Review: XP-Pen Artist 13.3 Pen Display

The Artist 13.3 from XP-PEN was released around the same time as the the Artist 15.6 if I remember correctly. With these two new products, XP-PEN now has a good range of sizes for their pen displays, namely 10s, 13.3, 15.6, 16 and 22HD.

If you haven't read my review for the Artist 15.6, it's alright because the Artist 13.3 performs very similarly to it, except that it's smaller.

Oh, the unit that I'm using was sent over from XP-PEN. Thanks a lot once again!

Specifications

  • Product dimensions: 39 x 25 x 1.4cm
  • Active area: 29.3 x 16.5cm
  • Screen: 13.3 inches with 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • Panel type: IPS
  • Colors: 16.7 million
  • Input: USB-C
  • Graphic ports supported: HDMI, miniDisplay
  • Pen does not require battery
  • Pressure sensitivity: 8,192 levels

The main highlights for me are the matte screen, battery-less pen and pressure sensitivity support at 8,192 levels.

What's in the box


The packaging box features a very simple clean design. With this box, you lift up the cover to reveal the pen display and all the things included.

  • HDMI/Power/USB all-in-one cable
  • USB extension cable
  • HDMI to miniDisplay adapter
  • Pen and stand
  • 8 replacement nibs
  • Wall charger and various international plugs
  • Manual, warranty card, cleaning cloth and glove


Instead of a power brick, a wall charger is included with interchangeable power plugs for different socket types.


You can install the driver from the USB storage included. But it's always best to download the latest driver from XP-PEN's website.


I appreciate that a mini-DisplayPort to HDMI adaptor has been included. Lots of graphics card and laptops are using the mini-DisplayPort.


This is the HDMI and data cable. The HDMI head is split to three different cables: the data USB, the red coloured power USB and the USB type-C.

The data USB (black) connects to the computer so that the pen can be recognised. The red power USB goes to the power outlet. If your USB port provides sufficient power to the black USB, you may not need to use the red power USB or wall charger. The USB type-C is the only cable that's connected to the pen display. The whole setup is quite clean.


You may not need the USB extension cable if the HDMI and data cable is long enough.


That's the pen and stand included. The pen supports 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity. It does not use battery so it does not need to be charged.


There are two side buttons but no eraser.


The pen stand can be opened up to reveal 8 replacement nibs. The nib remover is that tiny hole at the bottom of the pen stand.


Nib removal instructions are behind. Basically, stick the nib inside, tilt it, pull it out.


You can also put the pen vertically but it's not a tight fit so it's going to wobble when you hit it accidentally.


This 13.3 inch pen display supports a 1920 x 1080 resolution. For a screen this size, which isn't too big, everything appears sharp.

When you first open up the box, the screen has a protector film over it which has to be peel off to reveal the matte screen protector. It's a nice texture to draw on. However the matte screen protector does affect the sharpness slightly but it's not really a big deal when you have a nicer surface to draw more.

I find that after each drawing session, my hand would deposit some grease on the screen protector. It doesn't affect the performance or anything but I wipe it down to make it look good. Based on my experience with matte screen protectors, it's not uncommon to see scratches after a while since they are not as hard as glass.

The Artist 13.3 used an IPS panel so colour reproduction is quite decent. Using a Spyder5PRO colour calibrator, I managed to get a readout of 89% sRGB, 68% NTSC and 70% Adobe RGB. Surprisingly, the colours on this smaller pen display is better than the Artist 15.6. When I first power on the display, I could see instantly that the colours are better.

The maximum brightness is measured at 300 cd/m2 which is a bit too bright for me. I typically work at 200 cd/m2. Over time, like all displays, the brightness will dim, but it's good to know that you can still turn up the brightness when that happens in the future. The Artist 15.6 produced only 166 cd/m2.


Six physical shortcut buttons are located on the side. They do feel a bit cheap but the click feedback is firm.


On the other side, there are the power button, brightness control buttons and the USB type-C input port.


The overall build quality is solid. Edges are all rounded off. It actually looks quite good. Can't compare to the build and looks of the Wacom Cintiq but the price is much more affordable. At the time of this review, it's selling on Amazon at US $330.

Driver

With the driver, you can change the pressure sensitivity, assign functions to the side and physical shortcut buttons, calibrate the screen to compensate for parallax offset and switch to left-handed mode if you want to.

When you're using it for the first time, there's going to be parallax. The glass is close to the screen but there's still a distance. There's parallax so you'll definitely want to calibrate the screen.


There isn't much difference between Windows and Mac drivers except that with the Windows driver, you can change the pressure curve but the Mac driver uses a pressure slider dial.


If you use dual monitors, the driver also allows you to click a button to switch between monitors to use.

Drawing performance

Drawing performance is generally fine except for some minor issues.

Let's look at the drawing apps on the Mac first.


