Cintiq Alternatives - Many and Varied!
|12 min read
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By draw2much   |   
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Published:
Updated: 5/3/15

I'm sure we all remember the first time we read about the Wacom Cintiq. A monitor you can draw on... a dream come true. Then you look at the price tag and your heart breaks a bit and your wallet wheezes. The smallest costs $800 and is 13" (as of this writing) and everything else is $999 and up. No mattter how fantastic a piece of hardware may be, it's really hard to justify that price tag. (Especially considering how old most the tech is that Wacom is using.)

Of course there are alternatives. It's possible to build something like a Cintiq all on your own. Of course, the risk to doing these kinds of things is that you could screw it up and end up with a broken monitor AND tablet.

So what to do? Give up?

NO says I! Just find another way!

It turns out that there are genuine alternatives to Wacom Cintiq out there. And they don't cost an arm and a leg. There are four brands right now that have comparable monitor tablets!

First, and most popular, is Panda City's Yiynova Monitor tablets. They have three sizes to choose from: 10.1" ($400), 19" ($550), and two 22" tablets ($800/$999). The smallest, MVP10HUD+, is perfect for traveling and comes with an IPS screen. The second size up, MSP19U+, is a nice "in-between" size but has the serious disadvantage of being connected by VGA and having a TFT monitor. (What's so bad about a TFT monitor, you ask? Colors aren't as "true" and the viewing angle is often horrendous.) The MVP22U(V2) is a bigger version of the U+ with an IPS display. It still has a VGA cord. (Why does that matter? Because it causes weird problems with text and will often have picture issues because of interference from devices such as cell phones, making it impossible to use as a primary monitor.) The last model is the MVP22U(V3) and it's considered the "holy grail" of off-brand monitor tablets. It's an 22" IPS display with a DVII port. It gets fantastic reviews no matter where you go too. The downside is it's $999. (Still cheaper than most Cintiq's but awful expensive none the less.)

All Yiynova tablets have excellent customer service provided through Panda City (in fact, they're renowned for their fantastic customer service and it's one of the main reasons people go with them.) Panda City provides a minimum one year warranty on their products. They are very well known for keeping their drivers up to date and listening to their customer base. (Rare for any company, much less a "Chinese knock-off".) You do pay for that though, as they are the most expensive to buy out of the brands I'm mentioning.

Second is Huion. Huion is primarily known for their drawing tablets such as the H610 model (like the Intuos Pro). Their monitor tablets are the GT-190S ($450), GT-185HD ($600), and the GT-220 ($800). The GT-190S is a 19" (I believe, TFT panel) with DVI/VGA ports. This means it doesn't suffer from the weird text problem you get from the MSP19U+. The viewing angle of the monitor seems to depend on the person (or perhaps the quality of the panel they receive). Some people say it's excellent, and other say only the horizontal angles are any good. The GT-220 has an IPS 22" monitor and DVI connection as well. It competes with Panda City's MVP22U(V3) and does a great job. The GT-185 is their newest offering (as of this writing) and uses an 18.5" IPS monitor and has short-cut buttons on the side (it's also the only Huion offering with the connections coming out of the SIDE of the unit). The GT-185 is the best looking unit out there so far (though there aren't many reviews for it yet, so quality is unknown).

Huion has good customer service, but not nearly as good as Panda City. In fact, none of the brands I'm mentioning after this can compare. However, Huion is quick to respond to problems and seems interested in reaching artists in places they frequent (they actually have their own Tumblr account, if you can believe it). They also keep their drivers up-to-date, though I've been given the impression their drivers are never QUITE as good as what Panda City releases. It might be interesting to note that they seem to do a lot of sales on their tablets through their website (something Panda City doesn't do).

The third company is Ugee. To be truthful I only recently heard about this company, though my understanding is it's been around for quite some time (I think I read it's been in business since 1998?). They are like some weird love-child of Yiynova and Huion tablets. They look similar to Huion but have much of the same hardware as Yiynova. This means you get the stylishness and price of Huion but the driver dependability of Yiynova. They offer three sizes: 12" 1200B ($400), 19" 1910 ($450) and 22" 2150 ($700). The 1910 gets VERY good reviews. The 2150 does as well, though you won't find as many reviews for it. Like Huins GT-190, the 1910 has a TFT monitor and HDMI port, while the 2150 mirrors Huions GT-220 with the IPS screen and additional DVI port. The only model I'm not really sure about here is the 1200B, which they recently added. It appears to be an LCD/TFT panel (which I consider a negative) but has the advantage of being two inches bigger than the MVP10HUD+. It doesn't have many reviews out for it either, so I can't really vouch for the quality.

