Review 2: XP-Pen Artist 22HD Pen Digitizer Monitor

XP-Pen 22HD is a pen digitizer monitor, another one of those Wacom Cintiq competitors to enter the market recently. Competition is fierce. And each year, the products just get better and we have more variety.

XP-Pen is a company started in Japan in 2005 and was only recently incorporated in USA in 2015. They have been producing the technology for making digital tablets since 2005. I've never heard of them until I saw the XP-PEN 22HD which, if I'm not wrong, is one of the earlier products sold under their own brand.

By the way, the unit I have is a review unit sent to me by XP-PEN. Thanks! I've used it for a few weeks and now it's time to share my opinions. In this review, I'll talk about using it on both Mac and Windows.

Packaging

There's nothing too special about the packaging. The monitor was packed safely with thick padding inside a brown box which is inside another bigger box.


This is how the monitor looks like after set up.


The items included are:

  • The display
  • mini-DisplayPort to HDMI adapter
  • USB cable for connecting the display and computer
  • HDMI cable
  • VGA cable
  • 2x stylus pen with stand and 8 replaceable nibs
  • Power cable
  • Charging cable for the pen
  • Manual and driver CD
  • Black glove

Connection ports


The ports on the back of the display are for power, USB, HDMI, VGA and DVI

Important thing to note is while there's a DVI port, there's no DVI cable included.

If you're using a Mac, you can output using mini-DisplayPort and HDMI. A useful mini-DisplayPort to HDMI adaptor is included. For PC users, just make sure your graphics card has either HDMI or DVI ports (with your own DVI cable). Avoid using the VGA cable if you want the best image quality.

Build quality and design and specifications

This is an IPS panel running 1920 by 1080 resolution. Colour reproduction is good. I did not need to calibrate the colours out of the box. Viewing angles are good too with very minimal or indiscernible colour shift when you move your head around.

The screen is quite glossy so if you have light coming from your back, you're going to see reflections.

Design of this monitor, the front especially, reminds me of Apple Cinema Display because of the rounded corners, black bezel and glossy screen above the actual LED screen. Other than that, the rest of the monitor is uses those hard plastic. Overall design is actually quite similar to the Ugee 2150 and Huion GT 220 with minor differences.

Menu buttons are all at the bottom right. There are basic adjustments for the brightness, contrast, gamma and colour settings. The power indicator light is in a small "tunnel" and you can only see it when you look straight which is great because it won't be distracting.


One thing I don't like about the monitor is the cables come out from the bottom. The cables prevent you from tilting the monitor all the way down. If you put the monitor all the way down, the stand is going to lift off the surface because of the cables beneath. Having said that, at the lowest position where it's not affected by the cables, it's still a good comfortable angle to draw from.


This would be the lowest position you can get without the cables interfering with the stand.


The position is still comfortable to draw on. I'm just afraid of the damage that the cables might sustain when you move the monitor up and down constantly. The cables are generic cables so they should not be too expensive to replace, but it would have been better if the design had taken into account of the cables beneath. Small issue overall.

Pen

The pen supports 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity. There's no tilt sensitivity. Almost 70% of the pen is the rubber grip. It has a nice light weight and doesn't slip. The side has two buttons that you can customize by there's no eraser.

It's a battery powered pen so you need to charge it with the charging cable provided when the power is low. You can still use the pen while charging.

Drivers

I've used the monitor on both Windows and Mac. Drivers are installed and work fine the first time. That's great!


The drivers don't have a lot of features. Things you can adjust would be the pressure sensitivity of the pen, pen buttons and parallax calibration.


This are the Windows dialog boxes for settings. As you can see, part of the dialog boxes are cropped off and there's no way for me to resize them. Strange.

On Windows, to find the driver settings, look at your taskbar. It could be a small tablet icon hidden in an icon group. On Mac, you can find it in the Applications folder.

