Review updated after another month of usage experience
This is not a sponsored review
This is the Huion Kamvas Studio 16 Windows tablet targeted at digital artists. And this is the 15.8-inch competitor to the 13-inch Microsoft Surface Pro, perhaps the iPad Pro and Samsung tablets for drawing.
Huion did not send review units which I can understand since it's very expensive. So I bought one for the purpose of making this review for you guys. If you want to buy this tablet, consider using the affiliate links for your purchase because I earn some commission to help reduce the losses I make to create such reviews.
The retail price is US $1699. Shipping may or may not be free depending on your country. It's free shipping to USA, Canada and Europe.
I'm from Singapore and standard shipping (7-15 days) is US $28.36 and expedited shipping (3-7 days) is US $74.66. I chose standard shipping and received the product 3 days after ordering via DHL delivery from Hong Kong. So expedited shipping is not necessary. And yes you have to pay 8% GST on top of the product and shipping.
These are the prices in other regions:
- Europe: € 2299 (USD 2447 or 44% more)
- UK: £ 2199 (USD 2645 or 55% more)
- Canada: C$ 2899 (USD 2091 or 23% more)
- Australia: A$ 3299 (USD 2171 or 27% more)
The pricing in UK and Europe is unfortunately significantly higher than the standard retail price. Shocking. The Microsoft Surface Pro 9 with similar specs in UK is £1,899.
Update: One day after I posted this review, the free gift has changed to the Huion Leon figurine instead of the KeyDial KD100.
These are the items included:
- Micro fiber cleaning cloth
- Battery-free Slim Pen PW550S
- Pen case
- 3x normal nibs, 3x felt nibs
- USB-C charger
- 1.5m USB-C to USB-C charging cable (does not transmit video)
- Quick start guide
- Huion ST200 folding stand
The other optional accessories on the purchase page are a mini Bluetooth keyboard ($39.99), Huion Leon figurine ($15.99) and the Huion Backpack ($34.99). What Huion should have included on that page should be extra felt nibs, USB-C video cable, USB-C hub which are more useful.
Below are the key specs. For the full specifications, visit the product page:
- Display size: 15.8-inch IPS touchscreen LCD with matte texture
- Resolution: 2560 x 1440, 16:9 aspect ratio
- Brightness: 400 nits
- Colour support: 16.7 million (8 bit)
- Response time: 14ms
- Weight: 1.7kg
- Battery life: 6 hours
- Pen: PW550S Slim
- Stand: Kickstand + Huion ST200
- CPU: Intel® Core™ i7-1165G7 (4 core 2.8Ghz)
- GPU: Intel Iris Xe
- RAM: 16GB DDR4
- Storage: 512GB
- Ports: 2x USB-C 3.2, 3.5mm audio jack
- OS: Windows 11
This tablet has a 15.8-inch IPS LCD with resolution of 2560 x 1440, 16:9 aspect ratio and the refresh rate is 60Hz.
The build quality seems solid but if you twist the tablet slightly, you can hear squeaky sound.
And the front camera is off-centred to the left.
The LCD display is 8-bit and supports 16.7 million colours. I measured colour support for 100% sRGB, 100% AdobeRGB, 96% NTSC and 95% P3 with my Spyder5Pro. For some reason, my colour calibration had an obvious magenta tint so I went with the WindowsOS default colour profile instead. The Spyder5Pro colour calibrator worked alright with my other laptops and displays.
I measured a maximum brightness of 262 nits. That's quite far from the advertised 400 nits but 262 nits is still sufficient for use in a bright room environment.
There is no auto-brightness setting.
There's slight backlight bleeding or glow at the top right area but it's not obvious or something I would notice unless I'm looking out for it specifically. The white text at the bottom right is the Activate Windows text.
The weight 1.7kg is considered very heavy for a tablet. There's no way you can use it comfortably on your lap or even hold it with one hand while it's on the table. I'm not sure why this is so heavy when the 13-inch Surface Pro 9 is just 879g. The Huion tablet is 2.8 inches larger but it's 2 times heavier. The battery capacity is 58Wh vs Surface Pro's 47.7Wh so it's not like there's a much larger battery.
