ugee s640 review

Ugee S640 review: small but powerful graphics tablet

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Ugee S640 graphics tablet review: small but packs a punch

ugee s640 review

Ugee S640 review

The Ugee S640 graphics tablet is by Hanvon Ugee. Ugee began in China 1998, as did Hanvon, and the two companies merged in 2017. The company also includes XPPen. Hanvon Ugee holds 91 patents.

Disclosure: Ugee sent me an S640 tablet to test and review.

The S640 is a wired graphics tablet with no screen. If you’re looking for something similar to the Wacom Intuos small, the Ugee S640 is one to consider. The features are close to being on par with the pricy Intuos.

The Ugee S640 lets you customize the pen to your own shortcuts. It has as many pressure levels as the most advanced tablets, which is 8192. The Ugee site has free downloadable drivers for Windows, Mac, and Android,  so you could use with either with a computer or a mobile device. Drivers for Linux, Debian, and more are also on the site.

Besides being able to fully customize the pen buttons, you can customize 10 buttons to shortcut commands. You can customize on a per-app basis.

ugees640driver

See the Ugee S640 on the Ugee site

See the Ugee S640 on Amazon

See more of our Ugee reviews

Type of tablet:

Graphics tablet (no screen)
-Must be connected via an included cord to computer or Android device
-Works with Windows 7/8/10, Mac (10.10 or higher), Linux, Android 6.0 and above
-Pen, not pen and touch (can’t use finger touch on it, only the stylus)

Type of digitzer: EMR
Pressure levels: 8,192
Customizable shortcut keys: 10
Highly customizable pen buttons
Tilt +-60 degrees
Tablet can be rotated using driver to 0, 90, 180, 270 degrees
Battery-free, lightweight stylus pen
Size : 215.3 x 162.53 x 12.06 mm
Active area 6.3″ x 4″

Pen weight: 11g

Resolution 5080 LPI

Report rate: up to 220 RPS
Accuracy ±0.4mm
Reading Height: up to 10 mm

What’s in the Box

Tablet
Pen
10 extra nibs
pen clipper
USB cable (L-shaped_)
USB to Micro USB adapter
USB to USB-C adapter
Quick guide
Warranty card

The Ugee shipped in a brown cardboard with cute line graphics. The items inside are sealed in plastic bags. It was packed carefully and everything needed is in there. You can download the latest drivers off the Ugee site; no disk is included.

The L-shaped connector is a nice feature as it makes it harder to stress the cord, and the tablet has a place you can attach a lanyard if you want to add a lock or some kind of accessory. The pen does not have a built-in opening to attach a lanyard.

Ugee S640 drawing tablet with pen

Ugee S640 drawing tablet with included pen

The tablet is rectangular and in a landscape format, not square like the small Wacom Intuos. The Ugee has a heft to it; it’s not flimsy or lightweight. The included mini-USB fit snugly. You connect the USB to your computer and the mini USB to the tablet.

The tablet has ten physical programmable buttons on top. They’re a generous size. They make an audible click. They’re not hard to press, but have a bit of firmness, which might stop you from pressing them by accident.

The surface is pretty smooth but has some matte finish. There’s a soft pen loop attached to the upper right of the device.

The active area is bounded by small rectangles.

It did pick up some fingerprints, so I suggest keeping hands off it or wearing a glove to keep the oils from your hands off it. I have no evidence that these oils cause any harm, but I think if they build it up it could cause slickness.

Anti-slip strips

The bottom has two long, narrow rubber strips to stop sliding. Most tablets have four rubber squares, so this is more generous with the amount of rubber. The strips go along the full length of the part that fits on the table; the footprint goes beyond that with the sides curving upward. The corners are rounded.

ugee review back of tablet

Back of the Ugee has two anti-slip rubber strips.

There’s no wireless option. The co. also has released a version of this, the S640W, that has a wireless option, as well as a similar, larger tablet, the S1060 and S1060W (the W is for Wireless).

