Huion has been making pen tablets since 2011, and they’ve been a productive company. The company showcased its new Inspiroy 2 at CES 2023. I took the Huion Inspiroy 1060P, provided to me by Huion for testing, for a spin.
Type of tablet:
Graphics, non-screen EMR digitizer Needs to connect to computer (laptop/desktop) or Android device Works with: Windows, Mac, Android, Linux
Size: 14 x 9 x 0.31 Active area: 10x 6.25″ Weight: 27 oz (770g) Made of: plastic exterior 8192 pressure levels Battery-free PW100 pen +/- 60 degrees of tilt 28 programmable keys (12 press keys and 16 softkeys)
PW100 pen weight: 11g (about .4 oz)
When used with Android phone: Phone working area: (Phone Mode) 3.9 inches x 6.25 in. (99.3 x 158.8mm )
What’s in the Box?
The Inspiroy comes with all this.
Tablet USB-C to USB connector USB-to USB-C adapter for Mac Quickstart guide
Nib holder with 10 extra nibs (total 11 nibs including the one that comes in the pen)
The tablet came in a nicely designed, hard box with a colorful graphic. The box makes it suitable as a gift. Inside is everything you need to use it, including adapters.
The H1060P’s generous size makes it ideal for drawing. It also is fairly lightweight, making it suitable for travel.
It’s well built but as it’s lightweight and slim, I wouldn’t want to bang it around. The keys click crisply when pressed. The USB-port is snug, no looseness or issues.
Unlike many graphics tablets that have a beaded or rubbery texture on the drawing area, this one is smooth. It’s not slippery, but it doesn’t have that tooth that some prefer. But, it’s quieter, and pen nibs ought to last longer on it. It doesn’t attract oil and dust as much as the rubbery surface would.
The Huion Inspiroy has a whopping 28 programmable keys, 12 that are buttons with 12 more that you program in, so you can really speed up your workflow. You can open programs, zoom and pan, and make any keystroke you want and do it per app. Some keystrokes vary from app to app. Also, you need to know the keystrokes that the app uses.
Installing the driver
The correct driver on the Huion site is the latest Inspiroy Pro 8192, though the box doesn’t say the 8192. The driver for Windows installed easily as did the one for Mac. I did have to unplug then plug in the tablet for Mac (Ventura.)
The programming process is more complicated than those of many similar tablets. I somewhat prefer the kind that has a menu, but with this many keys, that would get overwhelming.
The pen has programmable buttons that do pretty basic functions, with multimedia being one that’s not that common.
The phone mode on the tablet is just a small active area. I don’t use Phone Mode, but I’m glad it’s there, just in case.
The tablet is fine for left- and right-handed people, and lets you map the active area.
Drawing on the Huion
The PW100 pen is lightweight, so doesn’t have a lot of balance on your hand. But the lightweight pen also causes very little strain. The pen is a comfortable width to hold.
The size is great and certainly ideal for a drawing tablet–it’s “just right.”
I do miss having a texture on the surface as it feels a bit slippery, but I like that it’s quieter.
The pen loop on the right holds the pen well.
Art program testing
The Inspiroy driver worked well in Windows on almost everything I tried–Photoshop, Inkscape, Krita, and Clip Studio Paint, though not well with Gimp.
On Mac, it worked great in Gimp, including with pressure. It also worked great in everything else I tested: Photoshop, Krita, ClipStudio Paint, Inkscape, and as a general mouse.
(Inkscape seems to work fine with Mac Ventura, though the site says they’re still working on it).
I didn’t experience lag or other issues.
The biggest and happiest surprise was that I was able to get pressure in Inkscape, a free vector art program similar to Adobe Illustrator, with the calligraphy pen both on Windows and Mac. I’m uncertain as to whether it has more to do with the driver or with an update to Inkscape.
