This review is written by guest artist Iris Muddy
Hi! I’m Iris Muddy, and I’ve been using the Yiynova MSP19U+ for about a year and a half now.
I’ve had an extremely positive experience with this monitor tablet! Other than Wacom Graphire and Intuos, I have used a Wacom Cintiq for quite a few hours here and there, and I can say that the Yiynova really is comparable to its better-known competitor.
When I purchased the Yiynova, I was just finding out about Cintiq alternatives. I was really interested in the Yiynova because I saw reviews that said great things about it, and I had nowhere near enough funds to get a Cintiq. I assumed I’d have to wait years before getting a monitor tablet. I’m glad I was wrong! If the Yiynova happens to fit your budget range, I really recommend it. I think it’s pretty amazing that something so different in price range feels just as good to work with.
Let’s begin with a few important points, then I’ll say a bit about how my purchasing it a while ago went (late 2013).
The pressure levels in the pen are the same as the Wacom pen (2048) but it does not detect tilt, so certain brushes with that option won’t register tilt. That doesn’t bother me though. The monitor is vivid and is brightly backlit by LED. It also has calibration buttons and shortcut keys. I don’t use the keys, but they’re customizable and pretty comfortable to use.
Shown with monitor arm set-up- I no longer have the default stand.
It has a sleek glass covering, which I have noticed little or no parallax (glass thickness) weirdness with. I feel that the pen draws from where you expect it to, for me at least! The glass is different from the rougher Cintiq coated surface; it can feel a little bit slippery if you are not used to it, but it took no time to get used to for me and I don’t feel it gets in the way or makes drawing uncomfortable. It can also be a little bit too reflective in certain lighting, but this has rarely bothered me.
The colors and values are really the same. The camera makes the Yiynova look a little darker in this photo than in reality.
The Yiynova stays fairly cool all day (even after 5-10 hours of usage), whereas I have experienced a lot of heat coming off of Cintiqs while drawing. The MSP19U+ has well distributed heat spots that do not interfere with working for long periods of time. If my palms do get sweaty and start moving jaggedly, I use a small thin pantyhose sock with a hole in it for fingers to hold the pen as a drawing glove. You can also use the tablet gloves sold separately, but this cheap solution has worked well for me.
The Cintiq displays have quite a bit more definition/pixel density, but I’ve found, as most other Yiynova reviewers agree, that the vivid display and comfortable drawing experience compensates for this slight difference. I have never felt like I needed more definition on the screen. Maybe the larger Yiynova model would be fun because a bigger surface and more room to draw is nice, but yeah, the size or resolution has not been a drawback with the MSP19U+ for me.
I’ve had no jagged, weird looking lines when drawing on this tablet (as far as I can tell). I have heard of this happening to people using any tablet, even the Cintiq. So, I think this is just something that occasionally happens, maybe if you draw too slow, or at a certain zoom distance, or your computer is lagging. This hasn’t happened to me yet.
The pen uses a battery. Luckily, it really feels like it makes no difference whatsoever. The weight difference between the Wacom pen and the Yiynova one is indiscernible, maybe a couple of grams. It causes no discomfort at all. The battery it came with lasted me months, and I now use rechargeable ones that I change every few months, using the tablet for hours every day. So don’t worry about having to change it weekly or daily, as this will definitely not be the case. When it is starting to fail, you will notice the light on the pen has turned off and it registers very little. You’ll know when the time has come. Hahaha.
Also, the pen has two clicks you can change the function of. I use them for right and middle. It doesn’t have the eraser tip on the other end, but I doubt this is a big part of anyone’s Wacom routine.
I actually prefer this pen to the Wacom one because I have not had any nib troubles or need to replace anything (after over a year!). Any Wacom user will know about how the nibs wear down. They’re definitely awesome and comfortable to draw with, but need to be replaced a little too often. They also tend to scratch and wear out certain parts of the Wacom tablet, which the Yiynova pen does not do. The only thing on the Yiynova monitor is finger grease, mine doesn’t have any scratched up areas, even after extensive use.
The pen comes with two extra nibs, that I have not had to switch out yet. Yay!
