I had about the Companion 2, while at the same time really upping the game in terms of specs and performance.

My first thought when unboxing the MobileStudio Pro (MSP) was how much smaller and lighter it felt than the Cintiq Companion 2 (CC2). I was surprised to find it was only a little more than a 1/2 pound lighter (3.13 lbs)… seemed like a lot more. It’s the same thickness (without the stand) as the CC2, but about an inch less tall and a tiny bit less wide, despite having the same 13.3 inch screen real estate. Not a significant difference in size, but it does feel lighter and less bulky than the CC2.

After firing up the unit (which runs Windows 10) and opening PhotoShop, I immediately saw the benefits of the significantly ramped up specs of the MSP.

img_3935The biggest test for me is the performance of the pen on the screen, and the MSP knocks it out of the park. The new pen doesn’t just double the CC2’s 2048 levels pressure sensitivity, it quadruples them. 8192 levels for pen and eraser. I know… how much more pressure sensitivity do you really need? I can tell you that I really noticed a difference out of the box. In fact, I had to go in and adjust the setting for the firmness of the pen because the touch was so light and sensitive. Gone is the odd “offset” that plagued the CC2 in some cases. The brush/cursor is hyper-accurate to the pen point after calibration to your specifications. The feel on the screen is terrific, and the transition from thick to thin lines when drawing are fluid. There is no lag at all, even when furiously sketching.

The best part for me is the new “etched glass” screen. Unlike previous units, this surface provides a much more natural surface feel to the screen… it’s more like drawing on real paper or board. Just the right amount of drag and surface tension, with a little “give” of flexibility as well in the pen point. It’s by far the most natural feel of any digital drawing device I’ve used, including the iPad Pro and the rubbery Apple Pencil. I have always preferred using the optional felt tip with the Cintiq, but I am not sure I will need that now.

img_3936Just to test things out, I loaded and opened up a full resolution 2 page MAD spread on the MSP. These are 4900 x 3200 pixel images and with various layers the working file runs over 300MB in size. Not huge but when you start using up memory with saved history steps, multiple undo’s, etc., it’s easy for a smaller computer to get bogged down. The MSP worked like a pro, with no lags or delays in work flow. It didn’t break a sweat.

I was not able to test the option of tethering the MSP to my laptop and using it like a traditional Cintiq as the test unit did not include the cabling for that, but as that is very straightforward and worked like a charm with the CC2, I expect it to work equally well with the MSP. Frankly that is a bit of a dealbreaker for me. I loved that option with the CC2, since I am not a big Windows fan. Like the CC2, I can use the MSP when on the road as a stand alone, fully functioning PC using full versions of the software I am used to using in the studio. Then, when I have some room to spread out (in a hotel room for example) I can cable the unit up to my MacBook Pro and have a complete portable studio with dual screens and the whole works, just like back home. Apparently this feature requires a “Wacom Link” unit that is not included as standard… same as the stand. That’s a little disappointing but it should keep the costs down for those who don’t want to use those features.

I found battery life to be quite a bit better than the CC2. I ran the MSP flat but not all at once, so I don’t have an exact time for the battery life, but I’m estimating a solid 5 plus hours of work heavy work. Wacom’s specs say 6, so it’s in the ballpark. The CC2’s specs only give it 4.5 hours, and I would have said realistically 4 with heavy use. So, battery life is up and weight is down!

img_3937Other specs are also better, although in real life use probably only matters to the real geeks in the audience. Wifi goes from b/g/n to ac, Bluetooth uses the 4.1 standard as opposed to 4.0.  Some models also have fingerprint sensors for unlocking, 3D Cameras, and other goodies. One thing that drove me a little crazy was that the MSP only has USB-C input jacks. I know this is the future but now I have to get an adapter for my thumbdrives or other USB peripherals. Ah, well… cutting edge tech does have a backwards compatibility price.

I should mention that the 16″ version of the MSP, which I got to briefly try out at the debut event last week, is a serious piece of hardware. Besides the extra screen real estate (15.6 inch) the resolution goes up to 4K, and the graphics move from an Intel Iris card to an NVIDIA Quadro. That is a big performance leap with the graphics, perhaps only needed by 3D artists and motion graphics creators.

The thing that makes Wacom products better than the tablet digital artist solutions out there is this: their whole world is the pen and the screen. 100% of their focus is on that interaction and input, and developing the hardware and software to do it best. Tablets like the Apple’s iPad Pro and Apple Pencil work great for certain tasks, but that feature will always be just one more thing they do among many other priorities. Digital art is all Wacom does, and they do it the best. The MobileStudio Pro isn’t a sketchy toy for the coffeeshop, or an exercise in compromise by juggling multiple apps to try and get around the limitations of the hardware. It’s a truly portable full digital art studio without excuses as to why you can’t do with it what you do in the studio.


  1. LEE F.H. says:

    You did not mention the cost for this new toy, Tom.

    • Tom Richmond says:

      That’s because they have not released pricing yet. My understanding it the costs will be less that the Companion 2 for similar specs on the 13″ model, but final pricing has yet to be posted.

      • Reese Kaz says:

        The pricing is actually a bit worse from the CC2 actually. The 13 inch Core i5/8GB/128 GB Companion 2 model costed $1499 when it came out….the same configuration, i5/8GB/128GB Mobile Studio Pro will cost $1700ish….the 4GB/64GB model is now $1499. So the prices are up from the CC2. What’s worse….the Stand, The Sleeve, and The Wacom Link that enables Cintiq Mode are now all separate purchases. They all came with the CC2 at no additional cost….once you factor in those accessories, the total price of a MSP should hit $2000 easy.

        • Tom Richmond says:

          Not surprised. Cheap prices usually get you cheap equipment. You get what you pay for. These will be worth the $$.