Pen Loop

The fabric pen loop is sturdy and the pen fits well (in some tablets, the loop is too tight-fitting). It would be nice if the pen loop were not on the same side as the mini-USB port, because it makes it so you can’t lay the pen flat across the tablet when the tablet is connected. But you still can put it into the loop.

I’m guessing the pen loop is on top and not on the side because if it were on the side, the pen then be longer than the tablet, making it a little harder to carry around. It also would look a little weird on the bottom but that could be a better solution.

If you want a pen loop on the side, you can simply buy some portable pen loops that have sticky backs and adhere one to the back of the tablet. I use these pen loops when needed, though I’m going to use the built-in loop on the S640.

Portability

The S640 is easy to carry and would fit into a backpack or even a purse.

For lefties

It’s fine for left- and right-handed use, as you can map the tablet to the orientation you want.

Pen

The batteryless, cordless pen is made of plastic and is light at 11g.

ugee emr stylus for s640

The Ugee pen is batteryless and cordless.

The Ugee has a small, bright white indicator light that lights up when you connect it to the computer and when the pen is in contact with the surface.

You can customize the pen button as you wish, which is not the case with all affordable  tablets.

Art Programs

I did basic pressure tests on Mac on Photoshop, Illustrator, Inkscape, and Clip  Studio Paint. The Ugee pressure worked well on all of these. I was really impressed with how it got pressure on Inkscape. I did have some issues with Gimp on Mac, which is buggy anyway, so I don’t think it had to do with the tablet.

In Illustrator on Mac, at first I could not get the pressure option to show up in the options panel for the pens that get pressure. After trying a few things, I learned I had to download the Wacom drivers off the Wacom site, and voila, the pressure option showed up and it worked fine. In Illustrator for Windows, the pressure options work out of the box, as Windows may already have some built-in drivers that enable it.

Drawing on the Ugee

In Windows, I tested Illustrator, Krita, Adobe Sketchbook, Paint Tool Sai, Photoshop, and Inkscape, and had no issues, all worked great.

The drawing experience is smooth and solid, with no jitter. While we do recommend a larger tablet, such as medium size, for professional illustration and fine art, a small one is fine for small drawings, photo editing, graphics, OSU, and more. Or you may just want to replace your mouse and mouse pad with something that does a bit more. Customizing your buttons and pen can really speed up your workflow, and a pen offers easier control than a mouse when you’re doing things like lassoing.

https://youtu.be/gxeF97pnuOg

If you want a larger, similar tablet, Ugee also offer the S1060 model.

Driver

The driver installed really easily on Windows and Mac, to my relief. In the olden days I was often struggling with installation, but this was a breeze. I was careful to delete old tablet drivers I had installed before installing this one, and of course I had to allow the driver in the Mac System preferences Security and Privacy/Accessibility panel.

The driver lets you customize the pen and the ten Express Keys, both to presets and your own customization. You can customize the pen buttons however you like. You can also add software programs to set the customizations to each program if you like. So, it’s pretty similar to the Intuos.

You also have control over tilt.

S640 vs. Wacom Intuos

-S640 pen is lighter
-no wireless option for S640
-art software is not included with the Ugee
-Ugee is landscape format

-has similar customization options to Wacom, including per-app
-more affordable

Pros:
-driver easy to install
-highly customizable
-good build quality

Cons:
-no wireless option with the S640, though you can get the S640W for that
-pen loop too close to charging port

The Verdict

In short, I’m really happy with the Ugee S640 in the small tablet category. The driver installs smoothly, there’s tons of customization options, the table works with a wide variety of art programs (there are more listed on the Ugee page), it’s got a solid build, and it’s portable. You can use it for art, design, photo editing, OSU, and more. If you’re looking for a small graphics tablet that’s affordable, versatile, and has a smooth-installing driver, you should consider this one.

