iPad Pro (12.9) Review!

March 4, 2018

As some of you may know, I gave up the Wacom Cintiq Companion (i5 processor) up and opted for an iPad Pro 12.9 for my off-of-desktop drawing needs. I guess I'll start by talking about why I hadn't initially fell in love with the Companion as much as I did with the iPad when I had the opportunity to play around with the iPad in a Sprint store. 

 

Reasons Why I Didn't Fall In Love with Companion 2

 

Note that I bought the $1600 model while Wacom was having a promotional sale on their products and it was the i5 processor with 128gb of memory and 8g of RAM. At the time, I thought the specs were sufficient enough to run my normal drawing stuff which included Clip Studio Paint and high resolution canvases (around 4000px by 6000px and 300 DPI). 

 

Much to my disappointment, it was not. This isn't to say that it was a completely faulty product, but there was a slight delay that I could feel when I was drawing in any strokes. It wasn't a complete deal breaker since after a while, I got used to it. The deal breaker for me was rotating the canvas. It was unbearably laggy whenever I would rotate the canvas (almost like a dragging effect) and it was even more laggy when I would use the lasso tool and manipulate shapes. It wasn't so bad when I was zoomed out from the canvas at least, but otherwise it was annoying to deal with. This couldn't be helped with the amount of processing power and RAM that was embedded into the hardware, I suppose. 

At most, I normally did a lot of sketching work on the Companion 2. It wasn't a useless product, but certain shortcomings on the product made me, personally, wary of using it regularly. I thought I would be able to do my heavier loads of work on the Companion 2, but you get what you pay for. 

 

If I had opted for the i7 processor version of the Companion 2, I would've wound up spending about an extra 400-500 dollars, which I couldn't justify the expenses for at the time. Especially now, when the iPad Pro and Surface are outperforming the Companion 2 models by a long shot and with a comparably smaller price tag, I would say in my experience, the Companion 2 was not worth the price tag Wacom gave it. 

 

Another deal breaker that I would mention with the Companion 2 is, despite reaching out to Wacom tech support and scrounging the depths of help forums on Reddit and likewise, I was not able to debunk the problem of the screen resolution switching to a small one whenever I would set it to rest mode. Basically, I would set the screen to sleep if I wanted to put the tablet down for a few minutes and upon waking it up, the screen resolution would not be optimal and I would have to manually go into control panel and screen resolution every single time to set it to the optimal settings. I'm not sure if that was an issue with Windows 8 or the tablet itself, but I was never able to fix that problem (and I hope whoever bought it off from me finds the solution!).

 

I don't have any experience with their newer line of mobile tablets (the Mobile Studio) but this is just my experience with Companion summarized, and which ultimately lead me to finally resell it and trade it in for an iPad due to rave reviews from respected artists and hobbyists and, more importantly, having had time to actually try out how it feels in my local Sprint store. 

 

First Impressions of the iPad + Apple Pencil

 

As I've said earlier, I played around with the iPad initially in a Sprint store. There was no Apple pencil to use with it when I was tinkering with Procreate, but even drawing with my fingers felt a lot smoother than drawing with a stylus on a Companion 2 and that spoke volumes to me. I assumed, in my head, that if I had the proper stylus pairing with the iPad, the experience would be awesome. I wasn't wrong.

 

I hated that the Apple pencil looks cheap and comes in a ridiculous price ($119 or so) but when it came in the mail along with my iPad, I was impressed with the weight and how nice it felt to hold in my hand. It's a lot slimmer than the Wacom stylus, but it's no different than holding a nice, comfortable writing pen.

 

A drawback that I did not expect from the Apple pencil was that it needs to be charged. I was initially confused when I unboxed it and tried to draw on the iPad right away. Apparently the eraser end comes off and you have to plug it in and you can even charge it through the iPad's charging port. Is it a deal  breaker? Not really, considering the charge time is 10 minutes and lasts for hours upon hours before having to charge it again. Is it inconvenient? In some ways, yes, if you're forgetful about charging it directly, but thankfully, as I've said, you can just stick it right into the iPad charging port for a few minutes and you'll be good to go again. The only complaint I have with this system is that the iPad looks stupid with a pencil sticking out of its bottom end.

 

iPad Pro + Procreate

 

When I finally got my Apple pencil charged and ready to draw, the expectations did not fail me. I started off with Procreate and honestly, it has to be the closest thing to simulating drawing on paper (minus that textured feel because of the tablet's glassy surface). The program itself is very simple and easy to learn. The brush strokes and screen rotation, even in high resolution canvases, is smoother than the Companion 2. It took some getting used to because there aren't any physical keys to press to switch between hot keys like the Companion 2 has, but that wasn't a problem from me.

 

iPad Pro + Clip Studio Paint

 

The preferences for using CSP on iPad falls solely on personal preferences. It's just as smooth as running Procreate but the interface is a bit clunky for a mobile tablet (a lot of this is forgiven in desktop for obvious reasons). Once I actually got my preferred settings going, drawing on CSP with the iPad was very similar to drawing on my desktop. The rotating was only slightly laggy but a far improvement from what I experienced using CSP on an i5 processor Companion 2. The only thing I've had to get used to drawing on the iPad was getting used to non-physical hotkeys. For me, it's not a deal breaker and it was very easy to get used to since it's a pretty well-oiled machine of a tablet, but if this is something that's important to an artist, I'm sure a wireless keyboard can supplement their physical hotkey needs.

 

Summary (Pros/Cons Versus the Wacom Cintiq Companion 2)

 

iPad Pros (pun intended): 

 

- Seamless and smooth drawing capabilities

- Accurate pen pressure and angling 

- Doesn't heat up during stressful use

- Brilliant screen quality

- Cheaper than the mobile tablets Wacom provides

- Impressively long battery life even with bright screen settings (but I don't advise if you want your eyes burned out of your head)

- Lightweight 

 

iPad Cons:

 

- Restricted apps (Procreate and CSP are front runners for me)

- Optimal with the additional cost of the Apple pencil (is not included with the iPad)

- Apple pencil requires recharging

- Importing/exporting files can be a hassle

 

That's all I've got on the iPad Pro + Apple pencil for now after a week of solid use. If you've got any questions for me, feel free to send a message! Thanks for reading!

 

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