You can no longer comment on this thread as it was closed due to no activity for a month.
I used to work with a cheap end wacom Graphire 3 tablet, upgrading to a cintiq was a phenomenal change and my work improved quite a lot in a short time span.
Now, my cintiq broke barely 7 months after I purchased it (24HD), it was a devastating blow and I had to switch back to the graphire 3 since I was in the middle of a huge job, and I can say they feel way different since the graphires (and/or bamboos) are just sticks to poke with and not the best tablets for artistic work.
I guess the intuos feel more comfortable since they share the same features a cintiq does (tablet wise), but nothing beats working over a display. Though sometimes I wish I had an intuos as well since I'm afraid to turn the cintiq on and seeing it broken again :/.
While I had my Cintiq repaired I purchased a cheaper Bosto 22" tablet, it works quite like the cintiq, so if you are looking for a cheaper alternative, I think that would be a good start... at least from my experience.