Review unit provided by UGEE
UGEE U1200 is a 11.9-inch graphic pen display for digital artists. This is the smaller model of the 15.4-inch UGEE U1600 I've reviewed months ago.
This is the 17-min video review.
Official retail prices for the U1200 and U1600 are USD $229 and $339 respectively on UGEE's website. At the time of this review, it's US $170 Amazon US. The pricing is incredibly competitive compared to other pen displays of similar size.
The attractive pricing only applies to Amazon US though. If you're from Europe or other countries, the pricing is higher.
Bottom line: UGEE U1200 and U1600 are the best value pen displays of 2022 simply because of their pricing and good drawing performance.
These are the items included in the box:
- Pen display
- Artist glove
- 10 replacement nibs
- Nib remover
- Micro-fiber cleaning cloth
- 3-to-1 cable (HDMI + USB-A data + USB-A power)
- USB-A extension cable
- Quick start guide
No tablet stand is included. I'm using the Parblo PR100 stand (shown above).
The pen display supports USB-C to USB-C video connection but no USB-C video cable is included.
If you're using the 3-to-1 cable, you'll need HDMI and USB-A ports on your computer. You may also need a USB-A power supply if your computer's USB-A port can't provide enough power to the pen display.
The red label attached to the pen display says to peel off the protective film on the pen display.
The pen display actually uses a matte screen protector. When you peel off the protective film, make sure you don't peel off the matte screen protector.
Design of the pen display is clean and simple with just the UGEE logo in front. Bezels are quite thick. Corners are rounded off.
The pen display is made with plastic throughout and build quality seems solid.
The display is slightly larger than an A5 sized sketchbook. I usually recommend getting a pen display that's at least 13-inches or larger. This is an 11.9-inch pen display and that to me is kinda small. If you have intention to draw often or want to use the display as your main display, I recommend getting the larger UGEE U1600 instead.
That's the matte screen protector and the anti-glare. The display uses an IPS LCD with minimal colour shift with different viewing angles.
Resolution is just 1920 x 1080 so pixelation is slightly noticeable. Overall visuals still look quite sharp since it's 1080P on a rather small 11.9-inch display so pixels aren't chunky looking.
One downside to the matte screen protector is it introduces slight grain/colour noise to the image quality. Not sure if you can see it in the photo above. For me, it's a minor downside.
One issue with this small display that you won't get on the larger UGEE U1600 is, the UI elements will look small without UI scaling.
So to make the UI elements larger, I used 1600 x 900 scaling instead of 1080P. The result is the palettes and tool bars are made bigger by reducing the canvas drawing area. In this case, the palette was increased from 2.5 fingers to 3 fingers width which is not too bad. However due to the lower resolution, you can't show as much palette content, e.g. fewer number of layers are shown.
I measured colour support for 100% sRGB, 90% NTSC, 93% AdobeRGB, 96% P3, and a maximum brightness of 169 nits.
Anything above 90% AdobeRGB is good so this display can be considered reasonably colour accurate, after colour calibration. The colours of the display do look a bit more saturated than what I expected.
The back is matte textured and there are four large rubber feet with good grip on the table.
Buttons for the power and brightness are located at the top left of the tablet.
This display has no OSD menu so all display and colour settings have to adjusted with either the driver or your OS settings.
This is not available with the MacOS driver.
The two USB-C ports located at the top in the middle are labeled for the 3-to-1 cable and USB-C cable. These two USB-C ports are not interchangeable.
If you want USB-C to USB-C connection, make sure the connector of your USB-C cable can fit into the hole for the port. In the photo above, only the cable on the left could fit. The other two USB-C cable connectors are small but not small enough, and the shapes aren't right. And make sure to get a USB-C cable that can transmit video, not just data.
The pen display is about as thin as the included pen.
The pen supports tilt and 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity. The pen is not powered by battery so no charging is required.
There are two side buttons and an eraser at the back.
The bulbous front of the pen can make it difficult to see the pen tip from certain angles. A tapered front would be much better.
Display is laminated so there's almost no gap between the line and pen tip. There is the latency gap though but it's not really an issue when drawing.
Cursor tracking is very accurate, right up to the edge of the display.
