Today's review is for a product that's not out in the market yet. It's the new pen display from Parblo. This is the Parblo Mast22, a 21.5-inch pen display, a monitor you can draw on, a Cintiq alternative.
The review unit that I have is still a prototype but it's working pretty well hence this review. The drivers are still currently under development though, and as such has limited functionality.
Since the unit I have is a prototype, expect updates to this review in the future.
The Parblo Mast22 looks sleeker compared to many of the 19 to 22 inch pen displays that I have reviewed before. The screen is now significantly thinner.
This display feels like a large tablet with feet. The side profile is barely the width of the nail on my thumb.
For some unknown reason, there are two sets of feet installed onto the stand. In the photo above, one set is right beneath the bottom of the monitor base (left). The other is on the right.
The feet beneath the monitor base is not locked down and is movable. Because it's moveable, sometimes when I move the monitor, the feel would deploy in a position I did not want. I've seen pen displays with two set of feet too, but they have one locked while the other is adjustable.
Here's another photo with that feet flipped to the back.
The monitor base feet doesn't adjust the angle of the monitor, the back feet does.
In the photo above, the monitor base feet can be seen. If you flip that feet back, the monitor will be resting on its bottom edge.
That's the movable feet I'm referring to. Having the rubber attached to the monitor base would be better.
The back of the monitor is flat throughout except where the stand is protruding out.
I'm not sure what material the body is made of but it is extremely solid. It feels as hard as metal but when I tap my fingers on it, it feels a bit hollow. The surface is matte and the finishing is excellent on the front and back.
The ports are on the left and the cables come out from that side. This is a great improvement over cables that come out from the bottom.
Speaking of cables, these are all the things included in the box
- Pen display
- HDMI cable
- USB cable for display-computer
- 2x USB charging cable for pen
- 2x pen
- Pen stand
- Power cable and adapter
- 8 replacement nibs and nib remover
- Microfiber cleaning cloth
- Artist glove
- Travel adaptor for the power cable
The matte screen protector that's already applied has a nice texture to draw on. It's an anti-glare screen protector so it diffuses reflected light that you see. Note the nice rounded corner.
The screen protector is not pasted perfectly though. There are some little gaps where it does not stick to the screen properly. I'm just nitpicking here. I notice at the top, the screen protector protrudes slightly so be extremely careful when handling that part when adjusting the angle of the display. You do not want to peel off the screen protector accidentally.
The bezels are big and uniform on all sides. You can rest your hands on that area while drawing. The thick black bezel also frames the screen nicely.
Resolution of the display is 1920 x 1080. The pixel density is certainly not as high compared to 1440P screens but it's not a deal breaker. You can definitely see pixelation in fonts and user interface. I'm not too bothered by it. It's still a decent resolution to work with.
There's some issue with the screen that's not apparent when you are looking at it straight.
When the display is tilted, I noticed some shadowy effects at three places along to the edge of the lit screen. I suspect it has got something to do with the backlight electronics. Not a deal breaker again. It is what it is.
The menu control buttons are located behind the display at the bottom right. It's actually not easy to get to the buttons even with my thin fingers because the feet doesn't lift the monitor's base high enough. Best way to get more space for your fingers is to lay the display down.
One of the buttons is menu/enter, there's a left and right, an exit and the power button. Navigating though the menu is not easy but thankfully you just have to do it once.
In the display menu, there are two settings that control the brightness, namely Backlight and Brightness. The one you want to use to change the brightness is Backlight. If you adjust the brightness, it actually blows out the contrast. Before I colour calibrated my screen, I set Backlight to 100% and left Brightness and Contrast at default 50%. You can also choose the gamma and colour temperature.
That green power light is quite bright but it's facing the back. Whew.
The Spyder5Pro colour calibrator I used measured 100% sRGB, 75% NTSC and 81% Adobe RGB. Colour accuracy is quite good. When I messed up the Backlight settings, I was only able to get 93% sRGB and the colours looked weird.
The default colour profile should look fine so you may not need additional colour calibration.
That's the pen and the stand. The rubber grip is huge so no matter how you hold the pen, you'll be holding the grip. Build quality is solid enough and the weight of the pen is just nice.
The pen display supports up to 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity.
This pen requires charging because there's built in battery. The good thing is two pens are provided. So while you're charging up one, you can use the other pen.
Hidden within the pen stand are 8 replacement nibs and the metallic nib remover.
As mentioned earlier, the driver is still in development stage so there's not a lot of features.
You can adjust the pressure sensitivity and assign some functions to the side buttons. That's all.
If you use dual monitors, you can assign a Toggle Display function to switch the cursor to the screen you want.
This pen display has cursor misalignment issues. For some reason, the cursor will stray from beneath the tip when it's near the top, at least that's the case for my unit. When the pen is in the middle or bottom of the screen, the cursor is always directly beneath the tip. And because there's no monitor calibration yet, this parallax issue cannot be fixed at the time of this review.
I refer to this problem as a misalignment rather than parallax because it's not really parallax. The glass surface is very close to the actual screen so parallax is minimal.
Having said that, I did not have any problems drawing though. As for accuracy, as long as you can see the cursor, you can still control it so it's not a big problem. I can still join my lines perfectly, just that I have to be more careful, that's all.
Graphic app performance
Here's the Mast22 performs with different graphic apps
Photoshop (Mac) works well. There's pressure sensitivity and the strokes taper well.
Medibang Paint Pro (Mac) works fine.
Krita (Mac) works fine.
Clip Studio Paint (Mac) works fine.
Pressure sensitivity does not work with Adobe Illustrator. When I install Wacom driver to get the pressure working, the pen would stop working.
Overall performance of the pen display is quite good. I could get the strokes to appear the way I want them to. Pressure sensitivity is good. There's non of the micro-jitter when drawing lines, unless you're drawing really slow.
On Windows, pressure sensitivity works fine with Photoshop, Illustrator, Krita, Medibang Paint Pro, and Clip Studio. The only problematic apps are Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer where the pen just fails to work – the cursor won't move.
My experience working and drawing with this pen display is satisfactory despite some downsides which can probably be fixed by driver updates.
After using the pen display for hours, it does feel a bit warm throughout. It's about as warm as a mobile phone while it's being charged up.
The price at the time of this review is US $559.
The Parblo Mast22 is one of the nicest looking pen displays I've reviewed in a long time. If you want something that works great and looks good on your table, this is something to consider.
Pros and cons at a glance
+ Good build quality
+ Nice looking pen display
+ Matte screen protector already applied
+ Good drawing performance with most apps
+ Pressure sensitivity works well
+ Two pens included
+ 100% sRGB and adequately bright screen
+ 8 replacement tips included
- There's an unnecessary set of moveable feet included
- Pen needs charging but can still be used while charging
- Pressure doesn't work with Adobe Illustrator (Mac)
- Pen doesn't work with Affinity Photo and Affinity Designer
Check out more details of the Parblo Mast22 at https://www.parblo.com/products/mast22-1?ref=5af7be4a0e726
It's priced at US$559 at the time of this review.