There's some parallax error as the glass is above the LED screen. Most pen digitizer displays have parallax error and it's compensated by the driver. How you do that is to click on 5 points that are shown on the screen and the driver will auto-correct the cursor so that it will appear to be directly beneath the pen nib. It works well. There will still be some slight misalignment because you'll always be moving your head around. In actual practice when drawing, it's not a big issue.

Drawing performance

Let me list the apps that working fine for me. If you are using this display and want to share with others the software that works for you, just share your info in the comments section.

App compatibility

Windows
Photoshop CS6 - Works fine
Medibang Paint - Works fine
Sketchbook Pro - Works fine
Bamboo Paper - Works fine
Mischief - After a while the software freezes
Paint Tool Sai - I don't have the license so I can't test it
ArtRage - Works fine
Corel Painter 2016 - Works fine

Mac
Photoshop CS6 - Works fine
Medibang Paint - Works fine
Mischief - Works fine


These are strokes from Photoshop CS5 (Mac). Pressure sensitivity works well. Strokes are smooth without jitter and they taper well. The lines come out exactly the way you want them to be depending on the pressure you apply.


This was drawn with Photoshop on Mac. There's something wrong with her leg. Don't look there. LOL.


It works well on Medibang Paint (Mac) as shown above.

Overall drawing experience is great except for the apps that have problems, specifically Mischief on Windows which freezes after a while. Mischief for Mac is fine.


These are strokes from Photoshop on Windows.

The hard pen tip works well on the screen. It's not too slippery compared to hard tips on the Surface Pro 4 or iPads for example. In rare occasions, the tip will make a squeaking sound. Again, not something unexpected because it happens with hard tips drawing on glass. It's a minor issue because it happens rarely. The alternative to remove that is to apply a matte screen protector but that will affect the sharpness of the screen. I like the way the pen nib and glass works now.

Monitor does get warm at the bottom. Not sure how I would describe it but it's like those laptop-type of warm.

Multi-monitor setup

As for multi-monitor setup, it's best to use both screens at the same resolution of 1920 by 1080.

There's nothing much to say about the mirror mode. But when you're in extended mode, note that you can extend your mouse cursor over to the other monitor because, well, your pen doesn't work on your other monitor, so you still have to use your mouse.

So it depends on how you want to arrange your setup.

I'm mostly using this as the main monitor.

If you're using dual screens, you can place the 22HD by the side and use it as a drawing screen. That way, with your main screen, you can move your mouse around anywhere even onto the extended desktop. That's just a suggestion. Anyway, this screen is good enough to be used as a main screen because the colour reproduction is good and image is sharp, oh, and it's large enough too.

Conclusion

The XP Pen 22HD is a good product in the sense that it's performs predictably. The strokes come out the way I expect them to be and so far there hasn't been any driver glitches, with the exception of the Mischief app on Windows. But overall, I'm quite satisfied at how it works.

The price point is undoubtedly very attractive. It's less than half the price of a Wacom Cintiq 22HD. I'm not sure if the Cintiq 22HD can reasonably justify that huge price difference. Even though I did not buy the XP Pen 22HD with my own money, it's pretty clear that this is still quite worth the money. I personally don't think there isn't anyone who's not tempted at the attractive price for this sort of functionality.

I'm not a fan of any particular brand, but just someone who when using a product wants it to work as advertised. And in this case, it works well.

If you're using this display, I would love to hear about your experience too, and you can help other artists.

Pros
+ Good built quality
+ IPS panel with good colour reproduction and viewing angles
+ 2 pens include
+ Spare nibs included
+ 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity works well
+ Input for DVI and HDMI, and has adaptor for mini-DisplayPort to HDMI
+ Works well with most Windows and Mac graphics app, except Mischief (Windows)

Cons
- Glossy screen prone to reflections, depends on your working environment
- No shortcut buttons on the monitor itself
- Gets warm at lower right after a while
- Wires behind prevent the display for going to it's lowest possible position
- Parallax that's compensated by software settings

Availability

You can find the XP Pen 22HD and more reviews on Amazon. The reviews are generally favourable.

Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.it | Amazon.es | Amazon.co.jp

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