Category Archives: Reviews

yoga 720

Lenovo Yoga 720 review: 13″ and 15″ 2-in-1 with all the trimmings

Lenovo Yoga 720: 2-in-1 is loaded for art

The Lenovo Yoga 720 2-in-1 goes where no convertible tablet PC has gone before. It combines a pen that gets 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity with a 4K screen and NVIDIA graphics. This noteworthy hybrid is more proof that Lenovo is forging ahead with innovative art devices. The  Yoga 720 tops the Yoga 710, which also had the dGPU.

 

Type of tablet

Convertible hybrid laptop (nondetachable)

Digitizer: Wacom ES, 4096 levels of pressure

Pen: Lenovo Active Pen 2 or any pen that works on Wacom ES

Features

360 degree “flip-and-fold” design
Models go from 13.3″ to 15.6″ HD screen (1920×1080) to UHD (4K0 screens, i5 to i7, 256GB to 1TB storage, Intel HD Graphics 620 to NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 2GB

15.6″ weight starts at  4.41 lbs (2kg)
13.3″ weight 2.9 lbs.
.07″ wide
Two USB Type-C with Thunderbolt
The higher-end one has micro HDMI and an SD card reader.

13″ model comes in Platinum Silver, Iron Grey, and Copper. The 15″ comes in Iron Grey and Silver.

Lenovo states that on the models with the NVIDIA GTX 1050 card, you can edit photos, play advanced games, and render multiple videos at once.

The HD versions have 8GB RAM and the 3840×2160 4K models have 16. The memory is upgradeable if you DIY.

lenovo yoga 720 multimode

The Yoga in all its poses.This is the 13″ mode.

At the bottom of the post is a downloadable spec sheet with more detail.

The Lenovo Yoga 720 (YOGA 7200 151KB) has  up to the latest Intel Core i7 Kaby Lake processors. The 15″ Yoga 720 at the moment is the fastest in its class, which is convertible laptops. Like many Lenovo products, there’s a dizzying array of configurations, so I’m summarizing them here rather than writing each one out.

The highest-powered and largest one will probably excite digital artists the most. That would be the one that’s 15″ and has discrete NVIDIA graphics, suitable for rendering Photoshop filters and for gaming.

The fact that you can add your own memory is a plus. Many PC hybrid laptops have the memory soldered in and don’t let you upgrade.

The fast processor also lets you boot up quickly.

Unlike some thinner and less powerful ultraportables, this laptop does have fans, and it can run warm. The vents are in the back.

 

Yoga 720 vs. Yoga 520

The Lenovo Yoga 520 is a more entry-level option with only has Intel i3 and 15 and HD. It has a 14″ screen that also has the Wacom digitizer. It also has the option of the NVIDIA GeForce 940 MX graphics card. It’s a good even more affordable option if you’re not a power user; you can use Photoshop and other Adobe software on the i5, and on the i3 too but we suggest the i5 if you’re going to get the Yoga 520. The 520 will be for sale in July 2017.

 

Pen and drawing

The Active Pen 2 isn’t available yet, but the Active Pen 1 is smooth and accurate.

The Yoga 720 and 520 work with the not-yet-shipping Pen 2 or with any Wacom ES pen, so it won’t be difficult to find a pen. Some product info says the “new release” Active Pen 1 is capable of getting the whole 4096.

Though Wacom ES is lower resolution than EMR, there’s practically zero parallax (distance from pen to line). The pressure sensitivity and palm rejection work well, and I can’t tell the difference between 2048 and 4096. The Lenovo Active Pens do not have tilt sensitivity.

A 15″ surface is a great size for drawing, and there are few portable tablet PCs around this size, besides an older Dell Inspiron 7568 and the MobileStudio Pro 16 by Wacom. The 13″ screen is a good drawing size, too. The Yoga 520 has a 14″ screen.

When the computer is in tablet mode the keyboard will be facing the surface but will be recessed. The keyboard will be disabled, so you can’t use keyboard shortcuts. The clamshell design does let you open the laptop up flat, so you could keep it open.

Portability

The larger, 4.4 lbs. model of the 720 is pretty good for a 15″ screen. You should carry a sleeve to keep the pen in, as there’s no silo. The 13″, at 2.9 lbs, is not the lightest laptop, but still carryable. Since it’s a clamshell, there’s more protection than you’d find in something with a soft keyboard such as the Surface Pro 4.

Screen

The IPS screen is antiglare but still glossy. Viewing angles are pretty good.

Brightness-wise, at about 280-300 nits it’s bright enough, but colors are not as vibrant as some laptops, but it’s not bad.

This nondetachable laptop has a 360-degree hinge, letting you bend the Yoga to poses of laptop, stand, tent, and tablet. “360 degrees” may sound like you can also rotate the screen; you can’t. It bends on hinges, like other Lenovo Yogas.

The screen gets over 100% of sRGB, better than most laptops, but it’s not wide gamut, so those who need Adobe RGB coverage will have to look elsewhere.

Design

The large lower bezel on the bottom is an odd design touch but I think it’s to make it easier to pick up the device in tablet mode without getting fingerprints on it. The other 3 sides have a very thin bezel. Designwise, the Yoga 720 doesn’t stand out. It doesn’t have the distinctive watchband hinge of some Yogas. One cool thing is the fingerprint reader to the right of the trackpad.

