A pen display, by the way, is a monitor that you can draw on. It may have the form factor of a tablet, but you will need to connect this to a computer and power supply.
Artisul D16 Pro is actually the upgrade from Artisul D16 which was released in 2018. The official retail price is US $379 (not including shipping).
The things included in the box are:
- Pen display
- Cable for power and grahics
- Extension cable
- USB wall power adapter
- Pen and case
- 10 replacement nibs
- Micro fiber cleaning cloth
- Artist glove
- Quick start guide
- Card with links to download driver
- Instructions for setting up stand
USB wall power adapter. The appropriate adapter should be included depending on your location.
This is the Y-cable for the power and graphics. The red end is USB type A and should go to a USB power supply. The other end has a full size HDMI and another USB type A for data (to let your computer recognise the pen input).
If your computer's USB port can supply enough power, you don't have to use the red USB head. My laptop's USB was able to power the pen display.
The pen case included is made of thick felt.
A nib remover and 10 replacement nibs are included.
The pen has good build quality. The weight is just nice. The body is full matte which is comfortable to hold. This pen is not powered by battery so it does not require charging.
The pen supports up to 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity and there's tilt support too.
There are two shortcut buttons on the side that you can customise.
Artisul has included a metal stand instead of the plastic stand they used for the previous model. Build quality is more solid. The front has two big pieces of rubber.
The stand has two metal beams each with different height. These are to support the back of the support that the pen display rests on.
The stand can be deployed by placing the beams into the various grooves to get the angle you want.
The rubber feet below the stand do a good job at preventing the stand from moving when drawing.
The stand when collapsed is flat and easy to store away.
The display is a 15.6-inch IPS panel with matte screen protector already applied. Resolution is 1920 x 1080.
There's a small bubble underneath the screen protector. Not a big deal for me. Just be careful not to remove the screen protector as you are removing the plastic film on the screen protector.
The matte screen protector provides a nice tactile surface to draw on. And it doesn't attract finger prints easily. You can run your palm smoothly on it and there won't be drag. But if you have sweaty palms, I recommend using the artist glove provided.
Colours look good out of the box. Colour support is 100% sRGB and 95% AdobeRGB as measured by my Spyder5Pro calibrator. The colour support is slightly better compared to the earlier model.
In short, this unit has good colour accuracy
The Artisul D16 Pro has a laminated display, which is to say there's no gap between the glass surface and the actual screen beneath.
In theory with a laminated display, the cursor should always directly beneath the pen tip. Unfortunately, I found some cursor misalignment issues.
The screenshot shown above is from Windows and there's slight misalignment when the pen is near the right edge of the screen. The nearer the pen is to the right edge, the larger the misalignment. I'm not the only one with this problem. Someone posted on a review on Amazon talking about the same misalignment problem.
This misalignment issue presents problems when you need to click things on the right side of the screen. For example, when I have the pen tip above the Create New Layer button, the cursor will be at the Delete Layer button. When I have the pen tip at the Maximise Window button, the cursor is at the Close Window button. So the click the right button, you have to make a more conscious effort to see what you're clicking. It's not a good user experience.
I actually found an unofficial fix to the problem. Just turn the orientation from left to right and back to left using the driver, and the misalignment problem is greatly reduced.
The misalignment issue is less obvious on MacOS.
This is with the camera pointing directly above the pen tip. As you move to the right edge, the misalignment will appear again.
The cable connects to the right side of the pen display. At the top right are the power and brightness control buttons.
As you can see, this pen display is thin. Probably thinner compared to most laptops out there.
On the back are two large pieces of rubber feet. The back is where it attracts fingerprints easily.
There are eight physical shortcut buttons and a control dial on the side.
The control dial has LED lights that changes colour. There's the option to turn off the lights with the Windows driver. For MacOS users, the LED doesn't light up.
Drivers are to be downloaded from Artisul's website. The Mac and Windows drivers I've used for this reviewed are from 22 Nov 2019.
The screenshots below are mostly from the Windows driver. I've included MacOS driver screenshots whenever there are differences.
Pressure sensitivity can adjusted with the slider. Unfortunately you can't manual adjust the pressure curve.
Note the Support Digital Ink checkbox. If you tick the checkbox, you won't be able to select text by dragging the cursor over text. That's obviously something you need to uncheck.
These are the eight shortcut buttons that can be customised. If you're left handed, you can change the settings to left handed mode.
This are the various pre-defined shortcuts you can choose from for the shortcut buttons. There are the pre-defined shortcuts for Photoshop, Illustrator, Clip Studio Paint and Corel Painter.
