- Fast and responsive while drawing
- Great little HD display
- Really handy shortcut buttons
- Screen can get cramped and text is hard to see
- User required to wear a glove
Graphics tablets have always been the best way to draw and paint on a computer, but they suffer from one small drawback: it’s much more intuitive to draw with a pen than it is to draw with a mouse. What improves matters immensely is if you have a secondary display on the tablet where the marks from the pen will appear. This technology has been around for a while, but the devices have been prohibitively expensive – until the XPPen Artist 10 Tablet Display (2nd Gen) that we take a look at in this review.
This is a sponsored article and was made possible by XPPen. The actual contents and opinions are the sole views of the author who maintains editorial independence even when a post is sponsored.
Painting with Numbers
The new XPPen Artist 10 Tablet Display (2nd Gen) connects to a PC and allows you to draw directly onto the built-in screen. Functioning like a conventional graphics tablet with a stylus, the device contains a small screen, which acts as a secondary display for your computer and uses the stylus as a mouse.
Inside the box is the tablet, which is about 30cm (a whisker under 12 inches) in length and about 17cm (or 7 inches) width. The device comes with a three-way USB-C to HDMI cable, which also contains USB plugs for power. Also included is a stylish and very nicely-machined stylus for drawing on the tablet and an optional USB-C cable for computers with USB-C connections. The latter can transmit enough power to fire up the display.
A two-fingered one-size-fits-all glove is included to prevent you from triggering the on-screen controls with the part of your hand resting on the display. Plus, you get a cleaning cloth, replacement tips for the stylus and instruction manuals. The driver has to be downloaded from the website, but this is very easy to obtain and install.
The Pen Is Mightier
Plugging in the tablet to your PC is the first step. Unless your PC has USB-C ports, you’ll be attaching the device as a secondary display through HDMI. The two additional USB plugs on the 3-in-1 cable provide power from either a pair of USB sockets on your PC or one on the PC and one plugged into an external power socket. If you have USB-C sockets, it’s much easier, as it’s just one plug at each end, snap-snap. USB-C is much better at providing the power needs of modern devices.
Next, download and install the drivers for the tablet. These are available on the XPPen website. Once downloaded, install them as you normally would, then run the XPPen application to set up your tablet.
Out of the box, the tablet will be set up one of two ways, depending on your system. It will either duplicate the screen on both displays or extend them, making the second display an extension of the first. This is, however, why you need the drivers. You need the stylus to trigger and be resident on the second screen inside the tablet and not drive the main screen, which is the default setting. Configure this by selecting the drawing area of the stylus in the settings.
Once you’re up and running, start a graphics software and begin drawing. To access the software in the secondary screen, drag the graphics software (or at least the window with the page in it) off the main screen and into the secondary screen.
By default, the two screens are side by side, with the main screen on the left and the new screen inside the tablet on the right. Grab the main window bar of the software and drag it off the right hand side of the screen, and it’ll appear dragging in from the left on the tablet screen. Make it full screen, and you’re ready to go.
While you can have some menus on one screen and some on the other, I recommend having all of the controls on the secondary screen in the tablet. This makes for less frantic mousing to get to a menu on the other screen. The downside is that the drawable area of the screen is that much smaller. Experts will keep the controls on the main screen but make them smaller and push them close to the right edge of the main screen to make them easily accessible while coming in from the secondary screen.
I’ve used many graphics tablets in my time, and this is very good. The tracking speed is easily fast enough, with only the tiniest of lags behind your pen tip on the screen and the line you are drawing. This makes for very fast, responsive drawing with lots of flow. It captures your gestures with the pen perfectly.
One of the things that makes it hard for artists to transition to tablets is lag. It takes you out of the game, and you have to time your strokes to match the lag, which makes your lines stiff and hesitant. Not so with the XPPen Artist 10 Tablet Display. It’s fast and you can scribble without any visible stepping until you go really fast.
I was able to work mostly without the protective two-fingered glove, but there were times when I inadvertently brushed a control with my hand and activated it. It’s a relatively rare occurrence, but it taught me to always wear the glove when I wanted things to stay fully under my control.
I loves the shortcut keys on the side of the unit, and the ones for Alt and Space were in constant use. It makes a difference if you can keep your attention on the tablet rather than looking for keys on your keyboard.
It can’t be overstated how much of a difference it makes for making smooth artwork to be able to look at the end of the pen to see the lines as you draw them. This makes for great flowing lines and precision, especially when inking.
There are very few downsides to the XPPen Artist 10 Tablet Display. The HD resolution is great, as even at the relatively small size of 10 inches, you can still see the icons on Photoshop or Clip Studio. It is, however, relatively small, and you’ll need reading glasses to hit buttons on the toolbar. It can sometimes feel a little cramped. But in this case, its downfall is also its strength. It’s compact enough to fit on the average desk; those big display tablets take up a whole bench of their own. Besides, you can always zoom in to get a better look at the lines.
The XPPen Artist 10 Tablet Display is a terrific tablet, and if you’re in the market for a graphics tablet with a display, you’ll really like it. Personally, I wasn’t in the market for this kind of high-tech gizmo, as I didn’t realize it would even be in my price range until I checked it out further.
Obviously, using a small tablet like this you are going to run into problems with the small display and programs (like Photoshop) that are designed for massive screens. The text is small and quite hard to see. But if you’re like me and wear glasses for close work, it may not pose too much of a problem. Additionally, not everyone will want to wear a glove to prevent themselves accidentally triggering the on-screen controls.
It’s reasonably priced at $169.99, too, which is excellent value for a tablet of this quality. This is at this point the cheapest I have seen graphics tablet displays. For now, this is the best entry point into this amazing way of adding graphics to your computer.
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