See the Ugee S640 on Amazon

See the Ugee S640 on the Ugee site

end of Ugee S640 review

OneWorld OneAdaptr review: a travel adapter that helps you cruise along

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OneWorld PD – All-In-One world adapter review

oneworld PD oneadaptr travel adapter review

OneWorld PD travel adapter, at rest, and in action!

OneAdaptr OneWorld PD is a travel adapter that works in 150 countries. It has 3 USB-A ports, a USB-C port, and an AC charging port.

I like to travel light, and a good chunk of my packing space is taken up by my devices—usually phone, laptop, and iPad Pro though I sometimes carry a tablet with a screen to connect it to my laptop.

oneworldpd

Here you can see the overcurrent protector button.

Even worse, a lot of that baggage weight comes from the bulky chargers. At times I’ve forgotten a charger and ended up spending a lot to buy a new one, not to mention the time and inconvenience involved in that. So an international charging hub is an ideal solution–a space, weight, and moneysaver. The current (Feb. 2022) price, direct from OneAdaptr is $49.99.

Disclosure: I received a free sample from the company for review. 

best travel adapter oneworld pd review

Transformers, look out: three different kinds of prongs

The OneWorld PD provides that central location to do it all. You can charge up to 5 devices at once, including a phone, laptop, tablet, plus things like hair dryers, steamers, irons, and all that other stuff that comes in handy for business or leisure travel.

It handles up to 10A continuous AC power consumption and automatically shuts down if there’s an overcurrent.

Features

10A grounded AC universal outlet (fully grounded)

BS8546-compliant

Overcurrent protection–a small button lets you reset the fuse

42W charging power

20V USB C PD charging port with QC 3.0, which can be used to charge a laptop (one USB-C charging port)

3 x Smart USB charging ports (USB-A)

Works in over 150 countries

Charge up to 5 devices at once

DIMENSIONS & WEIGHT

Size: W 54.5 x L 69.0 x H 67.0 mm / W 2.15 x L 2.72 x H 2.64 inch

Weight:  178.2 g / 6.29 oz

SPECIFICATIONS

Input: 100-240V
Output (USB-C PD): 30W max, 5V3a, 9V3a, 12V1.5a, 15V2a, 20V1.5a
Output (Smart USB): 5V2.4aOutput (AC): 100-240V @ 10A max.

 

oneadaptrpdinstructions

Product overview page with all the deets.

Although I can only test this in the U.S. at the moment, it works well for my USB-C, AC, and USB 2.0 devices. Its compact size and light weight make it really convenient. The design is clever and saves space. It was definitely a missing link in my gadgetry collection and I’m getting a lot of use out of it.

It’s a clever device and perfect for a jetsetter, business or leisure traveler, digital nomad, jetsetter, life in a small space, or just anyone who likes to save space and weight. It’s fun for efficiency-and-multitasking geeks. It’s ideal for work from home, as well asin a coffee shop, plane, bus, train, or coworking space–your seatmates/tablemates will love you for not hogging the outlets. You could even offer to charge their stuff.

COMPATIBLE DEVICES (USB)

MacBook/2018 MacBook Air with Retina Display/MacBook Pro (up to 30W), USB-C PD compatible laptop computers, iPad Pro/Air/Mini, iPhone X/8 Plus/8/7 Plus/7/6 Plus/6, Nintendo Switch, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, S9 Plus/S9/S8/S7/S6 and most smartphone, tablet and USB devices.

Here in the US, we use both 2-pin and 3-pin plugs, which are for grounding or earthing to protect devices from electrical shock. Luckily, this travel adapter lets you plug in a 2- or 3-pin plug. I had to push fairly hard to get the plug in, but it works fine. Whatever effort that took is more than made up for in not having to carry so many power bricks. 

As usual, it took almost overnight to charge my iPad Pro as on US power (using the Apple charger it came with), which is 120V. In Europe and Australia, things run at a clip of 220-240V, while in high-tech Japan they go at only 110V. Adapters don’t convert voltage, so the adapter doesn’t affect charging speed. 

