XP-Pen 22" Artist 2nd Gen - Review & Insights from a Former Wacom User

Today I want to show and tell you about the new 22" 2nd Generation Artist-Series - Drawing Tablet from XP-Pen.

I got the opportunity to test this device and found it a welcome change to look a bit more left & right on the market and want to share my findings in this article with you.

This review reflects my honest opinion based on my past experience with other tablets and brands.

XP-Pen Tablet on Desktop

While the 22" Artist XP-Pen Tablet might seem like a huge step back for someone using a 32" tablet before ( I actually was a bit nervous about this experience ) I have to say it isn't!

I abandoned the big Wacom display because of "dead-pixel-patches" and it is the second time I have to send it back, sigh :/

Without further ado, I'd like to conclude first the important points, to quickly show if this tablet is for you. I go into details below so you can jump to the number that is most interesting for you:

  1. This Tablet is Suited for Beginners and Advanced Digital Painters Alike
  2. It's Fast
  3. Price: Inexpensive Compared to Wacom, slightly above other Manufacturers
  4. It has no Extra USB-ports
  5. The Resolution is HD
  6. It is Built for Desktop use, the Display has a VESA mount!
  7. Totally Silent
  8. It Comes with a Battery free Grip-pen that has 8192 Levels of Pressure Sensitivity
  9. The Pen has no Eraser Tip at the Back end
  10. No Bells and Whistles, meaning no Keypad or Remote and no Visible Keys
  11. Edge-to-edge Glass-like Display
  12. Stable Height-Adjustable-Stand included
  13. Compatible with all HD-Capable Computers and Software
  14. Utilizes USB-C to USB-C
  15. Simple Driver
  16. Needs a Computer to Run
  17. Good Color Gamut Specs
  18. Gladly no Touch-Function

Below some unboxing:

The outer packaging (not in the picture) was sturdy enough and the retail package made a safe impression.

Unboxing and setting up took around 1 hour.

Now let's go through the list above in the same order

1 & 10. This Tablet is Suited for Beginners and Advanced Digital Painters Alike

I believe this is true for most people. For beginners, there is no intimidating key remote or distracting keys on the display-frame. It is pretty straight-forward. 

You plug everything in, install the driver and pull your favorite application on the screen and start working with the display and interact with it as if it would be paper or a canvas. That's it.

What is helpful for a beginner (no distractions) is why professionals might turn to it, because most things can be done with a keyboard anyways.

The things professionals might be going to miss, are covered in point 17.

2. It's fast

When I say fast, I mean the SLWD "Subjective-Lag-felt-When-Drawing", a kind of input-lag

Many pen-display users worry about a cursor lag, in older tablets this was really an issue.

Compared to the current Cintiq Pro models, there is simply no difference. 

The cursor / Brush tip moves directly even with fast strokes.
The response-time of the XP-Pen tablet is 8ms, Wacom's Cintiq Pro 24" & 32" have 8ms as well
and for comparison the iPads from around 2018 had 9ms. 

What this means is the millisecond number does not say anything about SLWD as this depends on 3 factors; the digitizer/tablet, the display and the graphic processing unit of the computer.

The video above might as well be useful to review the pressure sensitivity of the tablet. It is one of my most versatile brushes and is suited to make variety of pressure visible in one stroke.
See point 8-9 for more information.

3. Pricing

For around 450 - 500 € I'd say it is pretty in the lower middle of the availability spectrum. 

Personally I find the price OK. From the look of it and testing over the past 2 weeks, the impression the tablet made on me, let me expect it will last a couple of years. Since it has no batteries, it should have the same lifespan as any display you would buy. The wear and tear of the glass-like surface depends on the user of course.

4. No USB-Ports

This might be critical for some digital artists, actually it is for me. As an iMac user you run out of USB ports fast. It is not the most important feature and looking at the raw nature of the tablet it does not matter much - it would be a "nice-to-have" feature ;)

XP-Pen has added 2 USB-ports on the back of the 24" Pro model, so if that matters to your workflow, you should think about getting the pro model.

5. Some Thoughts on HD-Resolution

I'd say XP-Pen did everything right in terms of tablet size and resolution. When working on a painting, it does not bother more than the grain of paper. Menus will appear considerably larger than on 4 or 5k displays. This is not a problem, it requires you to learn shortcuts to hide them when necessary. 

The screenshot above reveals, what I actually need when working, layers and brush-menu are hidden when working.

Below the menus on a 4k display for comparison:

I have worked with the 27" QHD Wacom which was a tad too big for the resolution it had (2.5k) and the 32" Cintiq pro which is perfect when it comes to resolution but robs a lot desktop space in general.

I'd say the 32" tablet works well if used with a PC as a standalone solution. 

