Wednesday, December 21, 2011

basICColor Display 5

The new SpectraView Profiler software come out a few days ago.

This software is based on the basICColor Display 5.0.1 software and comes with new interesting features.

The software has a new, very user-friendly interface with some standard presets (honestly I never used them, but I think that they can come handy for some users).

I am testing the new software on different configurations. I am using a dual SpectraView 301 configuration to make some tests at the moment.

My usual workspace is a SpectraView 271 and a Cintiq 24HD (not shown).
As usual I am working with the basICColor Discus.

The validation from the SpectraView 301 is very good.Not a surprise, I personally think that basICColor Display used in combination with Discus colorimeter is the best solution for monitor calibration and profiling nowadays.

More importantly the monitors performed very well with some test images that I always use to test new software and hardware for color management. Gradients are uniform and difference between small luminance value are clearly noticeable. Good.

A feature that I like of this new release is the Color space simulation.

If you own the software and a monitor with hardware-calibration capable LUTs you can now use them to emulate another device (printer or monitor). I am testing this feature to emulate printer profiles and monitor profiler (sRGB for web output, for example).

It seems to work nicely, better than other soft-proof that I have tried in the past. For my personal needs I always prefer to make an “hard-test” printing a small detail of the final print if I need good color-accuracy, but I think that this function can help.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wacom is working to fix the ArtPen problem

I have been told that Wacom is working on the Cintiq 24HD to solve the ArtPen problem.

They gave me no information about how long this process will take. The good thing is that they are working on it. The bad thing is that I lost more than one work due to this problems with the ArtPen.

The latest drivers for both Mac and PC (6.2.0-2) doesn’t fix the problem. This drivers have been removed from the download page but they are reported here.

I have the drivers installed on both my PC and my MAC workstations, and the good news is that they offer a very nice fine-tune possibility for the pen sensibility. I don’t know why they have been removed now, I will ask Wacom.

I hope to have soon good news from Wacom USA.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

ArtPen (BAD) news.

I have just received this email from Wacom USA:

As of right now there is no fix for this problem and there may not be one in the future. I would suggest not using the Art Pen with the Cintiq 24HD and using only the included Grip Pen.

XXX XXXSenior Customer Care Technician
Wacom Technology Services, Corp

I think that no other comments are needed. Please notice that in the  Wacom internet site the 
Art Pen is reported to be compatible with the Cintiq 24HD.

You can read the original post here (description of the problems). After more than one moth waiting for news I have been told that maybe the ArtPen will never work with the Cintiq 24HD.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cintiq 24HD: ArtPen Problem Update

I have made two more YouTube videos to show the problem that I am expereicing with the ArtPen and the Cintiq 24HD.

Please read the previous post to have more information about this problem.

Notice that both the Cintiq 24HD and the ArtPen that I am using now are new units from Wacom. Wacom has changed my ArtPen and my Cintiq 24HD but the problem is still there.

Update (29th October, 2011):
Not only a Windows 7 problem: here you can see the same problem in OSX 10.7.2!

Here is the first video - problems in OneNote2011:

1) (first 10 seconds) If I get close with the ArtPen to the Cintiq 24HD there is an unwanted input (as you can see I draw small dots on the screen also if I am not applying any pressure, I am about 1cm away from the surface). As you can see pressure level in the Dignostic tool inside the driver stands to 0%! I am not touching the screen with the nib but little dots/lines are drawn!

2) (from second 10 to the end) When I release pressure the ArtPen doesn’t stop to draw.

This is not acceptable. I can’t work in this way!This is not acceptable. I can't work in this way!

Second videoproblem in Wacom Driver “Sensibility details:

As you can see the problem of “unwanted lines” is present also in the driver. This is definitely not a problem of any application.

This is how the problem is described by another user of the Cintiq 24HD (“jonstatt” in the Wacom European Forum):

Try drawing a line at moderate speed and then very quickly lift the pen away from the tablet at the end. An extra vertical line appears even though the pen was not in contact with the tablet. This only occurs with the art pen and even can be seen in the tablet driver section where you can test draw the pen on the screen. It is definitely not application specific. It is the driver.

To know what Wacom says about this problem you can follow the discussion on the official European Wacom forum.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cintiq 24HD: new unit comes!

I have received yesterday a new Cintiq 24HD. Wacom swapped my defective unit, and I have a new unit. I am very happy for this replacement, I didn’t have to wait for a new unit, since the same courier that took the defective Cintiq 24HD brought me the replacement unit. Good.

