Big thanks to Huion for providing the review unit
The Huion Kamvas Pro 16 (4K) and Kamvas Pro 16 Plus (4K) are the first pen displays from Huion that support 4K UHD resolution (3840 x 2160). Huion is finally catching up with Wacom and I'm pretty sure you can expect even more 4K displays in the future from other companies as well.
Customers have been asking for higher resolution pen displays for years. Huion tried to address that with the Kamvas Pro 24 (US$899) with 1440P resolution last year. It's a fantastic pen display with a high price to match. So now, Huion has three pen displays with resolution higher than 1080P.
Huion Kamvas Pro 16 (4K) series pen displays feature laminated displays, matte drawing surface and good colour accuracy. The model I'm reviewing is the Huion Kamvas Pro 16 Plus (4K).
These are the main difference between the two Kamvas Pro 16 (4K) models.
|Model||Kamvas Pro 16 (4K)||Kamvas Pro 16 PLUS (4K)|
|Colour support||120% sRGB, 92% AdobeRGB||145% sRGB, 109% AdobeRGB, Quantom Dots technology|
|Brightness||220 nits||200 nits|
Both pen displays are quite pricey at US$829 and $899. To save some money, you can actually go with the non-Plus model which is said to support up to 92% AdobeRGB. So in real world, you're probably going to get around 80-90% AdobeRGB which is considered good colour accuracy suitable for most digital artist and print designers, and is good even for photo and video editing.
If you need the best colour accuracy, there's the Plus model but make sure you have the budget for that.
These are the items included with the box:
- 1x USB power extension cable
- 1x USB-A to USB-C cable (for power)
- 1x USB-C to USB-C cable
- 3 to 1 cable
- USB wall adapter
- Pen pouch
- Pen case
- 10x replacement nibs
- Artist glove
- Huion ST100 stand
If your computer has USB-C, you can use the USB-C to USB-C cable instead of the 3-to-1 cable. This will minimise cable clutter.
The 3-to-1 cable is 1.5m long. The USB-C cable is just 1m long which is quite short. You can get any USB-C cable if you need a longer one.
This pen display can work with Android devices that can output video signal. If the Android device or computer you're using does not provide enough power to power the pen display, you'll still need to use an additional cable for power (use the red USB cables). The pen display has two ports onboard which are labeled clearly for the appropriate cable.
The Huion PW517 pen uses PenTech 3 and supports tilt and 8,192 levels of pressure sensitvity. The pen is battery-free so no charging is required. Build quality is solid.
The large rubber grip is comfortable to hold. There are two customisable side buttons.
The pen tip is firm and does not have the usual in-out movement. This is a good pen.
Hidden within pen stand are 10 replacement nibs.
Pen pouch made with faux leather.
The pen display comes with the Huion ST100 stand included.
There are two moveable metal plates can positioned into the three slots at the base for a total of six angles of deployment.
Be very careful when you're using the pen display on this stand. The latch that prevents the pen display from sliding down is small. The pen display is as thick as that latch. So there's a very good chance that the pen display may actually slip off if you accidentally knock the pen display.
Design of this stand needs to be better. You really don't want to have a pricey pen display slip off the stand. Also when the pen display slip off, the back will go against the metal latch and may create scratches.
The two metal places are held in place with these rubber extensions. Not sure whether the rubber will wear out with wear and tear though. But that shouldn't be a problem if you don't always store away the stand.
The Huion Kamvas Pro 16 is thinner than most laptops at just 1.3cm thick. The corners are rounded and the back edges are beveled (making it easier to slide off the stand).
I'm not sure if the back is plastic or metal but it has a smooth matte surface. There are no rubber feet because this isn't meant to be used flat on the table which is obviously not good for posture.
This display cannot be VESA mounted.
These are the two ports on the right side, clearly labeled for the type of cables they can accept.
Power button and indicator light is located at the top right.
Press and hold the power button for a few seconds for the OSD menu to appear.
The settings can be adjusted with the pen so that's convenient. The main colour attributes you can change are brightness, contrast, colour temperature and RGB. Not a lot, just the essentials.
The pen display looks great. The design is clean and simple. There are no physical shortcut buttons.
The 4K UHD resolution on a 15.6-inch display is a good combination for Windows and MacOS (works great with 4K UHD on 15.6 to 24-inch and 5K on 27-inch).
