The affordable pen display maker adds touch capability and throws in a compute stick for good measure.
At under $500, the Artist 16 is a very respectable Cintiq alternative.
Lawrence Mann gets a big exclusive and I'm so jealous!
No, it's not as good as a Cintiq, but at $400 retail, it's a very good value
UPDATE 2/6/16 The Monoprice 22-inch Pen Display Tablet, product number 14481, is now live on the company's website for $599.99.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Monoprice has been dabbling in the ultra low cost pen display space for over two years. I purchased and reviewed their first two efforts which, while flawed, were excellent values that improved after a few driver iterations.
I gave the second generation Smarttouch display a positive review but was disappointed when it was unceremoniously removed from the Monoprice website. It quietly reappeared at the end of 2015 with new Mac drivers.
I was pleasantly surprised when the author of this review contacted me with news of yet another 22-inch pen display from Monoprice that should soon be available for purchase.
E. KIM has been a digital artist for more than ten years, with experience in impact and print graphics and 3D design and sculpting for mass production and fine art. He generously contributed this review.
By E. KIM
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I would like to thank Monoprice for providing this factory sample for my review. All features of this review are based on an early factory sample and alpha drivers, features, dimensions, and software are subject to change at time of release.
Monoprice, the California-based retailer and manufacturer has recently introduced a number of products into the pen display and tablet market. With many pen tablets already available in the past year, they have made great headway in the competitive market of pen displays. With Wacom being the leader in pen display technology, a competitive challenger that can meet the quality of the standard at a more agreeable price has been desperately needed for years. Those of us who adopted pen tablets in the ‘90s can remember forking out hundreds for the smallest Wacom Graphire, only to be envious of the pen displays the few could afford.
Today, everyone is adding the pen input options from Asus Zen books to Lenovo, Microsoft and even Apple's iPad Pro. But the old leader has always dominated the dedicated desktop pen display: Wacom.
Monoprice's new 22 Inch pen display is a contender that delivers battery free EMR pen technology on a clear and responsive display.
The Pen Display comes with an easel style stand pre-mounted. The display sits with the bottom bezel nearly flush to the table surface. The back mount supports VESA Standard and Monoprice has several monitor stands its suggest for those who want something a bit higher or with more flexible positions.
For those that enjoy working more horizontally, the quick release latch, on the back is easily accessible and allows angles from nearly vertical to nearly horizontal. The stand is sturdy enough with the Rubber footpads to allow for little to no movement or vibration while working, even with a heavy hand. Construction feel sturdy but not oversized or heavy.
The overall foot print on your table is the size expected of any equivalent monitor and the lightweight and integrated stand allows for easy mobility for those who want to be able to carry their pen display with them.
Cable mounting is on the left side facing the screen. You will find an HDMI, DVI and VGA for Video-In connections, a required USB and power port.
For my testing, I used both DVI and HDMI and found both Mac and PC had no problem connecting, even when using a displayPort/Thunderbolt to HDMI adapter. The location of the connection ports do cause cables to stick out a bit from the left side but it is a necessity for the function of repositioning the display without binding.
Monitor Controls found on the right side facing the screen just behind the bezel provide basic but ample controls for color, saturation, and brightness.
Provided with this sample is the Art Pen, an ergonomic multi-button pen with 2 buttons, a rear eraser and the pen tip. As shown below it sizes up just barely smaller then the length of the Wacom Cintiq Pen and roughly the same width with the triangle barrel design. The comfort of this pen took a little getting used to but soon felt very natural and it was easier to distinguish button location than with the Wacom pens.
The pen tip has a nice firm but flexible feel like a 2B pencil and the glass of this pen display allows it to Glide across without streaking, screeching or sticking.
Screen resolution of the factory sample was excellent for 1080p, although this sample only had a color accuracy of 72% Adobe RGB, Monoprice is working for production to have a higher color accuracy. Viewable angles on this model are excellent without color shifting even at near horizontal angles: very Impressive quality for an MVA LCD.
Testing was done on 5 different configurations and operating systems: Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 (running on a Surface Pro), Mac OSX Mavericks and Mac OSX El Capitan
Alpha drivers where provided at time of testing and I found Windows 7 and 8.1 to have no problem but Windows 10 on a Surface Pro was currently incompatible. This could have been caused by a driver error between built in tablet computer and display. Final drivers may resolve this. (EDITOR'S NOTE: The Monoprice driver is likely incompatible with the Surface Pro's wintab driver.)
Windows Drivers support calibration, pressure and tilt controls. Calibration is recommended immediately after install, as well as adjusting the pressure sensitivity.
*Shown is Beta Driver and Software
Some functions of pressure and tilt in different applications will be covered later.
Mac OsX Mavericks and El Capitan both installed drivers very easily and functioned perfectly, but current Mac drivers showed very little controls for tilt and pressure controls. However, pressure sensitivity worked perfectly on Mac OS but had no perceivable controls or effect on tilt.
