The review unit was provided by XP-Pen.
This is the upgraded model of the XP-Pen Artist 12 that I've reviewed in 2018. Some of the improvements include a screen with better colours, more physical shortcut buttons (8 total), replacing the touch bar with a control wheel and including a stand in the box. You get all these for US $249 which is the current price on Amazon at the time of this review.
Just for comparison, the Artist 13.3 Pro is US $299. The only difference between the two is the drawing surface area. 13.3 inch vs 11.6 inch.
- Product dimensions: 35.1 x 22.5 x 1.29cm
- Screen: 11.6-inch diagonal, 25.6 x 14.4cm
- Resolution: 1920 x 1080
- Panel type: IPS
- Colors: 16.7 million
- Shortcut buttons: 8
- Control wheel
- Input: USB-C
- Graphic ports supported: HDMI, miniDisplay
- Pen does not require battery
- Pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels
The things included in the box are
- Pen display
- 3-to-1 data/power cable
- USB extension cable
- Mini-Display to full-size HDMI adapter
- Power plug with international adapters
- Artist glove
- Cleaning cloth
- Manual, warranty card
- Pen and case
- 8 replacement nibs
- Stand for pen display
I've reused the photos of the accessories from the Artist 13.3 Pro because they are the same.
These are all the cables.
The most important cable is the 3-in-1 cable. The USB-C side will go to the pen display. The other side with the USB-A, HDMI, and USB-A Power will go to the computer. There's a Mini-Display Port to HDMI adapter included for those who have the Mini-Display or Thunderbolt port on their computers.
The power plug comes with all the various adapters for different regions. You may not need to use this if your computer's USB port can provide enough power to the black-coloured USB-A port. If not, then you'll need to connect the red-coloured USB-A port to the USB wall power.
Manual, warranty, driver download card, cleaning cloth and artist glove.
The previous Artist 13.3 non-Pro did not come with the stand. This time it's included.
The stand is made of hard plastic and has rounded corners at most places so that it won't cut your hands or create scratches. The flap can be pushed out and locked into place. There's only one position for this stand though.
Angle of the stand is comfortable to work with. If you need it higher, perhaps add a thick book beneath. Having a stand makes drawing on the pen display way more comfortable. It's much better for ergonomics compared to using the pen display flat on the tablet.
The pen case included is cyclindrical and can roll off the table easily. It's very well build and solid.
At one end, you can open it to reveal the pen. The cap of the pen case can be used as a pen stand. Both sides of the pen case have rubber base so they don't slip on tables.
On the other side are 8 replacement nibs and the nib remover.
The pen looks good and feels good in hand. It's not powered by battery so no charging required.
There's a large rubber grip and two side buttons. Weight is just right, not too heavy or light. Build quality feels solid.
There's a note pasted on the pen display with info on the screen protector.
That note is actually pasted on the protective film on the screen protector which is on the pen display.
So the first thing to do is to peel off the protective film to reveal the screen protector. Do not peel off the screen protector!
The anti-glare on the Artist 12 Pro is more aggressive compared to the Artist 13.3 Pro which is more reflective.
At angles where it's going to reflect light, the white haze effect will appear and affect the contrast of the colours. This screen protector has a bit more texture compared to the one on the Artist 13.3 Pro.
The white haze is not going to be a problem since most people would just view the display straight on.
The Artist 12 Pro actually has a 11.6-inch display. Design of the pen display looks good. I like the rounded corners and beveled edges. Bezels are thick but not an issue.
Out of the box, the colours look good. Colour support, as measured by a Spyder5Pro colour calibrator is 97% sRGB, 73% NTSC and 78% AdobeRGB. This is an improvement over Artist 12 which was measured at 92% sRGB, 63% NTSC and 68% AdobeRGB. Artist 13.3 Pro supports 100% sRGB, 78% NTSC and 84% AdobeRGB.
Brightness was measured at 190nits which is sufficient for indoor use but definitely not bright enough for outdoor.
