The new Huion Kamvas 16 (2021) is the upgraded model of Huion Kamvas 16 (2019) released two years ago. The improvements include better colour support (120% vs 100% sRGB), new pen (PenTech 3 vs 2) and a nicer looking design with two colour options (Cosmo Black / Twilight Blue).
The unit I have is a review unit provided by Huion.
The Huion Kamvas 16 (2021) is available on Huion's online store at US $399 (at time of this review).
These are the items included:
- 2x USB power extension cables
- USB-C to USB-C data cable
- 3-to-1 power and USB data cable
- Power adapter
- Pen and stand
- 10 replacement nibs and nib remover
- Quick start guide
- Micro-fiber cleaning cloth
- Artist glove
- Card with links to download the driver
- Thank you card
When buying from Huion's online store, you get to choose the appropriate plug for the wall power adapter.
These are the two USB power extension cables. One's USB-A to USB-A. The other's a USB-A to USB-C.
This is the 3-to-1 cable. The end with three heads are USB-A (black, for data), USB-A (red, for power) and full size HDMI. The other end is USB-C that connects to the pen display.
If your USB port can provide enough power to the pen display, the red USB cable is not needed.
Size for the ports of the side of the pen display and the size of the cable connectors match. There's no way to put the cable into the wrong port.
This is the PW517 pen that uses PenTech 3. It supports tilt sensitivity and up to 8,192 levels of pressure. It's battery-free so no charging is needed.
The pen looks good, lightweight but feels solid, and is comfortable to hold with its large rubber grip.
The two side buttons are customisable with the driver, and have firm feedback when pressed.
The improvement with PenTech 3 is, the pen is more firm and less wobbly. Drawing with a firm tip does provide better drawing experience.
This pen display comes with glossy protective film that has to be removed from the matte screen protector beneath.
I've got to say the instructions on the white and red warning stickers aren't that clear. It is important you don't peel off the matte screen protector while you remove the glossy protective film.
Peel off the glossy protective film slowly, and if you see a glossy surface, put back the protective film, try again. Only pull off the glossy protector film when you see the matte surface beneath.
Design of this 2021 model looks better than the 2019 model. The colours look good out of the box, and look more vibrant than the previous model.
I measured colour support for 100% sRGB, 83% NTSC, 86% AdobeRGB and 95% P3. My Spyder5Pro colour calibrator wasn't able to measure beyond 100% to test the Huion's claim of 120% sRGB coverage. Colour accuracy is reasonably good.
15.6-inch is a good size to draw on. Shown above is an A5-sized sketchbook opened and put on top of the Kamvas 16.
My size recommendation for pen displays is to get at least 13 inches or larger.
The anti-glare on the matte screen protector can be quite aggressive when there's a lot of reflection on the surface. There's also slight colour noise introduced by the matte screen protector but that's to be expected.
And here's how it looks when there's no reflections on it. This is an IPS panel so viewing angles are quite good. Colours don't shift much when viewed from angles.
Power button's at the top left. All the corners are rounded off and edges are beveled.
There are 10 physical customisable shortcut buttons. The buttons are firm and have good feedback when pressed.
You can hold down a button to change brush size and the size will update incrementally, however, it's not as fast compared to holding down a key on a keyboard.
This pen display is probably thinner than some laptops out there.
The stand shown above is my own stand, the Parblo PR100. You can choose to buy the pen display with or without the $20 Huion stand.
I highly recommend getting a stand so that it's more ergonomic to work on the pen display.
The display is laminated so there's very minimal gap between the drawing surface and the cursor beneath. After calibration, you can get the cursor to look as if it's directly beneath the pen tip. So when drawing, the lines will look like they come out from the pen tip.
Cursor tracking at the extreme edges is surprisingly accurate.
Cursor tracking on the left is off by 2-3 pixels with the cursor closer to the edge.
When I changed the orientation to 180 degrees (left handed mode) to test the cursor tracking. The offset happens on the right side. My guess is the driver is programmed this way to make it easier for you to see the cursor when the pen is blocking your view. It works well. I was able to click on all things I want, eg small icons, scroll bars, with accuracy.
The Mac and Windows driver have rather similar functionality.
The two side buttons of the pen can be customised to mouse and keyboard shortcuts.
Pressure curve can be adjusted moving the dots manually. Windows driver has two dots which allows for finer adjustments while Mac driver only has one dot.