Keyboard

The island-style keyboard has keys with key travel not as high as the most comfortable keys, which are deeper, but the keys are fine. They are about 1.2 mm, and I prefer to type on 1.4, yet 1.2 is OK. The keyboard is full-size and backlit. Since the keys are recessed when the laptop is in tablet mode it makes sense for them not to be taller.

lenovoyoga720review

Yoga 720 keyboard and hinge

Pros

value
13″ and 15″
NVIDIA card option
up to 4096 levels of pressure (depending on pen)
4K option
can use any Wacom ES pen
choice of colors
127% of sRGB
boots quickly

Cons

Not amazing battery life
USB ports only USB-3, may be a difficulty for some users
colors not super-vibrant
no Adobe RGB
some fan noise

Battery Life

Lenovo claims 9 hours battery life for the HD and 8 for the UHD (4k), but this would depend a lot on use. A 4k screen and graphics rendering is going to take up more power and drain the power faster.

User Lenovo Yoga 720 reviews

Lenovo Yoga 720 reviews have been positive, though the product is still new.

The lower-spec model is OK too, but without the dGPU it doesn’t differentiate itself a lot from others in the same category.

The lack of Adobe RGB may be a sticking point for some.

The verdict

This is not the fanciest-looking tablet PC, but the one with NVIDIA is high-performance. Lenovo is not not adding a premium to the price for the art capabilities. The specs of the higher -end model compete with the Wacom MobileStudio Pro, which of course has more specialized art features. The 720 is a good value for a powerful art PC.

The large size alone is enough reason to appreciate this release. It fills a gap that’s been missing since the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 1st gen, namely that of discrete graphics. This Lenovo  Yoga 720 review is a thumbs-up, and we’re adding it to our top list of tablet PCs because of its dGPU and Wacom pen.

Yoga 720_15 inch_Spec Sheet (PDF download)

See the Yoga 720 at Best Buy

See it at Lenovo.com

The Lenovo site has descriptions of each model.

The Yoga 520 14″ will be available in July 2017 in hues of Mineral Grey, Metallic Gold, and Onyx
Black.

Here’s a short video by Lenovo.

 

Here’s a Lenovo Yoga 720 review from Lisa Gade of Mobile Tech Review.

 

Compare:

HP Spectre 360

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
Lenovo Miix 720
Surface Pro 4

More about top tablets for artists at homepage

end of Lenovo Yoga 720 review

wacomintuosdrawreview2

Intuos Draw review: the simplest Wacom

wacom intuos draw review

Intuos Draw review: best Wacom for beginners & back-to-basics users

The Wacom Intuos Draw is the most basic of the Intuos graphics tablets line and the only Intuos that does not have multitouch capability. That means you can only use the pen on it; you won’t be able to use hand gestures such as pinch or zoom. This Wacom Intuos Draw review is of the Small size, the only size it comes in.

The Draw not as basic as Wacom’s Bamboo signature pads, which don’t have a lot of art features. It’s the simplest of their graphics tablets.

This makes it a good drawing tablet for beginners who might not need multitouch, and want something affordable. If you just prefer or require a straightforward graphics tablet that has Wacom quality without much learning curve, the Intuos Draw might be for you.

Check price

intuosdrawtablet

Features:

Type of tablet: Graphics tablet, Wacom EMR digitizer
1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity
No multitouch
no tilt/angle or rotation sensitivity
Size: 8.25 x 6.7″
Active area:  6.0 x 3.7 in(152 x 95 mm)
Right and left-handed use
Colors: white or mint blue
Size: Small only
Weight: about 10 oz. (290 ±50g)
Resolution: 2540 lpi
Reading Speed (pen): 133pps

What’s in the Box

Intuos Draw (small)
Intuos Pen
Charger
Nibs (3 extra, total 4)
CD with driver and manual
documentation

Inside the outer sleeve is a high-quality, nonflimsy black cardboard box that offers solid protection for shipping.

The art software that’s included has to be downloaded.

wacomintuosdrawreview

Intuos Draw and what it comes with: pen, CD, USB cord, documentation

You can use the CD, which has the driver, if you have a CD drive, or you can download the driver from Wacom. I always prefer to download regardless, in case there has been an update.

Intuos Draw art software: ArtRage Lite examples

artrage doodles intuos

The Draw will work with any art program, including Photoshop and all Adobe software, and gets pressure sensitivity in Adobe Illustrator. It’s fine for Mac and Windows. Wacom includes some free art software with all its tablets, a different program depending on the model. The current offering, which I did these doodles in, is ArtRage Lite.

The Intuos package includes a code to type in to get the free art software and other offers from the Wacom site. In addition to ArtRage Lite, an offer for 30-day subscription to Lynda.com software courses, and an offer for a free photo print on metal. Wacom also offers access to online art tutorials on its own site.

The offers change from time to time, so check when you buy the tablet. Though there are free art programs you can get online, I really enjoy ArtRage, which has a lot of fun brushes and effects, some of which you can see in the above doodles. These include glitter, oil, pastel, palette knife, and roller. It’s a really easy and intuitive program, and is inexpensive to buy the full version from ArtRage (they have a free demo version, too).

These perks are a good incentive to stick with Wacom, especially with their entry-level drawing tablets such as this.

Build and features

intuosdrawnibs

Clever place to store the extra nibs, eh? And the thing on the left is a pen loop.

The back compartment stores the extra nibs. Below the nibs, that little circle is the nib remover where you insert the pen with nib and it pulls it out painlessly. The two compartments around the nibs are for the optional Wi-fi kit parts.

The micro-USB fits snugly and securely into the tablet’s side.

On the upper right corner of the tablet is a small security lock slot for a Kensington lock or pen tether. It’s marked with a small lock icon. The tablet top has a neat little canvas pen loop you can put your pen in. The loop fits snugly and you have to put the pen in starting with the pen’s back end.