I haven't heard anything negative about Ugee's customer support. They seem pretty solid, in that they answer questions and are willing to work with customers to figure out any problems. Being relatively new to the scene (for Western audiences anyway), I don't know how they'll fare long-term. That being said, they seem to have better quality control than Huion. And there tablets fall somewhere between Yiynova and Huion in terms of usability and driver stability.

Last is Bosto. Ah... Bosto... they have some wicked cool looking monitor tablets. The Kingtee 22HDX looks very much like a Wacom. (To the point that I wonder how they aren't getting sued...) You'll find them to be a mixed bag. The 22HDX gets fairly good reviews, but the company itself is notorious for not standing behind their products. I mention them more as a warning then anything else. Beware! If you buy from them, and they work, then more power to you. But if something goes wrong, Bosto won't help you and will instead heap excuse after excuse on you (to keep you from sending it back and getting a refund from them). Considering how horrific their customer service can be, I don't see why anyone ought to shell out $900 to them and "hope for the best". Better to stick with the companies listed above... they at least PRETEND to care...

Other factoids -/+

- All the tablets use pens with batteries and there's no integrated eraser function. Some of the tablets come with rechargeable batteries, others you open to change the battery out. The weight from the battery is not significant (I've held good ol' fashioned pens that are heavier) and I haven't heard anyone consider it an issue. Replaceable battery powered pens seem to need changing once a year with heavy use. Rechargeable battery pens are harder to pin down since people often charge them over night (but they're suppose to last 800 hours). Not having an eraser is seriously not that big a deal (and I feel awful sorry for anyone who considers it a deal breaker).

+ Yiynova tablets come with short-cut buttons (as does the Kingtee 22HDX). Their placement and dependability seem to vary from model to model. (I never have luck with short-cut buttons, not even from Wacom tablets, so I've given up on them)
- None of the other tablets have short-cut buttons. All you'll get is monitor setting buttons, which like all monitor setting buttons, are very basic. (This may change with newer models! Keep a look out!)

+ Yiynova, Huion, and Ugee all have excellent pressure sensitivity, little to no lag, and little to no "jitter". It's comparable to the most high end offering from Wacom. People who've used Cintiqs/Intuo Pros often say that the "feel" of drawing on the off-brand tablets is actually better. Yiynova MVP22U(V3) gets those kinds of comments the most.

- None of these brands supports the "tilt" pen function that come with Cintiqs. Seeing as only certain pens within certain programs support this feature, I doubt you'll miss it very much. (And if you never had it, you won't miss it at all..)

-/+ I hear mixed reviews about Parallax. (Parallax is the distance between where your computer thinks the cursor is and where the pen tip is actually located on the surface of the tablet). Some people say there is none, and it's actually better than Wacom. Others say there is some, but it's nothing that calibrating the monitor doesn't fix. Others say nothing fixes it but you get use to it. Because of the wide range of experiences, I can't really say one way or the other. (But it's important to note that Wacom Cintiqs also have this issue.)

- Drivers are barren and options are minimal. If you have Wacom drivers that aren't properly uninstalled, it will seriously goof up these off-brand tablets. If you install the drivers in the wrong order, it will seriously goof up these tablets. (Note: ALWAYS INSTALL THE DRIVERS BEFORE PLUGGING ANYTHING IN.) Most people recommend tweaking your tablet settings from within whatever program you most often use.

+ There are very few programs that don't work well with these programs. Some programs require tweaking in the tablet settings or with your computer. The major players, such as Adobe, MangaStudio (Clip Studio), and SAI either work flawlessly out of the box (or with some minor tweaking). Many of the 3D and animation programs work well too. (Though not being as familiar with them, I couldn't tell you which are known to work.)

- Huion has a serious dust issue. There are quite a few complaints about there being a lot of dust under the glass part of the monitor. It makes it look like there's a dead pixel, but it's actually just dust. Ugee has this problem too, though less severally, from what reviewers are saying. (I haven't heard anything from Yiynova users so I assume that's not an issue with that brand.)