I was lucky enough to get a 0 bad pixel unit, and this is again good.

Ok, now the bad news:

1) The fan noise is present, also if it regular and not “un-continuous” like the one I had with the first unit I received. I have to report that if you have a quiet PC, and/or if you work in a silent workspace, than you will clearly hear the Cintiq 24HD when you are working with it. I really don’t like this, and I think that more Wacom could have done more efforts to reduce the fan noise. I have to listen some music while working to forget about this noise. Anyway my unit was defective, so I can confirm that the fan noise that I have reported some days ago is not normal.

2) The ArtPen is not working. Anyhow, Wacom finally confirmed (through the WacomForum) that this is a driver problem and that the ArtPen is not working. They told me that the problem is only a Photoshop problem, I have experienced a more general problem. Anyhow they now have both my ArtPen and my old Cintiq, so maybe they could do more tests and tell me if also my ArtPen was defective.
It is good to have a confirmation from Wacom (maybe they could have emailed me before). I hope that new drivers will soon fix this.

I really liked the fast Wacom swap service, but I have to report that they didn’t tell me anything about this (I was not present when the courier came the first time) and that there was some confusion about should be shipped back to them. I was told to ship only the Cintiq 24HD and the ArtPen without accessories. Then I discovered that I should have shipped the Cintiq 24HD with all accessories and not the ArtPen. Anyway I should get back the ArtPen again, and UPS will come again to pick the accessories.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cintiq 24HD: update.

No big changes, one week more on the calendar, no real solution for Cintiq 24HD problems.

I am waiting for an official answer from Wacom to the fan sound problem. Other people have reported in my blog and in other forums that the fan noise is clearly audible,  some of them reported that they have an “irregular, scratchy, noisy sound” like the one that I have reported.

I am also waiting for an official (and also an unofficial) answer to the Art Pen problem. Nobody in all the forums that I have checked and on YouTube seem to have tested the Cintiq 24 HD with an Art Pen. I really don’t know if my unit was defective, if it is a driver problem, or if it is an ArtPen problem. Only time will tell us.

I am starting to get disappointed with Wacom support. I have emailed them several times and I have also asked for a telephone number, but I never got an answer. They told me that my Cintiq 24 HD will be replaced. Today at 3:00 pm an UPS courier tried to retire a package but I was outside. I was waiting for an email from Wacom to know some basilar things such as:

1) When the courier was coming.

2) What I should put inside the box (only the Cintiq 24HD, the tablet with all accessories?).

3) Time to have a replacement unit.

4) Type of replacement unit (used, new?).

I really don’t understand why they didn’t answer my questions. My first email was sent on the 5th, then I sent an email on the 7th, then another email on the 10th. Never got an answer.

Meanwhile I found the Wacom policy for bad pixel: There is a detailed European ISO norm 13406-2 regarding pixel default classes. We apply class 2 rules and additionally we do not accept any panels with a fully black or fully white pixel. This seems very unreasonable to me. We are paying perfectly working and flawless 2300 euros for this tablet. We expect a perfectly working tablet. I would be happy to pay more to have a 0 bad pixel warranty. You can find it on many low-cost monitors nowadays! I have already reported that in 2006 I purchased a 1200 euro monitor with this kind of warranty. We are in 2011 and we are talking about a product that is almost two times more expensive. Wacom should really work on this. A single bad pixel in the center of the monitor can really ruin the working experience with this product.

Other problems that have been reported are:

1) Red cast: I think that this is more a colorimeter problem, I will let you know if any update is available.

2) Color “gradient” from side to side (with a gray background one side is magenta and the other is green). This is absolutely normal if the color difference is below 2 DeltaE 2000(1.5 DeltaE 2000 would be better). You have this kind of gradient also on very expensive Eizos and NECs monitors. A perfectly uniform panel.

That’s all for now. I hope to receive a response to my emails soon.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cintiq 24HD: current situation.

As readers of this blog may already know I am experiencing some problems with my Cintiq 24HD. Don’t misunderstand me: I really like the Cintiq 24HD and how it feels to draw on it, but the problems I have are compromising my experience with this nice piece of hardware. 

The first problem is a  fan noise that maybe will require my unit to be changed, but I don’t know how much it will take. I am waiting for a confirmation from Wacom. 

