Wacom Intuos Features That Alternative Tablets Don’t Have

(May 09, 2019) Update: It turns out I was mistaken this whole time about the Wacom Intuos Pro. I thought it came with pen rotation functionality, but as a matter of fact, you have to buy a separate 100 USD pen to get pen rotation. This is on top of the already ludicrously high price of the tablet itself.
I will edit this post to make sure it includes the fact that you have to buy a separate pen for 100 USD to get the “advantage” of pen rotation.

This post lists the advantages of the “beginner” Wacom Intuos series and the Wacom Intuos Pro 2017 (PTH-660 series) compared to alternative tablets.
I made this list mainly as a way to show people that they don’t exactly lose out on much by going with alternative tablets instead of Wacom tablets, but it may also help you decide that Wacom is the only option for you because of some features that are Wacom exclusive.

***Important to Note!***

There are three different series of low-end Wacom “Intuos”. Below are the versions:
-Wacom Intuos 2018 – the current generation with product numbers CTL4100/CTL4100WL/CTL6100WL.
-Wacom Intuos 2015 – the previous generation with product numbers CTL-490/CTH-490/CTH690 named Wacom Intuos Draw/Art/Photo/Comic/3D.
-Wacom Intuos 2012 – the first generation with product numbers CTL-480/CTH-480/CTH-680.
I only talk about the Wacom 2018 and 2015 versions as the 2012 series is not as readily available for purchase anymore.

The current Wacom Intuos Pro is the series with product number PTH-660 or PTH-860. They are sometimes to referred to as Wacom Intuos Pro 2017 edition.
Not to be mistaken with the previous generation Wacom Intuos Pro with product numbers PTH-451, PTH-651, and PTH-851.

The features the “beginner” Wacom Intuos series has that the alternatives do not:

  • Multi-touch (Intuos 2015 only, with the exception of the Intuos Draw which does not have this feature).
  • Bluetooth wireless (Intuos 2018 only, with the exception of the Intuos small without Bluetooth version).
  • Radial menu software in the tablet driver.
  • Different kinds of pen nibs available in the Wacom store.
  • The ability to use multiple Wacom tablets on the same computer (only applies to products listed under “compatible products” for the latest Wacom drivers).
    Note: XP-Pen’s newest drivers also have this feature now.
  • A program bundled with it. However, you’re basically getting forced to buy a program that you may or may not want. If you want the specific program, then go for it, but otherwise it’d be smarter to use that money on an alternative to get a larger tablet and avoid getting forced into paying for programs you’re never going to use.

Basically, the only thing you gain by buying a Wacom Intuos is the multi-touch on the Intuos 2015, or the Bluetooth wireless on the Intuos 2018, but if you don’t use those features, buying an alternative is much better because you get a bigger drawing area for an equal or lower price (bigger drawing area means easier control over your lines).
There are basically no other differences between the Wacom Intuos and alternatives aside from the multi-touch/Bluetooth and the “Wacom brand name” that you get from buying a Wacom.
It’s important to note though that the Intuos Draw edition (CTL-490DW) and the Intuos 2018 small without Bluetooth (CTL4100) are completely worthless buys because they don’t even have the multi-touch/Bluetooth which separates the Wacom Intuos’ series from the alternatives. Their active areas are only 6 x 3.7 inches compared to the minimum 8 x 5 to 10 x 6 inches that most alternative tablets have, and they costs 80 USD where you could get an alternative with a way bigger active area for the same price.

The radial menu software is not very important for this tablet because it is only really helpful to your workflow if you are using expresskeys for your shortcuts and trying to avoid touching the keyboard. The majority of people with the “beginner” Intuos will be using the keyboard because there are only 4 expresskeys on it in the first place, and that’s not even close to enough keys to replace your keyboard.

The ability to use multiple Wacom tablets on the same computer should not be a factor for beginners (because they will only have one tablet), but if you are a more advanced user who wants to use multiple tablets on the same computer, only Wacom’s drivers allow you to do that. (Note: XP-Pen’s newest drivers also allow you to do that.)
However, most people will have no need for this feature because most people do not use more than one tablet to draw, but if this is a concern for you, make sure you take it into consideration.

