Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login

Wacom Cintiq 21UX + Erogtron LX Review (+photos)

Journal Entry: Thu Nov 25, 2010, 12:04 AM
(I know my personal friends will probably make fun of me for writing this review with copious photos, but eh, I enjoy it! XD And I can at least offer some insight into these things :))

So about 2 or 3 weeks ago, I managed to pick up (by pure chance) a Cintiq 21UX from B&H that was in stock. (For those who don't know, it's damn near impossible to find the 21UX in stock at just about any store you can think of. This is because the 21UX is a very niche product and makes up so little of the demand for the already tiny graphic tablet market. It's manufactured in such small numbers, it's on a near to-order basis, so you can wait up to 1 or 2 months to receive one after ordering.) So being the only one in stock at B&H, I knew I had to take it and upgrade from my 3-year old 12WX.

[click on any photo in this post to enlarge it.]

Aside from just getting the 21UX, I also picked up an add-on called the Ergotron LX. It's a desk mountable highly articulate arm for LCD monitors. I'll be talking about THIS later in this entry.

  • Cintiq 12WX to 21UX - Observations
Having used the 12WX for 3 years, I got to know it very well.

(History lesson: The 12WX was the first tablet Wacom introduced under it's new corporate identity. At the time of its release, the first generation 21UX was still out, as well as the short-lived widescreen 20WSX. All these tablets used intuos3 technology, so when the intuos4 was introduced 2 years later, the 21UX saw a major redesign the following season, taking over the 20WSX's slot and price point. For some reason, the 12WX has yet to see a similar major redesign.)

The holy grail!

That said, the first most obvious difference is that the 21UX uses intuos4 tech. Intuos4 pen, intuos4 digitizer array, and intuos4 expresskeys. The move to the new tech changes the overall accuracy of the Cintiq more than you would think it would. The 12WX has issues with the cursor jittering beneath the pen (making it hard to make perfectly straight lines) and when you approach the edge of the screens the cursor drifts away (like a magnet is pulling it) making it a little difficult to accurately hit buttons near the edges. Now, these issues the 12WX had are of course no REAL issue in overall practice. The last 3 years of everything I've submitted to DeviantART is proof of that. It can just create a few small irks here and there if you're doing some things that require serious precision. I found myself zooming in close quite often to lessen the effects on tight sections of line art. However, it's interesting to note that on the 21UX, both the cursor jitter and cursor drift do not exist at all. I mean seriously, not at all. Even when brought to the 4 corners of the screen, the cursor remains parked solidly beneath the pen. I will seriously admit that I WASN'T expecting this. While my ThinkPad X201T exhibits no cursor jitter, it does show comparable cursor drift to the 12WX. To see NONE on the 21UX, to me, justifies a good portion of the upgrade.

The second biggest difference is the screen itself. Yes it's larger, that's obvious. But the LCD itself is a big difference. One of my biggest gripes with the 12WX was that it was only sufficiently bright -- it never got "bright," especially in a brightly lit room. It always did the job, albeit with the backlight blaring at 100%, it just never went more at the times I needed it. The color accuracy of the 12WX was also severely lacking. It's not that the 12WX's colors were bad -- they were just different. Many of my pieces always had a fantastic warm feel on the 12WX. When I moved them to my NEC monitor for reference, they actually were quite flat, had low contrast, and poor saturation. It was always easy to fix with some quick color balance adjustments, but it was still disappointing that I had to do that at all. By direct comparison, the 21UX has an incredibly bright screen -- topping off at about 250 cd-m. It's easily visible in bright room conditions, and blinding at night. Unfortunately the 21UX can't do much in terms of actually LOWERING it's brightness. The backlight control on lowers the intensity about 10% from 100 to 0. Any further darkening would have to be achieved through standard brightness / color controls. The color however, is excellent. I haven't performed any colorimeter calibrations yet, but just out-of-the-box, it looks like it meets a pretty close sRGB color gamut just like my NEC monitor. Actually, as far as I understand the 21UX uses an IPS panel manufactured by NEC, which explains why they look identical in terms of color accuracy. (This is good, as my NEC is rated for an accurate sRGB mode.) Unlike the 12WX, the 21UX is capable of displaying highly fluorescent / neon colors, making its gamut a noteworthy amount wider. Other aspects of the screen such as color neutrality, viewing angles, bit-depth, and glass coating appear to be the same.