Pen tip accuracy and response is on par with Wacom with a generous hover space of ½” and no offsetting in any of the corners. In both Windows and Mac, no lag could be detected in basic OS functions.
Adobe Photoshop functioned with great pressure sensitivity and accuracy.
The Foundry's Mischief is where the new pen display truly shone with great accuracy and high sensitivity to pressure.
The aim of this review being based on the point of view of a digital artist, I ran tests for compatibility and workflow with a selection of popular 2D and 3D art applications. These test included the pen's accuracy in menu selection, pressure sensitivity and, where applicable, tilt functions.
Current Tested software as of 12/15
- Adobe Photoshop CS6 and CC – Pressure functions but little tilt function
- Adobe Illustrator – Pressure
- The Foundry Mischief – Pressure, Recommended
- Autodesk Sketchbook pro – No pressure (Pressure Functions on MacOSx)
- Gimp – Pressure Functions
- ClipStudio/Manga Studio – Pressure
- Corel Painter - Pressure
- Autodesk Mudbox – Pressure (requires Windows Environment Variable to work)
- Autodesk Maya – works no pressure
- Autodesk 3ds Max – works no pressure
- Algorithmic Substance Painter- Pressure
- Blender - Pressure
- Pixologic Zbrush – Pressure, Recommended
- Pixologic Sculptris – Pressure, Recommended
- Pilgway 3D – Coat – Pressure, Recommended
After testing with the current list of programs, I can see some improvement for driver function with some software but overall the Monoprice Pen Display has proven itself to function with a majority of applications. The orientation of the display will take some getting use to for those with experience with the table-hogging Wacom displays.
Pricing has not yet been announced, but Monoprice has a history of providing competitive pricing for quality products. Some minor additions I would like to see are different pen nibs and a penholder, as well as a unified 2-1 HDMI and USB cable. Other monitor mounts are available from Monoprice that allow more positions.
All being said, I recommend this pen display for all entry- to professional-level digital artists. Having been truly impressed with the overall quality and function of this product, it will be a must-have in their toolbox.
If you're unconvinced by active pen displays or want to add pen capabilities to your Windows or OS X desktop, your choices to date have been mostly limited to the Wacom Cintiq family of tablets.
Although prices on Wacom devices like the Cintiq 13HD or Cintiq Companion 2 compare favorably to general purpose tablet PCs like the Surface Pro 4, VAIO Z Canvas or even the iPad Pro, Wacom's gear can still be out of reach for students and hobbyists.
Enter Artisul (Art is Soul), a new consumer-facing subsidiary of UC Logic, the Taiwanese pen digitizer technology company. UC Logic's tech has previously powered budget pen displays from the likes of Yiynova and UGee, but after entering into and winning a patent dispute in China with rival Huion, the company decided to go to market with its own brand of pen displays.
The company's first product, introduced late last year, is the Artisul D13, a well-crafted unit that compares very favorably to the Wacom Cintiq 13HD. And just like the Cintiq line, Artisul eschews batteries and active pens for its own flavor of electromagnetic resonance (EMR) stylus.
Artisul provided a review unit for me to try out for the purpose of this review. I don't own and have never thoroughly tested a Cintiq 13HD, so my Wacom comparisons will be with the 13HD's cousin, the Cintiq Companion 2.
Unlike the CC2, the Artisul D13 is not a standalone PC. It is a pen display meant to be used alongside a desktop or laptop PC or Mac.
As with most EMR devices, the distance between the glass and display introduces a fair amount of parallax (or separation) between the pen tip and the on-screen cursor. Fortunately, I encountered no other EMR downsides like inaccurate corners or dead zones.
And more importantly for many of you, drawing slow diagonal strokes does not exhibit the jitter apparent in most battery-powered pen solutions.
Once the Windows drivers are properly installed and the D13 is calibrated, the pen performs extremely well, providing a very smooth transition between its 2048 pressure levels. The glass screen is covered by a matte finish that offers a bit of additional tooth or pen resistance but the 1920 x 1080 display is still noticeably brighter than on my Companion 2.
The pen is supplied inside a very nice Wacom-like case with a generous supply of replacement nibs, although I wish that they were available in more than one material. They are slightly harder than the soft Wacom nibs I prefer. I'm not a fan of the nib extractor built into the case. I much prefer a standalone ring.
Just like the Cintiq, the D13 features an array of 7 hardware buttons along the left side. These can be configured for each application and setups for Photoshop, Clip Studio Paint and others are included with the driver installation. The drivers were recently updated for OS X and a new Windows driver (which I wasn't able to test) is now in beta. The existing Windows drivers are very full-featured and graphical, offering controls reminiscent of Wacom's Feel driver.
The Artisul stand 051 is sold separately for $46. I found it much easier to set up and use than the Cintiq Companion 2 stand, although it doesn't offer sufficient resistance at all but the lowest drawing angles. An unexpected benefit of the stand is that it works well with the latest crop of 12.5 - 13 inch tablets like the Surface Pro 4, Surface Book clipboard and the iPad Pro. All of these devices are too wide to rest stably on my previous goto stand, the iKlip Studio, so it was very nice to discover a new option. If you own one of these new jumbo tablets, especially those without a built-in kickstand, the 051 Stand is a must-buy.