You can charge up to 5 devices at once, whether they are USB-C, USB, or AC. With the ability to use this in 150 countries, I can’t wait to start traveling again.

Where to buy

You can see more info or get the adapter directly from OneAdaptr.

What’s the Skinny on the 2021 iPad mini?

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What’s the skinny on the 2021 iPad Mini 6? Apple Pencil, for one

Apple has now dished out the 6th-generation iPad mini with all the main features of the others in the ever-growing iPad family.. Long gone are the days when you needed an iPad Pro to use the Apple Pencil, though the Pro still gives you considerably more processing power. But the mini is plenty powerful for gaming, running art apps, and more. Here’s some info on this interesting device that’s bigger than a phone and smaller than a full-grown iPad.

The 2021 iPad mini, with its 8.3″ (diagonal) screen, is big enough to do a lot of things on–gaming, movie-watching, video calls, and yes, sketching. It’s probably is too small to substitute for a larger one as a primary portable art studio. Many artists wish there was something larger than the 12.9.” But for those going out into the world, having this portability could make for a real gain in productivity.

You still have to shell out for the 2nd-gen Apple Pencil. So saving money isn’t the best reason to get the mini. A better reason is that you want to be able to have a small tablet to sketch or work on your art on the go, that you can then port over to a larger device when you get back to your studio. It is a fun, speedy thing that once you pick up you might not be able to put down. Its antireflective screen is easy on the eyes, though you still might want a matte screen protector that feels like paper.

As you can see in the picture, the Pencil is about as long as the length of the screen. You can stick the Pencil to the sides magnetically (thanks for the idea, Surface!).

2021 iPad mini features

The Mini 6 is similar to the iPad air. It has a Liquid Retina design that’s “all screen,” and features a Touch ID button. So almost all of that 8.3″ is good, arable screen real estate.  It’s also got USB-C charging. It’s got support for 5G and has fast Wi-fi 6.

Its bezel comes in  about 1/3 of an inch thick, which takes away just a little space from its 8.3” screen. It’s not exactly “all screen, no bezel,” since the bezel is slightly bigger than the larger iPad Pro’s, but that’s OK. I think it’s good to have a little area you can grip.

Basically, if you’ve already got a larger iPad Pro, iPad or Air, those all take the Apple Pencil now,  the Mini is more like a light dessert. It design is sleek and updated, so there’s more visual difference with other iPads  than just size. Its release price was higher than the 2019 version, the last time they upgraded the mini. (That’s actually not that long ago in Apple years, and many people use their iPads for a long, long time.)

The lowest-end model only differs in storage, at 64GB, with the priciest at 256. Unlike Android devices, Apple still stubbornly doesn’t allow SD cards, but you can always get more Cloud storage or use other storage options. 64 GB really isn’t much, though, especially if you use a lot of layers. A 128 GB model would have been a nice compromise.

2021 iPad mini specs

ios 15
Powerful A15 Bionic chip with Neural Engine
LTE option
Magnetic connector
2266 x 1488 resolution (a bit higher than last gen) 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone and wide color
8.3-inch Liquid Retina display with True Tone and wide color gamut
A15 Bionic chip with 64‑bit architecture
6-core CPU
5-core graphics
16-core Neural Engine
326ppi panel (same as last one)
Weight under 1 lb.
64GB and 256GB
Top button with Touch ID to use Apple Pay and for secure authentication
100% recycled aluminum
Rounded rectangle display
500 nits brightness
Antireflective display
No more home button
Volume buttons at top
No headphone jack
Comes with fast 20W charger
Thickness 6.3 mm
12MP ultra wide front camera that supports Center Stage (keeps you front and center during video calls, making your audience ooh and ahh).
Also, 12MP wide back camera
Landscape stereo speakers
10-12 hours of battery life
fast Wi-Fi 6
5G for the LTE
Comes in purple, starlight, pink, and space gray

Being an inveterate Pencil-misplacer, on my iPad Pro I use a simple pen loop Velcro’d to the back, which has saved me many hours of searching for the Pencil—I combine that with a free Bluetooth-device finder app. But magnets are just fine.