The resolution of the Cintiq 21UX doesn't look like much on paper -- 1600x1200. Considering the 12WX is 1280x800, that's only about 200 pixels extra in each direction comparatively. How can JUST that be worth $1000 more than the already-adequate 12WX? The answer is that, well, specs are deceiving. It isn't so much the resolution that's deceiving, think about the screen size. With a larger format screen like this, I find myself doing entire 8x10" thumbnails at 33.33% zoom. I couldn't do this on my 12WX because, well, mostly of its somewhat narrow vertical screen space. The resolution may not be much higher, but the actual difference in interaction with the canvas with so much more PHYSICAL room is immense. The tablet's pen resolution is better spread out across the canvas, so I can draw cleanly and easily despite being so zoomed out. It's nice being able to draw the entire image as a whole instead of just one section zoomed in, and consistently having to zoom out to see how it's looking from afar. While the 1600x1200 resolution is completely acceptable in my opinion, I will note that Wacom COULD have used a larger QXGA LCD screen (at a resolution of 2048x1536,) also made by NEC.  This would have given the 21UX a similar pixel density to the 12UX, for a bit finer detail when working. Had Wacom used a QXGA screen, it would have likely kept the 21UX's price point at the old $2500. While the new $2000 pricetag is much nicer, (as nice as it gets, anyway,) I will admit $500 extra for a significant resolution upgrade would have been worth it over the many years you'd be using it. Still, I'm not complaining about the 1600x1200 resolution. Just noting that, well, it could have been better.

The third notable change is the new set of expresskeys. The new 21UX uses mostly the same setup as the Intuos4, which is sorta good, sort bad in my opinion. The older key setup was great on the 12WX and Intuos3 because they were arranged in a "pad" like format, similar to a game controller. Your thumb had a definite home position which allowed you to quickly and accurately hit ANY key without looking. The vertical key setup on the 21UX isn't bad, but I do (still) find myself hitting the wrong key every now and then since there's no easily identifiable home position. The new touch strips are so-so in my book as well. I'm very happy that Wacom didn't give the 21UX that circular track-pad the Intuos4's have, and kept the vertical touch-strips instead. (The touch "strips" are better in my book because I can very easily control things like brush size by swiping up or down, and increase/decrease increments [such as brush size] by 1 by tapping the top or bottom end. You can't do that on the 4's radial touchpad.) Moving them to the back of the 21UX's casing is mostly good -- I don't hit them by accident anymore, but I also find using them accurately just slightly more difficult since I'm used to hitting them with my thumbs -- not my fingers. Though, I can still tap to adjust increments by 1, at least. I expect I'll get used to it eventually, but as of this moment the transition isn't the smoothest. I do like having many more keys, though. I finally could add much needed workflow shortcuts. Though I still disable the right touch strip, and only use 1 of the 4 presets on the left

The rest of the usage of the 21UX is pretty standard tablet affair. Just bigger and more natural.

