XP-Pen Artist 22 review: affordable Cintiq 22HD alternative
Update: XP-pen has released a sequel to this Cintiq 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.
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?
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; 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 available 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 feel the XP’s colors are slightly better than on a Cintiq.
This tablet monitor is the same as the Ugee 2150. 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. Update: the 22E is a stronger Cintiq alternative because of its Express Keys.
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 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 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.
A mounting arm such as Amaon Basics or Ergotron lets you mount, rotate, and tilt the screen as you wish.
More Cintiq 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 the best Cintiq alternatives.
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.
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 a good CIntiq alternative