The orientation will rotate automatically which is convenient if you want to use the tablet vertically.
The left side has vents and two USB-C 3.2 ports. USB 3.2 is not fast enough for eGPU. The USB-C ports can output video with USB-C video cable but for some reason my USB-C to HDMI video connection did not work.
The tablet is quite thick at 11.9mm.
On the top are more vents for the fan/s which are slightly audible under normal load. The power button at the corner has a fingerprint sensor which works effectively.
The right side has the 3.5mm audio jack and volume controls. Audio from the two 2W stereo speakers is loud but the quality is hollow.
The sides of the tablet are completely flat which makes lifting this heavy tablet challenging. The speaker grills are indent so it's easier to lift the tablet up with your fingers there. The Surface Pro is easier to pick up with the angled sides.
Unlike other Windows tablet that come with cover, folio or keyboard case, there's no dedicated case for this Huion tablet. You will have to find your own case with the tablet dimensions 384 x 234 x 11.9mm. And when transporting the tablet, be careful of the display damage if there's no cover on it, e.g. don't have something hard and small to press against the display.
The drawing surface is matte textured and has this low gloss. Reflection is reduced thanks to the matte textured surface. Using a plastic nib on the surface is still considered smooth so the felt nib will provide a nicer tactile drawing experience.
Matte textured glass usually introduces slight grain or colour noise but on this tablet it's kept to the minimum. You will see the colour noise if you look for it but it's not something that stands out compared to most matte screen protectors.
The display is laminated so there's no gap between the pen tip and the line beneath.
Cursor tracking, after calibration, is quite accurate up to the extreme edge.
The 1440P resolution on a 15.8-inch display is quite sharp. There's no noticeable pixelation when working from one arm's length away.
The Huion driver was pre-installed.
One of the main selling points is the touchscreen that supports finger gestures.
The touchscreen makes it easier to use drawing apps designed with finger gestures in mind, such as Sketchable Plus, Sketchbook Pro and my favourite sketching app Concepts. These tablet apps can of course be used on computers with a connected pen tablet or pen display but you won't be as productive without finger gesture support.
Apps such as Photoshop, Krita, Clip Studio Paint, Medibang Paint Pro and Affinity Photo are desktop apps with desktop UI and are best used with keyboard and pen. Touchscreen functionality is just a bonus feature for those apps. But touchscreen functionality is essential for apps with tablet UI.
Palm rejection works mostly but is not perfect or as good as what you can find on iPad or Samsung tablet.
My problem with palm rejection I'm right handed and my palm will either press on the icons at the bottom right corner, slide out the Windows notifications panel from right, and tap on palettes of drawing palettes. That's why I like to have palettes in drawing apps on the left side and Windows taskbar at the top, but I still cannot stop the occasional slide-out notifications panel.
Apps that can accept pen input for drawing will have perfect palm rejection, meaning you can't introduce stray strokes with your finger or palm even if you want to. The annoying thing is your palm activating some shortcut or some button on some palette.
These apps that I have tested have option for pen-only input (perfect palm rejection):
- Affinity Photo
- Clip Studio Paint
- Medibang Paint Pro
- Sketchable Plus
- Sketchbook Pro
Double finger tap to undo is not available with all app. This feature works with Krita and CSP.
Finger gestures for Concepts app did not work with the included driver. One month later, after installed the KS1601_230408 provided by Huion, gestures worked fine now for 2, 3 and 4 fingers.
The kickstand is strong but it's not strong enough to hold its angle when your palm is resting on the screen while drawing.
When drawing on a tablet, I prefer to use a proper and better stand such as the Parblo PR100. I never draw on the tablet with the stand deployed like what you see in the photo above.
That's the hinge.
The Huion ST200 stand is included so you don't have to spend extra for a stand.
This is the lowest angle for the stand.
The back has a clean design with a shiny Huion logo. The rear camera is 8MP and the front camera is 5MP.
As an external display
It is possible to use the Huion tablet as an external display. You will have to install a free wireless display app using these steps outlined before the Huion tablet can be discovered as a wireless display.
It is not possible to use the Huion tablet as a wired external display though. This Huion tablet can output video signal through the USB-C port, but does not take in video signal from that port.