4K UHD is four times the resolution of 1080P so it makes all UI elements like icons, menus, text look really sharp. When creating art and graphic design, you can get to see lots of details due to the 4 times more pixels. Remember the time when you upgrade from your 1024 x 768 monitor to 1080P? And from 1080P to 1440P? The jump from 1080P or 1440P to 4K UHD is a huge and noticeable upgrade.
Since the display resolution is 4K UHD (3840 x 2160 pixels), you may need to have a computer powerful enough to drive the resolution smoothly at 60Hz. My old Macbook Pro 2015 can drive the resolution but there's lag when it comes to navigating the canvas, and when drawing there's more noticeable input lag. That's why I switched to using the Mac Mini 2018 which does a better job driving 4K but when it comes to 4K video editing there's still some stutter, something I don't experience when editing on a 1440P monitor.
Unfortunately I don't know the computer specifications or graphics card needed to drive 4K smoothly. You'll probably have a better chance of driving 4K smoothly with a computer bought in recent years. The Mac Mini 2018 I'm using has 6-core 3.2Ghz, 32GB RAM and uses Intel UHD Graphics 630.
It would be a shame to buy a 4K display only to find out later that there's additional lag on top of the usual input lag with pen displays.
So if you're unsure whether your computer is powerful enough to drive 4K resolution, I would recommend you check out the huge Kamvas Pro 24 (shown above) instead which has a 1440P resolution AdobeRGB display.
While the resolution of Kamvas Pro 24 (above) may not be higher than the Kamvas Pro 16 (4K), you actually can get more desktop space to work with because the UI resolution is 1440P vs 1080P (but sharper) on the Kamvas Pro 16. There is pixelation with the Kamvas Pro 24, but you can place two windows side by side, or have more space for your canvas and palettes. So the Kamvas Pro 24 is actually better for productivity than the Kamvas Pro 16 (4K) when you consider the native resolution vs UI resolution. And any computer can drive 1440P resolution easily.
Colours look great out of the box so you may not need to colour calibrated it but...
It's best to colour calibrate it to get the best colour accuracy. I measured colour support for 100% sRGB, 99% AdobeRGB, 95% NTSC, 92% P3 and a max brightness of 166 nits with my Spyder5Pro colour calibrator.
This display has good colour accuracy that's suitable for professional graphics work.
The brightness could be higher though but it's sufficient for indoor use.
The matte glass surface has anti-glare so it will diffuse reflections and lights, but that will also cause white "haze" to affect colours and contrast. It's not a big problem unless you have lights pointing directly in front of the display.
Viewing angles are good. Colours don't shift much when viewing from extreme angles although the sides may look slightly darker.
The display is laminated so the gap between the line and pen tip is minimal. When drawing, the lines look like they are appearing directly beneath the pen tip.
Pen tracking is quite accurate even at the extreme edges of the display. You can also hold the pen at low angles and the cursor will not stray away from the pen tip.
Tilt brushes can be used right up to the edge fo the display. Not all pen display can do that.
Huion also sent me the Mini KeyDial KD100 shortcut remote (review). It may be useful for a pen display like this that doesn't have any physical shortcut buttons or ExpressKeys. Personally I prefer to use a keyboard so as to access all keyboard shortcuts. The KD100 should be more useful for those who use Windows tablets and for some reason don't want to use a wireless keyboard.
If you use dual displays, you can set Switch Display to a shortcut on the KeyDial KD100 or a pen side button to move the cursor from one display to another.
The drivers tested are Mac driver v184.108.40.206 (31 May 2021) and Windows driver v220.127.116.11 (30 May 2021).
There's nothing much to do with the driver since there are no physical shortcut buttons. If you use the Huion Mini KeyDial KD100, you can set the keyboard shortcuts using the same driver.
Mapping area can remain as default. Monitor calibration may be needed if there's misalignment with the cursor and pen tip.
Windows users will have the additional Windows Ink functionality here. If pressure sensitivity is not working as expected, you may have to toggle Windows ink on or off to troubleshoot.
Pressure curve can be adjusted by moving the two control points for finer adjustments.
If you use more than one monitors, you'll want to set one button on the pen to Switch Display.
