Review unit provided by XP-Pen
This is the XP-Pen Artist 13 (2nd gen) released in mid 2022 and the official retail price is US $299.
The pen displays from the Artist (2nd gen) series at the time of this review are for the 10-inch, 12-inch, 13-inch, 16-inch and 22-inch. Except for the 22-inch, the others are using the latest X3 Elite Pen.
The other 13-inch+ XP-Pen pen displays I've reviewed before are the XP-Pen Artist 13.3 (2018) and XP-Pen Artist 13.3 Pro (2019). This new model has a new design, HDMI + USB-C support, better colours and the X3 Elite Pen.
Since the XP-Pen Artist (2nd gen) pen displays share many similar features, I'll be re-using photos and parts of reviews made for the other pen displays in this review.
Specifications (UPDATE THIS)
- Product dimensions: 39 x 25 x 1.29cm
- Active area: 29.3 x 16.5cm
- Screen: 13.3 inches with 1920 x 1080 resolution
- Panel type: IPS
- Colors: 16.7 million
- Video connection: HDMI, USB-C
- Pen: X3 Elite Pen
- Pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels
The items included in the box are:
- Pen display
- X3 Elite pen
- Artist glove
- Micro-fiber cleaning cloth
- Nib remover
- 10x replacement nibs
- 3-1 cable with HDMI connector
- USB-A extension cable
The 3-to-1 cable has USB-C on one side that goes to the pen display. The other side has a full-sized HDMI, USB-A for data, and another USB-A for power.
The pen display supports USB-C to USB-C connection but no USB-C video cable is included. No stand included too.
On the pen display are two non-interchangeable USB-C ports, one for the 3-to-1 cable and the other for the USB-C video cable.
The size of the USB-C port is not big so even if you have your own USB-C cable, it may not fit. XP-Pen sells the USB-C cable separately and it's priced at US $14.
If you want to buy your own USB-C cable, make sure to get one where the plastic part is small. And make sure to get a USB-C cable that's capable of transmitting video, not just data. I'm lucky enough to have one (Spigen) USB-C cable that actually fits the port on the XP-Pen.
While the pen display is thin, it's actually not a tablet and it does not have a touchscreen. It is still a monitor so you will have to connect it to a computer. The buttons on the side are for power and brightness.
The pen display comes with a protective film on top of a matte screen protector. Peel off the glossy protective film but do not peel off the matte screen protector.
The matte screen protector provides a nice tactile drawing experience. The anti-glare is not particularly aggressive so content on the display can still be seen even with through the diffused reflections.
The downside of the matte screen protector is it introduces slight grain or colour noise to the image quality. But the grain is not really noticeable unless you're looking for it, and the grain is less obvious compared to pen displays from other brands.
The drawing area is noticeably larger compared to an A5-sized sketchbook. A 13-inch+ pen display is a comfortable size to work with, and this is the usual size I recommend if you can stretch your budget.
This is the pen display connected to a Windows laptop with a single USB-C cable.
Colours on the pen display look good out of the box.
I measured colour support for 100% sRGB, 89% P3, 84% AdobeRGB, 79% NTSC and a maximum brightness of 190 nits. This is a reasonably colour accurate display, and the brightness is adequate for use in a bright room environment.
Resolution is 1920 x 1080 on a 13.3-inch display so there will be slight pixelation when working from one arms length away. This 1080P resolution is still very useable. I am able to use the display without UI scaling and the palettes from the drawing apps are still big enough to see comfortable.
The X3 Elite pen supports tilt and 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity. The pen is made with plastic and has good build quality. The matte textured surface is nice to hold. The pen is not powered by battery so no charging is required.
There are two customisable side buttons.
The display is laminated so there's minimal gap between the line and the pen tip.
Cursor tracking is accurate even to the extreme edge. Tilt sensitivity also works right up to the edge -- some pen displays cannot do that.
The drivers I've tested are MacOS driver version 3.3.7_220705 from 29 Jul 2022, and Windows driver version 188.8.131.52815 from 17 Aug 2022.
Since XP-Pen uses the same driver for their various pen displays, I'm reusing the screenshots from my review of the XP-Pen Artist 16 (2nd gen).