+ Yiynova and Bosto tablets sensibly have their ports coming out from the side of the tablet. This makes it much easier to handle.

- Huion and Ugee have the ports coming out from the bottom. Annoying! My guess is they do this to save on money. (Aka, they take regular monitors and stick digitizers in them. Not having to meddle with the monitor design keeps the costs down.)

+ All monitors have an included stand and most people think they work just fine. If you've got limited space, consider getting a monitor arm.

+ I've not heard any complaints about the monitors giving off a lot of heat. Some say it gives off a little bit of heat, but not enough for it be an issue. Others don't feel any heat at all. Might depend on the model and how long you use it.

-/+ These tablets are glossy because of the glass they use. Reflection can be an issue, depending on the lighting of your room. Some people have complained about the pens "squeaking" on the tablet. A monitor mat (such as ones used for Wacom Cintiqs) ought to fix this. However, a lot of people really REALLY like that glass. It's extremely sturdy, doesn't get scratched by the pen, and is really easy to clean up. Basically, it's up to your personal tastes on whether the glossy glass is good or bad!

+ Dual monitor (or even TRIPLE monitor) support should not be an issue with these latest tablets. My understanding is all these tablets now support the ability to use them as primary, secondary, and even third(!!) monitors... as long as your computer supports that ability. Programs like SAI have issues with being on a secondary/third monitor. Simply setting your monitors to "mirror" fixes this issue.

+ Yiynova, Huion, and Ugee should all work with Windows, Mac, and Ubuntu (and derivatives). Bosto is hit or miss in this area.

You'll notice that I didn't mention Monoprice. The reason for this is because Monoprice doesn't currently sell monitor tablets. They did, at one time, but heck if I can find them any where now. (Excepting on Amazon and $300+ over priced at that...)


See Other Links:
12" x 9" Tablet Alternative to Wacom
Question & Answer Monoprice Tablets
Comments40
anonymous's avatar
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nuovahealth's avatar
Thank you for the great write up.. is the glass strong.. Or is it quite flimsy ie like regular pc monitor or a mobile phone and if you have anger issues or if you press on it a little bit too hard in a corner or with your thumb would it destroy the screen? Or is it like a hard glass monitor and around a couple mm in thickness so that should really happen unless you really squeeze it........... LOL crazy question but cannot find any information on this. thanks.
draw2much's avatar
draw2muchHobbyist Digital Artist
Oh no, that's a good question! I can't give you exact numbers, but reviewers all universally agree that the glass is strong and sturdy across brands. It won't scratch from the pen and no one has ever complained that they felt by pressing down it'd cause damage to the monitor. My understanding is that the 19" models (as of mid-2015) have thicker glass than the 22" models, mostly because parallax is more noticeable in the 19" models (parallax is the distance between where your pointer is on the screen and where you pen nib is actually sitting on the monitor itself). At the same time, no one has said that the 22" models felt weaker in any way (in fact, most people much prefer the 22" models).

Of course, *all* of the larger monitor tablets are meant to be either on a flat surface or mounted to a monitor arm. They are not meant to be jostled around or, say, dropped. This is regardless of brand (so, you know, don't go dropping an Cintiq...lol..). They hold up well to regular "wear and tear".
nuovahealth's avatar
Thank you for your reply I really appreciate it. One last question if you dont mind.. I was thinking of getting the 19 inch Yiynova do you recommend any screen protectors? I heard that you can buy screen protectors that give a slight grain to the screen like you are writing on paper... but I cannot seem to find a one that would fit a 19inch.... what would you say would be best?

thanks.
draw2much's avatar
draw2muchHobbyist Digital Artist
If you got a screen protector that was larger (say for a 22") you could probably cut it down to size. I believe I've seen people put smaller sheets around the center of the screen (the part that they actually draw on).  However, a lot of people like using the glass and don't put any kind of protector on it at all. Wish I could give you more info, but that's about all I know. ^^;;;
MaladyMadness's avatar
MaladyMadnessHobbyist General Artist
I just purchased a Cintiq 15x on Amazon for about $320. It's a genuine Wacom, and is far cheaper than the all-in-ones and the Microsoft Surface. 

Only issue I've had is that my PC run windows 8, so I had to run the driver install in compatibility mode. 

