Review: Parblo Coast12 Pro (gen 2) pen display

Review unit provided by Parblo

Parblo Coast12 Pro Gen 2 is an 11.6-inch pen display targeted at beginner digital artists with a retail price is USD 249, sometimes with discounts on Amazon. The price will vary depending on where you buy it from. Parblo also sells larger pen displays such as the Coast16 Pro and Coast22 Pro but those cost more, of course.

This gen 2 model was released in early 2024 and is a minor update over the previous model. The increase in pressure sensitivity from 8K to 16K level is the main upgrade over the Parblo Coast12 that I reviewed in 2022.

This review is quite long so if you want to save time, just jump to the section for drawing experience, and pros and cons

Things included


These are the items in the box:

  • Coast12 Pro gen 2 pen display
  • Parblo S01 Pen
  • Pen case
  • Micro-fiber cleaning cloth
  • Artist glove
  • USB-C to USB-C video cable
  • Full-size HDMI to mini-HDMI cable
  • USB-C to USB-A data/power cable
  • Nib remover
  • Extra pen nibs
  • Warranty card
  • User manual

No USB power adapter is included. If you use HDMI video connection, the pen display has to be connected to power, e.g. phone charger.

Specifications

  • Panel Size: 11.6 inches
  • Display type: IPS LCD
  • Display aspect ratio: 16:9
  • Active area: 256.32x144.18 mm
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080
  • Pixel pitch: 0.153 x 0.153mm
  • White luminance: 250cd/m2
  • Contrast ratio: 1000:1
  • Color: 16.7M colors
  • Viewing Angle: Horizontal 178°, Vertical 178° @CR≥10
  • Surface treatment: Tempered Glass 6H
  • Protective film: Anti-glare matte screen protector
  • Full-lamination: Yes
  • Response time: 25ms
  • Colour gamut: 72%NTSC Above
  • Digitizer resolution: 5080 LPI
  • Report rate speed: above 200 RPS
  • Accuracy: ±0.25mm (Center), ±1mm (Edge)
  • Pen tilt: ±60°
  • Sensor height: 0-10mm
  • Pressure levels: 16K
  • Protective film: with frosted and coated film
  • Pen: Parblo S01
  • Power supply type: USB 5V 1A
  • Power consumption: 5W
  • Ports: USB-C video, USB-C power, mini-HDMI
  • Stand: Not included
  • Material: Aluminum alloy + plastic
  • Hotkeys: 6
  • Dial Ring: 1
  • Support OS: Windows 8/10/11 ; Mac OSX 10.12. or above;
  • Dimension: 357.8 x 218.2 x 12mm
  • Weight: 910g


The pen display comes with a matte screen protector that provides some texture while drawing. When you peel off the protective film for the screen protector, make sure you do not peel off the screen protector.

The screen protector can be replaced but you'll have to find replacements yourself.


The first way to connect is to connect HDMI (video) and USB-C or A (for data and power) to your computer. The second way is to use a USB-C video cable.

Design


Design of the pen display looks good and is identical to the previous model. Build quality is solid enough.

Bezels are quite wide and can provide some space for your palm to rest on.


There are six hotkeys and one dial which are all customisable. The buttons feel firm and and dial has audible feedback.

There's left handed mode in the driver to rotate the pen display 180 degrees so that the hotkeys and dial are on the right side.


Even thought this pen display is thin (12mm), it is not a tablet. A pen display is a monitor that has to be connected to a computer. There's no built-in battery, no OS.


The ports on the right are power, brightness controls, USB-C power, mini HDMI, USB-C video. Labels for the ports can be found underneath the pen display.

These ports can be used with cables from other brands as well.


There are two long pieces of rubber feet underneath the pen display.

No stand is included with the purchase. I highly recommend getting a stand to prop up the pen display to draw at a more comfortable angle. You'll also need a stand to use the display for work other than drawing, e.g. web browsing, watching videos. The stand I recommend is the Parblo PR100.