Size Affordability Portability Gets pressure in Inkscape Many Express Keys Ability to use on Mac, Windows, Linux, and Android Nice printed box
Surface may be too smooth for some artists Driver isn’t that easy to program
Inspiroy H1060P vs. Wacom Intuos Medium
For the price, this tablet really offers almost everything the Wacom Intuos Medium does, including levels of pressure, tilt, and programming of the keys. The pen isn’t as luxurious nor as programmable, but the Huion is way more affordable. It does what it promises to do. I haven’t done longterm testing, but so far it’s fine.
It comes with the adapters you need and a good amount of extra nibs. It doesn’t have the extras of the Intuos, such as bundled art software (some of which is a trial), a wireless option, or that nice tacky (in a good way) texture.
It has fewer programming options for the pen (which is also lighter), a smoother surface, it’s more lightweight, and there’s no wireless option, and no bundled software.
If you don’t need so many express keys, you don’t have to use them, or any, but they’re there if you want.
This would be a nice addition to any artist’s toolbox and the decorative box makes it an appropriate gift for anyone who does digital art, graphic or other design, photo editing, OSU, or replacing a mouse.
OS: Win 7 and macOS 10.12 or above, Android 6.0 or above.
Size: 6.5 x 4″
8192 levels of pressure
266 report rate
Pen hover: 10mm
Type of Tablet
EMR with passive, battery-free pen
Wired, no wireless option. Need to connect to computer or Android phone/tablet.
This is the first Gaomon I have tried. I received a complimentary unit for testing.
Gaomon is a Chinese company that has been in the digitizer space since 2011. In 2016, the company released the Gaomon S56K, and has since released more tablets, both with screens and opaque, non-screen ones.]
It’s light and easy to carry in a small bag.
Suitable for left-handed and right-handed use.
What’s in the Box
Opening up the box.
The Gaomon unboxed. The pen is in the compartment on bottom right.
Tablet, Artpaint AP32 pen, felt pen pouch, 8 extra nibs, USB, OTG adapter for Android 6.0 and up, booklet, nib remover, booklet
The tablet came in a nice, minimalistic white branded box. The packaging is high-quality and the gray felt pen pouch is quite luxurious. There are 8 extra nibs plus one in the pen.
The Gaomon pen in its included felt pouch
The Gaomon is solidly built, not flimsy. It has a matte finish that’s not that bumpy. The bottom has four rubber anti-slip dots. The pen is about the size of a ballpoint pen and weighs 12 G or 3/8 oz.
Installing the driver
GaomonSs620 Windows driver
The driver installed smoothly onto both Mac and Windows. Oddly, with the Mac, a screen popped up saying the tablet wants to record my screen and it was asking me to click yes or no. This refers to playing back the drawing so you can watch each step. But the tablet doesn’t have that feature. So I clicked no. Later, I ended up reinstalling the driver after installing the latest Mac update to see if it made a difference, and I did not get that message.
De-install any previous tablet drivers you’ve added, including any Wacom drivers. In the Gaomon driver, you need to click “enable Windows Ink” get the pressure working in Windows.
The driver lets you customize the pen buttons and the four Express Keys and you can do this per app, which is nice. It doesn’t offer as many customization options as some tablets, but the basics are there. I felt the UI was a bit confusing but not that hard. If you want to make some customizations and shortcuts it’s enough.
Artpaint AP32 pen
The Artpaint AP32 pen weighs 13 grams. It’s not too heavy, not too light. It’s not slippery. The two buttons are easy to reach. The top half or so is covered with a comfortable-to-hold rubber sheath. It’s not a super-fancy pen, but it’s similar to most comparable tablets and has the nice feature of the soft grip.
As you can see, it’s plastic matte.
Surface texture of the Gaomon S620 drawing tablet
Using the Gaomon
The high report rate and LPI, and number of pressure levels. are similar to the Wacom Intuos and make for a high-resolution line quality.
It has a slightly textured, matte surface that’s not too rough, but it’s good they included extra nibs as the nibs will wear down after time. There’s no rubbery-soft surface like on some tablets. I did not find that it caused slipperiness, and I like that it didn’t attract things like hand oil like the softer tablets do.
