xuehua
xuehua
@xuehua
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XP-PEN has two series of graphics tablets and they are the Star and Deco series. Star series currently has more than 10 tablets and the Deco series only has two: Deco 01 and Deco 03.
Here are the specifications for the XP-Pen Deco 03:
Active area: 10 by 5.62 inchesResolution: 5080 lines per inchExpresskeys: 6 and a dialReport rate: 266 RPSPressure levels: 8192Hover distance: 1cmConnection port: USB CWireless: YesPen: Passive, does not require battery
These are the things included:
Manual and warranty cardPen case8 replacement tipsWireless USB receiverUSB type C charging cable for tabletUSB thumb drive with drivers on itArtist gloveThe drivers are found on this 4GB USB thumb drive. It's best to download and install the latest driver from XP-PEN website though. My review uses the Mac driver from 12 March 2018.
The graphics tablet is wireless and battery powered, and that's the USB charging cable for it. I'm not sure of the battery life. Anyway, even if it runs out of battery life, you can connect the cable and use the tablet while it's charging.
To conserve battery, it will power off after a period of inactivity.I like the velcro strap that comes with the cable. This is useful when keeping the cable.
The pen case included is a solid matte surface cylindrical case. Both ends have rubber so it sits really firmly on table when placed vertically. If you lay the case on the side, it may roll around.
At the other end, it reveals 8 replacement tips, the nib remover and USB receiver.This case protects the pen and USB receiver if you need to bring them elsewhere.
The pen is well built, sturdy and has a nice weight. The surface is smooth matte and the grip section has a matte rubberised texture to it (not the kind that attracts dust).
The design of Deco 03 looks sleek and minimalist. The working area is 10 by 5.6 inches and it comes with large bezels that you can rest your hands on.Drawing surface is matte and has a nice texture to draw on.
Corners are nicely rounded off. The overall construction and build quality is good, and feels premium despite its plastic build. This is one good looking tablet.
The top left corner has the dial and six physical shortcut buttons. You can choose different functions for the dial using the driver, or customise your own keyboard shortcuts to each of the six buttons.
The dial is designed and placed in such a way that allows you to turn it from the side with your thumb or index finger. Both the dial and buttons have nice feedback when turned or pressed.
The indicator lights on the side of the dial are for the active mode (when the pen is near or dial is turned), wireless indicator, and battery charging status.On the back of the tablet are 4 rubber feet and the power switch.

DriverI'm using a Mac so the screenshots and apps below are all from Mac.
This is where you can change the pressure sensitivity, choose left or right handed use or the coordinate mode.
If you're left handed, the dial and six buttons will go to the bottom right instead of at the top.
As for the coordinate mode. Absolute means the pen is mapped onto the active area and will appear on screen where you place the pen on the tablet. Relative mode means you're using the pen like a mouse or a trackpad.
This is where you can map the active area to your monitor. You can choose the aspect ratio or map a portion of the tablet to your screen.
This is where you can customise the shortcuts for the physical shortcut buttons and dial.
With the buttons, you can choose from a list of pre-determined functions, or set your own keyboard shortcuts.These are the available functions you can choose for the dial.
You can also limit the available functions. What you want to do that is because sometimes you may want to use the dial to change brush sizes, and sometimes to zoom in and out. You can set one of the Expresskeys to switch between the functions that you choose. And when you press the Expresskeys, the mode will appear on screen for a second telling you which mode you're in.
Drawing performance
It works really well on Photoshop (Mac). The pen is very sensitive, the lines are smooth and tapers nicely. There's very little activation force require to draw a thin line. You can use the lightest of pressure on the drawing surface and it will produce the thinnest of lines.
I wasn't able to get pressure working on Adobe Illustrator (Mac) by default though. Wacom driver needs to be installed together with XP-PEN's driver if you want pressure to work with Adobe Illustrator.
Drawing performance on Medibang (Mac) is fantastic too, similar to Photoshop (Mac).I've some problems with Krita though. There's pressure but the lines aren't smooth.
Both Affinity Photo and Designer can recognise the tablet's pressure sensitivity too.
ConclusionThere isn't any major downside to this tablet. It works predictably and the lines come out just the way I expect.
The Expresskeys and the dial are really useful.
The overall drawing performance is great unless you're using Krita. The lines are very smooth and tapers very nicely. Drawing performance is no different from more expensive Wacom tablets. I love that the competition is catching up and the quality of such tablets are improving at such a fast pace that you can now get something as good at more affordable prices.
I haven't used many other XP-PEN tablets so I can't really compared exhaustively. I did use the XP-Pen Star 06 before and that was a good tablet too. The Deco 03 is slightly more expensive at USD $99 compared to Star 06's official retail of USD $89. I guess you can justify the difference in price when you consider the nicer design of Deco 03 (in my opinion) and the pen case included.