Except, well, there's the setup. The 12WX has a built-in stand that really only has two REAL positions: open and closed. Closed, the 12WX lays flat. Open, the 12WX has about a 25~30 degree incline or so. You can stand the Cintiq up more vertically by having the stand "partially" open -- but you can't sensibly use it this way. The stand will eventually slide back and fold down to its usual open position. By comparison, the 21UX has a special stand that can be used at almost any incline, (even nearly vertical,) and keep its stance. It also allows for mostly free rotation allowing you to match the 21UX to your stroke motion, much like a normal sketchpad. It seems like it would be a great way to use the cintiq, except... unfortunately, the stand isn't 100% solid, and will "give" up and down a bit as you lean on it to draw. It will never flatten down as you use it, but it will compress and uncompress. The stand also holds the 21UX considerably higher than the 12WX was. Since the 12WX just has a simple kickstand, it stays lower on your desk, similar to an inclined drawing table. The 21UX however, is overall raised. Leaned back, it's like having an entire OTHER desk ontop of your desk. I found it to be too tall for my desk, (which thankfully is adjustable in height,) so I lowered the desk to be at my optimal working height. Others may find themselves wanting to invest in a higher-sitting drafting task chair to get a better vantage point on their 21UX. Unlike the 12WX, you can't pick it up and put it on your lap. The 21UX weighs a serious-business 19 lbs versus the 12WX's nothin' 5 lbs. While you can detach it from the stand and place it flat on your lap, it still becomes unwieldy since it DOMINATES your lap, and does it heavily. This isn't a piece of equipment you're going to want to be taking off the stand all the time, especially if you're worried about accidentally sliding off your lap or something. It should be kept on the desk.

See what I mean by the 21UX being on a whole higher level than my desk?

So, I ended up taking a very different approach to manipulating my 21UX on my desk. I WANTED my 21UX to be usable at about lap-height. Since picking it up was a bit too much, I bought an Ergotron LX desk mount.

  • The Ergotron LX - A floating cintiq!
Around the net, there were some small reports of people using this somewhat-known LCD arm for their cintiqs -- and despite the 21UX's heavy weight of 19 lbs, it holds it hanging in the air with ease.

Check it out, a true dual monitor Cintiq setup when the 21UX is off duty!

I got the LX from Amazon for $115…. At first I was skeptical because, hey, this is a mammoth and heavy display. The LX only has a capacity rating of 20lbs, and it extends 2 feet. I'd be trusting the construction of it to hold up my $2000 tablet in the air safely! So you can't blame me. However, after receiving the LX in the mail, it was definitely far better built than I thought it would have been. No plastic parts -- all 100% (heavy) metal. It came with mount hardware to clamp onto the edge of your desk, or drill through your desk for inner-surface placement. I tried it on the edge of my desk first, and while the clamp held firm, let's face it, I'm taking no chances here -- and I wanted a little more "universal" flexibility in accessing the cintiq, so I measured out the optimal spot to drill a hole in my desk and mounted it SOLIDLY through the top. Drill and bolted in place, there's absolutely 0% change of the clamp failing and falling off the desk, and the arm can reach both sides of the desk easily.

Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

So what does the Erogtron LX allow me to do? Well, first off it allows me to "float" the 21UX in front of me, lowered to hang half-off the edge of my desk It's basically in my lap by this point, offering me optimal ergonomic usage. I find myself no longer slouching when I draw, and I can withstand much longer sessions of drawing in my chair. It's nice that I can *float* the cintiq to where I need it, instead of moving to where it needs me to be.

The Ergotron has full rotation and tilt support as well. I still get all the same rotational benefits the stock Cintiq stand had.

A view from the back, so you can see the connective hardware. Strong and good looking!

Really you can't go wrong with the Ergotron LX. I'm literally using it with, probably, the toughest thing it will ever have to go up against. I feel safe with my 21UX mounted to it. It's that solid. Sure, there's a little bit of wobble if it's free floating -- but it's nothing that appears concerning, like the thing's about to break or something. In fact, the Ergotron wobbles less with the Cintiq on it than my NEC monitor on its stock stand. How's that for overbuilt?

It's really worth the investment for all 21UX owners who want some greater control over the behemoth. I even recommend it as a top-notch (and good looking) option to those looking for articulate arms for their normal LCD monitors, or hell, even your 12WX if you got one. Ergotron makes other attachments for the arm, such as extenders and a laptop tray. You can really make it work for your workspace well. It's nice being able to simply push the Cintiq out of the way to be up next to my primary monitor when it's not in use. I usually leave it turned off, since I rarely have use for a second monitor outside of Photoshop, but it's nice to save the desk space. The ergotron has a considerably lesser footprint than the 21UX, afterall.