The small dots on the surface show the active area, which is mappable, meaning you can use just part of it if you want. Mapping is useful if you want to work without moving your hand a lot. Using just a small part of the tablet, a small movement will go a long way. You set the mapping function in the driver.

Though the Intuos Draw looks almost toylike, it’s not a toy. It’s fairly well built for something so light, though I wouldn’t want to drop it hard, because the outer case doesn’t seem super protective. I found myself gently handling the detachable pieces such as the back cover.

The tablet has lots of good Wacom features, such as getting pressure sensitivity in Adobe Illustrator, and it’s got good old Wacom EMR, the most sensitive type of Wacom digitizer.

If you’ve got a multiple monitor setup, the Intuos Draw might be too small to effectively cover all the pixels needed. Otherwise, it should work on most setups, even with a large monitor.

Intuos Pen

The pen has two programmable buttons that you can program for just as many things as you can the Express Keys. It has no eraser tip. It’s batteryless, lightweight, and comfortable to hold. It’s smaller and lighter than the Pro Pen or other Wacom pens meant to be used on the higher-end Intuos Pros and MobileStudio Pro.

I weighed it and it’s only 9 grams, so light it almost feels like a drinking straw. That’s about half the weight of a typical active pen (battery included for those that take batteries) and may be too light for people who like the steady balance of a heavier pen, but I don’t mind it.

Drawing on the tablet

Even though 1,024 levels is low compared to the Intuos Pro and more pricey pen display tablets, the patented Wacom EMR digitizer delivers a smooth drawing experience. The pen is sensitive. It’s thinner and lighter than the Pro Pen that goes with the Intuos Pro. 1,024 is a little bit less sensitive than 2,048, but it’s plenty.

The tablet has a texture that has quite a bit of tooth and is enjoyable to draw on. The nibs wear down a little depending how hard you press. I keep it set to a more sensitive setting so that I don’t have to press that hard). There are extra nibs stored in the top in a small hidden case.

What I really like about this in some ways is its size. I sometimes use it instead of a mouse or the trackpad, as the pen doesn’t put as much strain on the wrists or fingers. It also lets me write notes (to some extent) or sketch. It’s easy to use it for this even when on the couch. It’s light and super-portable.

Small size advantages and disadvantages

If I’m packing for a short trip with my Mac laptop, and want to pack very light, I just throw the Intuos Draw into the outside pocket of the laptop sleeve. The Draw’s charger is small and light, too. I really like that it doesn’t take up much space, and I sometimes even hold it like a clipboard, since it’s so light.

What I also don’t always like is its size.  It feels cramped for drawing larger images, requiring a lot of zooming. If I’m drawing a small image, around the size of the tablet itself, then this doesn’t bother me, but usually I’m drawing larger. The size is good for drawing cartoons, designing characters, or sketching out ideas, and editing photos. I’m not a big OSU player, but it’s fine for that.

Controls

The buttons are in the top corners. They are cool-looking, but it would be more convenient to get to than if they were on the side. It just takes some getting used to. They’re smaller than on the larger tablets. I tend to want to tap them with the pen, and have to remember to use my fingers instead.

Tapping on the buttons brings up an on-screen menu where you set keyboard shortcuts.

intuos draw express keys

Intuos Draw Express Keys open in ArtRage Lite

When you click on the physical keys, the on-screen keys come up. This is the Express Keys just set to their default. It’s open in ArtRage Lite but they would come up in other programs too.

Intuos Draw comes only in Small (not Medium or Large!)

It would be nice if there were an Intuos Draw Medium, but for some reason Wacom has decided to have this one starter tablet, rather than issuing larger sizes that also don’t have touch.

With a small active area, small arm movements make a bigger difference. So you have to control your movements more.

I find a medium-size tablet, such as the Intuos Pro or the economical non-Wacom Huion 610 Pro better for more complex work.

Intuos Draw vs. Art Pen & Touch

The long name for Intuos Draw is the Intuos Draw Creative Pen Tablet. It looks the same as its siblings, the Intuos Art, Photo, and Comics/Manga Creative Pen & Touch Tablet, but these others all  have multitouch, which can be toggled on and off. Each comes bundled with different software. The software can change, but the Art tends to include painting programs such as Corel Painter Essentials. This is harder learn than ArtRage.

User Reactions

This is a popular tablet. People use it for all sorts of things, such as whiteboard presentations.

Intuos Draw Pros and Cons

Pros

affordable
lightweight and portable
fine for right-and-left handed folks
Wacom features and quality
good mouse or trackpad substitute
doesn’t have much footprint on desk
texture has tooth

Cons

can feel cramped
no tilt sensitivity
pen lacks eraser tip
texture of tablet can wear down nibs
pen loop is tight

Tips for getting started

It’s best to keep the tablet right in front of you and right in front of the computer. That way it’s easier to get used to than having it to the side of the computer.

Don’t worry about the Express Keys until you have gotten used to the hand-eye coordination required to use the tablet.

Keep the tablet area mapped to 100% of your screen.

If your monitor is high-res and over 14″, this tablet may be too small. Read our article on choosing the best Intuos to learn more.

Use the pen for everything at first; replace your mouse or trackpad with the pen and tablet.

Wacom Intuos Draw review: the verdict

I’m glad I have an Intuos Draw, as it’s Wacom boiled down to its essence. It’s not my go-to tablet for everything, but if it were my only one I’d make good use of it. I use it quite a bit for smaller projects, I like that it’s so light and unobtrusive, and it’s good for couch use.

Will you miss touch? I don’t miss touch a lot when drawing, as I don’t mind using the art program to zoom and navigate. I miss it when I’m using the Draw as a mouse/trackpad in non-art programs..