AvailabilityYou can find the XP-PEN Deco 03 on Amazon athttps://www.amazon.com/Wireless-Graphics-Battery-free-Shortcut-pressure/dp/B07BF9GNFD
Most of the Drawing Monitor XP-Pen Artist 13.3 functions such as sketch, paint, design and edit can be executed directly from the tablet screen, work naturally and intuitively .13.3″ 1920*1080 IPS 16:9 Display with 178°visual angle delivers even more lifelike colors, greater contrast, and sharper, more vivid images. The custom-designed anti-reflective coating reduces glare by 56 percent, more bright and beautiful, even if it’s bright out .The latest Passive Pen Stylus technology with 2048 levels of instant Pen Pressure Sensitivity- Providing you with groundbreaking control and fluidity to expand your creative output and does not require charging, designed to have a big impact on user’s creativity .
The absence of a battery-powered stylus also prevents malfunctions occurring to the pen that are imaginable with using a battery such as potential hardware leakage and a limited life span. The Stylus does not require charging and highlights your honorable environmental awareness.
Artist 13.3 Spec:
Product Dimension: 389.0 x 250.7 x 14 mmActive Area: 293.76 x 165.24 mmThickness: 6 mmPen: P03S Battery-free PenDPI: 1920 x 1080Pen Pressure: 2048 levelsData Cable: 3-in-1 cableDisplay Color Gamut: 75% Adobe RGBResolution: 5080 LPIVisual Angle: 178°Power Output: 5V DC, 2.3A (max)Power Input: 100 to 240VAC, 50/60Hz
Package includes:
1 x Pen Display1 x Passive Pen8 x Replacement Nibs1 x New Pen Holder1 x USB Cable1 x USB flash drive( as a substitute of previous CD driver)1 x Manual1 x Anti-fouling Drawing Glove1 x Cleaning Cloth1 x HDMI to Mac Adapter CableAmong the functions such as sketch, paint, design and edit can also be executed directly from the tablet screen, work naturally and intuitively .13.3″ 1920*1080 IPS 16:9 Display with 178°visual angle delivers even more lifelike colors, greater contrast, and sharper, more vivid images. The custom-designed anti-reflective coating reduces glare by 56 percent, more bright and beautiful, despite the fact that it’s bright out .The Artist 13.3 contemporary Passive Pen Stylus technology with 2048 levels of instant Pen Pressure Sensitivity- Providing you with groundbreaking regulate and fluidity to expand your creative output and does not require charging, designed to have a big have an effect on on user’s creativity .6 fully customizable express keys create a highly ergonomic and convenient work surface. One-click toggle lets you switch the function between Pen and Eraser instantly .New Artist 13.3 has key upgrades over the Artist10S. Features a 6mm thin design; included 3 in 1 cable, and a new Brightness adjust button .
The main highlights for me are the matte screen, battery-less pen and pressure sensitivity support at 8,192 levels.Instead of a power brick, a wall charger is included with interchangeable power plugs for different socket types.You can install the driver from the USB storage included. But it's always best to download the latest driver from XP-PEN's website.I appreciate that a mini-DisplayPort to HDMI adaptor has been included. Lots of graphics card and laptops are using the mini-DisplayPort.This is the HDMI and data cable. The HDMI head is split to three different cables: the data USB, the red coloured power USB and the USB type-C.
The data USB (black) connects to the computer so that the pen can be recognised. The red power USB goes to the power outlet. If your USB port provides sufficient power to the black USB, you may not need to use the red power USB or wall charger. The USB type-C is the only cable that's connected to the pen display. The whole setup is quite clean.
You may not need the USB extension cable if the HDMI and data cable is long enough.That's the pen and stand included. The pen supports 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity. It does not use battery so it does not need to be charged.
There are two side buttons but no eraser.The pen stand can be opened up to reveal 8 replacement nibs. The nib remover is that tiny hole at the bottom of the pen stand.
Nib removal instructions are behind. Basically, stick the nib inside, tilt it, pull it out.You can also put the pen vertically but it's not a tight fit so it's going to wobble when you hit it accidentally.
This 13.3 inch pen display supports a 1920 x 1080 resolution. For a screen this size, which isn't too big, everything appears sharp.
When you first open up the box, the screen has a protector film over it which has to be peel off to reveal the matte screen protector. It's a nice texture to draw on. However the matte screen protector does affect the sharpness slightly but it's not really a big deal when you have a nicer surface to draw more.
I find that after each drawing session, my hand would deposit some grease on the screen protector. It doesn't affect the performance or anything but I wipe it down to make it look good. Based on my experience with matte screen protectors, it's not uncommon to see scratches after a while since they are not as hard as glass.