Next, press WinKey + K on your other computer, connect the Huion tablet as the external display.
You will get the full 1440P resolution with all scaling options available, but refresh rate is limited to 30Hz. Shown in the photo above is the magenta colour tint issue I had with my colour calibration. The laptop has proper calibration.
Bug: When using dual screen extended desktop mode, finger gestures will control the external display and not the Huion display.
The workaround is to go into Control Panel - Tablet PC Settings - Setup - Touch Input, then touch the touchscreen to let Windows know that the tablet is the touchscreen and not the external display.
This is the Huion PW550S Slim pen that features PenTech 3.0+. It supports tilt and 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity. The pen is not powered by battery so no charging is required.
There are two customisable side buttons but no eraser button at the back. The pen tip installed is the felt nib but you can swap it out with the plastic nibs that are also included. The pen tip is considered firm with minimal to no movement. Nice.
The slide-out pen case is made with metal and has a matte textured surface. The top cap can be removed to reveal 3 plastic and 3 felt nibs.
The pre-installed driver I've tested is v18.104.22.168.
The driver doesn't have many features since there are no physical shortcuts on this tablet.
The touchscreen can be disabled here.
There's the Windows Ink feature which you may have to toggle on or off for troubleshooting if pressure sensitivity is not working as expected.
The pressure curve can be adjusted by moving three control points.
Mapping can be left as default. If there's misalignment with the pen tip, you can calibrate the display and pen.
These are the customisation options available for the two side buttons on the pen. I usually have one button for right click, and the other button for Switch Display.
The Switch Display feature with this driver allows you to select the monitor you want your cursor to appear on. This is additional customisation to the usual Switch Display feature.
These line tests are from Photoshop.
1. Initial activation force is minimal so thin lines can be drawn easily even with a thick brush selected. Diagonal lines drawn slowly have minimal to no jitter or wobble.
2. Lines are able to taper smoothly and sharply.
3. Line transition from thin to thick and back to thin is smooth. Also note there's no diagonal jitter or wobble here.
4. Lines with consistent width can be drawn easily by maintaining consistent pressure.
5. Dots can be drawn easily by tapping the pen tip.
6. Hatching lines look alright.
These line tests are from Medibang Paint Pro.
There were issues with quick hatching lines not tapering properly (marked with black dots for your reference). Lines can taper properly as long as shown in #2 as you're not hatching lines quickly.
Tilt works fine with Photoshop, Krita, Sketchable Plus, Sketchbook Pro, Clip Studio Paint and Concepts.
The pen is accurate and sensitive. Drawing performance is predictable without surprises.
This was drawn with Affinity Photo. The line quality is consistent with all the drawing apps I've tested, namely Photoshop, Clip Studio Paint, Medibang Paint Pro and Krita.
This was drawn with Medibang Paint Pro.
The line quality looks good.
This was drawn with Medibang Paint Pro.
This was drawn with Concepts.
This was drawn with Concepts.
Not being able to double tap to undo with Concepts was quite disruptive to my usual workflow.
This was drawn with Photoshop.
The drawing experience is good. I've always wished the 13-inch Surface Pro could be bigger and this is 15.8-inch display is sufficiently big and satisfying to draw on.
The Huion Kamvas Studio 16 is the larger Surface Pro Microsoft should have made.
This is the size of the tablet compared to an A4-sized drawing pad.
I actually have the tablet on a rotating tablet stand from Benks (US $65).
You may still want to get a taller stand since the included Huion ST200 stand is low on the table. You can raise the tablet to normal monitor height with a taller stand.
This stand can lift the tablet higher so that can I sit straight while I draw. But it's a rotating stand so you can't draw near the sides or else the stand will rotate.
The tablet is warm with normal usage which includes drawing, but it's not uncomfortably warm that affects long drawing sessions. The tablet is hottest at the top left when it's charging, warmer at the bottom left and least warm on the right side.
Fans will not be spin at full speed unless you're exporting videos or photos for extended periods of time.
The tablet comes with an unactivated Windows 11 that you have to activate yourself.
You have to click on the "Troubleshoot" button to activate Windows.