Touch can be toggled off on the tablets that have it, so if you decide to get one that does have touch, you’re not forced to use it, as at times you might not want to.

Do you need the wireless kit? It’s convenient and if cords bother you or you’re short on USB ports, it may be worth getting. But it’s certainly not a necessity.

The Intuos Draw review is a thumb’s up.  is a helpful, sporty, affordable, hardworking little tablet that simplifies things. It’s good for students, beginners, photographers, and crafters, as well as more advanced artists.

Learn how to find the best tablets for drawing.

Looking for something larger and economical? See this Huion review.

Read our review of Intuos Art Pen & Touch (Small).

See the Intuos Draw on Amazon

Wireless Accessory Kit

end of Intuos Draw review

ugee 2150

Ugee 2150 review, art program tests

ugee 2150 review

Photo of  Ugee 2150 courtesy Ugee

Ugee 2150 review: room to draw

Previously, we took an-depth look at the Ugee 1910B, a budget tablet monitor similar to a Cintiq. Now we’re going to examine the Ugee 2150, a 22″ version that has a higher resolution display than the 1910B. Ugee was kind enough to send me a unit to test for a few weeks for this Ugee 2150 review.

Ugee is based in Shenzhen, China. They make pen tablets such as the 1910B, 2150, and HK1560 pen-display tablets as well as graphics tablets.

ugee 2150

 

Click image to check the price.

Features

Digitizer: UC-Logic, EMR
Pen: battery free, charges via USB. 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity
Dimensions: in.: 20.5 x 12.5 x 1.2 | mm: 517 x 321 x 30
Display Area: mm: 18.75 x 10.5 | mm: 476.64×268.11
Display Resolution: 1920×1080 pixels
Response Time: 14ms
Contrast Ratio:1000:1
Brightness: 250 nits
Viewing Angle: +-80 degrees
Line Resolution: 5080LPI
Report Rate: 220 RPS
Adobe RGB: about 70%

What’s in the Box
UGEE UG-2150 tablet monitor
Power adapter and cord
Two pens
Pen charger
Pen stand/holder containing 8 extra nibs and ring nib remover
CD driver
User manual
Screen protector
Squeegee card
Lens cloth
Cleaning brush
Drawing glove

Portability

A big tablet monitor is not something you want to carry around at about 14 lbs., but since the box has a handle, you can take it places if you really want to.

For lefties

It’s fine for lefties. Some controls are on the bottom right, but they aren’t ones you need to access often. Since there are no Express Keys, there’s no issue about which side they’re on.

Overview

As with the Ugee 1910B, the Ugee 2150’s box doesn’t have any printing on it, it’s plain cardboard. The packaging protects the contents well, and the inner cardboard box has a handle. The included items are individually wrapped and come in a smaller box. The pen says Ugee on it.

The Ugee 2150 drawing tablet monitor is made of sturdy black plastic with a narrow bezel. The bezel is completely flat, so you can bring your pen all the way to the edge, which is a nice touch. This way, you don’t end up with lines suddenly hitting the edge of the bezel.

There aren’t any Express Keys on the monitor, nor any on-screen ones. The pen has two programmable buttons that can be mapped to mouse keys and eraser.

The ports are in the back, under the stand. They’re reasonably easy to get to, though the stand gets in the way some. The ports have held everything well, but be careful about bumping into the monitor.

Screen

Colors are bright and clear, and matched my computer’s with a little adjustment to the brightness.

The glass is pretty smooth and a little slippery. There’s some squeaking from some pen strokes, but someone gave me a fix that worked!  SQUEAKY SCREEN FIX: Rub your hands all over the screen, then wipe it off with a cleaning cloth–wipe gently, not too hard.

I put the screen protector on. I am updating this today because I realized the screen protector that I had said bubbled was not the one that came with it. The one that came with this says 3M on it. It went on very easily, did not bubble, and was a nice matte surface good for drawing.

ugee 2150 artist reviews

Photo courtesy Ugee

The stand goes almost all the way down, to about 15 degrees, and almost all the way up to 90 degrees. It’s steady, and you lock and unlock it via a small lever. The Ugee is VESA-compatible if you want to use a mounting arm.

Pen

The pen doesn’t have a grip or indentation. It charges via USB and has a blue charging indicator. It weighs 17 grams, a good weight, and is comfortable to hold. It’s not too thick for my small hands. It says “Ugee” on it.

Calibration, which is 5 points with the Ugee driver, worked out of the box.

Drawing on the Ugee 2150

Here’s a pen demo I did of me sketching in Photoshop using the Ugee driver on Windows 10.

The driver is responsive and springy, going from a very thin line to a very thick one without blobbing.  I ended up leaving it set to needing less pressure rather than dialing it to the right.

There’s some parallax because of the distance from the pen tip to the glass, as is often the case with drawing tablet monitors. Nothing I’m not used to.

On Mac El Capitan, I tried Photoshop CC, Illustrator, Krita, Gimp 2.8, Manga Studio/Clip Studio Paint, Rebelle, Sketchbook Pro, and Sculptris, which uses ZBrush. Pressure and everything else worked great in all of them.

As expected, Illustrator and Inkscape did not get pressure, as expected (because only Wacom’s do), but you can still use these programs. Pressure works with vector layers in Manga Studio, so vector painting is not a lost cause.