Given its size, separate stand and cable requirements, I wouldn't call the D13 a portable solution. However, it is thin enough to pack into a large laptop case along with its stand. If your ultrabook is thin enough, you may even be able to pack it alongside as well.
Despite being a first generation product, UC Logic/Artisul have taken pains to provide a premium experience, from the packaging to the fit and finish.
My biggest issue with the D13 is the tangle of cables required to hook it up. This is a drawback with the Cintiq as well, but the tangle is exacerbated by a power plug that requires an international adapter and then connects to the D13 via USB. Another USB cable runs from the device to your PC and an HDMI output from your computer feeds the D13's mini HDMI port. If your PC's ports are on the opposite side of your dominant hand, you'll be assured of a small rat's nest of wires snaking across your desk.
Although I was able to run the Artisul while attached to my N-Trig equipped Sony VAIO Flip 15A, it's not ideal to attach it to a device with its own pen drivers, as conflicts are bound to occur, especially with Wintab software. However, I don't own any HDMI-equipped devices that aren't penabled. It would have been nice for Artisul to supply a VGA connector option so that compatibility with a wider range of PCs could be insured.
Artisul Founding Designer and US Sales Manager Winnie Tso revealed recently that the company is working on a new generation device that they're calling the Artisul Pencil family which will feature an eraser end. According to Tso's post on TabletPCReview forum, eraser ends were a "competitor patent but has recently expired."
At $599 + $46 for the stand, the Artisul D13 is an excellent value, but the $150 difference for the Wacom 13HD may not be enough to convince artists to break away from the better-known brand. If Artisul were to bundle the stand or lower the D13 price a bit more, the pen display would qualify as a Cintiq-killer. For now, it's yet another competitor chipping away at Wacom's dominance of the art market.
NOTE: Educational pricing is available in the US, Canada and Mexico. Visit https://artisul.com/us/educational-pricing/ for more details.
Item Specification: Product Name Artisul D13 LCD Stylus Tablet; Model SP1301
General Information: Dimensions 389.0mm (L) x 250.7mm (W) x 14mm (H); Weight 1.1kg; PC And Mac Connection HDMI & USB
System Requirements: PC: Windows 10/ 8.1 / 8 / 7 (32/64bit); Mac: OS X 10.6.8 or later (Intel processor)
Powered by AC power adaptor or two USB 3.0; Portability powered by two USB 3.0
Display Information: Screen Size (Diagonal) 13.3 inch; Aspect Ratio 16:9; Display Area 293.76mm(L) x 165.24mm (W)11.5 x 6.5 inch; Resolution 1920 (L) x 1080 (W) pixels, IPS; Response Rate 19ms; Pixel Pitch 0.1529 x 0.1529 mm; Displayable Colors (maximum) 16.7 million; Color Gamut 75% Adobe RGB; Industry Standard Pre-Sets 6500°K whitepoint Default; Backlight Unit LED; LCD Brightness 300 (cd/m2); Viewing Angle178° (89°/89°) H, (89°/89°) V; Graphics Input HDMI
Power Supply Input 100 to 240 VAC, 50/60Hz; Power Supply Output5 VDC, 2 A (max); Power Consumption Suggested at least 2Amps; USB, HDMI CABLES; Power button, with LED indicator
Interactive Technology: Technology Electromagnetic; Active Area 293.76mm(L) x 165.24mm(W)11.5 x 6.5 inch; Pressure Sensitivity 2048 (levels); Resolution 5080 LPI; Accuracy±1mm; Reading Height 10 mm; Function key Six hot-key + 1 srcoll wheel; Switches of Pen: Pen tip and 2 side buttons
Accessories included: Pen Model P58A, Pen stand, Pen Case, Pen tips Nine replacement pen tips (9 hard), Pen tip removal Built-in pen box, Connector cable with HDMI and USB connectors, AC power adapter, Quick start guide
Yes, I'm opening this review with a "cord" pun, because let's face it, that's the most conspicuous feature of the ASUS PT201Q...that tethered stylus. Given the forgettable Lexus sedan-style name, it's also the one thing you'll most certainly remember about it.
Let's get the big stuff out of the way first. This is a product from a company not known for this type of hardware, it's got a proprietary tethered stylus, and a name only the US Military could love.
You should just stop reading now and ignore this hopeless imposter, right?
Not so fast.
This unit from ASUS is different, yes. It has some quirks, definitely. It is, however, worth a closer look, because for some of you, this might be all you need and quite a bit more than you'd expect.
Depending on the price at which you purchase it, the needs you have for your art, and your willingness to try a few small tweaks on the pen, I think this is more than just a base hit, it could be a home run.
Check out the video review for what I hope is a fairly comprehensive overview of its virtues and vices.