In the really compatible programs, drawing was a pleasure. There weren’t bumps, jumps, or anything like that, and the pressure and opacity sensitive worked smoothly.
Art program testing
On Windows, the Gaomon performed great on almost everything, such as Photoshop, Krita, Sketchbook Pro, Inkscape, and Clip Studio Paint. With Gimp, i could not get the pressure sensitivity working. For fun I tried some programs without the driver, and got pressure in Sketchbook Pro and Photoshop with no driver at all.
On Mac, I tested it on Photoshop, Krita, Inkscape, GIMP, Rebelle, and Clip Studio Paint. It worked great in Clip Studio Paint, and fine in Inkscape. In Photoshop, it was OK but a little laggy if I drew quickly. I wouldn’t recommend it with the others. This was my individual experience on Mac.
The company has a long list of programs they tested for compatibility. You can see it from the link below if you like. (PDF on this site)
I didn’t test it on Android–if I ever do. I will update this Gaomon S620 review.
Image courtesy of Gaomon
Image courtesy of Gaomon
Pros and Cons
Pros: Good build quality. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but that may make it a better value for those who don’t need those and won’t have to spend on them. It has as many pressure levels as a Wacom, and four Express Keys. It works on Window, Mac, and Android. So it’s a good deal for the dollar.
Cons: Didn’t work that great for me with Mac (with some exceptions), not a lot of customization options (though not everyone uses that many). No wireless option. No eraser tip on pen.
The size is pretty small; medium is a better size for professional art, and small is good for small drawings, photo editing, signatures, and having an extra tablet.
The Gaomon S620 is fine for a starter tablet to draw, do signatures, replace a mouse, play OSU, edit photos, and more. For me it worked better on Windows than Mac overall, but was fine in some programs on Mac. It’s built well and should last a while. The felt pen holder is a great accessory, and I like the rubber-grip pen a lot. It’s in the very affordable category at the moment so it’s something to consider.
Ugee S640 graphics tablet review: small but packs a punch
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.
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 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.
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.
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).
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.
The S640 is easy to carry and would fit into a backpack or even a purse.
It’s fine for left- and right-handed use, as you can map the tablet to the orientation you want.
The batteryless, cordless pen is made of plastic and is light at 11g.
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.
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.
If you want a larger, similar tablet, Ugee also offer the S1060 model.
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
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.
XP-PEN Star G960S review: affordable tablet with premium features
The XP-PENStar 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
What’s in the box: the tablet and more.
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.
At about a pound, it’s easy to carry and would fit into a backpack.
It’s fine for left- and right-handed use, as you can map the tablet to the orientation you want.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
USB connection to Android phone.
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.
affordability portability tilt maximum pressure levels ability to use on Android includes adapters
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.
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.
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.
Acepen AP1060 graphics tablet review: customizable pen buttons stand out
Acepen, located in China, makes a wide variety of drawing tablets. They were kind enough to contact me and send me their AP1060 graphics tablet to review. It’s an affordable tablet comparable to the Wacom Intuos.
Graphics tablet. Opaque black tablet, draw on it while looking at screen. Works with Mac and Windows. I used it on Windows 10 and Mac Mohave.
EMR (Electromagnetic Resonance), 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity
What’s in the box
Tablet, pen with nib in it, nib remover ring, 8 extra nibs, micro-USB cable, driver CD, multi-language quickstart guide
(in a rush to see more reviews and info? Go to Amazon to see the Acepen)
The tablet is solidly built of plastic. It doesn’t feel hollow. It’s not made of the most premium materials, buy it’s sturdy and has some heft. The shorter sides curve downward, while the long sides have an edge. It rests on four small rubber dots. The bottom has 8 screws. The USB port holds the connector tightly, it’s not loose (more on this later).
Acepen A1060 drawing tablet
I like the bright yellow fabric pen loop on the side, it’s easy to see. I didn’t have trouble fitting the pen into it as with some pen loops. The pen needs to go in thin side first. My package came with a driver mini-CD, but I used the one from the Acepen site.