Display


The display is a 11.6-inch IPS LCD with 60hz refresh rate. It's not a touchscreen.


I consider an 11.6-inch display to be small. Generally speaking, I usually recommend getting one that's at least 13-inch or larger if you have the budget. A larger pen display provides more drawing area and the user interface (UI) elements will be easier to see.


UI elements will look small on a small display. And if you increase the UI or scaling, the canvas space you're left to draw with becomes smaller.

But as mentioned eariler, the larger the pen display, the more expensive it is.


I measured colour support for 93% sRGB, 72% NTSC, 73% AdobeRGB and 76% P3, and a maximum brightness of 189 nits.

I wish colour accuracy is higher, but 93% is still acceptable.

Pen


This is the Parblo S01 pen that supports tilt and 16K levels of pressure sensitivity. The pen is not powered by battery so no charging is required.

The pen has a comfortable rubber grip and build quality feels solid.


The end cap can be removed and three pen nibs can be stored in it. The silver ring at the back can also be removed and works as another nib remover.


The two customisable side buttons on the pen are firm.

The pen tip is firm and has no movement. Parblo only has plastic nibs and not felt nibs. The default plastic nib does provide some tactile drawing experience thanks to the matte screen protector.


The display is laminated so there's almost no gap between the line and the pen tip. However, you may need to calibrate the pen and display if there's any cursor misalignment out of the box.

The response time (input lag) of 25ms is quite typical of pen displays. This means when drawing fast, you may see the line trying to catch up with the pen tip. It's not a big issue unless you draw really fast, eg. hatching or cross-hatching lines.

Cursor misalignment

One significant downside is noticeable cursor misalignment at all edges of the display even after calibration. Cursor misalignment is the distance of the cursor point from the pen tip. This cursor misalignment will also vary depending on how you hold the pen, e.g. left vs right handed. And for some reason, the OS used also affects cursor misalignment.

The cursor misalignment does not happen in the drawing area so drawing isn't really affected. However when you move the pen tip to the edge of the display to click on icons or scrollbars, you have to look at where the cursor is instead of where the pen tip is.


This is the left side of the display after calibration with the Windows driver. There is slight cursor misalignment but it's not too bad. Still quite usable.


This is Windows on the right side and the cursor strays many pixels below the pen tip. Note that I'm right-handed.


When I switch to my left hand, the cursor misalignment on the right edge is almost gone.

For Windows at the bottom edge, the cursor strays to the right side of the pen tip.


This is after MacOS driver calibration on the left side of the display. Notice there is more cursor misalignment compared to Windows? Same hardware but different result.


This is my usual test to see if cursor misalignment will affect drawing. I draw lines separately (note the sequence) and join them to see if I can join without gaps or lines overshooting. As long as you draw about 1cm away from the edge, there should be no issues with cursor misalignment.

Driver

Drivers tested are Windows driver v3.7.3.1 (10 May 2024) and Mac driver 3.8.5.4(10 May 2024). I have also tested Windows driver v3.7.0.9 (2 April 2024) and Mac driver 3.8.2.5 (15 Apr 2024). Windows driver v3.7.0.9 has a tendency to crash often, several times a day, but the new driver seems fine.

Features for the Windows and Mac drivers are mostly similarly with minor differences.

The most important thing to know is there is no Switch Display feature that moves the cursor from one display to the other.

The so called "Switch Display" from the Windows driver is actually the shortcut Winkey + P which gives you display projection options. There's no Switch Display feature with the Mac driver.

In other words, using dual display setup with this Parblo pen display is be inconvenient. To use the cursor on the other display, you will have to put down the pen and use your mouse or trackpad.


Here you can create custom keyboard shortcuts. You have to specifically enable hotkey usage in addition to entering your keyboard shortcuts.


You can also customise the hotkeys with pre-programmed functions.


Display mapping option let you control the cursor on the pen display, other display or across two displays.