        • Lar DeSouza says:

          I have the CC1 and most users I know personally (myself included) don’t use it. I have a Roost which is much lighter and raises the unit to a better working height for me. I would love that Flipsteady someday 🙂

  2. Greg says:

    Looking at their product page, do you know what “No Parallax” refers to?

    • Tom Richmond says:

      Yes. “Parallax” is the space between the surface of the glass and the screen itself. Some people complain that the Cintiq’s have to0 thick of a glass surface and this space is distracting. Personally it never bothers me, because I draw right over the screen and cannot see any gap. Only when I move my pen to the extreme sides of the screen, or if for some odd reason I want to look sideways with my face right up on the screen when I draw do I notice it. Anyway they have eliminated that “parallax” effect somehow.

  3. […] producto de Wacom. Aquí una breve revisión del caricaturista Tom […]

  4. Quillback424 says:

    Is it a dual core or quad core processor for the top of the line 15 inch MSP? Just wondering how it would compare in performance to the Vaio Canvas Z. Sounds like yours did fine with the 300 MB file. I do Photoshop and Corel Painter with large files but none are that large.

  5. Chris Rees says:

    One of the biggest problems I found on the Companion was the fan noise when under pressure. Did you find that it was better with the MSP?

    • Tom Richmond says:

      I forgot to mention this. The fan noise was an issue for me with the CC2 also. I never noticed the fan running on the MobileStudio Pro at all. I don;t know if it just never kicked in or it was that much quieter.

      • Reese Kaz says:

        I spoke with some of the reps at Wacoms Booth at NYCC…..despite the fans aggressively blowing…..the Reps did assure me that the Fan noise of the CC2 was a top priority for their engineers to work out….and they said it should be near silent.

  6. nesskain says:

    If you still need to calibrate your cintiq it means that there’s still a parallax effect, no ?
    does the gap is big between the glass and the screen ?

    • Tom Richmond says:

      No. The calibration process is to set the pen and cursor to your individual tastes. People draw at different angles to the drawing surface, or lean one way or the other. calibrating sets the pen and screen interaction to compensate for that. It has nothing to do with the parallax effect.

  7. Kyle maloney says:

    They hilariously announced this the same day I finally bought my first cintiq ,the 22hd on eBay. Oh well, I wouldn’t have been able to justify the price anyway, I spent enough on the 22 as it is. But at least I have something to look forward to in 5 years or whatever.

  8. Nathan says:

    Looked like you had the stand attatched in one of you pictures. How did you like the new stand?

    • Tom Richmond says:

      I didn’t have a stand. I just propped it up for the pics. Neither a stand nor the “Wacom Link” unit used to tether the MobileStudio Pro up for use as a regular Cintiq were included in the test model I got. I do hoe they improve the stand’s design… I am not fond of the CC2’s stand.

  9. Lee says:

    Thanks for posting such detailed review. I’m so glad they fix the fan and performance issue. Do you have the new keyboard for MSP? Is it the same as the last one(CC2)?

  10. Heather Knope says:


    Does it have any stand legs to prop it up?

    Thank you!

    • Tom Richmond says:

      It doesn’t come with a stand… that’s an extra accessory. Personally, I will be getting one of these:

      • Ayatanne says:

        The flip steady you mentioned is for the companion. Is the size the same or will they have a new one for the mobile studio and you will get that new one? But can you really put the pressure of the hand on that stand? Looks not stabile.

  11. Max Graf says:

    What material is the body?

    • Tom Richmond says:

      No idea.

      • Max Graf says:

        Come on.. 😉 Plastic or Aluminium – like at Companiom? It is surely recognize..

        • Tom Richmond says:

          Do I look like an expert on composite materials? Seems to me to be a combination of metal and plastic, but it might be adamantium or kryptonite for all I know. I’m not going to comment on something I do know know the answer to. I do know it has silicone rubber grips on on the sides. I’ve already returned the prototype unit after my testing, so I can;t look at it to make a guess… but if I had to guess, I’d say adamantium.

  12. Axel says:

    Hi Tom, thanks for your review. I have one question: since you were able to test the 16″ MSP briefly, what are your thoughts on mobility? Initially I was sure I want to get the 16″ Model but since I saw an unpackaging video the other day it seems, that the bigger model was maybe a bit too big for a backpack. Can you confirm this? I’m going to use the MSP at home most of the time, but it would be great to have a unit that I can take with me without a hassle. But I guess to be sure I’ll have to test both models in a store.

  13. Hey Tom, I was wondering if you noticed any heating issues with the MobileStudio. My Companion 2 heats up so much during use that it’s actually uncomfortable to hold, was that addressed in the MS?

    • joemcgarry says:

      I noticed a little heating seemingly on one side more than the other, but significantly less than the CC2

      • Usually it’s the right side (probably cause that’s where the PSU is located)… in the CC2 the bottom right (when held with ExpressKeys on the left) would be the worst offender, unfortunately it’s also where I tend to rest my wrist
        Here’s hoping they beefed up the fans and the heat is negligible… I don’t mind a little heat, hell even the iPad pro can get a little warm at times – but the CC2 was really something else in my experience.

        I don’t have any concrete data (I should get an IR thermometer sometime) but it gets UNCOMFORTABLY hot so I’m really hoping the MSP comes around
        I guess I’ll just get one and return it if the situation hasn’t improved.

  14. bprince says:

    Any Diagonal Jitter ?

    • Tom Richmond says:

      I did not notice any but I wasn’t looking for it.

      For those who keep asking me questions about the Mobilestudio Pro, I returned my prototype unit to Wacom weeks ago and cannot test it further. My review above contains all the specifics it ever will until I get a final, shipped unit.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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