Maybe you’ve heard Apple is supposedly launching a tablet computer this week? Yes?
If Apple does, in fact, release a tablet machine, I’m not sure if I’m going to be overjoyed or annoyed. Their touch interfaces, while largely user-friendly and pleasant to look at, are uncomfortable to use in a situation in which one needs precise control. Adjusting an image to the pixel via pinch and drag on the iPhone feels like using giant meat fists to tat lace. My suspicion is that Apple will more than likely address mainstream functional needs first (like publishing and reading, email and the web) and the needs of their traditional audiences (us!) second. Which makes sense.
And, naturally, since I am tired of waiting for the perfect tablet, I have several backup plans to make it happen.
The Wacom Cintiq is my first option for working in place at my studio on my large machine. It’s a small monitor with a trailing cord which is hooked up to the machine, like a secondary display. I’m currently using a Wacom Intuos4 tablet as my main input, so I’m familiar witht the technology. I’ve used only Wacom tablets since 1994 (in fact, I can’t really use a mouse); tablet-and-stylus pairs have helped keep RSIs like carpal tunnel syndrome at bay. The Cintiq is a great lap-sized unit with a really high-resolution pressure-sensitive display which allows you to draw and paint with as much nuance in Photoshop or Painter as you would on paper. Apple’s Ink technology—the preference pane only shows up in System Preferences when you have a stylus device plugged in—which operates nicely, but is rarely spoken about, works wonderfully in word-processing applications used via a Cintiq. The only thing I don’t like about the unit is that it’s heavier than is comfortable to use in my lap. The small unit’s about four pounds, and the best way to use it is to prop it between your lap and the edge of the desk.
So, ultimately, I think I may, from a cost versus benefits perspective, end up having my MacBook modded. But I’m still excited to see what Apple’s throwing on the table Thursday.