Pressure curve can be adjusted by using the slider or moving the three control points. For Windows driver, there's the Windows Ink option which you may have to enable or disable if pressure is not working as expected.


Customisation for the hotkeys and dial. The dial can be configured with three sets of functions.


Left handed users can change the orientation here.

Pen performance


The line tests were created with Medibang Paint Pro.

1. Initial activation force is low. Thin lines can be drawn easily even with a thick brush selected. The slow diagonal lines have slight wobble.

2. Lines are able to taper smoothly and sharply.

3. Line transition from thin to thick is smooth. This is also a diagonal line and there is slight wobble or jitter.

4. Consistent line width can be created by maintaining consistent pressure. The diagonal lines here also suffers for slight wobble and jitter (look at the start).

5. Drawing dots for Medibang Paint Pro requires tap and drag. For other apps, you can just tap to draw dots.

6. This is the test I use for cursor misalignment. It is possible to join lines without gaps or overshooting but one has to be more conscious to see where the cursor is instead of where the pen tip is.

The pen performance is almost similar as the previous generation.

I personally cannot see or feel the difference between 4000 vs 8000 levels of pressure sensitivity. 4000 levels of pressure is already quite sensitive.


The red line was drawn with pencil brush from Krita and tilt works fine. Tilt did not work with Concepts app.

Drawing experience


This was drawn with Photoshop on Windows. Pressure sensitivity works fine.

It's not easy to draw perfectly straight lines unless you draw fast, but at least it's not the recognisable digital wobble from the pen.

The main issue here when drawing is cursor misalignment. There is cursor misalignment after calibration so more effort has to be spent to make sure the lines join properly together because you cannot rely on the cursor being directly below the pen tip.

The other issue is there's no Switch Display feature. I use another display for reference and whenever I need to use the cursor to move things on the other display, I have to switch to mouse/trackpad, and back to pen. This will take some time to get used to.


Not easy to draw long straight lines.


This was drawn with Clip Studio Paint on Windows.

Pressure sensitivity works fine and I don't have any problems with the line quality. But again, the three issues mentioned earlier affects drawing experience.

For some reason, I wasn't able to click on CSP menus with the cursor. This is obviously a major deal breaker. I was using CSP v2.0.6 with Windows 11 with 23H2 update.


This was drawn with Medibang Paint Pro on MacOS.

Drawing workflow is quite smooth except for the cursor misalignment which makes me draw slower as I have to make sure the cursor is at the correct place.


This was drawn with Affinity Photo on MacOS. This app isn't the best for drawing because you can draw thin and thick lines easily, but not lines with moderate thickness.

Conclusion

The pen display looks good and is well made. The display is bright enough and colours are vibrant.


Drawing performance is alright as long as you're not drawing near the extreme edge of the display due to cursor misalignment there. There is slight wobble and jitter with slow diagonal lines but I don't really see that affecting my line art when drawing at my usual speed. So I would say the drawing performance is decent.

Since there's no Switch Display feature, this pen display is best used as a standalone main display. If you use a laptop it is not too bad since you can always use your non-drawing hand for the trackpad, but that will be a problem if you have to use a mouse with your non-master hand.

Pros and cons at a glance
Pros and cons at a glance
+ Nice looking design
+ Good build quality
+ USB-C support with cable included
+ 93% sRGB colour support
+ Laminated display
+ Tactile drawing surface with matte screen protector
+ Pen is not powered by battery
+ 8 replacement nibs included
+ One artist glove included
+ 6 shortcut buttons
+ 16K levels of pressure sensitivity with pen
+ Pen is not powered by battery
+ Does not produce much heat
- Stand not included
- Matte screen protector affects image quality
- Switch Display does not work with Mac and Win drivers
- Slight diagonal line wobble and jitter
- Tilt sensitivity does not work with Concepts app
- There is cursor misalignment even after calibration
- CSP menu cannot be clicked with the pen
- No OSD menu for display colour controls

Availability

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