A few other shots:

Another view from the back. Hey, look, I play with legos!

Another view from the back, reared up and parked on my desk.

Alright that's enough for now. The 21UX is a winner in my book, which is damned relieving because it cost me a freakin' ton. The ergotron is even more awesome. Get one. Any other questions, ask me up in the comments!

Add a Comment:
mam1255 Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2014
I am trying to talk my management into buying the ergotron arm for me, but they are questioning how you work around the cable coming out of the center back on the Cintiq 21UX...For some reason your photos aren't showing so I can't tell if you had that problem also. Thanks for any help.
roseannepage Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
would the ergotron be able to work with my cintiq 22HD? 
fox-orian Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I imagine it would. The 22HD is about the same size/volume/weight as the 21UX. They're practically the same tablets, just different aspect ratios.
roseannepage Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
awe sweet! thanks! 8D
tingc888 Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Hey. I'm not sure if this has been asked yet, but what kind of desk do you use?

My concern w/ the ergotron arm isn't whether it will hold the tablet, but whether the desk can take the tilted weight?
I have a Vika Amon desk from Ikea... which is particle board inside. I'm not sure if the bolts for the ergotron arm would be sturdy enough on this type of desk!

Can you tell me about the desk you have this arm attached to?

fox-orian Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
The VIKA wouldn't be good. I used to have one of those, and they are very weak surfaces -- not to mention weighing nearly nothing. The interior of a Vika desk top is hollow. The clamp would crush it, or loosen over time.

The Gallant desks are the only ones from IKEA that I'd trust with an Ergotron. They're made from solid slabs of beech wood with veneer on top. They're heavy, heavier than the ergo+cintiq, and very stable -- not to mention incredibly resistant to crushing forces.

Do NOT put an ergo on a Vika, though!
tingc888 Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Haha. Thanks for the warnings!

Ikea will probably be my option then. Been meaning to get a new desk anyways. :P
Zhenshchina Featured By Owner Sep 9, 2012  Professional Filmographer
Umm... I've thought that Ergotron would be the best solution for holding a Cintiq... but a couple of people told me that it's hard to draw on a Cintiq without the original support because the tablet moves and swings a lot when you draw on it since it's suspended rather than being well placed on a firm surface.
Also, they say that it's difficult and tiring to draw without resting your elbows on the table.

What its your judgement about this?


ArimoDokate Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
it really cool
Midnight-Rain88 Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
This looks perfect ^^ gonna save up an get this for my Cintiq great idea
Ketchyness Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
oh god I want that arm so bad. I actually get pains in my arms because Im holding the side of the screen with my left hand to use the hotkeys. My hand really starts to hurt after a while because of that weird angle you get.. since its so high up

In fact, I find it less painful to use my good old bamboo tablet. Which is sad since I have one of these.