Quick strokes on Photoshop (Mac) works well. When it comes to curves, it seems like there's some wobble and the thickness varies slightly.


To get pressure working with Adobe Illustrator, Wacom Intuos driver need to be installed.


Medibang Paint Pro (Mac) seems to perform similarly to Photoshop. There's some wobble for curves as well. Quick strokes are fine. When used for drawing, I don't really notice the wobble issues. Same applies to Photoshop (Mac).


Mischief (Mac) works fine.


Krita (Mac) works fine but there's the wobble again.


Clip Studio Paint (Mac) performs perfectly. The lines are smooth, taper well and there's none of the wobble issues seen in other apps.

And now on to Windows apps...


Photoshop (Win) seems to have slight wobble with curvy lines. When used with Lazy Nezumi Pro, the lines are smoother. In the picture above, the Lazy Nezumi lines are those on the right side.


Adobe Illustrator (Win) works fine.


Medibang Paint Pro (Win) performs better than the Mac version. Lines are smoother and able to hold a consistent width, and when the thickness varies, it varies gradually.


Krita works fine.


Clip Studio Paint works fine.


There is an issue with Mischief. You need to turn on Windows Ink for Mischief to work well.


Windows Ink needs to be enabled for Sketchable to work well too. Without Windows Ink, there's no pressure sensitivity.

Conclusion

Overally performance is quite good but I wished that it could even be better. There's this inconsistency or the challenge of maintaining a consistently smooth line when drawing curves. When you're testing for it, it's going to show up, but when actually drawing with it, it's not that big of an issue. Out of all the apps, Clip Studio Paint works perfectly without any of the wobble or stroke issues.

If you're using Windows, the performance of the pen is better than on Mac. You get nicer looking lines.

Artist 13.3 vs 15.6
In terms of performance, it's basically similar to the Artist 15.6.

The Artist 13.3 is better than the 15.6 in two aspects: Colour accuracy is better on the smaller model. I suppose they are using some better quality IPS panel here. And the 13.3 also has better brightness topping out at 300 cd/m2.

The larger size of the Artist 15.6 makes it more comfortable to work on. The sharpness and resolution of the 13.3 inch screen is good but to be able to draw on a larger screen feels more liberating. It's the same feeling as drawing on a small sheet of paper vs a larger sheet.

Glitch alert!
I've just copied the text below from the Artist 15.6 review because both models suffer from the same glitch.

On the Mac, I've issues with double clicks behaving inconsistently. Inside Finder, when selecting files in the list mode, a single click will become a double click and open the folder. This makes selecting multiple files using Cmd+click impossible because each time you click to select, you're opening the folder instead. And when you click to select a file, you are opening the file. This glitch does not happen when the Finder is in Icon mode for some reason.

The same double click issue happens when I need to upload files. I hit the upload button, and the Finder window opens, I'm faced with the same problem again.

The problem is opposite when I'm using Adobe Lightroom. When I double click a photo to view it large, it does not do anything, as if I'm only using a single click.

None of these glitches above exists in Windows.

Pros and cons at a glance

+ Good build quality and design
+ Pen does not require battery
+ Pen is quite sensitive
+ 8 replacement tips included
+ 6 shortcut buttons are useful, but more would be great
+ Matte anti-glare screen does not have reflections
+ Nice texture on screen to draw on
+ 1080P resolution on the screen this size is sharp enough
+ Screen has decent colour accuracy and viewing angles. Better than Artist 15.6
+ Does not heat up significantly. Can be used for long periods of time without discomfort
+ Drawing performance generally good but depends on the OS and app that you use
+ Lines have little to no wobble and jitter (mostly on Windows apps)
+ You can power this display from a single powered USB port if you want to
+ HDMI-miniDisplay port adaptor included
+ Price is very competitive for a screen of this size
- Matte screen protecter affects sharpness of the screen but a good tradeoff for the texture it provides
- Some issues with the specific drawing apps mentioned in the review
- Parallax exists, corrected by calibration
- Double click issue on the Mac with certain apps (thankfully not drawing apps)
- No stand included for the display

Availability

The XP-Pen Artist 13.3 pen display is available on Amazon via the direct product links below:
Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.es | Amazon.it | Amazon.co.jp

You can check out more reviews on Amazon too. Purchases through the links get me a commission at no extra cost to you, and helps me put out more reviews like this.

Oh, and special thanks to my Patreon supporters for their support which allowed me to have the funds to purchase some of the graphic apps (that I don't normally use) to test out. That's your contribution. You guys rock.

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2 Comments

Hello Teoh, i have a

Hello Teoh, i have a questioni for you.
For someone who draw manga in black and White, is better the 13.3 or the 15.6?
I understand the 15.6 have problem with color, but have a larger screen and over 8000 level of pressure.
What do you think?

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