It's the year 2023 and computer companies are starting to ship 13th gen Intel processors in their laptops.
The processor in the Huion Kamvas Studio 16 is the 11th gen Intel Core i7-1165G7 may be considered old but it's still more than powerful enough for drawing apps. All the photos in this review are edited with Adobe Lightroom. The import process was fast, edits were instant.
There's 16GB RAM included so there are no issues with multi-tasking.
Overall performance is smooth and my user experience is positive. The only time you will feel the system lagging is when you're doing other stuff while photos or videos are exporting in the background.
Compared to the iPad Pro, Samsung tablets and Surface Pro
I no longer have my Surface Pro 8 (I sold it) so I can't show a side by side comparison.
If you want to buy a tablet mostly for drawing, I would recommend you go with the iPad Pro or Samsung S7 or S8 tablets.
The reason to consider the Huion Kamvas Studio 16 and Surface Pro is because of Windows OS which gives you access to desktop apps and all the things you can do with Windows, e.g. networking, file management, external display support and more.
If you want to draw and do more than draw, you'll want Windows OS.
It is possible to edit photos on iPads and Android since there's Adobe Lightroom. You can also do graphic design on the iPad with Adobe and Affinity apps. But it will be difficult reach the level of productivity with the full desktop versions of Adobe and Affinity apps. Most apps also support plenty of keyboard shortcuts. If you have to work with multiple platforms, OS or people, it is difficult to wrong with Windows because it can do almost anything.
The main difference for drawing performance between the Huion tablet and Surface Pro is the Huion PW550S pen has low initial activation force and the lines are able to taper smoothly and sharply than the Microsoft Slim Pen 2. Artists who require absolute precision with line quality and pressure sensitivity should go with the Huion tablet.
My main drawing app is actually Concepts and that app is very forgiving even if you have a pen that does not have good pressure sensitivity. So for the type of art that I create, I can use either the Huion PW550S pen or Slim Pen 2 and the result will still be the same.
There's no point comparing the Huion tablet to the Wacom MobileStudio 16 (2nd gen) from 2019 because that's an ancient device that runs the Intel 8th gen processor.
Compared to the pen displays
If you already have a computer, it may not make much sense to buy another computer when you can just get a cheaper pen display to draw on. The Huion Kamvas Pro 16 (2.5K) is just US $599 and the Huion Kamvas 24 Plus (2.5K) is US $899.
If you need the portability or if you happen to be upgrading your computer, then yeah consider the Huion Kamvas Studio 16.
The Huion Kamvas Studio 16 comes with a 1 year warranty. I've not used this for months yet so I can't say how durable the product will be. Hopefully it can last because getting warranty service from Singapore is going to be extremely difficult. Shipping a 1.7kg tablet overseas to get it repaired or exchanged is going to be so expensive.
The issue with warranty is actually why I'm extremely hesitant to buy this product. With the Surface Pro, Microsoft would actually send a courier to pick up the faulty tablet from you. I had the SP6 and SP8 before and both needed to be exchanged under warranty due to flickering displays.
Things to improve
If Huion had wanted to copy the Surface Pro, they should have copied it all the way.
The sides definitely need to be angled in some way so that the tablet can be picked up easily.
This tablet is huge so it would be great if they could add another USB-C port on the other side, and maybe include a microSD card slot or two. That would awesome.
The battery life definitely needs to improve. Huion advertised 6 hours of battery life. I was only able to get 4-5 hours of battery life. Battery life is not good but not unexpected from Windows tablets unfortunately.
I don't mind a heavier tablet if it means a bigger battery. But Huion can't add a bigger battery, they should just reduce the weight. The 14.6-inch Samsung Tab S8 Utlra is just 728g and also has a large display.
The thing about having to recharge the battery often is the charge cycles will increase quickly and wear down the lithium battery faster. It's best to connect the tablet to power whenever possible because if you use the battery for a day's of work, you will have to charge at least twice. After 50 weeks, 5 days a week, that's 500 charge cycles.
The Huion Kamvas Studio 16 has excellent drawing performance and I can probably recommend this tablet just on that.
The design of the tablet is quite generic and certainly can be improved for better utility and function.
