Although there are plenty of drawing tablets available in the market, a huge majority of them are beginner-to-intermediate level devices that are meant to be used by newer artists.
If you are a power user or a professional – who wants the absolute best graphics tablet with all the capabilities, top-notch quality, and greater reliability – the selection is quite thin.
The worst part is – due to lack of competition, we haven’t seen much innovation in the higher-end graphics tablets in the last few years.
So, Xencelabs (Amazon) decided to stir things up with the launch of their new Pen Tablet.
The Xencelabs Pen Tablet has been getting a lot of attention from the artist community, and the Xencelabs seem to be very confident about this device.
Whether you want top-of-the-line features, best-in-class pen experience, premium feel, software stability, and advanced driver feature/tablet customization – the Xencelabs pen tablet claims to have it all.
Reading all this, our first reaction was “well, for the price they’re asking – they better have it all“.
After multiple requests from you guys, as well as our own curiosity – we finally got our hands on the Xencelabs Pen Tablet medium bundle SE (Amazon) in Nebula white color.
If you are someone looking to buy the Xencelabs Pen Tablet, this is a one-stop-shop where you will get information on every single feature this tablet has to offer.
You will get the answer to questions like, does Xencelabs pen tablet stands on its promises? how does it compare to its main competitor Wacom Intuos Pro? and should you choose this over an entry-level display tablet?
By the end of this article, you will be able to confidently decide whether you should buy this tablet or not.
Xencelabs Medium Bundle SE (nebula white) – What you get in the box
Here is the list of everything that you get in the Xencelabs Medium Bundle SE.
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Design – Xencelabs pen tablet
The design is probably one of the highlights of the tablet.
Even before you get to use the tablet, you will be pleasantly surprised by just how thin it is – and how polished and premium it feels in hand.
The back portion of the tablet is made of metal alloy and has six rubber pads spread across to hold it in place on smooth surfaces.
The stiff metallic plate at the back gives it structural rigidity and a reassuringly strong feel.
On the front, you have a large drawing area covering the majority of the front surface, which is surrounded by a white plastic frame.
Near the top edge, you have subtle “Xencelabs” branding with three buttons located right beneath it.
One of the most impressive things about Xencelabs Pen tablet is the way they have taken care of every minute detail. We have never seen this level of attention to detail in any other tablet so far.
For example, the bottom portion of the tablet where you put the wrist when drawing has a gentle curve – so that your wrist does not feel the sharp plastic edge.
Also, there are indented cutouts on the left and right sides towards the back, for making it easier to pick the tablet.
There are LED lights (located near the four corners) indicate the active drawing area. You can change the color and brightness of these lights or completely turn them off.
From your normal drawing position, there are no buttons or connectors visible, or there is nothing in your way – to give you a distraction-free working environment.
All these minor details are often missed by normal run-of-the-mill drawing tablets that you see in the market. These design element does not directly help in making your drawing better but they definitely contribute to the overall drawing experience.
Build quality and quality control
The quality of the material used in this tablet is top-notch and a step ahead of its competition.
Whether we talk about the metallic plate on the back, which has a matte grey finish to match the color scheme of the device, or the drawing surface, which feels smooth when gliding our hands over it.
All the different panels of the tablet fit well with no panel gaps, there are no loose parts or anything rattling inside.
Overall, the Xencelabs Pen Tablet gets a solid 10/10 (10 out of 10) for build quality.
Weight and dimensions
Here are the dimensions and weight figures of the Xencelabs Pen Tablet.
- Dimensions (L x W x H) – 12.61 x 9.16 x 0.3 in / 320.5 x 232.5 x 8 mm
- Weight – 1.57 lbs / 710.5 g
The weight distribution on this tablet is amazing (it is center balanced). Not that it matters but you can easily spin it on your fingers (which I have a habit of doing).
But it goes to show that – they have designed the internal components with care.
Drawing area and surface
The tablet comes with a massive drawing area measuring 10.33 x 5.8 in / 262.4 x 147.4 mm (L x W) and has an aspect ratio of 16:9.
Here is a pictorial representation of the Xencelabs Medium Pen Tablet compared to a 16-inch (15.6) laptop screen.
Now whether the Medium size Xencelabs Pen tablet is an ideal size for you or not depends on the size of the monitor you have.
Generally speaking, this size of the tablet is suitable for larger monitor sizes (between 16 inches to 27 inches).