I just might get one of these.. problem is my desk is really small and I dont know if I want to use it forever.
Psiphire Featured By Owner May 11, 2012
Sorry for posting a question after so long but I was wondering if, with this setup, you still had the ability to rotate the 21ux. Fantastic review, btw, thanks!
Lust-Daeva Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Thx Luv :) 've been searching for this for hours.
Ben-Olive Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks for posting this man! I just found these arms myself and was umming and ahhing about using it with the 21UX. Queries answered! :)
sayla-renheart Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2012
Yes, this! I need this sort of set up!
pippyboy Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2012
super review, i have had a 21ux for a year now, and this has solved my problems, the erogtron is ready to fit. thanks to you.
Go-Crag-Go Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2011  Student Filmographer
VERY helpful, thanks for taking the time to make this. I'm really considering getting an ergotron to go with my cintiq now. It can be a little bit overwhelming to use.
natovision Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2011  Professional Interface Designer
I wish I would have bought one of these years ago! I bought my 21UX in 2007, but hated that I couldn't make set it a 90 angle like a standard monitor. So I propped the back feet up on books to compensate. Needless to say this isn't very stable. I learned this the hard way when a minor earthquake shook it and knocked it off my desk, cracking the surface. I used it cracked for years before sending it in for repairs. I just ordered this Ergotron and can't wait for it to arrive.
ZoeyHuerta Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Someday. Someday I get me one cintiq AND one ergotron... someday, I swear!
turbonet Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2011
Dude, I'm happy for you and tbh a little bit jealous of your desk setup! It's amazing :)
So, I've got an Intuos 4 Large and I'm satisfied by it's performance, just I'm still using a TN panel monitor. Do you think a GOOD IPS monitor combined with my Intuos is another good alternative? I even think it's a little bit better to have a professional monitor (it's colors will be better than the Cintique 21ux display panel (can you give even more info on it, since I couldn't find anything on the net but here?)) with a large intuos. You only sacrifice the touch screen but the price goes down this way for people who can't afford the Cintique. Share your thoughts :)
ProfessorCabrera Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2011   Filmographer
Can you still rotate the Cintiq?
ProfessorCabrera Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2011   Filmographer
So can you still rotate the Cintiq with this arm?
Martzart Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2012
yes you can
ConvictionArt Featured By Owner Jul 1, 2011  Student Digital Artist
Hey master =)

I was actually to buy a Cintiq 12WX in 1-2 months ...for about 800 € it's about 1200 $ or something like that... maybe u could tell me where u have the information from that it costs 1000 $ or maybe it is just in the USA ...

But anyhow it seems like u persuaded or talked the cintiq 12WX down/bad ... now I'm not sure if it's worth buying ?!
I was actually impressed from both 12 WX and 21 UX ...but obviously the 21 UX is too expensive -.-
so is the smaller 12 WX really so bad or just in comparison to the bigger newer 21 UX ( I'm interested and a bit worried if the problem you had with the 12Wx according the straight line (jitter effect) is really you big ) ???

i hope u can help me out and tell me if the 12WX will make problems ?!

=) :meditation:
Init050 Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2011
Really helpfull review, just ordered mine today.
sweetestilo Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2011   Digital Artist
I purchased my 21UX in 2007, since have used a standard IKEA desk for it. However, my new condo is much smaller and I don't have room for a full sized computer desk. Any idea as to what the minimum size of surface area I'd need to install this Ergotron arm? Thanks,

C, Chicago
MgnZ Featured By Owner May 23, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
thank you!!! :D
ModernElements Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2011  Student Digital Artist
Thank you for posting this! I would have never found out about this arm for my tablet if you hadn't. i just ordered mine and I'm super excited to get it! :D
ditto9 Featured By Owner Jan 22, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Excellent review C:
I just got mine straight from Wacom yesterday (so excited) and I must say it's ever so daunting and odd to draw on, I've been on a Volito2 for four years!
Stunning piece of tecnologie, and that arm looks really useful! My current desk space is FAR too small for my Cintiq to work on it fully comfortabley but I'm moving to a bigger place in a few months time - and my desk space is going to be my main perogative.
I wish I'd found this review beforehand though - there's so much hate for the Cintiq on the web (didnt stop me from buying it) that I had second thoughts briefly. It is a lot of money, and it seems that the Int3 Edition of the 21UX is reflecting poorly on the '2010 Edition' :T
But yes, lovely review! It makes me want to write one about my experience haha
ShengDaFlashPRo Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2011  Student Digital Artist
we has the same keyboard hiFIVE 8)
maartenvc Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2010
Nice review.
So if I understand correctly there are two versions of the 21UX? They are named exactly the same?
I love my 12WX but the colors are so wrong, good to hear that the 21UX has a decent screen (correctly calibrated and true).
Also no jitter! That's awesome, so they managed to solve that problem. (or just ignored it on the 12WX ^^)
Only thing is, the 21UX looks so big and heavy. Wacom should make a +15" one, with better cable-management (one cable? ^^), a nec or ultrasharp screen and intuos 4 tech... That'd be nice, really nice.
fox-orian Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Late reply:

There is only one 21UX. The other 21UX is the old model based on intuos3 tech. This is similar to apple products. An iPod is an iPod. But 2nd gen is different than 3rd Gen etc.
maartenvc Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2011
Yeah, but for me an ipod of 2nd gen is different from one of 3rd gen. ^^
cloneddragon Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
wow is that a nice set up for your new Cintiq. i had the honor to mess with one at my collage and the high of the desk annoyed me. man would this be cool if they added an arm like this to it. (i may show them your set up)
lufOo Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2010
yay, that looks so awesome! :D

i got the same keyboard and mouse as you \, whiii
ItanHimitsu Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2010  Student General Artist
congrats *_______________*
Alienated101 Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2010
lucky guy. I have been waiting for mine for over 4 months.
Nesskain Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
OMG, i want i want iwant iwant iwant iwant XD XD
Samkaat Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Ahah look who I found here :D Just ordered mine ;)
Carsis Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2010  Professional Interface Designer
Oh my sweet absence of a god . . . .:omg:

That has got to be one of the most beautiful and sexiest things that I have ever seen. :drool:

too bad these things run in the thousand dollar mark otherwise I would order one myself. :XD:
Yayap111 Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2010
Wow, just wow.
Also Legos for the win!
fenrysk-art Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Very cool review! insightful as always and great photos to boot! the real estate difference you mentioned i can definitely relate to, even on intuos3 tech; i tried out my old roommate's 9x12 large intuos3 and lines drawn were so much smoother than when i would draw the same stroke on my 4x5 haha. the extra space for mapping out the strokes makes a huge difference indeed
Hardedge-Maelstrom Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2010  Student Digital Artist
Wow dude that's insane o_o I'm still working with my Graphire4 xD Totally jealous man.
HumDrumBuzz Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2010  Student General Artist
Just one question, I was wondering if in the past you've found that your traditional skills ever suffered from working too much digitally?

I was actually doing sculpture at Uni so I didn't really need to do a lot of traditional, but now I'm at two completely different levels when drawing on paper and drawing with a tablet. It's scaring the shit out of me and is making me really nervous when sketching because the level gap is obvious. Hopefully I'll get over it now I've started keeping a sketch book on me all the time, but I was just curious to see if someone a lot more advanced than me ever had this problem when they were younger.

It's cool if you're too busy to answer :) but cheers for the review it's good to know what's out there for you pros!
r4nd0mpunk Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2010
Hey, Im just getting into digital art to a heavier degree. I have a contract job now and Im finding my intuos3 to be lacking and Im looking for an upgrade, though Im on the edge between looking for a profession in art or getting into the translations field. But anyways, Ive been looking at upgrading to the 12wx and Im worried about the color variations and pen jitter points you made and am wondering if you would recommend the 21ux instead. I know I barely have the deskspace for it and Im a poor college student but I dont want to waste 1000 bucks just to need to spend 2000 in the future. My problems with the intuos are mostly the hand-eye coordination that is making my lines rather unsightly in comparison to when I do anything right on paper. But if pen jitter ruins my lines anyways it would be pointless.

Also I love your art and am always interested in your perspective on art. Keep up the good work!
Linkman42807 Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
If I ever need something reviewed, I'm going to ask you to do it. :) I love reading your reviews!
Paulbosch Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
woa jeaulousy!!
saramations Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
It looks pretty slick. i was starting to thing they were a myth....
mitosiskain Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2010
Those are some nice speakers, why isn't there a review for those?
Add a Comment:

Featured in Collections

resources by gladyfaith

More from DeviantArt


Submitted on
November 25, 2010


16,382 (4 today)
21 (who?)