Wacom, the leading player when it comes to pressure-sensitive input devices aimed at photo and digital art professionals, has teased an upcoming mobile tablet product on its Facebook account. In response to what Wacom characterizes as outspoken customer feedback, the company says it’s working on a a device with “a pressure-sensitive professional pen, smooth multi-touch, an HD display, and other valuable features that you haven’t seen in other tablets.”
The tablet device is said to be something Wacom is working on “24/7,” with a target launch date of sometime this summer. Wacom provides the underlying technology behind a number of current tablets with pressure-sensitive stylus input, including the Surface Pro and Samsung’s Galaxy Note line, so it’s no stranger to doing pressure sensitivity on mobile devices. The company’s own hardware has generally been limited to peripherals, however, like its Bamboo, Intuos and Cintiq line of USB-powered drawing tablets, all of which require a host computer to operate.
Now, it looks like Wacom wants to branch out into an own-branded standalone tablet device. The tease shares nothing about what platform the device would be based around, but Android is a good bet. Penny Arcade co-creator Mike “Gabe” Krahulik also recently articulated at length his love for the Surface Pro and its built-in Wacom tech for creating digital art, so a device based on Windows 8 also isn’t outside the realm of possibility.
The only challenge for Wacom might be keeping a standalone device affordable. The Cintiq line of drawing tablets with built-in screens it currently offers start at $899 for the 12WX, which has a 12.1-inch display, but again requires a connected computer to function. Getting a self-sufficient Wacom tablet to a level where it meets the standards of the company’s demanding pros probably won’t come cheap, but the level of tech and the supply chain associated with the necessary components has also matured considerably since the 12WX was introduced in 2007. The proliferation of tablets and smartphones have helped putting more advanced technology in ever-smaller packages increasingly affordable.
I reached out to Wacom to see if they could provide more detail on this upcoming product, and will update if they respond with additional information.