On Windows 10, I tried out Photoshop CC, Gimp, Paint Tool Sai, and Sketchbook Pro. The pressure sensitivity and overall drawing experience were great in Photoshop and Paint Tool Sai. Paint Tool Sai delivered really smooth lines.

ugee2150review

But in Sketchbook Pro in Windows, there was some lag. I could not get Gimp 2.8 to work on Windows. As per the Ugee site, I tried Gimp 2.6 instead, and this worked perfectly.

Installing the 2150 driver was pretty easy on both Mac and Windows providing that the computer is free of old tablet drivers. Ugee has a page with troubleshooting tips. The manual is clearly written and well-printed.

The Ugee 2150 is the same tablet monitor as the XP-Pen Artist 22, both are manufactured by Ugee.

Ugee 2150 vs. Cintiq 22HD

No Ugee 2150 review can claim that the Ugee is “as good” as a Cintiq. But the Ugee 2150 is enough for artists who don’t need all the bells and whistles. It has the same levels of pressure sensitivity  and display resolution, and it’s brighter (250 nits vs. the Cintiq 22HD’s 230). The screen is glossier, because it doesn’t have the coating that Wacom uses to give the surface some bite. The included screen protector from 3M works well in giving the drawing surface a little friction.

The Cintiq 22HD lets you customize express keys and the pen buttons to keyboard shortcuts. The pens also have a variety of types of nibs. Cintiqs support tilt and rotation sensitivity and their stand rotates. They offer a touch version with which you can use your hands to do gestures or draw.

Wacom Cintiqs offer more features, but you don’t really need these to draw; they are to streamline workflow. The Ugee gives you most of the features of the Cintiq. The choice depends on your own needs and preferences.

Vs. tablet PC: The drawing features of the Ugee and other Cintiq alternatives are like those on tablet PCs such as Surface Pro and Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga–there’s no tilt recognition or express keys.

For on-screen keys, on your computer, you can download the Wacom Feel driver that gives you an on-screen radial menu, or the more robust Tablet Pro app on Windows computers.

User reactions

Most users like the Ugee and feel it’s a good tablet for the money. Some of those who penned an Ugee 2150 review felt it was just as good as a Cintiq.

Others had problems with the drivers or figuring out how to calibrate it to their screen resolution. These problems are fixable. For instance, if the computer screen is a lower resolution than the Ugee, you have to use Extend, or view on 2, rather than Duplicate/Mirror. Otherwise you will get an offset.

Pros

2,048 levels of pressure
Pen lasts up to 120 hours on a single USB charge
Flat bezel
Affordability
Comes with accessories
Matches Cintiq in pressure levels and resolution
Can be used with Mac, Windows, Linux
Stand is highly adjustable
VESA-compatible
Good build quality

Cons

Drivers can be finicky
No Express Keys (not a con if you don’t use them anyway)
Just one type of nib for pen
Stand does not rotate (but tablet is VESA-compatible, so you can use a mounting arm)

The Verdict

The Ugee 2150 is a spacious tablet monitor you use with Mac or Windows (or Linux, made by third parties). It’s well built, and colors are bright and clear. The stand doesn’t jiggle, and it’s highly adjustable. The pen gives good accuracy.

The drivers were pretty easy to install. You have to be sure to remove other tablet drivers and their remnants though. If you use Sketchbook Pro, the XP-Pen driver seemed to work better with it in Windows.

This tablet is especially good for students, beginners, artists on a budget, and those growing their art career. It’s simple, affordable, and does the job.

See UGEE 2150 on Amazon U.S.

Ugee 2150 in International Amazon stores

Links will open in the Amazon store local to your country.

end of Ugee 2150 review

xppenartist22ereview

XP-Pen Artist 22E review, art testing

XP-Pen Artist 22E review: Express Keys bring it closer to a Cintiq

xp-penartist22ereview

The XP-Pen Artist 22E is an update of the XP-Pen Artist  22, a pen tablet monitor in the family of “Wacom alternatives.” It offers many of the features of a Cintiq, without the price tag. I’ll go over the differences.

XP-Pen started out in Japan in 2005, and since then has opened offices in Taiwan; Shenzhen, China; and the U.S. They state their concern with the environment led to them to make their pens battery-free. They were kind enough to send me this tablet to review, so I have had time to test out various art programs on it.

In a hurry? See the XP-Pen Artist 22E tablet monitor on Amazon.

XP-Pen Artist 22E vs. XP-Pen Artist 22

The 22E is an update of the XP-Pen 22. The main obvious change is the addition of the Express Keys. The 22 had no Express Keys. (Those are buttons on the outside of the monitor, or sometimes on-screen keys, that can be programmed with software commands). The 22E also uses A+ LED, which has better color quality than the 22.

The 22E has two sets of keys, eight on each side, making life equally convenient for lefties, righties, and the ambidextrous. They mirror each other, so there are a total of 8 programmable keys, not 16. These are all on the outside. They are slightly raised.

The cords now get tucked vertically in the back. On the XP-Pen 22 they were in a row under the stand. They are now easier to reach. This version does not have speakers. (Installing it, though, may alter the speaker settings on your computer–it did on my Mac–so you may need to go and reset them to continue getting sound from your computer).