The “beginner” Wacom Intuos don’t really have that many features that separate it from the alternatives. The Wacom Intuos Pro 2017 series, however, has many features and differences over the alternatives.

The features the Wacom Intuos Pro (PTH-660) series has that the alternatives do not:

  • Multi-touch.
  • Pen tilt/rotation sensitivity. (Rotation only available by buying a 100 USD pen separately.)
  • Pen eraser.
  • Replaceable texture sheets (you can replace the drawing area to renew the texture or change it to a rougher or smoother experience).
  • Different kinds of pen nib shapes available for the Pro Pen 2 in the Wacom store.
  • Bluetooth wireless connection option.
  • Radial menu software in the tablet driver.
  • The ability to use multiple Wacom tablets on the same computer (only applies to products listed under “compatible products” for the latest Wacom drivers).
    Note: Again, XP-Pen’s newest drivers also have this feature now.
  • 2-year warranty in USA, Canada, Latin America, and Europe. (1-year warranty in Japan, China, and Asia Pacific.)
    All other screen-less tablets have 1-year warranties (18 month warranty for XP-Pen if you buy from their official site.)

So well, you should be able to see that it has a lot of features that alternatives don’t have. That’s the reason why it costs so much more than anything the competitors offer.

However! If you don’t need multi-touch, pen tilt/rotation sensitivity, and pen eraser (these being the 3 most distinctive features that alternatives don’t have), you will save a lot of money going for something else.
The vast majority of people who have a Wacom Intuos Pro do not make use of the multi-touch, pen tilt/rotation sensitivity, and pen eraser. You should make sure that you really truly need those features before considering paying the premium 350-500 USD for a Wacom Intuos Pro.
If you don’t need those features, 100 USD Wacom alternatives are more than enough for your art.
(Also note that you can’t get pen rotation unless you pay an extra 100 USD for the Wacom Art Pen.)

Again, the ability to use multiple Wacom tablets on the same computer should not be a factor for beginners (you shouldn’t even be considering the Wacom Intuos Pro if you’re a beginner because of how pricey it is), but if you are a more advanced user who wants to use multiple tablets on the same computer, only Wacom’s drivers allow you to do that (and XP-Pen now).

So as a recap of what I said:

  • If you don’t need the multi-touch/Bluetooth that the “beginner” Wacom Intuos series offers, go for alternatives to get a bigger active area for the same or lower price.
  • If you don’t need the multi-touch, pen tilt/rotation, and pen eraser that the Wacom Intuos Pro offers, go for an alternative to get a much cheaper tablet.
  • Only for more experienced users: If you need to use multiple different tablets on the same computer, your only choice is Wacom. (Edit: Or XP-Pen.)

However, if money isn’t a problem for you, you can just go with an Intuos or Intuos Pro and feel good about having the most trusted tablets you can get on the tablet market.

Some other differences which are kinda minimal or debatable:

  • “Wacom uses higher quality materials.”
    For the most part, no. Alternatives are not made of horrible materials like you often hear, although of course there are still some which will probably break easily (ex. Artisul Pencil Sketchpad). However, the build quality of middle to high-end tablets like the Huion New 1060 Plus is easily comparable to anything Wacom offers.
    However, it should be noted that pre-2016 Wacom alternatives are often lower build quality than tablets released in 2016 or later. Release dates are not often given as information, but try to avoid older Wacom alternatives.
  • “Wacom has better customer support.”
    Again, no. The well known alternatives properly reply to your questions and concerns by the next business day. It’s not like people don’t complain about Wacom’s support being “hard to reach” either.
  • “Wacom drivers have better customization.”
    Yes and no. Basically all recent Wacom alternatives have really good customization options, so you’re not missing out on much.┬áMost people do not use the 4 expresskeys on the “beginner” Intuos since it’s not enough to replace the keyboard anyways.
    The biggest customization advantage that Wacom has is the radial menu function (there is a free version created for non-Wacom users here: http://radialmenu.weebly.com/). Tablets like the Huion Q11K can map all keyboard buttons and mouse clicks to any of the expresskeys and pen buttons, so the Intuos Pro doesn’t have them very beat there at all.
    So yes, Wacom is at the epitome of tablet driver customization, but they have nowhere to go from there. Meanwhile, the alternatives are continuously improving and getting closer to that point.