If you want to create specific keyboard shortcuts, you can only choose from the keys included on their drop-down list. And that drop-down list does not have all the keys on the keyboard. I wasn't able to create a shortcut with the "=" button. There's a "Add" key but that's not the same as the "=" key I wanted.
So for shortcuts you can't assign to the physical shortcut buttons, you'll have to use your keyboard.
That "Fullscreen cursor" option allows you to jump the cursor from one display to another when you are running two monitors.
You can choose from five functions for the control dial. To switch between the functions, just press the button in the middle of the dial, and a label will appear on screen telling you which function is currently active.
The default functions are to change brush size, scroll up & down, and undo/redo.
I only use the control dial to change brush sizes so the other two can be disabled.
You can also disable the control dial, sort of, but choosing "Use Dial" instead of "Use Wheel". The function changed to volume control.
The driver allows for calibration to remove parallax. Unfortunately, this does not remove the misalignment issue that I mentioned above for Windows.
In the review for Artisul D16 which also has some misalignment issues, Artisul released updated driver to fixed the problem. Let's hope Artisul will do the same for the D16 Pro as well.
The Mac driver has more calibration option. The 8-point calibration is more effective than the 4-point calibration, but even that does not remove the right-edge misalignment problem totally.
Oh, note that for MacOS Catalina, you have to give permissions to the driver to control the computer. Otherwise, you can move the cursor but you can't click anything.
To give permission to the Mac driver, you just have to add the driver to the list of apps at System Preferences->Security & Privacy->Privacy.
Some of the files below are available in larger resolution. Just click to see.
Photoshop CC 2020 (Win) seems to work well. Thin-thick line transitions are smooth, taper well, and comes out just the way I expect. Pressure sensitivity works and lines are able to maintain consistent pressure without jitter.
Pressure works with Adobe Illustrator CC 2020 (Win)
To get Clip Studio Paint working properly, I had to go into the settings and choose "WinTab" and "Use mouse mode in setting of tablet driver". Otherwise, the cursor will move in the opposite direction of your pen's movement.
After changing the settings, Clip Studio Paint (Win) works well.
Clip Studio Paint (Win)
Pressure sensitivity works too with Affinity Photo (Win). The lines are a bit jittery and don't taper as smooth compared to other drawing software.
Generally, all the drawing software I've tested on Windows work well and quite consistently. The only problem I faced was with the misalignment issues near the right edge of the screen where all my palettes are. When clicking on the palettes, I need be slower to see where the cursor is before I click.
Lines in Photoshop (Mac) has slight jitter and there's difficult maintaining consistent pressure. To draw a line with uniform thickness, you have to draw fast. If you want to draw a long line slowly, there would be slight jitter and the thickness will vary even if you try to maintain consistent pressure.
Clip Studio Paint (Mac) works fine.
The Artisul D16 Pro has good build quality and design. Colour accuracy is quite good.
The only main issue I have is with the misalignment that happens when the pen is near the right side and right edge. Since I'm right handed, I place my palettes on the right side, so my drawing area is actually away from the right and the misalignment doesn't affect my drawing much. But when I need to click stuff on the palettes, that's when it becomes frustrating because there will be mis-clicks unless I really slow down to see what I'm clicking on. The user experience is obvious not good this way.
Drawing performance is actually better on Windows than on MacOS even though the misalignment is more obvious on Windows. There's a tendency for the lines on MacOS to have slight jitter.
Hopefully, Artisul can update the driver to fix all these issues. More importantly, the calibration functionality in the Windows driver has to work better. Right now, the calibration does not improve the misalignment issue at all. They should include the 8-point calibration with the Windows driver.
If you're also using the Artisul D16 Pro, let me know how your unit has been working out for you. I would love to hear from you.
Update 16 Jan 2020: Artisul is aware of the misalignment and currently working on a fix.
Pros and cons at a glance:
+ Good build quality
+ Pen does not require battery
+ Pen is quite sensitive
+ 10 replacement tips included
+ Matte anti-glare screen does not have reflections
+ Nice texture on screen to draw on
+ Laminated display. No gap between the glass and actual screen beneath
+ 1080P resolution on the screen this size is sharp enough
+ Screen has good colour accuracy and viewing angles
+ Display can be powered by computer's powered USB port
+ Does not feel warm after long periods of use
+ Drawing performance generally good but depends on the OS and app that you use
+ Useful stand included
+ 8 shortcut buttons and scroll wheel are useful
+ Can be used in left handed mode
- Misalignment issue when pen is near right side of display
- Calibration in Windows driver does not work. Not accurate.
- Drawing apps in MacOS have slight jitter
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