Windows driver allows you to adjust some colour attributes using the driver.
It's also possible to create shortcut sets for specific apps you use.
Overall drawing performance is fantastic.
Tilt and pressure sensitivity works well. Pressure works with Photoshop, Illustrator, Krita, Clip Studio Paint, Medibang Paint, Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer.
2. Lines can taper smoothly.
3. Line transition from thin to thick and back is smooth.
4. Dots can be placed easily by tapping the pen
5. The pen is also able to maintain consistent pressure for a consistent line thickness.
Line quality is consistent and predictable.
Backlight bleeding is there at some areas near the edges but it's not excessive, as in there's no significant wavy pattern caused by backlight bleed.
IPS glow (shown above) is more noticeable.
To use this pen display with Android devices, you'll need an Android phone or tablet that can output video signal.
No driver is needed for the pen display to work with Android devices. And since there's no driver, you won't be able to customise shortcut buttons on the button or adjust the pressure sensitivity.
Pressure sensitivity works with most drawing apps, but the drawing experience is not optimal.
Android is designed with touch and finger gestures in mind. This pen display does not have touch and does not support finger gestures. While you can draw, it's inconvenient to navigate around the canvas without pan, zoom and rotate. You'll have to rely on the connected Android device for navigating the canvas, and when doing so you may introduce stray strokes.
Another thing is when you're drawing on the display, your mind will subconsciously tell you to use finger gestures which obviously will not work. It will take a long time to get use to this new workflow. Being able to draw with Android is a bonus feature but I don't recommend getting this pen display for the sole purpose of using it with Android.
The Huion Kamvas Pro 16 (4K) looks good and performs well. The display has good colour accuracy. Drawing experience is wonderful with the matte textured glass.
4K UHD resolution makes everything look sharp and detailed.
Pen is sensitive, cursor tracking is accurate. The drivers work well without glitches. Lines come out exactly the way I expect.
The only downsides are the small latch on the included stand and the USB-C cable which is too short.
One important thing to know before you get this pen display is to check if your computer is powerful enough to drive 4K resolution smoothly.
Huion Kamvas Pro 16 (4K) may be pricey but I'm pretty sure you'll not be disappointed by the performance if you have the budget for this.
If you don't need 4K resolution, you can save a lot of money by going with other pen displays, such as the $499 Kamvas 22 Plus or the $399 Kamvas 16 (2021). Those two models are more value for money simply because they are cheaper.
Here are the prices of various pen displays from Huion at the time of this review:
- Kamvas Pro 24 - US $899
- Kamvas Pro 22 (2019) - $799 (review)
- Kamvas 22 (2020) - $399
- Kamvas 22 Plus (2020) - $499 (review
- Kamvas Pro 20 (2019) - $699
- Kamvas 16 (2021) - $399 (review)
- Kamvas Pro 16 - $469 (review)
- Kamvas Pro 13 - $399
- Kamvas 13 - $239 (review)
- Kamvas Pro 12 - $349
Huion releasing their first 4K pen displays is a sign that more good things to come, from Huion as well as from the competition. So much has changed over the years and these products just keep getting better. The variety of tools that are available to digital artists today compared to 10 years ago is just amazing.
Pros and cons at a glance
+ Design looks good
+ Good build quality
+ 4K UHD resolution on 15.6-inch display is a good combination
+ 4K UHD makes everything looks sharp and detailed
+ Good colour support at 99% Adobe RGB
+ Matte drawing surface has nice texture to draw on
+ Laminated display with no gap between drawing surface and LCD
+ Matte drawing surface is glass and not a screen protector
+ Single USB-C connection possible for minimal cable clutter
+ 10 replacement nibs included
+ Pen does not require charging
+ Pen supports tilt and 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity
+ Initial activation force is minimal
+ Good drawing performance
+ No major glitches with drawing software on both Mac and Windows
+ Stand included
+ Does not produce much heat
- Brightness could be brighter
- No physical shortcut buttons
- USB-C cable is short. Just 1m
- Cannot be VESA mounted
- Latch on the stand should be bigger
- User experience with Android is not optimal (Android's fault)
To get the Huion Kamvas Pro 16 (4K) or Kamvas Pro 16 Plus (4K), or see the full specifications, just visit Huion's online web store.