Drawing on the Acepen graphics tablet
Size: approx. 9.5 x 14″ (57 x 40 mm)
Active area 10 x 6″
Pen loop on side of tablet
8192 pressure levels
8 customizable buttons on tablet
Pen button fully customizable
Drivers can be downloaded from Ace Pen site
Reading speed: 226
Resolution: 5080 LPI
Accuracy: +/- .01 mm
Hover distance: 10 mm
Active area indicated by four printed corners
weight 1.39 lbs.
dimensions approx 14 x 8.5 x .31″
Lightweight and thin, and doesn’t need an external power supply, only the USB cable, so very portable.
You can “rotate” the tablet in the driver so that you can physically rotate it to have the buttons on the right side, so it’s fine for left-handed people.
The batteryless pen is nice, easy to grip, and light but not so light it’s flyaway. It’s got a tapered shape and is about the size of a fountain pen. Because the pen is passive, no batteries are needed. You get 8192 levels of pressure, which is the maximum of any device on the market. There’s no eraser end.
Acepen stylus pen
Unboxing the Ace Pen 1060
The Ace Pen 1060 came well-packaged printed box. The side says 1060N (I’m not sure what the N stands for). The innards were packed safely. A quickstart booklet with different languages is included. There’s also a thank-you card with contact info for the company (card is not in my photo)
Acepen box contents
The design is attractive, with buttons along the side. and over an inch of bezel all around. I like the smooth slope of the long sides.
The first thing I noticed was the shiny surface of the tablet. That’s a removable protective film. There’s also a removable film over the black plastic strip the buttons protrude from. Once removed, that strip is sleek and shiny.
The LED light is, cleverly, a small feather that’s like the company’s logo. The fabric pen loop is a nice and useful touch that most tablets don’t offer. It’s easy to put the pen in (thinner part first), and once in, it’s snug.
The tablet has a total of 8 hotkeys, all on the tablet surface.
Installing the Ace Pen 1060 driver
Before you install the Ace Pen 1060 driver, be sure you have uninstalled any other tablet drivers you have installed. (If you’re using a tablet PC, leave the drivers that came pre-installed with your tablet PC as they are.)
I used the driver from the Acepen site rather than the included CD. The latest versions of drivers will always be online.
Installing it was simple onto both Windows and Mac. With Mac Mohave you have to remember to allow third-party programs to be installed.
The driver created an icon on my desktop generically named Tablet Digitizer. Opening it, the Windows driver had some nice color graphics with shading, while the Mac version used the more common black-and-white outline drawings.
Be sure the micro USB is fully inserted into the tablet. If it’s not, you will get a blinking LED light o the LED indicator between the buttons. The tablet’s USB port is secure, no slippage.
After installation, the driver guides you to restart. You can then connect the tablet.
Customizing the driver
Customizing the buttons worked and was very simple. You simply right-click in Windows to open a menu and choose your favorite shortcuts. You can’t customize on a per-app basis.
The LED light on the tablet goes on when the pen makes contact with the surface.
You can rotate the tablet in the driver for left-hand or other use. You can also map it to the monitor.
Like most tablets in the affordable range, there is no touch function, no tilt sensitivity, and no wireless option. Note: the company says it’s working on adding tilt.
What this tablet does offer that most in the affordable range don’t is a fully customizable pen button. You can program it to your favorite keyboard commands.
I tried some (not all) customizations with the tablet and pen buttons and they worked fine.
You can adjust the pressure from firm to light in the driver.
Fully customizable pen buttons
A few issues:
The drivers were easy to install, but on my Windows, sometimes I can open the driver without the tablet connected and other times I cannot. Another time, I had to click Run as Administrator. This hasn’t affected the functioning, but I prefer more consistency.
