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Looking at display devices
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by Tomas Hernandez, Jr.

Pressure-sensitive tablets


Wacom’s Cintiq pressure-sensitive LCD is quickly becoming popular.

As LCDs become part of the mainstream, a new type of display is emerging that combines LCD display technology with a pressure-sensitive tablet in one unit. Wacom’s Cintiq interactive-pen displays combine the best of both worlds into what may mark the beginning of an interactive design tool. You can use a stylus directly on the Cintiq’s screen as a drawing device, much like using a stylus on a Palm or PC-compatible handheld organizer. The Cintiq is a popular choice among architects who are using Autodesk’s new Architectural Studio software [Record, March 2002, page 177], a tool for early-stage design documentation that can combine electronically produced hand sketches with photos and hardline CAD drawings. While these devices are a great improvement over the first digitizing tablets, which required that you watch the line you were drawing on the monitor instead of the pen, they are still a long way from simulating the look, texture, and feel of a soft graphite pencil rubbing off onto a sheet of yellow tracing paper. Fujitsu, IBM, and Polyvision are also marketing devices that enable the user to do screen-based input and image manipulation. These devices will work with any Windows- or Mac-based computer, and you can also use a standard keyboard and mouse when you need them. As more software applications allow users to input their drawings on-screen, these devices will likely be found as standard software.

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Additional features include cordless, pressure-sensitive pens, 360-degree rotating stands, interfaces for both analog and digital systems, USB and serial connections, and the ICC color-management system built-in.

Wacom Cintiq displays come in two sizes. The Cintiq 15x, with a screen size of 15 inches, offers a maximum resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels for around $1,900, while its new 18-inch counterpart offers a maximum resolution of 1,280 by 1,024 at a little less than $3,500. As time goes by, prices will drop.

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