 

xppenartist22epin

XP-Pen Artist 22E review drawing test

 

 

Features

Type of digitizer: XP-Pen
Included EMR pen with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity, charges via USB

Display: 21. 5 inch diagonal IPS?)Dimensions: 567 x 326 x 30 mm
Display Area: 476.64×268.11mm
1080p resolution (HD)
178° viewing angles (wide)
4- and 9-point calibration
16 Express Keys (8 are programmable, 8 are mirrored)
Pen has two programmable buttons that map to mouse functions
Color gamut: 72% of Adobe RGB
VESA-compatible
Pen weight: 0.6 oz. (17g)

LPI (lines per inch): 5,080
Response time: 14ms
Contrast Ratio: 1000:1
Brightness: 250 nits
Ports: USB, DC power, VGA, DVI, HDMI
Report rate: 220 rps
No multitouch (cannot use your fingers to draw–only has pen input)

What’s in the Box

XP-Pen Artist 22E 21.5″ tablet monitor
2 rechargeable pens
Pen power adapter
Cables: VGA, USB, HDMI, HDMI to Mini Display Port adapter cable
Power adapter
Power cord
Stylus pen stand/holder (8 replacement pen nibs and one pen nib removal ring tool inside)
CD driver
User manual
Cleaning cloth
Black drawing glove
Screen protector

 

xppenartist22ereview-back

Back of the Artist 22E–(ignore the extra cord). The cords in the 22E are vertically next to the stand; making them easier to access; in the XP-Pen Artist 22, they were in a horizontal row beneath it.

 

 

 

Since XP-Pen has included an HDMI to Mini Display Port adapter, you don’t need to buy anything additional to use it with a Mac.

To install the driver, you have to uninstall all other tablet drivers I had zero problems installing the driver on my Mac. On Windows, the tablet icon that you click to open the driver settings, didn’t appear, but I opened the driver settings in the folder.

If you’ve had other tablet drivers on your computer, you’re going to have to uninstall them and all remnants of them–this can be tricky. XP-Pen has a troubleshooting page for driver issues.

The driver lets you program the Express Keys, adjust your pressure sensitivity, test it by drawing with four colors, calibrate the touch points (4 or 9 points), and rotate the image on the screen in 90-degree increments.

It came well-packaged, not fancily, but safely. The accessories are all individually wrapped and put in one box. The box has a handy handle.

Portability

At around 17 lbs. including the stand and power supply, this (or any) large tablet monitor is not very portable. The handle on the box helps. The attached stand folds up. It’s not terribly heavy to pick up, though I would not want to walk around with it for long. The power brick is not that big.

For Lefties

The right- and left-hand columns of Express Keys make this a great choice for lefties.

Screen

The XP-Pen’s HD screen is brighter than a Cintiq, since it doesn’t have that filmy coating Wacom uses to give the screen a paperlike bite. So the XP-Pen screen is smoother, but isn’t too slippery. It’s fun to draw on. The screen doesn’t get that dark even with brightness turned all the way down. Turning it up increases color intensity.

The screen has been measured at 250 nits brightness to the Cintiq 22’s 230 nits.
The pen squeaks a little on the screen once in a while but not often, and that should go away after a while. There were no dead pixels. There was a little dust on the outside of the monitor.

Screen protector

The screen protector had some bubbles that were difficult to get rid of. I also just preferred the feeling of the pen on the screen, so after trying the screen protector I removed it.

Pen

xppenartist22estylus

The pen has a pretty fine tip.

The pen needs to be charged via USB. A full charge takes about an hour and a half, but 30 minutes is enough to work for quite a while. The company says the pen can go up to 130 hours on one full charge. It has red and blue indicator lights showing when it’s charging or low.
The pen has no indentation to grip, but it’s comfortable to hold, and a good weight at 17g–a combination of light enough to not get tired, but giving some balance. The barrel has two buttons. They are easily reachable.

The default settings are right-click and erase, but you can change that in the driver settings. The pen does not have an eraser end. The buttons cannot be customized to keyboard shortcuts, but only to eraser and things your mouse does (right-click, etc.).

Art Software

Mac: I tested on Mac El Capitan: Photoshop, Illustrator, Manga Studio, Sketchbook, and the free programs Gimp, Inkscape, Paint Too Sai, Sculptris, and  Krita.  The pressure sensitivity worked great in all of them (I am not that familiar with Sculptris, a free 3d program, so I was not sure what to expect but the pressure did make a difference).

As expected, the pressure sensitivity doesn’t work in Illustrator; so far, Wacom Cintiqs and Intuos Pros have the monopoly on that. The pressure also, as expected, doesn’t work in the Inkscape calligraphy brush, since Inkscape is similar to Illustrator. You can still use the tablet in those programs, without pressure. Pressure sensitivity worked in vector layers in Manga Studio Pro, so you can draw in vector with this.

The one little glitch I experienced in Mac was that the pen suddenly seemed to stop working, a major bummer. But then I realized it was working, but stuck on the eraser tool. Yet, I still got pen lines in the area of the driver where you can test.

Looking this up, I see it’s an issue on Wacom too, so I’m going to chalk it up to a Mac thing. Unplugging the tablet from the computer then plugging it back in fixed it.

Windows: On Windows 10 I tested Photoshop, Gimp, and Sketchbook, and got the same results–works great.

Controls

There are basic controls on the bottom right. There are no speakers in the monitor, and when you attach it, you may have to change speaker settings to get sound in your computer as it may change the settings (this did happen and it’s on the XP-pen site). The driver settings let you test and adjust pen pressure, calibrate the screen to the pen, and set up the Express Keys.

On the bottom there are controls to adjust brightness, bring up the menu that allows some color adjustments, and the power on/off.

Out of the box, the Express Keys are on default settings that work in all programs.  You can reprogram them to your favorite keyboard shortcuts using the driver settings. The pen’s two buttons are programmable as well, to mouse commands such as right and left-click, and eraser.

Drawing on the XP-Pen 22

Here’s a pen test showing pressing down harder and softer in Photoshop CC. I’m working on some more video.

Me drawing curlicues on the XP-Pen Artist 22E. You can see the pressure sensitivity at work.