The pen display has drivers for Windows, MacOS, Ubuntu, Centos, Fedora, Red Hat, Manjaro, Arch, Debian, OpenSUSE, elementary OS, Mint, ezgo Linux, Pop!_OS and Mageia.
Windows driver version 184.108.40.206204 worked fine for me.
MacOS driver version 3.2.3_220411 was not able to detect the connected pen display. Since UGEE is actually the parent company of XP-Pen, I installed the XP-Pen MacOS driver (ver 3.3.4) and that driver actually was able to detect the pen display. By the way, the UGEE and XP-Pen driver look very similar except for the branding.
Here's where you can adjust the mapping, calibrate the pen tip to remove parallax if any, and change the orientation if you're left-handed.
Pressure sensitivity can be adjusted by moving the three control points of the pressure curve. If there are any issues with pressure sensitivity not working, chances are you may have to toggle Windows Ink on or off to troubleshoot.
There aren't any shortcut buttons on the pen display, however you can still customise the three buttons on the pen. I have one side button set to Switch Display which moves the cursor from one display to the other.
To save the driver settings, you have to click the big OK button on the left. Otherwise the settings you set may work, but they won't be saved when you restart the computer or pen display.
There's just one glitch with the XP-Pen MacOS driver. There's no calibration option to remove parallax so if there's any cursor misalignment then it's a major bummer. Hopefully UGEE can update their driver to fix this problem, and the can't-detect-pen-display problem.
Oh, there's also no display settings with the MacOS driver so you can't adjust colour temperature, contrast like you can with Windows driver.
These are line tests created with Medibang Paint Pro.
1. Initial activation force is minimal. Pen is very sensitive. It's easy to draw thin lines even with a thick brush selected.
2. Slow diagonal lines are quite straight.
3. Lines can taper smoothly and sharply.
4. Line transition from thin to thick is smooth.
5. Consistent line widths can be drawn easily with consistent pressure.
6. With Medibang Paint Pro, dots occasionally won't appear. You have to tap and drag the pen tip. Problem doesn't happen with other apps.
Shown above is the line quality you can expected with Medibang Paint Pro, Krita, Photoshop, Affinity Photo and Clip Studio Paint. Pressure sensitivity rarely works with Adobe Illustrator on MacOS but this time it works.
This was drawn with Medibang Paint Pro.
This was drawn with Affinity Photo
This was drawn with Adobe Photoshop.
Overall line quality is great. Drawing performance is consistent and predictable. My drawing experience is very positive.
Tilt sensitivity works but...
There's an area 1-inch on both sides of the display where tilt sensitivity will not work. But left and right edges are usually occupied by tool bars and palettes so dead areas for tilt should not be a big issue. This is the same issue with the UGEE U1600.
The UGEE U1200 has fantastic drawing performance and extremely attractive pricing. This is easily a value king just like the bigger brother the UGEE U1600. This is a simple pen display that does its job well without many features that other companies charge more for. The latest price on Amazon I've seen is US $170 after a coupon discount, and US $195 without the coupon.
My drawing experience is mostly positive thanks to the fantastic line quality. The only factor that affects my drawing experience is the small display size.
If you're someone with a tight budget, the UGEE U1200 is definitely the one to consider. The main downside is the display is small at just 11.9-inches. If you can stretch your budget, I highly recommend the UGEE U1600 instead as it's larger and more comfortable to work with.
Pros and cons at a glance
+ Solid build quality
+ Clean and simple design
+ Incredibly competitive pricing
+ 99% sRGB, 93% AdobeRGB colour support
+ Pen has tilt and 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity
+ Pen has two side buttons and eraser button
+ Pen is not powered by battery
+ Good drawing performance
+ Matte screen protector applied
+ Anti-glare is not aggressive and doesn't affect image quality much
+ Has Windows, MacOS and Linux driver support
- Small 11.9-inch display
- There are dead areas for tilt on the left and right edge
- Maximum brightness 169 nits
- No physical short buttons
- USB-C to USB-C cable not included
- Your own USB-C cable may not fit the small holes of the USB-C ports
- No tablet stand included
- No pen stand included
- UGEE MacOS driver did not work at time of this review (XP-Pen driver works)
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