XP-Pen 22 review: a Wacom alternative that rivals Cintiq 22HD
Update: XP-pen has released the 22E. I am trying to get a review unit. The main difference 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. You can see the 22E on Amazon: XP-Pen 22E
The company started in Japan in 2005, has offices in Taiwan and China, and in 2015 XP-Pen opened in the U.S. The company states 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–like a Wacom Cintiq)
The XP Pen comes in both 22″ and 10.1″ models. This XP-Pen 22 review will focus on the 22″. A 27″ model is slated to come in late 2016.
Digitizer: UC Logic, 2,048 levels of pressure.
What’s in the Box?
One pen charging cable with pin-type USB charger
CD (drivers also available on the XP-Pen site)
power adapter, power cord
VGA cable, USB cable, HDMI cable, HDMI to Mac adapter cable
microfiber cleaning cloth
Adjustable stand (attached to monitor) made of plastic with rubber on feet
monitor has rubber on base and bracket
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
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
Report rate 220rps
Accuracy (parallax, gap between pen’s drawn line and screen) plus or minus .01 in
Resolution 5080 lpi
The tablet is not multitouch, meaning you can’t use your fingers to paint or do anything on it.
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.
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; there is little difference in covered color gamut between the two. The matte screen of a Cintiq 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 included glove, which is pretty large, keeps your screen clean and smudge-free. The glove has nothing to do with the palm rejection, so you do not have to wear it if you don’t want. 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. The pen slides quickly, since the screen is slick. Using a 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 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 it 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.
The pen has good tracking, with a bit of parallax due to the thickness of the screen, as do Cintiqs. No one has reported lag or jitter. The company says the digitizer does not create jitter.
The pen features an auto-sleep function to save battery life. It takes 1 to 2 hours to charge the pen, which will last a couple of weeks depending on use. Because two pens are included, you can keep one charged and switch to it when needed.
The pen has 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. The pen does not have an eraser on the back end.
The pen’s build quality isn’t as premium as Wacom’s Cintiq pens, which do not take batteries so they do not need to be charged. It’s just a different technology.
The XP-pen has an unusual feature, the ability to let you choose an angle in the pen settings that will remember the way you hold the pen. The settings are for 0, 90, 180 or 270 degrees. The tablet doesn’t have true tilt sensitivity, but you could readjust the pen-angle settings to get a rather labor-intensive facsimile if you need that. You can, of course, freely draw at any angle you want. Lack of tilt sensitivity means that the line will not change as it would if you were holding a real pencil.
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 Cintiqs 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.
Tablet and Stand
The buttons are on the bottom, but are easy to reach because the stand lifts the tablet above the table. 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.
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; you can replace it with a mounting arm.
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:
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 tablet 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.
Screen and display of high quality
Comes with generous amount of extras (extra pen; several types of cable; cleaning brush and cloth, screen protector, adapter for Mac)
programmable pen buttons
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 vailable for Cintiq
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 report that 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. This is quite possible. Both have UC Logic drivers, as do the majority of other Wacom alternative tablet monitors.
Some have commented that this is one of the best Cintiq alternatives in its class.
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 XP-Pen is an excellent and economical choice as a Wacom Cintiq alternative. 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 Wacom Cintiq alternative.
See the XP-Pen 22″ display on Amazon.
See the XP-Pen 10.6″ display on Amazon.
See the XP-Pen 22E, which is an updated 22 this time with Express Keys (two sets) on Amazon.
Amazon Basics mounting arm lets you mount, rotate, and tilt the screen as you wish.
Read our review of Yiynova tablet monitor.
Read our review of the Cintiq 13HD tablet monitor.
New to art tablets? Check out the homepage article, Best drawing tablet for you: An introduction
end of XP Pen 22 review