Have to say I really enjoyed the XP-Pen Artist 22E for drawing. The lines are fluid, the pen sensitive. I adjusted it to a bit higher in pressure as it’s very sensitive at the lower areas. The driver, which Ugee and XP-Pen developed together, gives a springiness to drawing. XP-Pen (the company) also used to work with UC-Logic (the company), but no longer does.

Tip: On a Windows 10 computer, some programs, including Photoshop and Sketchbook, require “supports digital ink” to be ON in your PC tablet settings in order to get pressure sensitivity.

In Photoshop, remember to have Brush Shape Dynamics turned on.

It seems to take slightly more initial activation force than Wacom to make a mark, but less than N-trig pens of the Surface line. There is a little parallax because of the glass. No jitter whether drawing forward, back, or faster  I didn’t experience any hover issues.

Pros

Sensitive, responsive to drawing
Affordability
Display
Stand
Extra pen, cables, adapter for Mac, glove, and screen protector all included
Easy setup
Ports are in good place
Battery-free pen; charge lasts up to 130 hours of use

Cons

Some have issues with driver installation
No multitouch (pen only–doesn’t respond to hand touch)
Drivers more limited in functions than Wacom’s
No tilt or rotation sensitivity
No pressure sensitivity in Adobe Illustrator (only Wacom has this. But, the XP-Pen does get pressure with vector tools in Manga Studio/Clip Studio Paint)
Pen button customization is limited
Stand does not rotate

Stand

The stand is very sturdy and highly adjustable. Simply press a lever in back and it goes from nearly straight up to nearly all the way down, to about 15 degrees. Twenty degrees is considered the most “neutral” and offers the best ergonomics (I confirmed this with a physical therapist). It doesn’t rotate; you can instead rotate the art, turn the tablet itself, or use a mounting arm. The monitor is VESA-compatible.

XP-Pen Artist 22E vs. Cintiq 22HD: main differences

Same: display resolution, size, line resolution, pressure levels, Adobe RGB coverage. The Cintiq 22 pen still has 2,048 levels, not 8,192 like the newer MobileStudio Pro and Cintiq Pro. So pressure levels are the same as the XP-Pen.

The earlier XP-Pen had no Express Keys, and now it does, so that brings it closer to a CIntiq, though the XP-Pen has 8 programmable keys (16 keys in mirrored columns) and the Cintiq has 16 different programmable keys.

The Cintiq is a premium item made of premium materials, but the XP-Pen is solidly built. The drivers give a slightly different feel, both very responsive. Here are the major differences:

Cintiq 22HD:

-Drivers let you customize Express Keys per-app

-Pen has eraser end

-Wacom pen is battery-free and cordless

-Cintiq 22HD Pen and Touch model has multitouch (you can use your hand for gestures such as pan, zoom, and rotate, and you can finger paint, but only the pen gets pressure sensitivity)

-Additional controls such as Rocker Ring, Touch Strip, Radial Menu

-Tilt and rotation sensitivity

-Cintiq stand rotates

-Pen buttons can be customized to keyboard shortcuts

-Wacom pen has different types of nibs

XP-Pen Artist 22:

-Greater affordability

-Brighter (250 nits to Cintiq 22’s 230)

-Screen not coated, so smoother, but not too slippery

-Pen can be mapped only to mouse buttons and eraser

-Comes with extra pen, glove, screen protector

-Pen is battery free, needs to be charged via USB

xp-pen artist 22e review

XP-Pen Artist 22E up as far as it will go, down as far as it will go, Express Keys close-up

 

 

The Verdict

I can’t find much to complain about. It works well and is great to draw on. This is a good professional or starter pen tablet monitor. It doesn’t have every feature of the Cintiq, so the decision should come down to how much you need those additional features. Customizable keys increase efficiency, but you can draw without using them at all if you prefer, or just use some.

This XP-Pen Artist 22E review is a thumb’s up. The color is bright and vivid, and it gets most of the Adobe RGB. This is a great tablet if you want a large, responsive drawing surface to create digital art.

End of XP-Pen Artist 22E review

 See the XP-Pen 22E on Amazon

UK customers

Canada customers

Compare the Cintiq 22HD:

U.S. customers

UK customers

Canada customers

(Remember that if you want the Cintiq with multitouch, you must get the Pen and Touch version.)

Optional accessories::

Amazon Basics Display Mounting Arm

 

Dell-XPS-13-2-in-1-tablet-mode

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review: Let’s get small

dellxps13-2-in-1reviewDell XPS 13 2-in-1

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review: Sleek, but is it meek?

The Dell XPS 13 (9365) 2-in-1 convertible wonthet CES 2017 Innovation Award. The compact 2-in-1 looks similar to its non-pen predecessor, the Dell XPS 13. I was excited to see this penabled (OK, its AES and technically only Wacom EMR is penabled) version, but it does have its compromises for those who hope to put it through its paces for art.

See it on Amazon

The build quality is sturdy and the device is attractive, though it took me a while to appreciate its subtleties–at first glance it’s another laptop–but then I noticed its thinness, sturdiness, and small bezel.

Both have the Infinity Edge, a small bezel that allows the laptop to have the footprint of an 11″ laptop with a 13″ display. This model is slightly thinner than the original. This one is not a detachable, but a convertible with a 360-degree hinge. That makes it easier to type on than most detachables, which tend to have bouncy or loosely connected keyboards (the Microsoft Surface Book being an exception).

Like the Lenovo Yoga line, the XPS 2-in-1 can be set in four poses: laptop, tent, tablet, and stand.

