Category Archives: XP-Pen

XP-Pen has been making digital graphics tablets and tablet monitors since 2005, when it was founded in Japan. In 2015, XPPEN Technology Co. opened as its U.S. branch. They stress that they create based on feedback from users. They make the Artist Series display tablets, such as the XP-Pen 22, a high-resolution pen display tablet; the Star Series of graphics tablets; light pads for tracing; artist gloves, and other accessories for creative arts. They also aim for the educational market.

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XP-Pen Artist 22E review, art testing

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

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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).

 

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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

 

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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

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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

 

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XP-Pen Artist 22 review: Wacom alternative rivals Cintiq 22HD tablet monitor

XP-Pen Artist 22 review: affordable Cintiq alternative

Update: XP-pen has released a sequel to this Cintiq tablet monitor alternative, the Artist 22E. You can read our review here: XP-Pen Artist 22E review, art testing. XP Pen tablets are lower priced than Wacom’s, and have much of the same functionality.

The main difference between the XP-Pen Artist 22 and 22E is that the 22E has Express Keys, two sets of them: one on each side, for left- and right-handed use. The XP-Pen 22 does not have any Express Keys.

XP-Pen started in Japan in 2005, has offices in Taiwan and China, and in 2015 they opened offices in the U.S. The company that product development is in the U.S. and meets U.S. standards.

Type of tablet

Pen-display monitor or tablet monitor (Draw on the screen, must be connected to a computer to work.). Also called Cintiq alternative.

XP pen 22 review

See the XP-Pen 22 on Amazon

 

The XP Pen comes in both 22″ and 10.1″ models. This XP-Pen Artist 22 review will focus on the 22″.

Digitizer: XP-Pen, 2,048 levels of pressure.

 

What’s in the Box?

Two pens
One pen charging cable with pin-type USB charger
pen holder
8 nibs
nib remover
CD (drivers also available on the XP-Pen site)
smudge-protection glove
screen protector
power adapter, power cord
VGA cable, USB cable, HDMI cable, HDMI to Mac adapter cable
user manual
cleaning brush
microfiber cleaning cloth
Adjustable stand (attached to monitor) made of plastic with rubber on feet
monitor has rubber on base and bracket


Features

Weight: about 15.4 lbs (7 kg)
2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity
IPS LED screen with good viewing angles (178 degrees, or +/-89 degrees)
Dual-monitor, Mirror/Extended mode
Diagonal 21.5″
57 x 321 x 30 mm
active area 18.76″ x 10.5″ (476.64 x 268.11 mm)
16:10 aspect ratio
worth with Windows (XP through Windows 10) or Mac. No Linux.
1920×1080 dpi up to 16M colors
VESA-mount compatible
Report rate 220rps
Accuracy (parallax, gap between pen’s drawn line and screen) plus or minus .01 in
Resolution 5080 lpi
UC-Logic digitizer

The tablet is not multitouch, meaning you can’t use your fingers to paint or do anything on it.

For Lefties

It’s fine for lefties. Controls are on the right side, but they don’t need to be used frequently. There are no Express Keys.

Screen

The display, color quality, and resolution are equal to the Wacom Cintiq 22HD non-touch model. There’s no real difference there. On the XP-Pen’s glossy screen, colors look brighter; the Cintiq tablet color gamut covers over 90% of Adobe RGB and the XP-Pen over 70%.

The matte screen of a Cintiq tablet tends to mute the color, though many find it preferable to draw on as it offers a paper-like “bite.”

You can choose a 4- or 9-point display calibration. Pen accuracy is very good, and most people say they do not need to calibrate it as it’s calibrated correctly out of the box.

The 178-degree viewing angle means the picture will be clear even if you are standing somewhat to the side of it, up to 89 degrees on each side.

Unlike Wacom, the XP-Pen doesn’t offer a  multitouch model. Multitouch isn’t necessary to draw with and some artists don’t even use it if they have it. Reasons to use multitouch are to take advantage of the increasing Adobe software touch features, and it can be seen as future-proofing the device for a while. Others just like to finger paint or manipulate tools by hand, or use gestures to pinch, zoom, and navigate.

The included glove, which is pretty large, keeps your screen clean and smudge-free.  It covers your pinkie and ring finger only, so your hand slides smoothly across the screen. Without it, you may find that your hand may stick to the screen while drawing broad strokes.

A screen protector is included, but you might choose not to use it. It cuts down on the glossy glare.

Pen

The pen weighs 17 grams and is comfortable to hold. It doesn’t have indentations or a grip, but it has a good balance in the hand. It slides quickly over the glass, since the screen is slick, though not super-slippery.

Using the screen protector slows it down somewhat. Some people like to draw on a glossy surface; others prefer a textured screen such as that on the Cintiq, or a more matte screen protector.

The pen has good tracking, with a bit of parallax due to the thickness of the screen, as does a Cintiq tablet.  I did not notice any jitter.

The pen features an auto-sleep function to save battery life. It takes 1 to 2 hours to charge, which will last a couple of weeks, up to 130 hours depending on use. Because two pens are included, you can keep one charged and switch to it when needed. The pen weighs 17 grams.

There’s a blue light indicator to signal when the battery is low. The pen is rechargeable, but the battery that comes in it is not replaceable.

While charging, the pen light will be red until fully charged.

The two buttons on the pen are programmable in the driver. You can toggle it with just one click and one hand, since the button is within reach of your drawing hand’s fingers, so you could program one button to switch to the eraser, which could save you time.

Unlike the Wacom Pro pen, this pen does not have an eraser on the back end. The buttons can only be customized for mouse functions, such as right-click, as well as eraser.

