Review: XP-Pen Deco Pro graphics tablet

This review unit was sponsored by XP-Pen

XP-Pen is a company from Japan that sells lots of drawing tablets and pen displays, many of which I have reviewed on my blog in the past.


The latest drawing tablet from them is the XP-Pen Deco Pro, a professional looking tablet with some pretty cool features. This tablet supports 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, 60 degrees of tilt, has 8 Expresskeys, a physical and virtual wheel, and it is supported by Android (version 6 or newer).

Things included

  • Tablet
  • USB data cable
  • Pen case
  • 8 replacement nibs
  • Artist glove
  • 2 USB adapters
  • Manual


The USB data cable has the USB C side that goes to the tablet. The USB A that goes to the computer.


This tablet is actually supported on Android version 6 or newer. XP-Pen has included two USB adapters, one with USB C and the other with microUSB in case you want to draw with your smartphone.


No disc is included with the driver so the driver has to be downloaded from XP-Pen's website.


The cylindrical pen case included is extremely solid. Be careful not to let it roll off the table though.


The pen case can be opened on one end to reveal the nib remover and 8 replacement nibs.


The other end houses the pen. This pen supports up to 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity and has tilt sensitivity up to 60 degrees. This pen is not powered by battery so it doesn't need charging.


The pen looks good and the build quality is solid. The weight is just right. The two side buttons on the pen are customisable.


You can actually use the cap of the pen case as a pen stand if you want to.


Deco Pro comes in two sizes, the medium 11 by 6 inches and 9 by 5 inches. The unit I have is Medium (US $129) and it's quite big. If you want to save money, you can actually just go for the Small model which is US $89. The Small size should still be a rather comfortable size to work with.

The design of the tablet looks sleek with rounded off edges. Build quality is good. The silver parts are metal and the drawing area has a nice matte texture for drawing.


On the full metal back, there are two long strips of rubber to prevent the tablet from moving on the table.


The tablet is quite thin and transitions to slightly thicker to where the buttons are.


The 8 Expresskeys or physical shortcut buttons have firm clicks and feedback.


Right in the middle is a silver coloured wheel which is really smooth to turn. The black part in the middle is the so called virtual wheel which can be customised to make it function like a trackpad that controls the mouse, or as a wheel where you can turn clockwise or anti-clockwise to change settings. Tapping on the virtual wheel registers as a mouse click.

Not sure if you can see clearly but the wheel lights up in blue. The other lights on the tablet are the four markers that mark the drawing boundary. The brightness of the lights can be adjusted.


The USB-C is reversible so you can have the cable go up or down. If you're left handed, you can turn the tablet 180 degrees and have the cable go in whatever direction you want.

Driver

This tablet is supported by Windows and Mac OS.


If you're using Mac OS 10.14 Mojave, there are special installation instructions provided on XP-Pen's website. If you can't find the instructions, there's also a button on the driver which will show you the instructions. Basically, you need to give permission to the driver in Mac OS System Preferences->Security & Privacy->Privacy.

Windows installation is straightforward.

The driver functionality on Mac and Windows is quite similar. On Windows, there's the additional Windows Ink functionality which you may have to use or turn off when pressure sensitivity does not work as expected.


The pressure sensitivity curve can be adjusted with a slider. The two side buttons can be customised with various mouse clicks, pre-defined functions and keyboard shortcuts.


This is where you can customise the physical shortcut buttons and the wheels. If you use certain software often, you can create specific sets of keyboard shortcuts for those software.


These are the pre-defined functions you can choose from.


Nothing much can be done here under the monitor tab.


This is where you can choose mapping area, change the orientation if you're left handed, and adjust the brightness of the lights.


These are the pre-defined functions you can choose for the wheels.


The Windows driver looks like this, with all the options on one page.

Drawing performance

The driver I've used are the Windows and Mac drivers from 25 June 2019. The overall drawing performance is quite good with most of the drawing software I've tested, namely Photoshop, Clip Studio Paint, Affinity Photo. Illustrator, Medibang Paint Pro and Krita. The only issue was with Krita (Win) where there wasn't any pressure sensitivity but the problem was fixed by using the driver from 12 June 2019 instead.


Photoshop (Mac) works really well with the tablet. Line quality is excellent and this is the same line quality you can expect with all other drawing apps. Thin and thick transition is smooth, lines taper gradually, curves can turn smoothly without looking angular.

Initial activation force is low but you do need to put in a bit of pressure to get a faint line.


Pressure sensitivity works great with Clip Studio Paint (Mac).


Pressure works with Affinity Photo (Mac) too.


Pressure sensitivity works by default on Illustrator (Mac).


Medibang Paint Pro (Mac) performs well with the tablet.


Pressure and tilt sensitivity work fine with Krita (Mac).


Photoshop (Win) performs well.


Pressure works by default with Illustrator (Win).


Medibang Paint Pro (Win) works well.


Clip Studio Paint (Win) works great. If pressure sensitivity doesn't work by default. You may need to go into CSP preferences to toggle the Wintab or Tablet PC option.


Affinity Photo (Win) works fine.


The only software I found an issue with is Krita (Win). Pressure sensitivity just doesn't work with driver version 25 June 2019. When I tried the 12 June 2019 driver, pressure sensitivity works fine.

Conclusion

The XP-Pen Deco Pro is a nice looking tablet with solid build quality that also performs really well at drawing. Performance is consistent, predictable and lines always come out the way I expect them to. The only issue I had was with Krita (Win) but that was easily resolved with a different driver version.

The shortcut buttons and two wheels provide much convenience after customisation.

This tablet is more expensive compared to other budget tablets. However, if you want a more professional tablet, the XP-Pen Deco Pro is a good one to consider.

Availability

You can find XP-Pen Deco Pro via these direct affiliate links:

10% off code: MYHR10MY, valid til July 31, 2019

XP-PEN online store 1 | XP-Pen North America store | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.it | Amazon.es | Amazon.co.jp

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