I believe that if you experience brush lag, it has more to do with your canvas size, brush size, RAM, etc, than the pen or the Yiynova monitor itself. This has been my experience. Everything flows very smoothly, unless the brush is simply too much for my computer to take.
The MSP19U+ has no IPS panel, which means that the viewing angles providing the proper range of colors and values are limited. So you should draw with it at a comfortable viewing and drawing angle to see as intended. However, this has not need an issue for me, and I would not pay a few hundred dollars more simply for an IPS panel. I do however recommend that you have another monitor with IPS as it is a good thing for people concerned with accurately viewing/displaying something, like a painting or other graphics.
While I paint or draw in Photoshop, I always keep a second window of the current image open on a monitor behind the Yiynova, for accuracy and a look at the bigger picture.
I think that using the MSP19U+ with a monitor arm is essential. I found the basic stand very uncomfortable to use for long periods of time. I couldn’t conveniently place it on my legs or desk while using it, or while storing it away. It stands up just fine, but only at a restricted angle, making it not very versatile.
Image from the Yiynova website
I ordered the tablet in 2013 from Amazon with a HP monitor arm, as recommended by Ray Frenden. It might be a little bit expensive, but I think it is a necessary purchase/investment for using this tablet, or even another monitor later on if you put away the Yiynova, to their fullest potential. It provides flexibility (different angles for comfort), storage (you can push it to the side), stability (I would have been worried about the Yiynova falling on the ground otherwise), etc. You can also spin the Yiynova to draw your line at a different angle, with the monitor arm. You can even get the monitor to stand vertically (90 degree spin).
It is entirely possible that other monitor arms will work just fine, but I do not have any experience with that and cannot recommend something I haven’t used. This one has been perfect for me. I hope the same for you! I use it clamped. Make sure your desk allows for the arm you get. You can also drill it. But I feel safer clamping. If possible, please get someone else to help you set it up, as it can be quite difficult to balance. Don’t wanna hurt yourself, the monitor, or anything/anyone else!
Let’s go back a bit in the past if you’re curious about my purchasing experience. It was pretty simple and good!
When I bought these a while ago, both the Yiynova and the arm were delivered quite quickly, but as soon as I turned the tablet monitor on, I heard a constant buzzing noise. I was worried, and looked for any mention of this sound in other reviews, hoping it was a defect because it would drive anyone crazy. I e-mailed the reseller right away (Mag Digital Limited, in my case), describing the problem, and they arranged to receive the broken model and send me a new one right away. I’m grateful they were helpful, and I mention this so that anyone else who might receive a defective model is not too shy to contact their reseller and arrange to fix that.
I don’t want to write anything incorrect here, so just make sure that, if you are setting it up for the first time, you follow the simple steps in the manual. (and get the latest driver on the website, for your system) I no longer have this manual, but there is an order you are suggested to follow with the plugging and installing of things. Either the driver before the monitor or the other way around. It’s really simple, just make sure you do follow it for the best results. The monitor has a power adaptor/plug, and a VGA input with a usb wire connected to it. The wires are all quite long, shouldn’t be a problem for most desks.
The VGA input is not a problem, so long as you plan for it. I have not used an adaptor, and I do not know if they are reliable, but they should most likely work just fine. I have a VGA port onboard for my computer, but my video card does not have VGA ports. So I have two other monitors (DVI and HDMI) running on an NVidia card, seperately. This is fine and does not cause problems for my system, I’m just insisting on the importance of having the right basic set-up.
I was worried the VGA would mean low definition display, but honestly it is really crisp and poses no problem whatsoever. There is also a VGA out port, however I’ve never used it.
Color calibration is fine too. And you should always have another monitor to compare the colors anyways. (I would not use the Yiynova as a standalone monitor, just in case.)
Here’s my plug setup just to show you (minus the wall plug), sorry it’s a mess! I wanted to show how the USB attaches to the VGA input.