The iPad mini is plenty powerful for art apps, gaming, and streaming—you wouldn’t expect less. It is a really fun thing to have, and can fit in just about any bag (not a pocket, though). While it may not be a must-have if you’ve already got an iPad Pro or other drawing device, having that extra portability might get you out sketching more and capturing those autumn colors.
See the 2021 iPad mini on Amazon

holiday gift guide

2020 Holiday Gift Guide for Digital Artists

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2020 Holiday Gift Guide for Digital Artists

Many feel the greatest gift would be for 2020 to be over! I have to concur. I don’t know about you art has gotten me through these long days. I’ve joined drawing challenges, taken online classes, and done Zoom life drawing. I’ve even gotten back into watercolors.

If your artist (who perhaps is yourself!) tends to suffer from attention-span chaos, this is a good time to take a step back and look at what would help with creative projects.

Some goodies to make an artist’s life easier can make the bitter memories of 2020 just a little sweeter both for the giver and receiver.

iPad or iPad Pro

Who wouldn’t want an iPad or iPad Pro as a gift? And now that you don’t have to spring for an iPad Pro to get use of the Apple Pencil, it’s considerably more affordable to gift this amazing art tool. (The Apple Pencil is still sold separately). We prefer the 12.9, which is the largest, for drawing, though the smaller sizes are good too.

 

XPPen Artist 13.3 Pro Holiday Edition

xppen13.3-6

This affordable tablet monitor has a pen that gives you 8192 levels and tilt.

US: https://bit.ly/2HctN8r
UK: https://bit.ly/2Hb33oG
EU: https://bit.ly/2HctJWf
AUS: https://bit.ly/2UFZF8g
SEA: https://bit.ly/2UC9C6N

Need cards for ANY occasion? Greeting Card Universe has cards for everything you can think of. Artists you can also join for free and open their own card store.

Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher

Affinity programs are for Mac and they also make these programs for iPad. If you don’t want the expense of subscribing to Adobe, these are great substitutes and they have full CMYK.

Samsung Galaxy Tab with S Pen

This Samsung Galaxy Tab with S Pen is powerful, lets you add a memory card, offers pressure-sensitive, Wacom-powered drawing, and it comes with the pen.

iPad Sleeve

iPad accessories are always welcome. Your artist really needs something to carry that portable art studio around in! This iPad Sleeve is attractive and highly rated. (Etsy)

see best iPad and Android styluses

 

Veikk S640

best small tablet for drawing

A small, inexpensive, ultrathin graphics tablet that’s just plain smooth to use. See our Veikk S640 review

Art Socks

Who doesn’t need Art Socks with Edvard Munch and other famous artists? Then you can scream all the way from your toes. This gift is fun and affordable.

 

The XBox One X 1TB console

The XBox One X 1TB console (or games and accessories if they already have one) will provide the needed adrenaline to stay up drawing.

Boogie Board LCD Writing and Drawing Board

Draw freely on the Board!

LCD boards are fun for kids and all ages. (I admit I’m addicted.) There are some where you can upload your drawings from the device, and others that are simpler (such as the this one).

 

Zero-waste kits

If you or your artist want to live a greener lifestyle, look into these cool kits from the Package-free Shop designed to lower what you throw out.

Selfie ring light

Once they know what a selfie ring light is, who doesn’t need one? This one attaches to a mobile phone and there are some you need a tripod for. Great for Zoom calls or just finding stuff you dropped under the covers while scrolling through your phone.

Rebelle 3 natural painting art program

Escape Motion’s Rebelle 3 is an art program with realistic dripping paint and other convincingly natural effects–pretty cool. For Mac and Windows (you get both when you buy the program). You can try out a demo version.