If you want to utilize a 22" or even 24" size displays as standalone device such as the XP-Pen in exchange for your old monitor, I'd say that is not sufficient. In my experience, you still need a secondary display for an efficient workflow.
Having to focus the painting on one screen forces you to move all unnecessary windows to another screen, this showed me that a bigger tablet does not mean = more productivity - rather the opposite is true.

6. Desktop Tablet with VESA-Mount

I'd say the tablet has a weight of around 5 Kg more or less, which is good as it does not wobble when using the pen, not even on the edges!
You need to keep in mind this tablet is made for desktop use, it might be inviting to glue a Mac Mini M1 on the back, but this would be a bit on the heavy side to put on your lap;)

I found the holes on the back, where the adjustable stand is mounted, match the distance for a VESA-mount. This is good news for users with an Ergotron-arm or similar display holders.

Below are some images to show it works well with the arm!

7. Enjoy the Silence!

Alternative products from Wacom utilize fans in their newer 24" models which are known to cause a steady noise at times. For zen-painters (like me) it might be good news to know that it does not have fans at all ;)

As far as heat goes, I experienced a spot on the upper frame of the tablet and it was lukewarm most of the time. It might dissipate more heat depending on application and angle used. Having it in a 90° degree angle over 6 hours does not lead to any temperature at all.

8-9. Grip-Pen with 8192 Levels of Pressure-Sensitivity

Mostly marketing gibberish, I like to explain it with a "switch" like a mouse is to a computer. A mouse-click is "on", no click means "off" and there is no pressure sensitivity at all. 
A click with a tablet instead means to the computer there are between 1 and 8192 possible positions between "on" and "off".

Besides the specs on paper, it is at best a subjective thing. Since I have the Cintiq Pro to compare and Adobe Photoshop for testing the pressure sensitivity, I have so far found no difference between the tablets - both are promoting the 8192 levels.

The image above (click for full size) is one long stroke done with a versatile brush tip in PS ranging from fine and bright, to big and dark and should show a range of the possible "on" and "off's" I talked about earlier ;)

Some words about the Pen; as you can see above, the XP-Pen Pen is thinner on the grip and the tip stands out a bit, which could be for tilting. Working with the pen for longer hours showed me, I might need to get used to it first as my hand was a bit sore after the first 3 days and working 3-4 hours in one row. 

If you are used to the more ergonomic Wacom pens, I suggest the Artist Pro series, these have pens with a wider grip similar to the Wacom one as you can see above. 

Xp-Pen says the Artist 22" 2nd Gen should only be used with the PA6 stylus because of the internal circuits but when I tested it with the 24" Stylus, it worked perfectly well - with both pens on both tablets! This means it could work if you buy the wider pen but there could be warranty issues if it stops working. Just saying.

If the size of the tablet is sufficient and have a real problem with the pen/grip that might be an easier fix, if size and resolution does matter too, I'd tend to recommend the 24" Pro model at any rate.

10. Edge-to-edge Glass-like Display

Like apple tablets or Wacom pen displays, the glass plate is nearly from edge-to-edge, I'm not sure if it is real glass or not. It is really sturdy and clear. There is a 5mm back cover that climbs to the front, as seen on the images, this has the same height as the glass. 

What I find great is the black frame around the display measures slim 3 cm on all sides. This is perfect as the tablet should find enough space on most desktops.

The glass-like plate (it is semi-matte and looks similar to the one Wacom uses) is really sturdy, I regularly put my elbows to rest there and there is not one tiny bit of insecurity. Working for over 10 days on it, I have not seen one scratch and have not used a foil!

12. Stable Height-Adjustable-Stand included

The adjustable stand is absolutely sturdy and works effortless. As mentioned before, it does not wobble and ranges from 16° up to 90° which is fitting for most scenarios. 

Personally I prefer a 45° degree angle and since I was used to have my arms rest on the tablet while typing on a keyboard mounted on top of the tablet, I came up with a DIY-solution, since the small frame does not allow to use the Cintweak cradle

13. Compatible with HD-Capable Computers and Software

So far I only tested the tablet with my Mac and an older i7 Workstation PC with Windows 7 installed, both worked fine.

Of course it can't be tested with every use-case-scenario and if you work with a 15 years old Computer you might double check compatibility. In that regard I'd check the information on the website, in case of the Artist 22" Tablet, you find more technical details here: https://www.xp-pen.com/product/855.html

14. Utilizes USB-C to USB-C

Actually only useful bit of information if you use a current Computer or Mac; because in the package there is a USB-A to USB-C (device-side) and an USB-C to USB-C cable that can help you skip the additional HDMI-cable if your computer utilizes a USB-C port, nice feature!

I found it worth to mention because every time you need an adapter, it makes things less optimal.

15. Simple Driver

Let's say it this way, the driver works out of the box like a charm. If you are used to Wacom drivers, you will find all necessary settings maybe in different places yet it looks familiar. 

