Artisul D13 is the latest pen digitizer display from the Taiwan-based company UC Logic. A pen digitizer display is a monitor that you can draw on.
The pen digitizer display market space is getting more competitive every year. That's good news for digital artists because competition improves products and also keeps prices competitive.
UC Logic's technology has been used by other companies to manufacture pen digitizer displays for years, so they aren't exactly a newcomer.
The unit I'm reviewing is on loan from Artisul. I've used it for several weeks on Windows 10, and Mac OS 10.9.5 & 10.10.5.
The unit came safely packed. You have to open three boxes to get to the monitor.
There's a big brown box with two smaller boxes inside that contain the monitor and stand respectively. The stand is optional and sold separately.
The things included are
- Artisul D13 monitor
- HDMI cable
- USB cable
- USB Y-cable
- Power plugs: double round, double flat and the T.
- Pen, case and stand
- 9 replacement nibs
There's no driver disc so you have to download the latest drivers from Artisul's website.
Hardware and design
Build quality is surprisingly good. Everything feels sturdy.
The unit is slim like a tablet. The matte material used for the buttons and the left side feels nice to touch and have firm feedback when you press them.
Other parts are hard textured plastic and the edges are finished off with glossy plastic. On the back are large pieces of rubber to prevent slipping on the table.
There are only HDMI and USB ports on the Artisul D13. If your computer doesn't have HDMI port, you'll have to spend additional money for an adaptor, e.g. DVI to HDMI or mini DisplayPort to HDMI, and I'm not sure how well that will work.
There are two ways to power the display. If your computer has a USB 3 port, it may be enough to power the display without using the power outlet. The second way is to extend the USB cable with the Y-cable to draw power from the power outlet.
Either way. you have to connect the USB cable to the computer so that the stylus can be detected.
The optional stand cost USD $45.95.
The stand is useful to prevent the neck strain from drawing on the monitor that's flat on table. It also helps prop up the screen vertically so that you can view it straight on instead of staring down all the time which is really bad for posture.
The stand is easy to fix on with the quick-release latch. The monitor can then be place on top of it. There are rubber supports on all the important areas to prevent slip. There's no locking mechanism, as such, you can use the stand with any other tablet.
These are some positions of the stand.
This is how it looks like when the cables are connected on the right side. The lighted power switch is further down. Note that there are no buttons for calibration which is done through software.
The unit I received has a screen protector already pasted on it. The screen protector is just a thin film on the glass. It's matte with some texture that provides more control while drawing. To me, it feels like drawing on a Wacom Intuos or those Huion tablets. This is definitely better than drawing on slippery glossy glass.
The screen resolution is 1920 by 1080. It uses an IPS panel so the viewing angles are decent.
Colours are good but I think they could be better because they might be affected by the screen protector. Also, the colour gamut isn't exactly excellent so that affects the colours as well. Overall, I find the colour reproduction satisfactory for the price.
Colour calibration is required to get the colours to show properly. I find the default to be on the warm side, with a tint of yellow. On Windows, a colour calibration app is provided with the installation of the driver. On Mac OS, you have to calibrate it using System Preferences.
Few things to note.
1. Make sure you uninstall other tablet drivers before installing Artisul D13's.
2. Connect the monitor to your computer before you install the drivers. The monitor has to be detected first.
On the Mac, after driver installation, you can find the driver settings inside the Applications folder.
On Windows, the drivers are separated at two locations: Start menu and taskbar. See below:
At the Start menu, you can find the colour calibration app and a digital manual with helpful troubleshooting tips. On the taskbar, there's a small tablet icon that when click, gives you the options to customize the monitor and stylus.
These are the settings you can change with the driver:
- Functions of the clicks and two shortcut button on the stylus
- Right-handed and left handed option
- Functions for the tablet's shortcut buttons and wheel
- Pressure sensitivity
- Calibration for parallax
For the monitor's shortcut buttons, they are pre-assigned to specific tools and commands for specific software, namely Photoshop, Illustrator, Clip Studio Paint and Corel Painter.
At the time of this review, Mac users have the ability to customize their own keyboard shortcuts. I was told that functionality will be added in the Windows drivers in the future. Having the ability to customize your own keyboard shortcuts is definitely better than being restricted to the shortcuts provided by the driver.
The stylus comes in a sturdy case with a magnetic latch. 9 replacement hard tips are provided. The stylus feels a bit light and probably could be slightly heavier. It's not battery powered.
The gap between the glass and the LCD screen contributes to some parallax. That picture above is shot with the camera from the left so the parallax looks quite obvious.
Calibrating the stylus' cursor is required to minimize parallax.
The picture above show what it's like from the point of view when drawing. It took me some time to get used to it and after that I don't find it to be a big issue.
These are sketches on Photoshop with the round brush. When it comes to strokes tapering, sometimes there would be strange tapering effects in Photoshop (only). If you take a look at the picture above, specifically at the end of the stroke for the letter "S" in "Photoshop", you can see that effect. It happens occasionally.
These are sketches with the Mischief app.
Initially, I faced some glitches but they have all been resolved. I still want to list them here so that they can help others.
First, there's this thin horizontal line that runs across at the top of the screen. Second, the screen seems to display white pixels static. These two problems are something I would associate with bad cable connection however it does not affect my Windows machine. Turns out it really is a problem with the cable because the replacement cable mailed to me solved the problem instantly.
The glitches on my Windows machine were caused by the driver but after support staff sent me the latest drivers, everything was resolved.
My original problem was the Artisul D13 does not like to work with other monitors. When I use extended display mode and click on the Artisul, the cursor and apps will disappear. If you're using only the Artisul D13 alone, there's no issue. Anyway, with the new drivers, there should be no problems with extended display mode anymore.
The other issue is with cursor tracking which will be off whenever I'm in some drawing app. To solve that, just go to the display settings and "change the size of text, apps and other items" to 100%, and use the same resolution (1920 by 1080) for both screens.
Warranty and support
A one year warranty is provided for the monitor.
If you have problems, you can also submit a ticket to the support forum. They actually have someone who troubleshoots problems on the forum and is quite responsive.
After solving the initial problems were with the faulty HDMI cable and drivers, I've now used the display for a few days without additional problems.
Overall, in terms of value, it's great for drawing. The pressure sensitivity works well, lines come out as expected, and the overall build quality of the product is good. So yeah, it's worth the money, and it's cheaper than the Cintiq 13HD.
I can't compare the performance against the Cintiq 13HD though since I've not used that before. But if I were to choose between the D13 and 13HD, I'm leaning towards the D13 because of the price difference which to me is quite significant.
One last thing, read the manual first, and also the digital manual after installation. There are useful information to setting up the monitor.
Pros and Cons
+ Good build quality
+ Tactile buttons with good feedback
+ Can be powered by USB 3 port
+ Stand can be used for other tablets
+ Stand can be adjusted to many positions
+ Cheaper than Cintiq 13HD
+ Runs cool, only the bottom right is slightly warm
+ Wireless and battery-less pen
+ 9 replacement nibs provided
+ Rubber at the all the right places to prevent slip
+ Pressure sensitivity works great
+ Strokes taper well* and have no jitter
- Windows drivers are at different places: Start menu and taskbar
- Parallax exists, corrected by calibration
- Windows drivers can't customize specific keys or combos (yet)
- Only HDMI port so you might need an adaptor
- Strange stroke tapering effect in Photoshop (Windows)
You can find the Artisul D13 on Artisul's website or if you want to support Parkablogs, you can get it from the following Amazon links below:
Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.it | Amazon.es