Parallax is non existent because the display is laminated and there's almost no or no gap between the glass and the actual display. But there might be some misalignment between the cursor and pen tip, or the misalignment could be due to where your eyes are looking at the cursor and pen tip. To remove the misalignment, you can calibrate with the driver. After calibration, the cursor will appear directly beneath the pen tip.
There's also tilt sensitivity support. When the pen is tilted, the cursor will still remain directly beneath the tip.
There are 8 physical shortcut buttons and a red coloured control wheel. Having a control wheel makes more sense than the touch bar in the previous model. For example, it's easier to change brush size by turning the wheel than swiping the touch bar repeatedly.
All the buttons have firm feedback and work great.
Don't confuse this with tablets even though this pen display is very thin too. A pen display is actually a monitor that you can draw on, and since it's a monitor you will need to connect it to a computer to use it..
The two side buttons are just for brightness.
Here's a size comparison with the Artist 13.3 Pro. At the bottom left is an A5 sketchbook.
Drawing area of the Artist 13.3 Pro is about 30% more compared to the Artist 12 Pro. Resolution of both displays is the same at 1920 x 1080 though. You will be able to see individual pixels on both displays but the 1080P resolution is still very usable. You can wish for higher resolution but how much more are you willing to pay for that?
With the driver, you can change the pressure sensitivity, assign functions to the side and physical shortcut buttons, calibrate the screen to compensate for parallax offset and switch to left-handed mode if you want to.
I like that the pressure curve can be adjusted manually rather than with a slider. This allows for finer adjustment.
If you use dual monitors, the driver also allows you to click a button to switch between monitors to use.
Drawing performance is fantastic with the drawing apps I have on MacOS, namely Photoshop (shown above), Medibang Paint Pro, Clip Studio Paint and Krita. There's no jitter when drawing diagonal lines slowly. Curves turn smoothly, lines taper nicely. The pen is very sensitive and able to maintain consistent pressure. Lines just come out the way I expect them to. Performance is predictable.
Initial activation force is low. You'll still need to press down a bit to get a line. It's probably about as much force as you need to draw a line with a wooden pencil.
Drawing performance on Windows is good but chances are you need to do some troubleshooting when pressure sensitivity does not work.
With Photoshop CC 2019 (Win), the Windows Ink checkbox from the driver needs to be checked in order to get pressure sensitivity working. After that, drawing performance is good.
With Krita (Win), Windows Ink needs to be turned off or your lines will appear as a string of dots.
Medibang Paint Pro (Win) works fine most of the time but there would be the occasional stray stroke. The glitch is difficult to reproduce and actually happens more frequently on the XP-Pen Artist 13.3 Pro.
When drawing quick circular strokes or curves, sometimes stray strokes will appear.
It's good to see XP-Pen has addressed many of those issues I've mentioned with the previous model, namely colour accuracy, parallax offset, glitches with some drawing software, stand not included.
Drawing performance is better on MacOS than on Windows. On MacOS, drawing performance is consistent with pressure and tilt sensitivity working well with all the drawing apps I've tested. On Windows, pressure sensitivity may sometimes not work due to the Windows Ink functionality. But thankfully, getting pressure sensitivity to work only require changing the driver settings. After getting pressure to work on Windows, the drawing performance is equally as good as on MacOS.
So for its official retail price of US $299, it seems to be worth the money considering the screen and drawing performance. This is a good improvement over the previous model.
Pros and cons at a glance
+ Good build quality and design
+ Pen does not require battery
+ Pen is quite sensitive
+ 8 replacement tips included
+ 8 shortcut buttons are useful
+ Matte anti-glare screen protector nice to draw on
- Matte screen protecter affects sharpness of the screen but a good tradeoff for the texture it provides
+ 1080P resolution on the screen this size is sharp enough
+ Screen has good colour accuracy and viewing angles
+ Laminated screen removes pen tip and cursor offset caused by parallax
+ Does not heat up significantly. Can be used for long periods of time without discomfort
+ Drawing performance generally good but depends on the OS and app that you use
+ You can power this display from a single powered USB port if your USB port has enough power
+ HDMI-miniDisplay port adaptor included
+ Stand included
+ Price is very competitive for a screen of this size
- Some issues with the specific drawing apps mentioned in the review
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