Review unit provided by Ugee
Ugee launched two new pen displays in October 2023, the 11.6-inch UE12 and the 11.9-inch UE12 Plus priced at USD 179 and USD 199 respectively. On Amazon USA, it's listed at USD 159 together with a $30 coupon so the total price is USD 129 -- WOW!
These are compact pen displays with budget pricing aimed at beginners. The differences between UE12 and UE12 Plus are the size: 11.6 vs 11.9-inches and the UE12 has 8 hotkeys while UE12 Plus has 8 hotkeys and a scroll wheel.
- Ugee UE12 Plus
- Active area: 11.9-inch (263.2 x 148.1mm)
- Colour gamut: 147% sRGB
- Colour space switch: sRGB, AdobeRGB, DCI-P3
- Contrast ratio: 1000:1
- Screen resolution: 1920 x 1080
- Laminated display: Yes
- Anti-glare: Yes
- Brightness: 200 nits
- Pressure levels: 8192 (16,384 via firmware upgrading)
- Tilt recognition: 60 degrees
- Resolution: 5080 LPI
- Reading height: 1cm
- Dimensions: 22.4 x 35.5 x 1.2cm
- Scroll wheel: 1
- Hotkeys: 8
- Ports: 2x USB-C (the all-in-one USB-C port and the 3-in-1 USB-C port)
- Compatibility: Windows 7 or newer, MacOS 10.10 or newer, Android 9 or newer, Chrome OS 88 or newer, Harmony 2 or newer, Linux
- Pen display
- 10x replacement nibs
- USB-A to USB-C charging cable
- USB-C to USB-C video cable
- Nib remover
- Warranty card
- User guide
No stand is included. I highly recommend getting a tablet stand and my recommendation is the Parblo PR100. If you want to prop up the pen display higher, go with a laptop stand.
No power adapter is included. You'll have to use your own if your computer's USB-C video port cannot power the pen display.
If your computer uses HDMI for video output, you'll need to buy the Ugee 3-to-1 cable which is sold for USD 19.99.
Don't peel off the matte screen protector that's already applied.
On the top left of the pen display are the power light indicator, buttons for power and brightness.
You can press the power button for 3s to switch to pen tablet model without the display. Power off and on again to switch back to pen display mode.
Hold down the brightness buttons and you can switch between sRGB, AdobeRGB and P3 colour modes.
The two USB-C ports are marked with labels that are difficult to see. The USB-C ports are actually recessed so not all USB-C cables are compatible. Anyway, the included cables look thick and durable enough.
The pen display is quite thin at just 1.2cm. Build quality is solid.
Even though this pen display looks like a tablet, it's not a tablet. There's no built-in battery, OS and no touchscreen. You'll have to connect this to a computer in order to use it.
The UE12 Plus uses a 11.9-inch IPS LCD with 1920 x 1080 resolution. Refresh rate is 60Hz.
I measured colour support for 100% sRGB, 98% AdobeRGB, 98% P3 and 93% NTSC. Maximum brightness is just 114 nits which is quite far off the advertised 200 nits. This display definitely could use more brightness. When used in a bright room environment, it's best that curtains are drawn.
And for some reason, Windows colour calibration with Spyder5pro produced better colours compared to MacOS.
The display is laminated so there's no gap between the drawing surface and LCD. When drawing, the line looks like it's coming from beneath the pen tip.
The anti-glare of the matte screen protector is quite aggressive and since the brightness is low, the colours aren't bright enough to go through the diffused reflections. Viewing angles for colours is good but there's visible drop in brightness.
The bezels are quite thick and make the small display feel even smaller.
There are 8 customisable hotkeys and a scroll wheel. The hotkeys have firm feedback.
There's no button in the middle of the scroll wheel which means one hotkey has to be set to switch the scroll wheel function.
There are four pieces of rubber feet behind.
Both my Macbook and Windows laptop are able to power the pen display with the USB-C connection. This connection will drain the laptop battery faster so it's best to connect the laptop to power.
If your computer's USB-C port cannot power the pen display, you have to connect additional power to the pen display.
The pen is not powered by battery so no charging is required.
Build quality of the pen is good. It has a matte textured body with good grip, and is comfortable to hold for long periods of time. If you need a thicker grip, you can buy those Apple Pencil silicone grips and use one here.
