Review: XP-Pen Surface Pen

Big thanks to XP-Pen for providing this review unit.

Other than drawing tablets and pen displays, XP-Pen actually sells plenty of accessories for their products. They have stands, cables, screen protectors, cases, replacement nibs and even a Microsoft Surface Pen alternative.

This is simply called the XP-Pen Surface Pen (XPSP). Cost US $45 which is less than half of the US $99 Microsoft Surface Pen (MSP).

It comes with a nib remover, one AAAA battery and two replacement nibs.

Build quality is excellent with its full metal body.

The surface has a nice matte texture to it and feels nice to hold.

The soft-medium rubber-like felt tip is similar to the MSP. There's good friction and it's not slippery on glass.

The tips are not shaped like MSP tips so you'll have to get XP-Pen version should you need replacements. At the time of this review, I don't see them selling those replacement tips.

There are two side buttons with firm feedback. The button close to the tip is the eraser button and the other button is the right mouse click.

The non-removable pen clip is nice.

Battery life for Surface Pens can last from six months to a year.

Here's the slow diagonal line jitter test.

Performance is similar to the MSP. There's minimal jitter so it's not a big issue.

Here's the text for pressure sensitivity and initial activation force with Concepts app.

Initial activation force is similar to MSP which means if you choose a big brush, it's challenging to produce thin lines just by using light pressure. Even though the XPSP supports up to 4,000 levels of pressure sensitivity, it's not that sensitive at low pressures.

Also note the pressure transition is not smooth. Lines can transition from thick to thin, vice versa, quite abruptly.

And there's also the issue where it's challenging to maintain consistent pressure when drawing uniform lines, the thickness may waver.

Performance of MSP is better but initial activation force can definitely be improved.

Because of the initial activation force, both styluses are unable to produce smooth line tapers.

Performance of the XPSP is slightly better with Sketchable. So performance depends also on the app you use.

But there's still the less than ideal pressure transition and consistency.

When drawing, XPSP has tendency to produce lines that are either too light/thin or dark/thick. Again, that's due to the initial activation force.

Another issue is tilt sensitivity is too sensitive. Tilt sensitive works the moment you tilt the pen slightly, which means if you want to draw normal lines, you have to keep the pen almost vertical. Holding the pen almost vertical is not the normal position for most people.

MSP tilt sensitivity is more intuitive, only kicking in when the pen is tilted at a more significant angle.

One area where the XPSP is good for is for note taking and handwriting. It was able to capture my handwriting style quite accurate. Performance is actually similar to MSP.

If you're looking for a pen to take notes or click on stuff, then the XPSP is a more worthwhile option since it's significantly cheaper. For drawing purposes, MSP will offer better performance.

You can find more information on the XP-Pen Surface Pen at



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