XP-22 vs. Cintiq tablet

The pen’s build quality isn’t as premium as Wacom’s  pens, which do not take batteries so they do not need to be charged. It’s just a different technology.

The XP-pen does not have tilt sensitivity. Lack of tilt sensitivity means that the line will not change depending what angle you hold it at, as it would if you were holding a real pencil. Cintiqs have tilt sensitivity.

Tilt sensitivity is not a dealbreaker for most people. Nor is rotation sensitivity (barrel roll, when you can twist the pen to make patterns), which this also doesn’t have–only the Wacom Intuos Pro and Cintiq tablets support rotation sensitivity, and only with certain pens.

The pen can be squeaky while vigorously drawing or erasing, but as the nib wears down it should stop squeaking.

There is only one kind of pen, whereas with Cintiqs, there are several options for pens and nibs.

Build and Design

The buttons are on the bottom. They are not too hard to reach because the stand lifts the tablet above the table; still, it would be nice if they were in a more convenient place.

The monitor build quality as a whole isn’t as premium as Wacom’s, but it’s solid and stable. Though there are volume controls, there are no speakers; they are for speaker support.

The device is made of rugged textured plastic with rubber on the base and bracket.

Adjustable Stand

The stand can be adjusted up and down to any angle but does not rotate (the Cintiq 22’s metal stand both rotates and goes up and down) It’s a good idea to replace the stand with a mounting arm such as this Amazon Basics one.

The monitor sits on the stand above the table, making the buttons, which are on the right and along the bottom, easy to access. The ports for the cables are on the back, and a little hard to get to because of the stand. The cables can also get mixed up in the stand.

The stand is removeable and VESA-compatible; you can replace it with a mounting arm.

Art Software

Programs for Mac and Windows,including open-source software, work fine, including Photoshop, Paint Tool SAI, Illustrator, Open Canvas, Comic Studio, and Zbrush.

Here’s the company’s video, so you can see the XP-Pen in action:

 

Drivers

Some users report no problems at all and others had some glitches. The XP-Pen site has a page of troubleshooting tips. Drivers from other tablet systems, such as Wacom, should be uninstalled. So if you want to switch off with a Wacom Intuos or Cintiq, you would have to reinstall those (it’s probably a good idea to uninstall the XP drivers before reloading the Cintiq ones). There don’t seem to be major driver issues overall.

TIP: There is a conflict in Windows 7 and 8 laptops where the XP “Star” driver may stop the computer from being able to type. This is fixable and the fix is covered in Troubleshooting on the XP-Pen site.

Pros

Value
Screen and display of high quality
Good accuracy
Comes with generous amount of extras (extra pen; several types of cable; cleaning brush and cloth, screen protector, adapter for Mac)
programmable pen buttons

Cons

No programmable express keys
No tilt or rotation sensitivity; pen tilt is manually adjustable, though.
No multitouch option
Pen needs to be charged, though the extra pen helps
Only one type of pen and one type of nib, as opposed to the variety available for Cintiq

cintiq tablet wacom alternative pen

Look, Ma, no eraser end.

User reviews and experiences

Users have been positive about this tablet. They report no dead pixels (a problem sometimes with Cintiqs, though it could be that many more Cintiqs are sold, since Wacom takes most of the market).

Artists have had few issues with it, and many did not have to do any calibration at all. They do well using a mounting arm. Some felt the stand wasn’t very useful. Several feel the XP’s colors are slightly better than on a Cintiq.

One XP-Pen 22 Display review said this tablet monitor is the same as the Ugee 2150. I have since verified this and it is true. Ugee, another economical art tablet company, partnered on the XP-drivers. UC-Logic once worked with XP-Pen but no longer does.

Some have commented that this is one of the best Cintiq alternatives in its class.

Customer service

The customer service has received praise, and people are available via Skype from the U.S., China, and Taiwan. Email addresses and phone numbers are also on the XP-Pen site. XP-Pen emphasizes its commitment to listening to customer requests and taking them into consideration in product development.

They state their commitment to the environment as well, with all products conforming to the European ROHS  standards, which restrict hazardous substances in electronics.

The Verdict

The XP-Pen is an excellent and economical choice It offers almost all the Cintiq 22HD’s features, with only some bells and whistles missing–chief among them are tilt/rotation sensitivity, the XP-Pen tablet’s lack of programmable express keys, the coating over the screen, and a touch option (the Cintiq 22HD comes in two models, the 22HD and the 22HD Touch). While many had no problem with drivers, some did.

So, some willingness to troubleshoot potential driver issues is in order; the company is helpful but you may need a bit of confidence with such matters. This XP-Pen 22 review gives a thumb’s up as an impressive art tool and Cintiq  alternative.

See the XP-Pen 22″ display on Amazon.

See the XP-Pen Artist 22E, which is an updated 22, this time with Express Keys (and on each side) on Amazon.

Accessories

A mounting arm such as Amaon Basics or Ergotron lets you mount, rotate, and tilt the screen as you wish.

Read our XP-Pen Artist 22E review.

More Wacom Alternatives

Artisul, Turcom, Parblo, Bosto, Huion, Monoprice, and others also make devices similar to the Cintiq and Intuos. The drivers resemble each other though are not all the sam. Some are cross-compatible. Read more reviews of these affordable tablets.

Linux users

Good news for users of Linux, an open-source operating system: XP-Pen says it is working on its own Linux drivers and they will first work on its graphics tablets, then on its tablet monitors. They get a lot of requests.

Related:

Read our review of Yiynova tablet monitor.

Read our review of the Cintiq 13HD tablet monitor.

New to digital art? Check out the homepage article, Best drawing tablet for you: An introduction

end of XP Pen 22 review: HD display rivals CIntiq tablet