Some useful online freebies:

Wrist stretching video

This wrist stretching video really gives those hardworking drawing wrists a break! The site has a lot of other workouts too, all free. (Hasfit)

Great movies

All you need is a library card or go to a participating college or university. Kanopy Films

(A library card also often gets you free access to lynda.com courses!)

Unlimited free video conferencing

Jitsi Meet is a free, secure, open-source alternative to Zoom. You can have up to 75 people and there’s no time limit. So give your friends and family the gift of uninterrupted video calls.

 

 

xp-penstarg960sreview

XP-PEN Star G960S Review: graphics tablet with tilt

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xp-penstarg960sreview

XP-PEN Star G960S review: affordable tablet with premium features

The XP-PEN Star G960S is a new (as of May 2020) graphics tablet from XP-PEN. The company started in Japan in 2005 and since 2019 has been part of the HanvonUgeeGroup. In the past I have reviewed some XP-PEN display tablets. The G960S is a non-screen graphics tablet I received for review.

In a world of Wacom alternative tablets, the G960S manages to stand out with some features that are pretty hard to find in an affordable price range: tilt, and the ability to use the tablet with Android. It also works with Linux, as well as Mac and Windows. And, it lets you customize the pen to your own shortcuts, which is very unusual in an affordable tablet.

(Want to see it in the XP-PEN store before reading more? Visit the store and use coupon code Vicky960S for a $5 discount on the G960 or G960S in the US and Canada. More regions in links at the end of the article.)

XP-PEN Star line

The Star line has three models: the G960S, the G960S Plus, and the G960. The G960S Plus has the same features as the G960S but its pen has an eraser end. The G960S and G960S Plus are upgrades to the G960.

Type of tablet:

Graphics tablet (no screen)
-Must be connected to computer or Android device (no wireless option)
-Works with Windows 7/8/10, Mac (10.10 or higher), Linux, Android 6.0 and above

Type of digitzer: EMR
Pressure levels: 8,192
Customizable shortcut keys: 4
Highly customizable pen buttons
Tilt +-60 degrees
Tablet can be rotated using driver to 0, 90, 180, 270 degrees
Battery-free, lightweight pen
Size 319.5 x 209.5 x 10mm (12.57 x 8.25 x 0.39″)
Active area 9 x 6 inch (228.8 x 152.6mm)

Weight: 1 lb. 1 oz. (483g) without cable
Pen weight: 1/4 oz. (8g)

Report rate: up to 230
Accuracy ±0.4mm(Center)
Reading Height 10mm

Works on: Mac, Windows, Linux, and Android tablets/phones/Chromebook

The company lists these programs as being compatible: Photoshop, SAI, Painter,  Illustrator, Clip Studio GIMP, Medibang, Krita, Fire Alpaca, Blender 3D, Paint X, FlipaClip, Autodesk Sketchbook, Zenbrush, Artrage, Microsoft Office.

What’s in the Box

xp-pengstarG960S

What’s in the box: the tablet and more.

xppeng960smac

All set up and ready to draw.

Tablet
Pen
USB cable
USB to Micro USB adapter
USB to USB-C adapter
10 extra nibs (total of 11)
User guide
Warranty
Nib remover ring

The tablet comes in a brown cardboard box with black print. It came safely packed, no issues there.

The Star G9N06s is well made, lightweight but solid.  The mini-USB fits snugly and doesn’t get dislodged easily.

The tablet has four physical buttons on one side. They’re a generous size, light. They’re easy to press, and you can hear the click. There’s no wheel or on-screen keys to extend the ability to make shortcuts.

The surface is slightly matte but as it’s pretty smooth, so shouldn’t wear down the pen nib quickly. It’s not a fingerprint magnet; I tried leaving some and they just dry and disappear. That’s not to say there are zero fingerprints, but it’s not too bad. It’s less printy than tablets with smoother surfaces.

The active area is bounded by small rectangles. There’s a small bezel around the edges of the tablet, beyond the active area.

The bottom has a small rubber piece in each corner to keep it from slipping.

xppeng960

Side view.