On Windows, there's this Windows Ink feature which you may have toggle on or off to troubleshoot when pressure sensitivity is not working as expected.
If the cursor does not appear directly beneath the pen tip, this is where you can do monitor calibration to correct that. If you're left handed, you can change the orientation to 180 degrees.
The 10 physical shortcut buttons can be customised here.
You can set specific keyboard shortcuts or mouse clicks. Display Switch allows you to switch the cursor, while in dual monitor mode, from one display to another. Brush Switch is a brush-eraser toggle. You can also have buttons launch apps.
This is the dialogue box you get when you click the gear settings icon at the top right. With the Windows driver, you can create groups of shortcuts specific to apps you use. For example, you can create a set of shortcuts for Photoshop, another set for Illustrator.
To get into the OSD menu to adjust display attributes, you have to press and hold the two buttons (5 & 6) in the middle.
Some of the settings you can change are
- Colour temperature
- Color effect (screen mode)
- sRGB, AdobeRGB, user display modes
Windows driver has the additional functionality that allows you to adjust brightness, contrast, colour temperature, RGB and has some scene modes. To access that, just click the little gear icon at the top right.
There are four scene modes: standard, moving, gaming, movie. Each scene mode has pre-configured brightness and contrast. With standard mode, you can adjust brightness to 100%, but it will just max out at 128 nits from what I've measured. Movie mode goes up to 195 nits.
Drawing performance is consistent and predictable. Pressure and tilt sensitivity works well. Lines come out just the way I expected. I did not experience any glitches.
Photoshop CC 2020 (Mac). Lines taper nicely. Transition from thin to thick is smooth. Curves turn smoothly.
Tilt sensitivity works well with Krita. Shape of the cursor was able to follow the direction of the pen.
Photoshop 2021 (Win)
The Huion Kamvas 16 can work with selected Android devices. Full list of supported Android devices can be found on Huion's website. From what I can see, it seems like only phones and tablets that can output video signal are compatible. All the supported Samsung devices have Samsung Dex which can connect to external monitors.
My Samsung Tab S7+ tablet was unable to provide enough power to the pen display. So I had to connect the pen display to external power, and when I did that, Android crashed and my Samsung tablet restarted. The crash also caused the battery charging to not work but thankfully with another Android reboot, battery charging was possible again. It was scary so I did not attempt to connect my Samsung tablet to the pen display again.
Anyway, Android support with pen displays and drawing tablets (those without displays) is always hit and miss. Sometimes pressure sensitivity may not work, and since there's no driver you can't adjust the pressure curve and can't use the physical shortcut buttons.
Note that Android apps are designed for touch interface, and pen displays are not touch sensitive, so it doesn't really make sense to use touch-sensitive apps on non-touch-sensitive displays.
The Huion Kamvas 16 (2021) is a good improvement over the previous model. Driver-related issues with some of the drawing apps have been addressed, fixed.
The design looks better, colour support is better and drawing performance is fantastic with all the various drawing apps I've tested on Windows and MacOS. The pen is sensitive and cursor tracking is surprisingly accurate even at the extreme edges.
There are no significant downsides but I do have some minor quibbles. You can use the Windows driver to adjust brightness, contrast and other colour attributes, but you can't do so as easily in MacOS. The other issue is the matte screen protector does introduce some colour noise to the visuals but that's to be expected with matte screen protectors.
Overall, this pen display looks good and performs well. It's definitely a pen display to consider if you're thinking of getting one.
Here are the pros and cons at a glance
+ Design looks good
+ Solid build quality
+ 15.6-inch is a good size for drawing
+ 1080P resolution is sufficient for a 15.6-inch screen
+ 100% sRGB colour support
+ Matte drawing surface provides a tactile feel while drawing, but still a bit too smooth
+ 10 physical shortcut buttons
+ Battery free pen supports tilt and 8192 levels of pressure
+ 10 replacement tips included
+ Pen tip is firm and has minimal wobble
+ Drawing performance (line quality) is good
+ No glitches with various drawing apps tested
+ Lines have little to no wobble and jitter
+ Initial activation force is very minimal
+ Laminated display has minimal gap between the drawing surface and actual LCD
- Stand ($20) sold separately
- Matte screen protector introduce slight colour noise
- Aggressive anti-glare can cause white haze, affects contrast
- Maximum brightness measured at 195 and only achieve in Movie screen mode
- Android support not that useful