If you work on a smaller laptop (14 inches or smaller), you should consider getting the Xencelabs Small Pen Tablet (check out on the Xencelabs store).
Xencelabs drawing tablet – Surface Texture
Ever since we started reviewing drawing tables we have seen numerous tablets from all the different brands. One of the areas where they all failed is surface texture.
The Wacom Intuos Pro has been the benchmark of a good drawing surface which provided a great drawing feel. plus they resist scratches and last a long time.
The Xencelabs is the only tablet that we believe has surpassed the Wacom drawing surface in terms of how it feels when drawing over it.
On gliding your fingers over the drawing surface, the surface feels smooth but you do sense the scratchiness when using a stylus.
As far as surface longevity is concerned, during our last two months of usage, it held pretty well against scratches.
We have not seen any marks on the surface so far. We can’t say for sure but I think there is a good chance the drawing surface will hold-up well against scratches in the long term.
Buttons on the tablet
There are three programmable buttons present on the tablet. They are located at the center-top right beneath the Xencelabs branding.
By default, these buttons are mapped to the following quick settings.
- Left button – Launch tablet settings
- Center button – Pen Pressure settings
- Right button – Switch display
Plus you also have the option to change the default shortcuts to any other functionality of your choice.
A stylus is one of the most essential parts of a drawing tablet and after using these styluses for a while we can say that – the included Xencelabs stylus gets the spot in our top three favorite styluses ever.
Xencelabs stylus is right on par with industry leaders such as Wacom Pro Pen 2 and Apple Pencil.
The box comes with not one, but two styluses named the Thin pen and the 3 Button Pen.
The Thin Pen
As the name suggests “Thin pen” is quite thin and very comparable to something like an Apple Pencil in size and dimensions.
It has two programmable buttons on the side along with a pressure-sensitive eraser at the back.
The 3 Button pen
The 3 Button pen is slightly wider and feels more substantial in hand.
It has 3 buttons on the side and a pressure-sensitive eraser at the back. The three buttons on the side all have different shapes/textures in order to identify and press them without looking.
Looking at the overall shape, the stylus definitely seems to take some design inspiration from the Wacom Styluses, which is not a bad thing.
Comfort and ergonomics
When it comes to comfort and handling some artists may like the thin pen better, others might prefer the wider 3 button pen.
The important thing is, you have both the styluses in the box so you can test yourself which one you like better.
As far as design differences between both the styluses are concerned.
The thin pen is more like a straight cylinder with the tip at the front and an eraser end at the back. It is lightweight, agile and the center of the weight is towards the middle.
The 3 button on the other hand is slightly wider and bulkier. It is wider towards the front and slowly tapers as you move along the back. The stylus’s weight distribution leans towards the front, which works well for this shape.
Although both the styluses are made of plastic, the 3 button stylus has a grippy silicone material at the front. It provides a superior grip and a rubbery texture.
This grippy material along with its shapes makes the 3 button stylus very comfortable to hold in hand during prolonged drawing sessions.
The Thin pen also has the front part of its stylus feel different from the back. But instead of using silicone material, it has some sort of soft plastic texture.
Buttons on the stylus
As we mentioned earlier, the thin pen has two buttons on the side and the 3 button pen has 3 buttons.
The buttons on both these styluses can be reprogrammed to any shortcut combination of your choice.
What I also want to mention is the quality of the buttons on these pens.
More often than not, the buttons on a normal stylus are mushy and too soft, and easy to press. So while drawing these buttons often keeps on getting clicked by mistake. This can be very annoying.
Also, the soft mushy buttons do not give proper feedback and if you are like me who uses pen buttons a lot, it results in a bad drawing experience.
The buttons on the Xencelabs pen tablet have a nice tactile feel, they are neither too hard nor too soft to press.
This may seem like a small thing but it makes a huge difference in real-life usage.
Stylus performance – Pressure, tilt, and quality of strokes
It is relatively easier for brands to make the tablet, but getting the stylus right is one of the trickiest things to master.
Out of all drawing tablet brands, there are only a few that have gotten their styluses right. The Xencelabs styluses are one of them.
Starting with the basics. the stroke consistency.
Being able to draw a straight line is tougher than you think, many other pen tablet brands struggle a lot with this.
The Xencelabs styluses do a really good job of drawing a straight line. The strokes drawn by Xencelabs 3 button pen and the thin pen are straight (no wavy lines/pen jitter), consistent with no line breaks in between.