Portability

At about a pound, it’s easy to carry and would fit into a backpack.

For lefties

It’s fine for left- and right-handed use, as you can map the tablet to the orientation you want.

Pen

The pen is nice-looking and lightweight, it’s narrow and looks like a ballpoint pen. At 8 grams, it weighs less than half of many tablet pens that have batteries. I prefer this ballpoint-like pen to the thick round pens some budget tablets have. Some might prefer if it weighed a few more grams, but I don’t mind the light weight, as it stops my hand from getting tired.

xppen g960s stylus pen

The G960S pen is light and ballpoint-pen like.

The pen is battery-free and doesn’t require charging since it’s a traditional EMR tablet.
An indicator light on the tablet lights up when the pen is in use.

The pen has a plastic loop on the end you can fasten to a lanyard. However, the tablet doesn’t have anything you can attach the lanyard to, such as a fabric loop. So if you want to use the pen’s loop (totally uo to you) you could hang the pen on the wall, wear it around your neck, or find some way to affix it to the tablet.

One really unusual feature for an affordable tablet like this is you can customize the pen button as you wish. Here’s a picture of the driver that lets you do that. I almost didn’t notice this as it’s not being talked about a lot on the site.

xppeng960pendriver

You can program the pen button as you wish.

The list goes on much longer. I tried some and found them to work.

Unfortunately, the pen button fell off after rolling off a surface about a foot and a half high.  I was able to put it back with the help of tape and it still works. I was glad that I was able to find the button!

Using the Star G960S

In this video to supplement this XP-Pen Star G960S review, I go over a sketch so you can see me drawing lines. The drawing experience is smooth and enjoyable. The lines are responsive to pressure, no blobs or lag. I don’t have to press down hard on the default pressure setting, which as you can see is about in the middle. It’s a satisfying experience with a good pressure curve. Sometimes having high pressure levels can cause too fast a change in line, but I didn’t have that issue here. It had the same feeling that I liked in the XP-PEN display tablets.

The size is an excellent one for drawing. It’s not so big that you tire your arm, nor so small that you feel cramped.

Here is a short demo of me using it with Photoshop. I’m going over a sketch but pressing harder so you can see the darker lines.

Art program testing:

You may or may not have to add each art software to your list of allowed programs–if it isn’t working right, try adding it.

Driver

xppenstarg960stabletdriver

The driver.

To install the driver onto Mac Catalina took a bit of time. You have to go into System Preferences and allow permissions for various parts of the driver. In some cases you need to add drawing software to this too. It wasn’t difficult to install, but it was a lot of steps. This is not unique to XP-PEN; you have to do the same thing to install Wacom drivers and other software. Further, you have to add some programs to Input Monitor. It’s important to do this in Photoshop to get the pressure working.

The driver has a bar where you can see numbers that show how hard you’re pressing. This tells you if pressure is working or not, but as it doesn’t have a little window to test it in, to see the actual effect of the pressing you have to use a drawing program and canvas. You can also set the speed, and pick absolute or relative (Mouse Mode).

The driver lets you map the monitor, rotate it to different angles, and switch to left-hand or right-hand use,

Express Keys

You can set the four Express Keys to any options you want, the presets or your own, or you can keep the default ones. When setting the keys, it asks you to pick the application, but I found what I set worked in other art programs too. The custom commands I  created were saved after restarting the computer.

You can set the pen button to many different options, similar to Wacom.

For certain programs you will get pressure even without the driver, such as Sketchbook Pro, but the driver gives you more possibilities.

Mac: I tested Sketchbook, Gimp, Krita, and Inkscape, Photoshop CC, and Photoshop Elements. (Inkscape is not on the compatible list but it does work). The OS I used is Catalina.

Initially I had some problems with the driver. They then resolved themselves, but I wanted to try to replicate them, and managed to by not plugging it into the computer all the way, then plugging it in all the way. I think this caused the driver to crash. Restarting the computer with the tablet plugged in fixed the issue. The issues were things like skips and not being able to press some buttons. So I advise that you smoothly plug it in securely.

