Review: Huion KAMVAS 16 pen display

The Huion KAMVAS 16 is one of two pen displays released in June 2019. The other is the KAMVAS Pro 16.

The main differences between the two are the better colour accuracy, more premium feel and full laminated screen on the KAMVAS Pro 16. Official retail price, at the time of this review, for the KAMVAS 16 is US $379 and the KAMVAS Pro 16 is US $469.

The Huion KAMVAS 16 is a pen display designed for graphic artists who want a professional pen display to work with, but don't want to pay the high price one normally would with a Wacom Cintiq. FYI, the Wacom Cintiq 16 pen display is US $649.

This unit that I have is a review unit from Huion. Some parts of my review will be similar to KAMVAS Pro 16 because certain features and accessories are similar.

Things included

  • Pen display
  • Power plug and cable
  • Data connection cable
  • Pen and stand
  • 10 replacement nibs and nib remover
  • Microfiber cleaning cloth
  • Artist glove
  • Instruction manual


This is the data cable that connects the pen display to the computer. At one end, there are the USB A, HDMI and power. On the other end to the pen display, it looks like a proprietary port (vs the USB C on the KAMVAS Pro 16).


This is a battery-free pen and does not require charging.


Build quality of the pen is decent. Weight is just right. It has a huge rubber grip that's comfortable to hold.


The pen and display support 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity. There is also tilt support.


The pen stand included can be twisted open to reveal 10 replacement nibs and the metal nib remover.


The pen can be placed horizontally or vertical with the pen stand.


Design of the KAMVAS 16 looks good. Corners are rounded off and edges are beveled all around. Build quality is solid and feels sturdy even though most of it is plastic, hard plastic.

The display is a 15.6 inch IPS panel that supports a resolution of 1920 x 1080. 1080P resolution is quite adequate on a 15.6-inch screen.


The matte drawing surface surface provides more texture compared the typical glossy glass screen. Drawing on it with the pen feels smooth. It's not slippery but definitely smoother than I expected. The matte surface is also an anti-glare which will diffuse light and reflection depending on the angle. Glossy screens can sometimes make the pen squeak while drawing. No such problem with a matte screen.


Colour support, as measured by a Spyder5pro colour calibrator, is 81% sRGB


59% NTSC


62% AdobeRGB


Colour accuracy is alright. Not as good as 99% sRGB but still acceptable for most purposes. I won't use this display for work that requires colour accuracy though, such as professional photo and video editing. Shown above is the KAMVAS 16 compared with the 99% AdobeRGB display. The difference may not be obvious from the photo but believe me the colours on the AdobeRGB display are more representative of the actual colours of the watercolour box in the photo.


The maximum brightness I've measured is only 150 nits which isn't too bright. It's good enough for working indoors but if you're near a strong light source, beside a window with sunlight, the screen may not be bright enough. What I do is typically to draw my curtains to make the room darker, or face the display away from the light source.


14 physical shortcut buttons are located on the side. All can be configured to specific shortcuts, mouse keys, launch programs and pre-defined functions.


Four buttons are on the ring, one in the middle, and two outside, below. The buttons have firm feedback when clicked.

To access the display onscreen menu to change brightness, contrast and other colour settings, you have to press and hold the middle button inside the ring at the bottom.


This pen display is quite thin, about as thick as typical laptops. The overall volume is larger than 15 inch laptops because of its large bezels.


On the back there are surprising no rubber feet. It's just two large strips of matte black plastic on the side that are flushed with the center piece. So the whole back is just flat. You maybe want to buy some sort of rubber feet to paste behind to prevent unnecessary scratches.


Data/power port is located on the right side of the pen display.


A stand is not included but offered as an optional purchase on the ordering page. Huion's stand is priced at US $20. Strangely, the same stand for the KAMVAS Pro 16 cost more at $30. Maybe a typo or some sort of price discrepancy.

This is a mostly metal stand with bits of plastic at certain parts where the hand would go.

I do recommend using a stand with the pen display because it's good for ergonomics. It doesn't have to be the Huion stand. It could be a laptop stand too. Having a stand improves ergonomics and makes it more comfortable to view the screen and draw on it. The alternative is to hunch over your table which is obviously not healthy.


These are the two big pieces of metal that you can rotate out to form the stand.


The highest angle is probably around 45 degrees.


This is the lowest angle.


Those metal pieces will slot into one of few slots on the base. This gives you slightly more adjustment to the angle of deployment.