Then a problem with the Art Pen that is not working properly (for me is not usable at all). I have been told (it was the supposition of a YouTube user, nothing from Wacom) that my problem is only a driver problem. I really don’t know if this can be true, I am waiting for an answer from Wacom. 

Other problems that have been reported by user are:
1) Bad pixel (2500€ but no 0 bad pixel warranty, that nowadays you find on many monitors. I got my Eizo replaced for one bad pixel in 2006 (5 years ago) and it was a mid-level monitor (S2410W). On my blog I got one comment from an user with a bad pixel and I know about one more case. It seems that there are no standards for bad pixel. Read this topic on Wacom European Forum.

2) Driver problems in “remembering” settings: read this topic. I reported this in the Wacom Forum, I hope that they can do something. At the moment the solution is to use the preference utility to backup and reload setting each time you restart the computer. Not a very user friendly workaround. I had also some problems with the driver (the Cintiq 24HD a couple of times was not recognized correctly) but this could be a problem of my computer (also if other user have reported a similar problem and I am not experiencing problems with all the other hardware that I use, including the Wacom Intuos 4 Wireless).

3) UPDATE 6th October 2011: Some user reported a flickering problem of the screen. You can read here and here (two different link). The problem is described in this way: the display flashes off and on again for about a second at random intervals. 

In Europe getting customer support seems a bit tricky. I wrote to the support on the 30th and I got incomplete email as answer. In Wacom Europe they are all very kind, maybe they are busy because all the 24 HD are sold out, but the service starts to seem to me slow. You can read the story here.

On my blog you will find more information and a review of the Cintiq screen review of the Cintiq 24HD screen and a review of the moving and locking mechanism.

Other things that I need to say (some of them where already described in this blog) are:

The screen is hot (maybe related to my fan issue). I am working in an air conditioned room and I can feel that the screen is a little bit too hot for my taste. After some hours of work I started to really hate the temperature of the screen. Very sad, because otherwise working with this product is a fantastic experience.

If you scratch the screen you will have to pay several hundred euros to get it replaced. It is recommended to clean it only with soft cloths, using only water,  no solvents. But you never know. I was more than one picture of a ruined Cintiq 21UX. Consider that is suggested not to use screen protector because they will compromise quality.

I love felt nibs, great feeling, but you will really need many of them, they seem to consume even faster than on the Intuos surface.

I bought the product because I always loved Wacom products, I hope that they will quickly solve my problems. I will keep you updated. Any comments are welcome.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cintiq 24HD and ArtPen: problematic combo.

Update 8th November 2011: Link
Update 25 October 2011: Link
Update 22 February 2012: The ArtPen problem is now fixed. A firmware update removed all the problems: Link

What is the Art Pen?

The Cintiq 24HD comes with a very good Grip Pen, sensitive both to pressure and tilt. The Art Pen adds to the features offered by the Grip Pen the sensitivity to rotation. This means that if you are using a rectangular brush in Photoshop you can make a thin or thick line just rotating the brush in your hand. The pen also comes with different nibs, some of them are very similar to an highlighter head. The Art Pen is a pen that has pressure, tilt and rotation sensibility.

What is this article about?

Sadly I am experiencing some problems with the Art Pen KP701E01 used in combination with my Cintiq 24 HD. There are several Art Pen model numbers around. Please notice that is the Art Pen that Wacom Europe recommends for the Cintiq 24HD. I have asked what was the correct Art Pen for the Cintiq 24 HD because I was aware that more than one Art Pen exists. On the Wacom European Forum  (see post number 2, from Wacom) I got the answer that the KP701E01 is the right Art Pen for the Cintiq 24HD. I know for sure that in USA there is also another Art Pen, the KP701E2 LINK but Wacom Europe officially doesn’t know anything of this product. I suppose that is the same product as KP701E01, just a different name, but I might be wrong.

Are you sure that your Art Pen is not defective?

Yes, the Art Pen has been tested on an Intuos 4 Wireless and it works simply fine, flawlessly I would say. Very precise, all its functions are recognized correctly. The problem that I am experiencing is not related to the Art Pen that I am using, but to the Art Pen + Cintiq 24 HD combination. 

Did you try different nibs?

Yes, I tried all four kind of nib that come bundled with the Cintiq 24HD. I also tried to install them in different ways. Anyhow, as I told you, I am not suffering any problem with the Intuos 4 Wireless. This is not a nib problem. 

UPDATE (6th October 2011): Are you using a screen protector/screen guard? 