If the tablet icon is not in the Launcher, the Mac will ask you if you want to open it when you turn on the computer.

Windows:
In Windows 10 the driver is easy to install and worked great in the programs I tested–Photoshop, Gimp, SAI, and Krita. Inkscape, which is not on the compatible list, worked fine.

Android: To attach it to Android, you simply use one the included USB to Micro USB adapter. On my Android phone I tested it in Sketchbook, Medibang, and Infinite Painter. There is no driver to download and no driver is needed, so I didn’t use the Express Keys. Pressure worked well in all of these. I found it was easier to use my finger to use gestures, but not too hard to find where I was on the phone screen, which was automatically mapped to the phone screen.

xppen tablet with android

USB connection to Android phone.

xppen tablet used with android

A pressure-sensitive doodle done with the G960S on an Android phone.

This could be a great money saver to use with a Chrome book or larger Android tablet, which would give you a larger size. There are some Android devices that come with pressure that let you draw on the screen, but most are quite pricy. If you already have an Android device and wish you could use it for art, the G960S gives you that ability.

Pros

affordability
portability
tilt
maximum pressure levels
ability to use on Android
includes adapters

Cons

pen button not attached solidly
some hiccups in Mac Catalina, fixable

XP-PEN Star G960S vs. Wacom Intuos Pro

You may be reading this XP-Pen Star G960S review to compare it to a Wacom Intuos or Intuos Pro, so here’s the rundown. The features are quite competitive. There are the same amount of pressure levels, similar size, and same report rate and both have freely customizable pen buttons. The size is a little smaller than the current Wacom Intuos Pro Medium and larger than the Intuos Pro Small.

The Intuos Pro has more Express Keys, a wireless option, has a more premium build, as well as some other differences such as that the Intuos Pro will work with several Wacom pens. But the Wacom doesn’t work on Android.

The Star G960S is affordable and has the main benefits of Wacom, plus offers Android use. It’s the closest I’ve seen so far to the Intuos Pro, and has more features than the regular Intuos.

(see best Wacom tablets)

The Verdict

This is a well-made tablet hardware-wise. The size is generous. The pen is comfortable to grip. The pressure is responsive and doesn’t have an overly springy feeling. Four Express Keys isn’t a whole lot, but it depends how much you want to use them. The tilt and Android use, and generous size make it appealing. You can also use it with Linux, though I did not test that. I like that it includes adapters for micro USB and USB-C so you can use it right away with mobile and other devices.

Its versatility is a strong point–the tilt and varied operating systems it works with. It has more of the features of a Wacom Intuos tablet than most budget tablets do; most budget tablets do not offer tilt or Android use. Like Wacom tablets, it uses EMR, which gives a high quality brush experience.

The Star G960S works especially well in Windows, with Mac Catalina sometimes posing some difficulties that restarting the computer with the tablet plugged in seems to fix. I do take off some points in this XP-Pen Star G960S review for that and the pen button. I will keep using this tablet because I like the drawing experience and the tilt sensitivity.

Support

You can email them or post on the forum on their site.

Links and coupon code

Due to current global disruptions, the tablet hasn’t yet been listed on Amazon (as of May 2020). It’s for sale at the XP-PEN store.

If you use the code Vicky960S with this link to the XP-PEN store, you will get $5.00 off when you buy the Star G960S or Star G960S Plus. The coupon is only good in the US and Canada.

Other regions:

UK web-store: https://bit.ly/2ygvahL
EU web-store: https://bit.ly/3bJx9J9
AU web-store: https://bit.ly/2Xb40kT
SEA web-store: https://bit.ly/3cNhn0g

XP-PEN Star G960S at XP-PEN

Read our XP-PEN reviews
Check out other XP-PEN tablets on Amazon

end of XP-XP-PEN Star G960S review