The Artist 13.3 used an IPS panel so colour reproduction is quite decent. Using a Spyder5PRO colour calibrator, I managed to get a readout of 89% sRGB, 68% NTSC and 70% Adobe RGB. Surprisingly, the colours on this smaller pen display is better than the Artist 15.6. When I first power on the display, I could see instantly that the colours are better.
The maximum brightness is measured at 300 cd/m2 which is a bit too bright for me. I typically work at 200 cd/m2. Over time, like all displays, the brightness will dim, but it's good to know that you can still turn up the brightness when that happens in the future. The Artist 15.6 produced only 166 cd/m2.
Six physical shortcut buttons are located on the side. They do feel a bit cheap but the click feedback is firm.On the other side, there are the power button, brightness control buttons and the USB type-C input port.

DriverWith the driver, you can change the pressure sensitivity, assign functions to the side and physical shortcut buttons, calibrate the screen to compensate for parallax offset and switch to left-handed mode if you want to.
When you're using it for the first time, there's going to be parallax. The glass is close to the screen but there's still a distance. There's parallax so you'll definitely want to calibrate the screen.
There isn't much difference between Windows and Mac drivers except that with the Windows driver, you can change the pressure curve but the Mac driver uses a pressure slider dial.
If you use dual monitors, the driver also allows you to click a button to switch between monitors to use.
Drawing performanceDrawing performance is generally fine except for some minor issues.
Let's look at the drawing apps on the Mac first.Quick strokes on Photoshop (Mac) works well. When it comes to curves, it seems like there's some wobble and the thickness varies slightly.
To get pressure working with Adobe Illustrator, Wacom Intuos driver need to be installed.Medibang Paint Pro (Mac) seems to perform similarly to Photoshop. There's some wobble for curves as well. Quick strokes are fine. When used for drawing, I don't really notice the wobble issues. Same applies to Photoshop (Mac).Mischief (Mac) works fine.Krita (Mac) works fine but there's the wobble again.
Clip Studio Paint (Mac) performs perfectly. The lines are smooth, taper well and there's none of the wobble issues seen in other apps.
And now on to Windows apps...Photoshop (Win) seems to have slight wobble with curvy lines. When used with Lazy Nezumi Pro, the lines are smoother. In the picture above, the Lazy Nezumi lines are those on the right side.
Medibang Paint Pro (Win) performs better than the Mac version. Lines are smoother and able to hold a consistent width, and when the thickness varies, it varies gradually.Krita works fine.Clip Studio Paint works fine.There is an issue with Mischief. You need to turn on Windows Ink for Mischief to work well.Windows Ink needs to be enabled for Sketchable to work well too. Without Windows Ink, there's no pressure sensitivity.
ConclusionOverally performance is quite good but I wished that it could even be better. There's this inconsistency or the challenge of maintaining a consistently smooth line when drawing curves. When you're testing for it, it's going to show up, but when actually drawing with it, it's not that big of an issue. Out of all the apps, Clip Studio Paint works perfectly without any of the wobble or stroke issues.
If you're using Windows, the performance of the pen is better than on Mac. You get nicer looking lines.
Artist 13.3 vs 15.6In terms of performance, it's basically similar to the XP-Pen Artist 15.6 .
The Artist 13.3 is better than the 15.6 in two aspects: Colour accuracy is better on the smaller model. I suppose they are using some better quality IPS panel here. And the 13.3 also has better brightness topping out at 300 cd/m2.
The larger size of the Artist 15.6 makes it more comfortable to work on. The sharpness and resolution of the 13.3 inch screen is good but to be able to draw on a larger screen feels more liberating. It's the same feeling as drawing on a small sheet of paper vs a larger sheet.Pros and cons at a glance
+ Good build quality and design+ Pen does not require battery+ Pen is quite sensitive+ 8 replacement tips included+ 6 shortcut buttons are useful, but more would be great+ Matte anti-glare screen does not have reflections+ Nice texture on screen to draw on+ 1080P resolution on the screen this size is sharp enough+ Screen has decent colour accuracy and viewing angles. Better than Artist 15.6+ Does not heat up significantly. Can be used for long periods of time without discomfort+ Drawing performance generally good but depends on the OS and app that you use+ Lines have little to no wobble and jitter (mostly on Windows apps)+ You can power this display from a single powered USB port if you want to+ HDMI-miniDisplay port adaptor included+ Price is very competitive for a screen of this size- Matte screen protecter affects sharpness of the screen but a good tradeoff for the texture it provides- Some issues with the specific drawing apps mentioned in the review- Parallax exists, corrected by calibration- Double click issue on the Mac with certain apps (thankfully not drawing apps)- No stand included for the display
AvailabilityYou can find the XP-PEN Deco 03 on Amazon athttps://www.amazon.co.uk/XP-Pen-Artist13-3-Interactive-1920x1080-Battery-free/dp/B075D7NWHV
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