I am not using a screen guard. For what I know the screen guard is not recommended for two reason: the quality of the screen in terms of color reproduction can decrease and the pens could stop to work correctly. Anyway I don’t know any screen guard for the 24HD which is already for sale.

Ok, what is the problem with the Art Pen used on your Cintiq 24 HD?

More than one problem, unfortunately.

If I press low the computer recognize 2 double clicks continuously. Using the "sensitivity details" (I hope this is the correct translation, I have the drivers in Italian) and going to the test area I can see that no setting changes this behavior. This happens only with the Art Pen. The bundled Grip Pen works correctly. No “continuous double click” when passing the pen around the screen with low pressure.

Ok, what this “double click” issue means? I tried to describe it in the following YouTube video.

First 4 lines done without problems with the standard pen. Then 3 lines done with the Art Pen. The third line shows some serious problem. If you hear the sound (from sec 18) you can hear that I am applying a force with the nib, there is friction between the nib and the screen but nothing appears on the screen. I have done other tests like this and I tried to made some drawings but if I don't apply a lot of pressure the lines always have some problem. This is not happening with the default pen and I am using the same exact "technique" to draw.  So the “continuous double click" happens because the tablet does not recognize correctly the pressure “thinking” that you are continuously pressing and un-pressing on the screen. This is why the lines are not uninterrupted.

Another thing: if I go to the diagnostic information panel (in the "acom driver properties) I can see that with the Grip Pen the lower input pressure is detected properly. With the Art Pen it seems that the input pressure jumps from 0 to 20% without any lower value. I sometimes could get lower values, but always with the cursor "flashing" (same thing that it does when you touch the screen to make a "single click" but it does it continuously, like a strobe). Again, this is the “continuous double click issue”.

Ok. What other problems are you experiencing?

The Art Pen is also not detecting correctly the moment when I release the pen from the screen, as you can see in this video:

I am first using the Art Pen to draw 4 straight lines and then I use the Grip Pen to draw 4 other straight lines. Using the same exact "technique" (trying to apply the same exact amount of pressure). As you can see when I release the nib from the screen it seems that the computer sees an input that I never give. The end of the lines made with the Art Pen is never "clean" and I am experiencing a lot of times while I draw the problem that you can see in line number 3 and 4. It seems that there is a "deviation".

Maybe this problem is described in a more complete and appreciable way in this other video:

I am applying pressure only between the green lines. First the standard pen that comes with the Cintiq 24HD (black lines). Than the Ar tPen (red lines). As you can see also if I release pressure where the green line I get another input and another stretch is mad, in the direction where I move the nib. But the nib is no longer in contact with the surface.

What does this mean? 

It means that I simply can’t use the Cintiq 24 HD with the Art Pen. I endlessly get unwanted signs and invisible lines.

Are you absolutely sure that the problem is not you?

Well, I have asked a professional artist to test the Cintiq 24HD with the Art Pen a few moments ago and he was happy to do it because he is waiting to order one (at the moment they are sold out in the European Wacom  Store). He experienced the same exact problem. I have also asked 4 other people to test the tablet and they were all disappointed in the behavior of the Art Pen.

Couldn’t it be that it is just your Cintiq 24HD that has some sort of problem? What is Wacom saying about this issues with the Art Pen?

At the moment it seems that I am the only Art Pen user of the Cintiq 24HD and, also if I asked other Cintiq user to give me feedback on several forums, I didn’t get them. I started a topic on the Wacom European Forum describing the problems that I have, but I didn’t get any complete answer from Wacom. For this problem, and the other problem that I had with my Cintiq (the fan problem) they told me that I have to send my Cintiq 24HD, so maybe it is just my Cintiq that is defective (I will let you know when I will get a new Cintiq 24HD to test).

I will keep you informed if I get any news from Wacom or other users. 

Update (3th October 2011): Are you sure that your computer is not the problem? Maybe it is a low performance or  a wrongly configured machine.