Driver

The driver I have tested for this review are Windows driver version v14.8.33.632_beta and Mac driver v14.3.11.190506.

There's some lag with the Mac driver detecting the pen display. When the Mac driver is launched, it may take a few seconds for the "disconnected" label to show "connected". If you need to change settings inside the driver often, this could be inconvenient.


The pressure curve can be adjusted with a slider. There's no way to manually plot or adjust the curve. Mouse buttons can be configured for various mouse functions and keyboard shortcuts.


All 14 physical shortcut buttons and the touch strip can be configured to specific keyboard shortcuts. I've configured the touch strip change brush size and it works really well.

The touch strip can be used to change brush size very quickly, compared to tapping the shortcut buttons each time to increase brush size at a step.

If you need to switch off functionality for the shortcut button and touch strip, for whatever reason, you can do so.


These are the available functionality you can configure for the pen's side button and physical shortcut buttons. If you use dual monitor setup, there's the option to turn on Switch Display, where you can switch the cursor from one screen to another.


Left handed users can turn the screen 180%.


The gap between the drawing surface and actual LCD is minimal but there's still a gap. However, that gap is not big enough to contribute significantly to parallax. When you look at the pen tip while drawing, the line should be almost directly beneath the it. If not you can calibrate the display to correct for parallax with the driver.

Drawing performance

Drawing performance is overall quite good except with Clip Studio Paint on the Mac where there is tapering problem with the strokes. Other graphic software work well with the pen display. Curves are smooth, transition between thin and thick is gradual, line taper is gradual, the ability to hold consistent line width is good, pressure and tilt sensitivity works great.


Pressure sensitivity works great with Clip Studio Paint (Win)


Pressure sensitivity works by default with Adobe Illustrator CC (Win).


Curves in Photoshop CC (Win) turn smoothly, lines taper gradually. Responsiveness is good and there's no lag.


Pressure and tilt sensitivity works great with Krita (Win).


Pressure sensitivity works great with Medibang Paint Pro (Win)


Pressure and tilt works great with Photoshop CC (Mac). Lines and curves are smooth and taper well.


Pressure sensitivity works by default with Adobe Illustrator CC (Mac).


Medibang Paint Pro (Mac) works great.


Krita (Mac) works fine.


There's also tilt sensitivity support with Krita (Mac).


The only drawing software that has problem is Clip Studio Paint (Mac). For some reason, the lines don't taper well, and often end thicker or with a blob. This applies to different brushes. It doesn't happen with the Windows version of CSP though, so it could be a driver issue or a problem specific to this version of CSP ver 1.8.5.

Conclusion

There are many Cintiq alternatives competing at this US $350 - $400 price range with these specifications, as a pen display for drawing, the Huion KAMVAS 16 excels and performs really well. The line quality is fantastic without the need for further tweaking. The 14 physical shortcut buttons and touch strip are very convenient. Design looks good, and build quality is great. The 15.6-inch size is comfortable to work with.


The only downside for me is the screen quality. Colour look alright but could be better. Display could also be brighter. If it was just brighter, the colours would look better even if they remained at 81% sRGB as measured with a colour calibrator. That's not to say that the display is dim though. It would be better if it was brighter.

Here are the pros and cons at a glance

Pros
+ Good build quality
+ Design looks nice, functional
+ 15.6-inch is a good size for drawing
+ 1080P resolution is sufficient for a 15.6-inch screen
+ Matte drawing surface provides a tactile feel while drawing, but still a bit too smooth
+ 14 physical shortcut buttons and touch strip work great
+ Battery-free pen
+ 10 replacement tips included
+ Drawing performance (line quality) is good
+ Lines have little to no wobble and jitter
+ Works well with most graphic drawing software except Clip Studio Paint (Mac) - see below
+ Up to 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity
+ Initial activation force is very mininal
+ Tilt sensitivity support
+ Minimal gap between the drawing surface and actual LCD

Cons
- Stand sold separately
- Matte screen protector affects sharpness of the screen but a good tradeoff for the texture it provides
- Aggressive anti-glare can cause white haze, affects contrast
- Colour accuracy is 81% sRGB rather than the 100% sRGB advertised
- Maximum brightness at 150 nits, lower than the 220 advertised
- Clip Studio Paint (Mac) has line tapering problems
- Sometimes my Mac has issues detecting the pen display
- Bottom screen can be warm

Availability

The Huion KAMVAS 16 pen display is available from the websites below. Check out Amazon for more reviews.

Huion online store | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.it | Amazon.es

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