Thanks a ton for all the alternatives! I wish I had found this a year or so ago, I could have been drawing this way sooner. ^_^
milkcosmos's avatar
milkcosmosHobbyist Digital Artist
do you know if i'd be able to use the monoprice 19 inch standalone? as in portable and usable without having to be plugged into the pc. thanks for this list, by the way!
draw2much's avatar
draw2muchHobbyist Digital Artist
What you're talking about is an alternative to a Cintiq Companion (computer tablet), which is different from a regular Cintiq (monitor tablet). I guess a Microsoft Surface might be considered a good alternative?
Sol-Gatito's avatar
Sol-GatitoHobbyist Digital Artist
I think there's also the SMART Podium ID370. Ever heard of it?
draw2much's avatar
draw2muchHobbyist Digital Artist
I'd never heard of that brand before! I looked it up, and it appears to be primarily for annotating, rather than for drawing. Have you ever used it before?
Sol-Gatito's avatar
Sol-GatitoHobbyist Digital Artist
Nope. I was just curious about it.

Someone I know has been using the Bosto Kingtee and he is quite pleased with it, tho.
draw2much's avatar
draw2muchHobbyist Digital Artist
I wonder if Bosto ever got better with their customer service? Part of the reason I don't recommend them is that I've heard awful AWFUL things about their customer service. If your product works, great! But if you have any problems, driver issues or hardware malfunction, trying to get any help from that company is like pulling teeth. Yiyanova and Huion, and to a lesser extent Monoprice, at least won't actively avoid you when a problem comes up. >_>

Glad Bosto Kingtee works for your friend. Though God help them if anything goes wrong with it, lol...

As for the brand you recommended, like I said, it's more for annotation (writing). I couldn't find anything about pressure sensitive of the pen... Most everything was referring to monitor specifications. :/
pyrze4132's avatar
The Bosto Kingtee tablets look pretty cool. They have the same pressure sensitivity as a Cintiq, and come in sizes of 14" and 19". Seems like a good deal.
draw2much's avatar
draw2muchHobbyist Digital Artist
I really can't recommend Bosto. They've got a terrible reputation as a company who doesn't want to support their products. I also don't know anything about their digitizer boards, which they claim to manufacturer themselves, so I can't say whether they've got solid hardware in their tablets or whether their drivers are any good. Yiynova provides the same things around the same price (or cheaper) and has better Customer Support while Monoprice just released a 19" tablet that's the cheapest on the market. They're all comparable to Cintiqs in terms of pressure sensitivity. 

Being cheaper than Wacom is not enough to get a recommendation from me. I require decent hardware, software, and customer support from a company. Bosto has to prove to me they're customer support is as good as or exceeds Panda City, Huion, and Monoprice before I can recommend them to other people. So far, they just haven't done that.
SentientMeat's avatar
ive been doing some reasearch into the subject matter and then i came across this little gem
draw2much's avatar
draw2muchHobbyist Digital Artist
Yep! I just saw a review from someone who got that model (as an early release). Here's the review: frenden.com/post/69444810884/r…
SentientMeat's avatar
thanks! now im definitely buying this as soon as i can cough up 400$
IzzydaBomb's avatar
IzzydaBombProfessional Filmographer
www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwmFAt… alternative review of the huion gt 190
draw2much's avatar
draw2muchHobbyist Digital Artist
WOAH! Thanks! I added the tablet to the journal! :D
JeremyB796's avatar
Huion makes a monitor as well called the GT-190
It can be found for $548 on amazon, so it's cheaper that the MSP19U...

...however, I was unable to find any reviews on it...
IzzydaBomb's avatar
IzzydaBombProfessional Filmographer
draw2much's avatar
draw2muchHobbyist Digital Artist
I wonder if it's like the Yiynova? They use UC-Logic boards like Huion does....
JeremyB796's avatar
I wonder that too...the Huion pens are tilt sensitive too...

Hmm...
draw2much's avatar
draw2muchHobbyist Digital Artist
Freakin'A! Are they really?! Have you confirmed this in person? I didn't think they were...
JeremyB796's avatar
Yeah, I learned this while browsing the Huion website.

Which, btw, is just wonderful to go through, I mean you can find everything one place *sarcasm* *sarcasm*
anonymous's avatar
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