My computer is not giving me problems with the Intous 4 Wirelss, that is based, for what I can understand, on a very similar (if not the same) technology of the Cintiq 24HD. I don’t think that the Cintiq 24HD requires a largely different type of calculations to work. My computer was bought two years ago but has been updated regularly to keep the performance high. I have a water-cooling solution that allowed me to overclock the CPU to 4.1Ghz since the first days of usage. I did many benchmarks and stability test and I had no overclocking-related problem during this years. Anyway whenever I have a problem with some hardware that I use or test I reset all the values in the BIOS to their default to be absolutely sure that the OC is not compromising anything. I am using 24Gbyte of RAM (8 are for a RAM Disk) and working with P30+ and P65+ files I can see that Photoshop and Lightroom benefit from this amount of RAM. I have also 2 SSDs, an older but still good X-25 M G2 Intel and a recently purchased Vertex 3 (that is not working in best conditions since I don’t have a SATA3 controller). I have an ATI FirePRO V4800 (to use 10bit displays like the Nec SpectraView recent models) and an nVidia 480GTX. I don’t like to have both installed in the same time, so I change the graphic card depending on my needs. Anyway each time I clean the system and install the proper and most recent drivers. To be absolutely sure that the problem is not my PC I did the same tests on an older mobile PC and I had the same results. I will also try to test everything on other PCs and let you know if anything changes.

 Update (13th October 2011): My unit wasreplaced. Wacom told me that this should be a driver problem. Read here for more details.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cintiq 24HD: the moving and locking mechanisms.

As you may already know the Cintiq 24HD does not allow rotation of the screen. This could be a problem for some users, even if I have to say that I don’t miss this function because all the programs that I use offer a good “canvas rotation” function that work very nicely with the Cintiq Touch Ring.

My first suggestion it to download and read the useful Cintiq 24 HD manual, that you can find here (English PDF, The download size is about 6.4Mbytes. The manual doesn't come with the Cintiq 24HD, in the box there is only a Quick Stard Guide. The bundled CD/DVD has no PDF manual in it.

The support station has a nice cable management system in it that saves you from “chaotic cable situation”. This component of the Cintiq 24 HD is the counterweight that allows you to move the Cintiq to very comfortable working position, like a drawing board. Exactly what you see the the Wacom Youtube video.

What you don’t see is that the support stands on some pads that have very poor antiskid performance, this allows you to move the heavy weight of the Wacom Cintiq with one finger when it stands on a smooth surface like the desk in the following video:

I don’t know if I like this thing or not: it can be useful in some working conditions, but maybe some user may want their support station to don’t move so easily. This “sliding ability” is desired by by Wacom and it is also mentioned in the Cintiq 24 HD User Manual. 

The support of the Cintiq 24HD one is structured in four tilt levers and two very strong metallic support arms that allows many different working positions. The following image comes from page 19 of the user manual that I have liked above.

The two support arms have only one blocking position (vertical, about 80°) and, if you release them with a control that is in the center of the support station, you can’t block them in any other position. The four levers (two on each side) allow you to block the tilt between the screen and the metallic support in many different ways. This mechanism works fine, and you can place the screen of the Cintiq in many different position. But you have to be careful not to abandon the screen in a wrong position, because the support will not block the screen from moving, you will have to block a screen in a position where it is standing properly. You will have to make the screen and the support base touch each other. The support/lever system seem very solid, also if I don’t like very much the fact that the, once you release the control of the supports, there are no blocking other positions that the initial one. You can still use the levers to block the screen in any tilt position, as I wrote.

You can create an angle of 90° making the screen perfectly perpendicular to the support (and to the desk). You can even set the screen to an angle of more than 90° like you can see in this picture:

Green line is the actual screen position. Red line is desk direction and perpendicular to the desk direction. Blue lines show other possible tilt positions (not all, you can also tilt on the other side). Of course, as I said, you can make the screen perfectly perpendicular to the desk but you need to unlock the arms and let the screen touch the basement.

With the arms locked in position (there is only one lock position) the screen does not go to a perfectly perpendicular position. The picture above shows the “most perpendicular” position that you can get when the support metallic arms are in their blocked point.

If you are not happy with the support system you will find information on the manual on how to mount the Cintiq 24HD Screen on a VESA MIS-E 100/200 compatible support. 

Also after many hours of work your arms and back will not hurt. I have to say that this is the better ergonomic tablet that I have ever tested. One bad thing that I have noticed is that the screen gets a little bit hot, something that you can feel. Don’t know if this is related to the  that I reported

The good:

1) You can position in many comfortable  working positions. It is very nice to work with this digital drafting table.

2) Nice ergonomics. Perfect for long working sessions.
3) Feels very solid.

4) VESA MIS-E 100/200 compatibility.

The bad:

1) The arms have only one locking position and their movements are not controlled by some sort of damper.

2) The support feet slide too much.