At the time of testing, there were issues with the transparency sliders in Photoshop that "should be fixed by disabling tilting" - Xp-Pen wrote when I asked them about this. Over the course of the past 10 days, I got used to pressing down the pen and pulling the slider from there which works quite well. 

Interesting to note is that this issue only happened on Mac, an older Windows 7 PC did not show this at all. 

If you are running Windows 7, you might need to disable Windows Ink, in my case, the computer recognized the Pen and also pressure sensitivity but I got no cursor. Disabling Ink worked immediately. Not sure if this is an issue on newer Windows devices as I abandoned Microsoft 6 years ago ;)

One thing I noticed is that the display-change - if set to the second pen-button - works relatively slow.

Good to know; There is a visible hint of the keystroke when you press a pen-button, that could be helpful if you are streaming your work on twitch or Picarto for example, viewers see the pen-buttons you press while working. However there is no option to turn that off at the moment.

16. Needs a Computer to Run (Like all Pen-Displays)

Schematic view of tablet-to-computer scenario

I feel the point 16. is a no brainer for many but in fact it is not for many parents or friends of artists and in times where you can do the same work with a portable tablet and high resolution, it is worth to mention, pen-displays always need a host computer.

A valid question might be "why using a pen-display, when there are fast and hi-res mobile tablets out there such as an iPad?"

The answer is size and longevity.

Mobile tablets are lighter and better for travel yet depend on batteries to work. A desktop tablet is a workhorse, usually larger, requires different handling and in return helps to experience precise and more efficient workflows.

17. Wide Color Gamut

A thing not so important for beginners, rather for professionals. To understand this, I repost the information from XP-Pen here: 

86% NTSC
Adobe RGB ≥ 90%
sRGB ≥ 122%

Is this important? Yes and no - Nerd-info below ;)

Source: Eizo

The thing is that Adobe RGB is a part of the reproducible color spectrum and 90% of this gamut is really OK(!) because it is already one of the biggest color-models to date. 

How is 122% of sRGB possible?
It's possible, because as you can see above, sRGB is rather small compared to Adobe RGB and the 22% extra fill the gap between sRGB and Adobe RGB. If a display has more it does not mean it is more accurate, it means you see and can utilize more colors than most users see on a screen.

The target audience for the Artist tablets are mostly digital artists working for digital output. Conceptart used by the Entertainment Industry needs digital imagery, therefore it makes totally sense to have a better sRGB output because what you see is what you get and seeing more values or hues than your client is an advantage in that industry but also in others, like Illustration.

18. Gladly No Touch-Function!

This one sounds not as good as it actually is!
Wacom's decision to force users to buy the "touch" functionality with pro-models, regardless if they need it, is there to simply raise Wacom's margins as they don't need to stock different variants.

I don't want a tablet with touch functionality because it does not really work when you need it.
There are zero real-world use-case-scenarios I could think of, that would justify the additional price-tag. In previous Models (27" QHD) the price difference between non-touch and touch versions was about 600-700 €!!

Keeping this nonsense feature away from a professional tablet is the way to go. Unless you have apple building your touch-devices, I'd recommend to any manufacturer - do yourself a favor and stay away from touch, really! 


Below you see two of the artworks I did over the course of the past 10-14 days when working with the XP-Pen tablet, except from the resolution difference, there is no real difference to the painting feel which I think is more important to the process.

There is also a demo and process video about this portrait here:

"3-Swords" based on a painting by Wilhelm August Leu (24 March 1818 – 20 July 1897)

Final conclusion:

I was not prepared to write about a top-tier product at a budget price! I was actually happy with my other tablet and to be honest; I put the 22" XP-Pen Tablet to the acid test, so to speak and I got surprised in any way possible!

XP-Pen made really good decisions with their new line of products and deliver what they promise.

The 22" Artist 2nd Gen. Pen Display is raw, simple, sturdy and professional, it's really fun to work with! 

From my point of view there are no real drawbacks or "Con's", especially if you keep the pricing in mind. 
We are talking about a tablet you can buy 4 times before you have a similar one from Wacom and the quality differences are barely visible. They can be counted on two fingers: 4k resolution and a 30 bit depth display. Wacom products have experienced a huge decline in quality over the past 2 years and are at an unacceptable low point right now. 

Good for you XP-Pen ;)

I would recommend this Tablet to anyone looking for a 22" pen display worth the money, regardless if beginner or advanced user. Or if you are converting from a 24" or larger, you might give the Artist 24" Pro a try.

Below you find links to the XP-Pen Stores. Buying from a vendor directly saves them marketplace fees, please consider this when ordering online. Always ;)

German Store: www.storexppen.de
EU Store:  www.storexppen.eu
US. and CA. www.storexppen.com

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Oliver aka Fantasio is a creative blogger who likes to share his insights about art, marketing and social media. Follow Fantasio on twitter or facebook


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