This review will cover the drawing experience and usability of the Huion Kamvas Studio 16 vs Samsung Tab S8 Ultra for digital artists.
The Huion Kamvas Studio 16 was released in early 2023 and cost USD 1699 with free shipping available to selected countries. This tablet runs on Windows 11 and comes with 11th gen Intel i7-1165G7 (4x 2.80GHz), 16GB RAM and 512GB storage (476GB usable). I have already reviewed this in great detail previously.
The Samsung Tab S8 Ultra was released in early 2022 and price starts from USD 1099 for the model with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage and Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. This tablet has been out for more than a year so it can be found at US $999 on Samsung website or at even lower prices on Amazon (refurbished units are USD 800). I've reviewed this tablet last year.
The bottomline is if you're looking for a tablet for drawing purposes, the Samsung Tab S8 Ultra is great because it's lighter, more portable, has good drawing performance and is significantly cheaper (at least USD 600 cheaper). The Huion tablet is good if you need the extra versatility provided by Windows which I'll cover more in the review below.
The Samsung Tab S8 Ultra has a 14.6-inch Super AMOLED display with 2960 x 1848 (16:10) resolution. Maximum brightness is advertised as 420 nits.
The Huion Kamvas Studio 16 has a 15.8-inch IPS LCD with 2560 x 1440 (16:9) resolution. Maximum brightness is measured at 262 nits.
In terms of drawing surface area, the Huion tablet has roughly the same height but is noticeably wider.
The Super AMOLED display certainly looks more vibrant, has better contrast and supports HDR. The downside is this display cannot be colour calibrated so it's still best to check your art and designs on another colour accurate display if colour accuracy is important.
A good IPS LCD can still look great. I measured colour support for 100% sRGB and 100% AdobeRGB with the Huion tablet. I still prefer using LCD over OLED because there's usually the matte surface option. The Huion tablet has a matte drawing surface that provides nice a tactile drawing experience.
The Samsung tablet is just 728g compared to the 1.7kg of the Huion tablet. Thickness of the Samsung and Huion tablets are 5.5mm and 11.9mm respectively. The Samsung tablet with the keyboard case is as thick as the Huion tablet.
The Samsung is more compact, portable and significantly lighter. A laptop case or bag is needed to transport the Huion tablet around.
In the photo above, you can see the Huion tablet is much wider, or in this case taller. While Windows OS is more suited for landscape orientation, I actually use the Huion tablet in portrait orientation quite often. I just wish the Huion tablet had 16:10 or 3:2 aspect ratio which would have made it more usable in portrait orientation.
The Samsung tablet is glossy without any anti-reflective coating. The Huion tablet has a matte display with anti-glare and this display introduces slight graininess due to the textured surface but it's not a big issue.
Drawing on the Samsung tablet has some rubbery resistance due to soft nib of the S Pen. The Huion pen has a more paper-like feel when drawing on the matte display. I don't think one drawing experience is better than the other, just different.
Both the Samsung and Huion pens are included with the tablets. There are other pen models that can be used but those alternatives have similar performance and differ only in physical design.
The Huion pen has two customisable side buttons and I usually have one for Switch Display. The Samsung S Pen only has one side button and the functionality depends on the app you use.
Replacement pens for both can be found for less than USD 50. There are many counterfeit Samsung S Pens around so it's not easy to find original ones. I like the Staedtler Noris Digital Jumbo as the S Pen alternative. There are soft and hard nib options for both pens.
Samsung S Pen
Huion PW550S pen
Drawing performance of both pens are surprisingly comparable. The lines were able to taper smoothly and naturally. I was also able to draw thin and thick lines easily even with a thick brush selected. Both pens are quite sensitive and can detect minimal pressure changes when drawing with minimal pressure.
I was expecting the Huion pen to be much better but the Samsung S Pen is surprisingly good.
The advantages of the Huion pen is the driver can be used to adjust the pressure curve, and there's the choice of using plastic or felt nibs. Adjustment for pressure curve of Samsung S Pen is only available with certain apps.
Palm rejection is flawless on the Samsung tablet.
Palm rejection works great on the Huion tablet but is affected Windows OS. The taskbar with Windows 11 is fixed at the bottom and sometimes my palm may accidentally activate the icons there. Also when my hand moves in from the right edge, sometimes I would activate the Windows notification panel. Those are minor annoyances I have to deal with, but thankfully they don't happen often.
Windows vs Android
The main difference between the two tablets really comes down to the OS: Windows vs Android.
If you're looking for a main computer, the Huion tablet with Windows OS is more versatile. There's proper external display support, UI scaling, huge variety of graphic design apps and desktop apps (e.g. Blender, OBS, Corel, Steam, full feature Microsoft Office), colour calibration, more user-friendly backup with Microsoft OneDrive, and more.
I like Android but the main limitation for me as a visual content creator is the lack of full-feature graphic design apps that can handle layout, typography and vector, e.g. apps such as Adobe Illustrator and Affinity Designer.
External display support
Windows OS has proper external display support. Windows can be used with extended desktop or mirror mode. If you use a high-resolution external display, you can use Windows OS to adjust the scaling. There is support for monitors with 4K resolution or higher. And of course the external display can be colour calibrated.
With Windows, you can remove the brightness of the Huion tablet and use it as a normal pen tablet while it's connected to an external display.
External display mode on the Samsung tablet is provided by SamsungDex and this will either give you two separate workspaces (desktop + Android homescreen) or mirror mode. Currently the maximum resolution supported on an external display is 2560 x 1600 pixels.
It is possible to use the Samsung tablet as a normal pen tablet too via SamsungDex.
When using the tablets with external displays, you have to figure out how to charge the tablets. For the Samsung table, it's definitely better to get an external display that can charge the tablet. For the Huion tablet, there are two ports so one can be used for video connection and the other can be used for charging.
For drawing purposes, Android has no downsides because there is a huge variety of good drawing apps available such as
- Clip Studio Paint
- Infinite Painter
- Medibang Paint Pro
- Tayasui Sketches
And most drawing apps on Android are designed with finger gestures in mind and are intuitive to use.
There are of course many drawing apps on Windows as well but most of them are actually designed for desktop UI and have limited finger gesture support. Many apps actually don't have double finger tap to undo which is a common gesture feature with most drawing apps on Android. The use of a keyboard is highly recommended when drawing with Windows to be most productive.
Battery life for the Huion Kamvas Studio 16 is around 6 hours, and that will depend on the brightness and CPU load. Charging speed with the 60W is decent although I don't have any measurements for you.
Battery life for the Samsung Tab S8 Ultra is around 8 hours and with 45W fast charging it charges much faster than the Huion tablet.
Since I use the Huion tablet mostly at home, the 6 hours battery life isn't really an issue for me. It is certainly very convenient to have a tablet with built-in battery compared to a pen display that you have to connect with cable to a computer for drawing.