The display is bright with wide viewing angle and rich blacks. The Infiniti Edge gives it a window-like feeling.

dellxps132in1review

The display on theDell XPS 13 2-in-1 is bright, with rich blacks.

Digitizer: Wacom AES (pen takes one AAAA battery)
2048 levels of pressure sensitivit

Pen: Dell Active Stylus (PN556W)

Processor
7th Gen. Intel i5-7Y54  to i7-7Y75


Graphics
Intel HD Graphics 615​

Display
13.3″ Full HD (1920×1080) or UltraSharp QHD (3200×1800)
10-point Multitouch
Brightness: 400 nits
Contrast ratio: 1000:1
Color: over 100% Adobe sRGB% color gamut
Anti-reflective
Wide viewing angle of 170 degrees
4GB, 8GB or 16GB LPDDR3 SDRAM
SSD: 128 GB to 1 TB
Build: machined aluminum
Gorilla Glass
Carbon fiber palm rest and deck
Steel and aluminum hinges

Dimensions
Thickness: 0.32-0.54”  inches (with/without keyboard in tablet mode) x 11.98″ x  7.8″
mm. 8 – 13.7  x 304 x 199
Weight: Starting at 2.7 pounds (1.24 kg)​

Keyboard
Full size, backlit, chiclet, 1.33 mm travel

Pen dimensions
1.9 oz without battery, 7.3 in.
Microsoft Hello fingerprint scanner


Ports
Thunderbolt 3, two USB-C 3.1 ports, microSD, headset jack, Noble lock slot

Battery
46WHr battery (integrated, non-replaceable)

Battery Life
Around 8 hours of mixed use–longer on the HD screen.

 

The full-size keyboard has chiclet-style keys with 1.3 mm key travel.

Power

Dell’s engineers developed Dynamic Power Mode, which raises the performance of the Y chip while still managing to keep the device fairly cool without fans–it gets warm but not hot. It spits out bursts of energy in a type of Turbo Boost to keep things in balance.

Though Y chips are similar to Core M, Dell has gotten higher performance here. Battery life is quite good, and you can certainly multitask. Dell has succeeded in making a thin computer that cools itself.

But it’s not as fast as competitors Surface Pro 4, HP Spectre x360, or the original XPS 13.

Portability

At 2.7 lbs., it’s lightweight, and it only takes up the space of an 11″ laptop. It’s solid, not something you can comfortably hold in one hand.

Battery Life

Good–8 hours on the i5 and up to 10 hours on the i7, both with mixed use.

Drawing on the XPS 13 2-in-1

The Dell Active Stylus glides smoothly and sensitivity is good. Palm rejection works well. Accuracy is good too as is hover range. No issues here. There’s no place to attach the pen to the computer, no magnet, clip, or anything. The Dell Active Pen is a little stubby at 7.3″ but it’s not much of an issue.

The trackpad is nice and smooth and isn’t too stiff. The keyboard is comfortable.

As scenic as it makes the computer, with the image on the display almost melding with its surroundings, the narrow bezel could prove a distraction when drawing. I suspect one reason for the Cintiq’s large bezel is to frame the art and visually isolate it from its environment, as a picture frame does.

If you want to draw at an angle, such as 20 degrees, you can use a separate stand i. Or you could place an object, such as a book, between the lid and keyboard.

The XPS 13 2-in-1 works with the Dell Active Stylus, a Wacom AES pen with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. I tried the pen on it and found it worked well. The screen is slippery, like most laptops.

In my short time with it I got an error message when trying to open OneNote. Other programs opened smoothly. The Internet worked well, with videos looking sharp on the display, with deep blacks.

When there is less bezel, there’s a pleasant blending into the surroundings.

User reactions

People who have used this for non-art use seem overall pleased with it. Its design, display, the typing, and the responsive pen have all received praise. The computer was a star at CES for its slimness.

However, one user offering a Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review complained it was impossible to turn off Adaptive Brightness, even if it is turned off in the power settings. I read they may issue a patch for this, but until they do, having it adjust its brightness on its own with no way to stop it would be detrimental to creating art. Update: They have issued a fix–thank you to the commenter who sent this. Here’s the link to the firmware update if you need it.

Color

Tests have shown that  thought brighness and contrast are good, color accuracy is not that high. It also doesn’t have Adobe RGB. It does have over 100% of sRGB.

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review

The steel hinges covered in aluminum keep the Dell sturdy.

 

 

Pros

Wacom pen
Has the footprint of a smaller, 11″ computer
Good battery life
Quiet, fanless
Light, slim, portable
Bright display
Comfortable, backlit keyboard
Handles multitasking and light gaming
includes USB 3.1 dongle

Cons

Processor not as fast as the fastest for serious digital art
Some users have experienced bugs
Adaptive brightness issue, unless Dell issues a fix
No place to keep pen
Doesn’t come with pen
Pen is a little short
Color accuracy not the best
Cannot remove battery
Front Webcam is below the screen
Need dongles for peripherals

The Verdict

The laptop is innovative in its design both inside and out. It’s aimed at consumers who want versatility, portability, and long battery life.

It’s a fine computer, and the power difference is not enormous compared to other pen convertibles. You can use Photoshop, Illustrator etc. on it but it will not be the very fastest. In concluding this Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review, I can say it’s OK for digital artists but not the most powerful. For that, something at mobile-workstation level is better. It’s fine for moderate art use.

Dell is taking the artist market seriously with the Dell Canvas, a large tablet monitor with an array of innovations and connections to Microsoft. Perhaps Dell will come out with a more art-targeted laptop.

See more Dell XPS 2-in-1 reviews on Amazon.

Learn more finding the best art tablet PC for your needs.

end of Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 review