When I tried a working micro USB that did NOT come with the tablet, I had some connectivity issues, getting a blinking LED light (I don’t know the brand of USB). I then switched back to the one it came with and it worked again. The company has mentioned that the tablet does not always work with cables that did not come with it. They don’t sell replacements.
Obviously, if someone loses or breaks the USB, this could become a problem. So I ordered a new micro USB cable to test it. I picked this Amazon Basics micro USB, and it works fine. I now feel better knowing I can reorder a micro-USB if I need to.
Acepen offers lifetime free technical support. They seem responsive to buyer questions. They offer a one-year guarantee of products and free lifetime technical support.
Art program testing
Windows: I tried out Photoshop, Sketchbook, Krita, Paint Tool SAI, and GIMP. Got a very small lag in Photoshop. The driver was pretty sensitive in Photoshop (going from thick to thin quickly).
Like other tablets besides Wacom, you can use the Ace Pen with vector programs such as Inkscape and Illustrator but doesn’t give pressure sensitivity in Illustrator. You can use SAI vector layers with the Ace Pen if you want pressure in vector drawing.
Mac: Tested Photoshop, Sketchbook, Clip Studio Paint, Krita, Inkscape
Note: Sketchbook, GIMP, Inkscape, and Krita are all free and can be downloaded online.
On the company’s site, they list compatibility with Photoshop, Illustrator, Fireworks, Flash, Comic Studio, SAI, Infinite Stratos, 3D MAX, MAYA, ZBrush, and more.
Drawing on the Ace Pen 1060
The size is enjoyable to draw on, big enough to not feel cramped.
The tablet surface tended to attract fingerprints and oils from my hand (the weather has been very humid during testing). The package didn’t come with a glove or cleaning cloth so you may want to get those, especially the glove.
The tablet has a very slightly beaded surface that’s pleasant to draw on, not slippery or bumpy. I do miss the rubbery feeling of Wacom Intuos Pros, but the affordable tablets never have that. The pen makes a little bit of noise but not too much.
I do wish there was some space between each button rather than having four pairs (it looks like four buttons but is actually eight), as if you hit one button you might hit the one next to it by accident. But it was easy to get used to and hit the buttons correctly.
The pen (which the company calls a Monet pen) is pretty stylish and easy to grip. It’s not too heavy or too light. The pen buttons are easy to get to. I don’t feel at all like I need a grip to help hold the pen.
User reviews and reactions
Reading other reviews, most of them are very positive about the pressure sensitivity, value, and overall experience. A few experienced issues with connectivity and drivers.
Size Value Customizability of tablet and pen buttons Mappable to monitor Ease of use Lightweight, portable generous amount of extra nibs
May not work with cables it did not come with Design of buttons could leave more space Attracts fingerprints Driver hiccuped, though no major issues
Ace Pen 1060 vs. Wacom Intuos and Intuos Pro
Comparing the Ace Pen 1060 drawing tablet to the pricier Wacom Intuos, you get a better bang for your buck with the Acepen. You get more levels of pressure and the same resolution, speed, and accuracy. The regular Intuos has 4096 levels and doesn’t have tilt either. (Again, Acepen is planning to roll out tilt).
You don’t get bundled software as you do with Wacom.
The driver for the Ace does almost as much, though doesn’t let you save commands for separate art programs or some other, small features of Wacom.
Comparing it to the Intuos Pro, which is far more expensive, you don’t get tilt, touch, wireless, or bundled software, or app-specific customization, or the ability to use different kinds of physical pens. So the Acepen is more comparable to the regular Intuos but has more pressure levels and may later get tilt.
Acepen AP1060 review verdict: good starter tablet
It’s a good starter tablet for students and can be used for professional art as well. The feature of having customizable pen buttons make it stand apart from most Wacom-alternative graphics tablets. It gives you a generous size and many of the same features Wacom has while not busting the budget. There are plenty of free art programs online you can use with it.
The USB port thing could be a problem but I’m glad I found one that works with it that I can order anytime.
I’ll continue to use this and take advantage of the high levels of pressure and customization.