This pen supports tilt and 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity. According to Ugee, you can upgrade the firmware of the pen display to increase pressure sensitivity to 16384 levels. Anyway, the real world difference between 8K and 16K pressure isn't that noticeable, if noticeable at all.
There are two customisable side buttons.
The pen tip has slight movement when in contact with drawing surface. Some people prefer a firm tip but I'm fine with this.
There are drivers available for Windows, Mac and Linux.
The Windows driver has additional Windows Ink feature and the option to adjust brightness, contrast and colour temperature.
Pen shortcut customisation is available.
Pen pressure curve can be adjusted by moving the three control points.
Drawing area mapping is only required if the aspect ratio of the pen display is very different from your monitor aspect ratio.
These are options for hotkey customisation.
Calibration is needed if there's cursor misalignment. Make sure you choose the correct display from the drop down menu first.
Ugee support contact information.
These line tests were created with Medibang Paint. You can expect the same pen performance with other apps.
1. Initial activation force is minimal. Thin lines can be drawn easily even with a thick brush. There's no noticeable slow diagonal line wobble or jitter.
2. Lines are able to taper smoothly and sharply.
3. Line transition from thin to thick is smooth. Thin lines can be drawn easily after drawing thick lines. This also means the pen is sensitive enough to detect big and minimal changes in pressure sensitivity.
4. Line consistency can be maintained consistently by applying pressure consistently.
5. Tapping the pen sometimes does not produce dots, and you will have to tap again. This does not happen with Clip Studio Paint and Photoshop.
6. Cursor tracking is accurate. There are no issues with joining lines. The boxes were drawn with a thick brush and I could vary the pressure to produce expressive lines.
Tilt works fine. Cursor can follow the direction of the pen.
Pen performance is excellent except for the issue with drawing dots that affects Medibang Paint. Overall pen performance is considered predictable and consistent.
UI elements such as text, icons and palettes look small if no UI scaling is applied. If you increase UI scaling, the canvas size is made slightly smaller, and you'll have to scroll more when searching for brushes and through layers.
The actual display size is smaller than A4-sized paper, and feels more A5-sized. The size is still alright for drawing. My general recommendation has always been to get a pen display that's at least 13-inches or larger so that you can at least use 1080P at native resolution and the UI elements won't look too small. But the larger the pen display, the more expensive.
The matte surface provides a nice tactile experience while drawing. Note that the matte screen protector may develop scratches with usage over time, and may also lose the texture and become smoother.
This was drawn with Medibang Paint Pro.
Overall drawing experience is fantastic. The sensitivity of the pen makes it easy to draw expressive and accurate lines. You can expect the same level of performance with other drawing apps.
There is Android support and it's best to use an Android device that can output video.
There are several issues with Android support.
There's no Android driver so the pen pressure and hotkeys cannot be customised. Tilt sensitivity does not work.
It's best to use both Android device and pen display in vertical orientation and in mirror mode, otherwise the mapping will be off. There's no finger gesture support so you will have to rely on the Android tablet for navigation gestures and other touchscreen shortcuts.
The cursor is not visible but it's a non-issue as the line is always beneath the pen tip and cursor tracking is accurate.
SamsungDex works for drawing but there's no finger gesture support. When you're in a drawing app, you can't swipe up on the Android tablet to go to home screen since it's not in mirror mode.
The Ugee UE12 Plus looks good and has fantastic drawing performance.
The main downside is the brightness is on the lower side so this is best used in a room that isn't that bright. The pricing is quite competitive compare to pen displays of similar sizes from other brands.
If you're reading this, you're probably looking for a pen display and have a tight budget. In that case, I would highly recommend the 15.4-inch Ugee U1600 that you can currently buy for USD 149 (listed $259 - $110 coupon). The Ugee U1600 is a no-frills pen display with fantastic drawing performance at a truly incredible price.
Pros and cons at a glance
+ Nice looking design
+ 8 hotkeys and 1 scroll wheel
+ Support USB-C connection for power, video and data
+ Solid build quality
+ Matte drawing surface
+ Good colour accuracy of 98% AdobeRGB
+ Laminated display
+ Excellent drawing performance
+ Pressure sensitivity can be upgraded to 16K levels via firmware update
+ Can be used as pen tablet without display
+ There's Android support (only for those that can output video)
+ Competitive pricing
- Brightness just 114 nits (measured)
- No stand included
- No 3-to-1 cable included
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