Cintiq 22HD vs. Cintiq 21UX 2nd Gen

Anti-glare coated, screaming bastard

I found a 22HD on eBay (I know, don’t even go there) for about $1,772, free shipping, no taxes because it was shipping from MD. I bought it, nearly two weeks later it came in, I was excited and set it up and saw the manufacturing date.

July 2012.


My chances of having the screaming capacitors of Doom went up by 90% upon being cursed with that manufacturing date. I took a deep breath and looked the rest of it over. There was a scratch in the bottom left quadrant.

WELP this was going to go back for sure. I booted it up anyways. Screaming capacitors confirmed. I could see the scratch while it was on. It got packed back up immediately.

May have a dead pixel, but at least the picture is clear

I went to Craigslist and found a decent stealdeal on a 2nd Gen 21UX Cintiq. $1,200. No scratches. Very decent condition (it does have one dead pixel and a bit of dust under the cover).

Now, not a lot of people have made comparisons from the 21UX to the 22HD.

I prefer the 21UX. Not just because it fits better into my desk setup, either.

The biggest issue of the 22HD is something we’ve all read and complained about: the anti-glare coating. The coating on the 22HD was extremely uneven, to the point that chunks of the screen looked like someone had pressed their greasy thumb against the screen in areas. It was more harsh than my matte-panel ASUS LCD monitor and the screen protector on my iPhone (which glitters like a Twilight vampire at high noon in the middle of summer) – mainly because of the thickness of the particles in the coating.

I sincerely can’t even imagine how terrible and unclear it would look with the (very necessary since Wacom is a bunch of cheapasses and doesn’t use Gorilla Glass) screen protector on it.

On the other hand, the 21UX does have some minor anti-glare coating. It’s less aggressive than my ASUS monitor, and everything is extremely clear. Comparatively speaking.

As far as color goes, I can safely say that the colors on the 22HD and 21UX matched almost exactly. The contrast is darn similar (even though the 22HD boasts a 1000:1 ratio while the 21UX is more in the 500:1 range). I didn’t notice this with the 22HD, but the 21UX is actually brighter than my ASUS monitor by a visual 50%.

There are other physical differences (other than the obvious 1080HD and size differences). The 22HD’s black paneling has a soft, velvety coating that the 21UX does not have. The lack of such coating makes it less dust-prone. I think the 22HD is a tad thinner overall.

One thing that the 22HD has over the 21UX (besides the 1080HD resolution, stop reminding me) is that the cables are replaceable. The 21UX, on the other hand, is one solid cable that octopuses out at the end with all of the connectors.

The following is a PSA to Wacom:

Stop adding “anti-glare” to your Cintiq devices.
We are willing to pay extra to have a screen protector on our Cintiqs, which comes in matte, gloss, and SUPAH GLOSS.
The “anti-glare”, whether in film or in “etched glass” versions is terrible, and lowers the value of your product.
Just add a clause in your warranty that allows for use of your brand of screen protector, and sell matte screen protectors! This will allow the consumers to decide what kind of coating they want on their Cintiq, and still give your Cintiqs the paper feel that you have such a hard-on for.

Personally, I’d rather have a solid glass surface, with no coating what-so-ever, and no screen protector. The only way I can get this is if they start using Gorilla Glass (which I swear the first press release for the 24HDs had, but I may just be crazy because I can’t find that anywhere now).

I’ve heard that the “etched glass” on the 13HD is a vast improvement over the 22HD and 24HD’s “film”, but I haven’t been able to see one in person and if I have $1,000 to blow on something, I’d much rather spend it on a Samsung Smart PC Pro.

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16 Responses to “Cintiq 22HD vs. Cintiq 21UX 2nd Gen”

  1. Ed says:

    i’d been looking for someone who reviewed this. ive tried a 21ux before but never the 22hd and im wondering wich to buy. 21 Ux 2nd Gen for 800 or 22hd for 1700 ?


    Judge Mint Reply:

    It really depends on personal preference. I don’t for one second regret getting the 21UX over the 22HD, but I also have the 21UX 2nd gen (the one they released just before releasing the 22HD).

    If the choice was between the earlier 21UX models (there were something like 4 remodels of it) and the 22HD, I would probably get the 13HD instead.

    Between the 21UX 2nd gen and the 22HD, it’s good to keep in mind that the 21UX is not 1080HD and does not have that vicious anti-glare coating, and the pixels are also a little more visible than on the 22HD due to the low pixel pitch. Oh, and the 21UX is 16:10 (Like the 24HD) instead of 16:9. I don’t find the pixel pitch to be an issue at all – I work mostly in large canvas sizes around 6000 pixels square.