After the first few hours of using it when I first got it, all I could think about was that everything seemed to work just fine, but the thing was just too close to my face while painting or drawing. So, another reason to keep a second window of what you’re working on open on a second monitor. I’ve really enjoyed working like that, having a zoomed out view behind, and a more zoomed in view in front of me. However, this didn’t really apply in zbrush, which I felt just fine with seeing what I was working on only on the Yiynova. I found the MSP19U+ really fun and practical for sculpting. Really intuitive. For less sculptural 3D modeling, I like to use the Yiynova as a display for a mood/reference board while working on the further back monitor with a mouse. I also watch movies on it, sitting further from my desk on a sofa, with the monitor arm stretched out. Who knows, maybe you’ll find some random uses for it too! It just adds to the usefulness. :)
Here are, finally, the small downsides I have experiences with this tablet. There are very few.
In the first few weeks of using it, I had a few troubles with the pressure sensitivity. It seemed to be very responsive and have a wide range, except that the range was proportionally different to how I had set up my Wacom Intuos. I had become used to pressing very little to get a dark, almost fully opaque stroke. I did this to avoid straining my wrist.
The Yiynova had a lot of range like I said, so it detected varied amounts of pressure, but the ramp was different, it would only become fully opaque with more pressure than I was used to. So my brushes, at their old settings, were softer in general, and became slightly different to use. I played around with the pressure settings in the driver though, and now I also use brushes a little differently since time has passed, so I really hesitate to call this a downside. I don’t think it is. It’s just something to watch out for, and know that you might have a small readjustment period, and if it really bothers you a lot, you might have to change some brush default settings (minimum pressure/opacity, etc). I think that it does just work itself out over time though.
And there is one inactive pixel (pink, which I’ve been told can be fixed with a simple program that fixes those, so it’s not a dead pixel). This showed up a few months after using it. I almost never even see this thing unless I really look for it. It makes me laugh when I notice it again after forgetting about it.
Also, so far, I’ve used it just fine in Photoshop, Manga Studio and Zbrush. I wish I could list other softwares, but I have not tried many. I know that for me it just does not work in Sketchbook Pro. The lines I draw show up an inch or two to the left from where I draw, no matter what. This may have been fixed since I last tried, but I’m not sure.
I’ve been told that it works very well on Mac. I’m not sure about Mac or Windows versions (like windows 8 or something) so just be careful and look into that if it applies to you.
I think that after using this ‘knockoff’ monitor tablet for over a year, this small list of flaws and large range of great features is a good record for how great this product is. I would say it’s incredible for the price, and that I really appreciate Yiynova’s efforts in making this competing tablet. I can easily say that if I were to give my past self advice about whether to wait for a Cintiq or buy this tablet again, I’d buy the Yiynova MSP19U+ exactly as I did. I think it’s awesome, and has been really fun to use and has also helped me improve.
Just to clarify on a few things, I want to say that I’ve been using it on a fairly strong PC with Windows 7, with system updates turned off, and control panel settings edited for the most straightforward drawing experience (pen and touch flicks turned off). No Wacom drivers installed either (had to uninstall my old intuos one), as this conflicts with the Yiynova driver.
I believe that these things, as well as proper setup and calibration, have helped me have zero problems with this tablet. I have heard from a friend or two that they have had issues like the calibration resetting itself often, or the pressure simply not working. I think this might have to do with Operating System updates or settings conflicting with the tablet. However, I’ve heard of many more situations where people have had no problem with the tablet, than situations where they do have problems, so that is why I still think this is a great product. And my friends have later told me that they found their own solutions to those issues too after some experimenting (by changing their settings, sometimes even a screen resolution issue or unplugging the USB and re-plugging it when they reboot their computer), so I do not yet know of someone who feels this is a bad product. I don’t want to say it is perfect in case it does fail completely on someone, but this really does reassure me, and I can say that I think it’s a reliable product.
In case you want some extra help or have questions, there have been some awesome people answering questions I do not know enough about under my Youtube review video (about mac and various program compatibility, etc).
If you’d like more information about this tablet, I suggest checking out amazon, youtube reviews and other blog posts, especially Ray Frenden’s video and blog post about it, which really helped my decision to purchase it.
Thanks so much, and I wish you luck in your tablet decisions! They’re becoming more available, and the market has more choices. Have fun and I hope you find the right one for you!