Price Ranges of Graphic Tablets and Drawing Monitors

This post was last updated: Jan. 18, 2018

These are the price ranges of all tablets with similar active area sizes.
This is just so you know how much money each size generally costs. (Price ranges do not include sale prices.)

This list does NOT show you which tablets are the best. It only shows you what price ranges you can expect from each size group! Please keep in mind that the lowest priced tablets can often be buggy or defective.

Graphic Tablets

(aka. Screen-less tablets, pen tablets, etc)

*4 x 2.23 inch to 5.5 x 4.7 inch tablets are mainly made for Osu! gameplay, not for drawing.
**The 6 x 3.7 inch active area size set by Wacom’s Intuos series is what I consider the bare minimum size for comfortable drawing. Actual necessary size depends on each individual.
***My personal belief is that 8 x 5 inch or bigger is the most optimal size overall. However, more experienced people will be best off with sizes similar to what they’re used to using.

4 x 2.23 inches to 5.5 x 4.7 inches Active Area

~25 USD to 42 USD (Wacom = None)

Lowest = Huion 420, Wacom = None
Highest = Huion H430P, Wacom = None

6 x 3.7 inches Active Area

~30 USD to 50 USD (Wacom = 80 USD to 100 USD)

Lowest = XP-Pen G640, Wacom = Intuos Draw
Highest = Huion H640P, Wacom = Intuos Art/Comic/Photo Small

8 x 5 inches to 9 x 6 inches Active Area

~40 USD to 100 USD (Wacom = 200 USD to 350 USD)

Lowest = Huion 680S, Wacom = Intuos Art/3D Medium
Highest = Huion DWH69, Wacom = Intuos Pro Medium

10 x 6.25 inches to 12.1 x 8.4 inches Active Area

~50 USD to 140 USD (Wacom = 500 USD)

Lowest = Ugee HK1060 Pro, Wacom = Intuos Pro Large
Highest = Huion Inspiroy G10T, Wacom = Same as above

14 x 9 inches or bigger Active Area

~160 USD (Wacom = None)

Lowest = Huion Giano WH1409, Wacom = None
Highest = Same as above, Wacom = None

Drawing Monitors

(aka. pen displays, pen monitors, etc)

*The 10.1-inch and 19-inch diagonal drawing monitors have lower base prices because they are lower resolution (around 1440x900p). The exception to this rule is the Huion GT-191 which has 1080p on a 19-inch screen.
**I personally think 1920x1080p is best for anything bigger than 13.3-inch diagonal to get a good pixel density.
***Some of Wacom’s newer products (Cintiq Pro 16, Cintiq 27QHD) have resolutions higher than 1080p, but 1080p is the maximum resolution you can get from the alternatives.

10.1-inch Diagonal

~219 USD to 280 USD (Wacom = None)

Lowest = Parblo Coast10, Wacom = None
Highest = Parblo Mast10, Wacom = None

13.3-inch Diagonal

~345 USD to 600 USD (Wacom = 800 USD to 1000 USD)

Lowest = Parblo Coast13, Wacom = Cintiq 13HD no touch
Highest = Bosto 13HD, Wacom = Cintiq Pro 13

15.6-inch Diagonal

~360 USD to 500 USD (Wacom = 1500 USD)

Lowest = XP-Pen Artist 15.6, Wacom = Cintiq Pro 16
Highest = Artisul D16, Wacom = Same as above

19-inch Diagonal

~400 USD to 500 USD (Wacom = None)

Lowest = Yiynova MVP20U+FE, Wacom = None
Highest = Huion Kamvas GT-191, Wacom = None

21.5-inch Diagonal

~460 USD to 900 USD (Wacom = 1700 USD)

Lowest = Parblo Coast22, Wacom = Cintiq 22HD no touch
Highest = Bosto 22HDX, Wacom = Same as above

27-inch Diagonal

~1000 USD (Wacom = 1900 USD to 2400 USD)

Lowest = Yiynova MVP27U+RH, Wacom = Cintiq 27QHD no touch
Highest = Same as above, Wacom = Cintiq 27QHD with touch