The 11th gen Intel processor may be 2 generations old now but it's still more than powerful enough for drawing apps, and the overall performance of the tablet for is smooth and lag-free as long as you don't game or edit videos.
The main downside is definitely the 4-5 hours of battery life. If you have to work with the tablet in a location for extended period without access to a power outlet, then this is not a tablet for you.
The other downside is for some reason the USB-C port cannot work with my USB-C to HDMI adapter connected to my monitor that does not have USB-C video port. This may be a deal breaker if you want to connect to a monitor without a USB-C video port.
The pricing of US $1699 is reasonable when you compare it with Surface Pro 9 and 8 (16GB RAM and 512GB storage) which are US $1899 and $1599 respectively. The Slim Pen 2 is another $129. And you have to either buy a pen charger or the keyboard case to charge the pen. You'll probably get better warranty service from Microsoft since they are in many countries.
This is a first generation product from Huion. They actually did a good job with it but there are certainly many areas to improve.
As to whether this Huion tablet is worth the money, you can decide.
Pros and cons at a glance
+ Solid build quality but with squeaky sound when twisted
+ Portability is convenient
+ Big 15.9-inch display for drawing is satisfying
+ 1440P resolution is sharp and no pixelation is noticeable
+ 100% AdobeRGB coverage
+ Measured 262 nits brightness good enough for brightly lit rooms
+ Display is laminated
+ Matte textured drawing surface has reduced reflections
+ Touchscreen is great for apps designed for touch input
+ Palm rejection works mostly but is not perfect
+ Cursor tracking is accurate to the edge
+ Pen is sensitive and accurate
+ Has built in stand, and separate stand is included
+ Smooth overall performance for drawing
+ USB C port with USB 3.2 speed, and can output video
+ Fingerprint sensor works effectively
+ Can be used as a wireless external display but at 30Hz refresh rate
+ Can be used as a screen-less pen tablet
- Uninspired design inspired by Surface Pro
- 1.7kg is heavy for a tablet
- Flat sides make it difficult to pick the heavy tablet up
- No auto-brightness
- Front camera is off centred
- 4 to 5 hours battery life
- USB-C port does not output video through USB-C to HDMI adapter
- Just 2 USB-C ports
- Significantly overpriced in certain countries
- Loud but hollow sounding speakers
- Cannot be used as cabled external monitor
- When external monitor is connected, touch gestures control the external monitor
- Internal storage is not upgradeable but external SSD storage is cheap
- Warranty service will require sending a 1.7kg+ package overseas back to Huion
Update after 1 month
2, 3 and 4 finger gestures initially did not work for Concepts app. But installed firmware KS1601_230408 provided by Huion fixed that.
I've been using the tablet quiet often in vertical orientation especially when web browsing because it allows me to see more content without as much scrolling. And with the stand that I was using, I could just lift and rotate the tablet easily, and since it's a Windows tablet the orientation switches automatically. While it is possible to do the same with a pen display, the additional step is to go into Windows settings to change the orientation manually.
It would be great if Huion had release this tablet with a 16:10 or 3:2 aspect ratio. Because that would have made this display even more usable in both vertical and horizontal orientation.
Oh, if you want to get a stand, definitely get one that can raise the tablet to a proper monitor height.
While it's nice to use touch gestures for drawing, there aren't many drawing apps in Windows that are designed around finger gestures.
The weight of 1.7kg is definitely considered heavy for a tablet. But since I'm using this mostly at home, the weight is alright. The advantage of this tablet over pen displays is I can move it around easily from one table to the other, and change its orientation easily.
The kickstand can actually be cut at angle so that the display can deploy vertically without aid.
Battery life is definitely 4-5 hours. I don't have much issue with that since I'm using this mostly at home. But for outdoor uses, 4-5 hours is probably not enough unless you have access to a power outlet.
Another improvement I wish for is maybe have some clip-on accessory that can hold the pen or the KeyDial mini on the tablet. And since the tablet is so thick, Huion should have just included more ports like HDMI or SD card slot, or another USB-C port on the other side.
Lastly, I'm very satisfied with the drawing performance.
The pen is definitely accurate and sensitive enough for professional comic artists.
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