If for some reason the cursor does not appear directly beneath the pen tip, you can calibrate the display with the driver.
If you're left handed, this is where you can change the orientation of the display.
Pressure sensitivity curve can be adjusted by moving the three control points. The two side buttons on the pen can be customised.
This is where you can customise the 9 shortcut buttons.
These are the shortcuts you can assign, and these are the same options available for the pen's side buttons.
If you use dual displays, there's the Switch Display shortcut. You can also set your own specific keyboard shortcuts.
For some reason with MacOS, the XP-Pen driver does not start/load automatically upon startup, and hence the pen doesn't work.
The workaround is to set the XP-Pen driver to start upon log in via MacOS System Preferences.
The pen display does not have OSD menu. Windows users can adjust display settings with the driver (shown above). MacOS users have make adjustments through MacOS System Preferences.
These are line tests created with Affinity Photo.
1. The pen has minimal initial activation force. Drawing thin lines is easy. You can get a line as long as pen tip is in contact with the drawing surface even if you don't apply pressure.
2. Lines can taper smoothly and sharply.
3. Lines can transition from thin to thick and back to thin easily. This means the pen can detect minimal pressure changes when applying minimal pressure.
4. Lines with consistent width can be drawn easily by applying consistent pressure.
5. Dots can be drawn by tapping the pen tip.
This was drawn with Affinity Photo.
My drawing experience is very positive. I did not experience any glitches while drawing. The pen is accurate and sensitive. The lines are able to come out the way I expect. Drawing performance is consistent and predictable.
In the sketch above, you can see me overshooting some lines, e.g. lines don't join properly, but that's just me being careless.
Here's an unfinished sketch from Photoshop.
This part of the review is from the XP-Pen Artist 16 (2nd gen)
Getting this pen display to use with Android should not be the main reason to get this pen display.There are several issues with Android connection.
First, if your Android tablet already supports an active stylus, it doesn't make sense to get a pen display to draw on when you can already draw on the Android tablet.
Secondly, not all Android tablets will have video output. The pen display cannot be used with Android tablets that do not have video output.
Thirdly, there's no Android driver so you won't be able to use the shortcut buttons or customise pen pressure sensitivity. Some Android devices may not show the cursor. I used the pen display with my Samsung Tab S8 Ultra and there is no cursor. Not having a visible cursor isn't a problem as the pen tracking is accurate so you can rely on the pen tip location.
Fourthly, this pen display is not a touchscreen so it will be difficult to use most of the drawing apps which are designed for use with finger gestures. You cannot zoom, pan, rotate or navigate with fingers.
Fifth, the pen display does not differentiate pen from finger so there's no tilt and pressure sensitivity.
The XP-Pen Artist 13 (2nd gen) is a nice looking pen display with good drawing performance and colour support. I've reviewed the 10 and 12-inch Artist (2nd gen) pen displays are they just feel too small. 13-inch+ is just a more comfortable size to work with for drawing.
The pen is sensitive and accurate. Drawing performance is predictable and I did not experience any glitches while drawing. The drawing performance is definitely good enough for professional artists.
The pricing is quite reasonable and competitive compared to other brands.
Pros and cons at a glance
+ Excellent build quality
+ Beautiful design
+ USB-C support
+ Pen does not require battery
+ Pen supports 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity
+ There's tilt sensitivity
+ Pen has very low initial activation force
+ Cursor tracking is excellent right up to the extreme edges
+ 10 replacement tips included
+ Artist glove included
+ 9 shortcut buttons
+ Matte anti-glare screen protector nice to draw on
+ IPS panel colour support is good. 100% sRGB, 86% AdobeRGB
+ Viewing angles are good
+ Laminated display with no parallax
+ Does not produce much heat. Can be used for long periods of time without discomfort
+ Fantastic drawing performance on Mac and Windows
+ Support for Linux, Android and Chrome OS too
+ Competitive pricing
+ 18 months of warranty
+ Can be used as screen-less drawing tablet
- No stand included
- USB-C cable sold separately
- Matte screen protector introduces grain and colour noise to image quality