    I have used the 24HD before, and the anti-glare coating did not seem as bad on it. I’m not sure why, probably because the coating was more even than on the 22HD units that I have used.

    Hope this early morning rambling helps with your decision. I’m happy to answer any more queries if you have them.


  2. gman says:

    How can you tell if the 21ux is 2nd gen?


    Judge Mint Reply:

    The 2nd Gen 21UXs have hotkeys and circle rockers on both sides of the screen.


  3. Kev says:

    Hi – thanks for this, I’m currently making the difficult choice between tablets. I used to have an intuous 2, but could never get used to it. I have been dreaming about a cintiq for some time now and think its time to give tablets another go.

    My current choices are: (a) a brand new 13HD for £700 or (b) a 2nd hand 21UX DTK2100 (I don’t know which gen that is) for £1000 (with a nifty ergonomic arm).

    I’m a postgraduate architecture student, and can afford this (just) – but really they’re both testers to see if I love it- and then when I qualify I’ll go all in and buy the 24HD touch (if I like using the cintiqs of course).

    I was leaning towards the 13HD… cheaper, liked the ability to hold it in lap and its newer tech. But then I read your (and a few other) reviews of the 21UX and I’m a little more confused. If they both have the same pressure levels and tilt – then i think it just boil down to screen size. But wonder if you can help with any thoughts? :)


    Judge Mint Reply:

    Hi Kev!

    The DTK-2100 should be the 2nd gen, it will have buttons on both sides and the round multi-select rocker. This is the same model that I have, and I love it.

    Between the 13HD and the 21UX 2nd Gen, the things to keep in mind are size, the 13HD’s matte coating (which creates a slight crystallized look – this is less apparent on the 13HD and 24HD than it is on the 22HD), and the resolution difference.

    I find that the resolution on the 21UX is more than enough for me at 1200×1600. The PPI compared to the 22HD is very similar. However, the PPI compared to the 13HD is going to be much lower due to the 13HD’s small size – this means that images on the 13HD are going to be much crisper and appear much cleaner than on the 21UX. (Similar to how phones, even with smaller resolutions, are a lot crisper than LCD monitors.)

    Some people prefer the 4:3 square screen of the 21UX to the 16:9 widescreen of the 13HD. They argue that the 4:3 screen allows them more room for their tools than the 16:9 screens. I personally don’t have an issue with using any screen ratio; either way you’ll lose some real estate to tools unless you’re working with a dual monitor setup.

    If you use a laptop or you want to be able to take the 13HD to another room/computer, it’s a lot easier to handle than the 21UX.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that the 13HD has much fewer hotkeys than the 21UX. I find the hotkeys to be really helpful, but I only use maybe half of my allotment of them. Mostly just Undo, Redo, and Shift (though “switch displays” and “move mouse to main monitor” are both really helpful when using a dual monitor setup).

    And don’t forget about the ergonomics of having that monitor arm. It’s helped me SO much in being able to sit and draw as long as I want. Prior to this I had an Intuos 3, and after just a few hours, my neck/back would be killing me. The 13HD does have an adjustable stand, so it’s not as bad as using a flat Intuos, but may not be as nice as that draft-table feeling that the 21UX with a monitor arm will give you.

    I’m trying to think of other things to consider, that’s really about it! Both the 13HD and 21UX are great pieces of equipment, they both have a similar squid-cord set up, they both have equal LCD screens (other than resolution, they both have very nice IPS screens), and I’ve heard that the 13HD’s matte crystal film isn’t as strong as the other HD model tablets. You can’t lose either way.


    we Reply:

    also with 13hd you can just put a keyboard on top of it within easy reach


  4. David says:

    Judge Mint,
    I’m thinking about getting a Cintiq, it’s a fight between the 13HD and a 21UX.

    I think the one I’ve been seeing on Craigslist is 1st generation. What’s the difference between the 1st gen and the 2nd gen?


  5. gman says:

    Another strong point in favor of the 21ux is its 4:3 format. The 22HD, being widescreen, is not so nice if you like to use it in portrait orientation. In this case 21”/4:3 is actually a bigger drawing surface than 22”/16:10.


  6. Jacob says:

    Hello Judgemenot.
    I found a pristine condition 21ux 2nd gen for the same price as yours. Comes with original box, nibs etc.
    I was wondering, is it safe to purchase used? If so, what should I look for when he said I can test it out?


    Judge Mint Reply:

    Hey Jacob!

    When you go and test it out, ask to use it in Photoshop or an art program so you can doodle around. Look for dust under the glass and dead/stuck pixels. Look for scratches on the screen, look for any black marks on the edges or corners of the screen (under the glass – this is a sign of possible overheating, but it’s more common in the newer HD versions).

    Move the cursor along all of the edges, looking for any cursor shaking/vibrations, and ask to try calibrating the cursor. I would also probably consider using a ruler and checking that it handles straight lines well and doesn’t have any abnormal areas where the screen doesn’t properly read the tablet input.

    Also make sure to look over the cables for a loose connection or any rips/bites/etc., since you’ll either have to send it to Wacom or pay an electrician to replace it should something happen to the massive squid-cable.

    If you get it home and it doesn’t seem to work, try a different DVI cable. It uses a funky specific type of DVI cable and yours just might not agree with it. I had this issue with mine and thought I managed to get duped for a minute – luckily I’m a tech geek so I have tons of cables in my collection for situations like these. :D

    If you decide to go for it, I wish you good luck and happy art-ing with your new beauty!


    Jacob Reply:

    I appreciate taking your time to respond to this so quickly!

    Just curious, don’t the edges of the tablet usually always make it shake slightly? I was told to draw somewhat big lines horizontally and vertically to make sure it works. I’ll bring a small ruler and test that too.

    Is there any possible long term problems like the screen randomly not turning on?

    Thanks again!


    Judge Mint Reply:

    Hmm, I’m not sure I can answer this one full, but I can share what I’ve come across.

    On the Cintiq 12WX, edge shaking is very common and it’s a major issue since a large portion of the screen is unusable.

    In the Cintiq 21UX 2nd Gen, it seems to be much less common. I have near-zero edge shaking on mine (and I think that shaking is just from me), and I believe this is one of the issues they corrected when updating the 21UX, as there were plenty of complaints on this when the 1st Gen came out initially.

    I’ve read from people who make DIY Cintiqs that cursor jitter is thought to be caused by improper grounding, and is generally more common near the edges because of this. I don’t know if that’s the case with real Cintiqs, but it would make sense.

    To cut this short, any edge-shaking that the unit might have shouldn’t be enough to mess with your work. If it’s shaking enough to keep you from clicking the right icons in Photoshop, then you may want to consider passing on that unit.

    Is there any possible long term problems like the screen randomly not turning on?

    Yea, this is always a possibility with electronics of any sort. :( It’s the risk you take when buying second hand without a warranty. Though it seems that Cintiqs are generally in better condition secondhand than other consumer electronics, maybe because of the high price tag?

    A really good place to learn more about Cintiq quirks is the European Wacom Consumer Forum:

    Those people are not afraid to post about the issues they are having. This is where I learned about the film on the 21UX 1st Gen, the 24HD’s severe overheating issues, the first run of 22HD’s whining capacitors, and the matte sparkling film coating on all the new products. It’s a great place to check after Wacom releases something, so that you can see what problems people are having and whether or not you should wait on it. XD

    Phew! I hope all my ramblings may have helped you out somewhat. :)

  7. Jacob says:

    I think I may just drop for it. The condition looks absolutely fine, and seems like a steal to me. If I have troubles I will post on that forum you linked me.
    I really appreciate it and yes you did help me a lot!


  8. Jacob says:

    Hello Judge Mint,

    I thought I’d stop by just to tell you I’ve finally gotten a cintiq. It wasn’t the same person with the 21ux, infact, it’s a 22HD for the same price as the 21UX. The condition was flawless, looked brand new and nothing wrong with it at all. I noticed the anti-glare coating that’s on it (when really close, it’s like a rainbow lol), but other then that, I fell in love with it.
    I really appreciate your help with helping me purchase a Cintiq used, I’ll be sure to link my friends here when they’re buying a used Cintiq!



  9. Q says:

    Thansk a lot for the review.
    Just got my cintiq 22HD, and out of the box I noticed this anti-glare coating problem, exactly as what you described.
    “the anti-glare coating. The coating on the 22HD was extremely uneven, to the point that chunks of the screen looked like someone had pressed their greasy thumb against the screen in areas.”

    When look at white background @ cintiq 22HD screen, I can see these little RGB sub-pixels even it should be white. this hurt my eyes. I tired to adjust brightness, contrast,… but will not help with this problem. the cintiq screen rendering looks very noise (unsharp) for me.

    I also had Monoprice 19 pen tablet, and I prefer the monoprice monitor, bright and clear.
    The only advantage over monoprice is the parallax, since monoprice 19 has a thick class while cintiq 22hd has thin plastic cover. sensitivity wise, monoprice beat cintiq, monoprice can sense very light stoke.


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