Next comes pressure sensitivity. The pressure response you get with the Xencelabs stylus is perfectly on point. The Xencelabs 3 Button pen and the Thin pen both respond beautifully to slight variations in pressure.
Further, in the pen settings, you have the ability to change the pressure sensitivity of the pen tip as well as the eraser on both the styluses as per your liking.
Similarly, the tilt detection works as expected, but Xencelabs drivers give you additional customization. You have to ability to change the sensitivity of the pen tilt.
You don’t get this level of customization on any other drawing tablet on the market.
Next, let’s have a look at some advanced stuff (this is where most styluses do not perform well).
Starting with the initial activation force.
Initial activation force
Most styluses when you use them, you need to apply some pressure before they start drawing. This is not ideal and takes away from a natural drawing experience.
The Xencelabs styluses have excellent initial activation force. The styles starts drawing as soon as you touch the tablet surface with lightest of pressure.
Some styluses have a spongy feel when drawing where the nib retracts inwards. This is not ideal and does not result in an unsatisfying bouncy feel.
The stylus performs great in overall speed and reliability as well both in wired and wireless modes.
So far Wacom’s Pro Pen 2 was considered the best stylus in the market and having used the Wacom Pro Pen 2, I can say that Xencelabs Styluse is superior.
Xencelabs comes with hands down some of the nicest pen holders around. It has some neat little touches that makes it stand out and kind of feel over-engineered.
The outer structure is made of high quality plastic and feels nice and solid.
One the inside you have magnets on the lid which gives you a nice tactile feel when opening and closing the lid.
But that is not it, the box comes with a damped (slow closing) hinge which makes the pen holder open and close smooth and slow.
The magnetic opening-closing plus the damped hinge definitely adds to the overall Premium-ness of the device.
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Next comes the content of the box itself. The box holds a thin pen, 3 button pen, a wireless receiver, a USB-A to USB-C adapter, and a nib remover tool – all neatly placed in super dense, soft, padded compartments.
There are also extra pen nibs (6 normal & 4 felt nibs) neatly tucked into the top lid of the pen holder.
These fancy accessories definitely leave a nice impression and makes the overall package look and feel plush.
Normal vs felt nibs
The normal nib has a nice balance between scratchiness and smoothness, it is neither too aggressive nor too soft.
But if you want a little more bite and scratchiness, you can use the felt nib.
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Replacing the pen nibs is super easy and can be done with the help of the included nib remover tool.
Wireless shortcut remote – The Xencelabs Quick Keys
As you can see, to keep things simple and clean – the tablet itself does not come with too many shortcut buttons.
Therefore, the Xencelabs SE pen tablet bundle comes with a very capable wireless shortcut remote called Xencelabs Quick Keys.
The quick key is a very handy tool that gives you quick access to shortcut combinations.
Having a shortcut remote is incredibly useful when drawing and it massively improves your workflow and makes the overall process feel more intuitive (especially with that roller).
The Quick Keys have a rotating dial and 8 programmable shortcut buttons.
The dial is located towards the top, whereas the buttons are placed down below in two groups with a screen in-between.
Rotating dial (Programmable)
The dial at the top is a very useful tool that helps with performing advanced shortcut operations such as zoom, scroll, rotate, and change the size of brush and eraser.
There is a button at the center of the dial which changes the dial from one mode to other. There are a total of 4 modes.
There is an LED ring at the edges of the dial which changes the color to indicate the mode change. The color of the led is customizable, so is its brightness.
On top of being able to change the color and brightness, you also have the ability to change the sensitivity of the dial.
Also, we would like to mention that – the movement of the dial is buttery smooth.
Programmable shortcut buttons
The eight-button are laid out in two groups with an OLED screen in between.
In the Quick keys settings, you have the ability to program each button to any shortcut of your choice.
You can set multiple profiles (called “sets”) where you can have a different set of shortcuts for different stages of your workflow.
For example – you can have one set of shortcuts – for when you are sketching, and a different set of shortcuts when you are coloring.
The software allows you to have a total of 5 sets for each application.
The profile can be switched with the help of the “set button” located at the bottom (right below the screen).
In order to help you identify without looking, the buttons shortcut buttons have different engravings and bumps over them.
Xencelabs Quick Keys also comes with a handy OLED screen. In fact, it is the first shortcut accessory for artists that comes with a screen.
The screen is super useful as it helps you keep track of your buttons by displaying the names of the shortcuts that are assigned to the buttons.
Since the screen is OLED, it also helps with battery life by consuming the least amount of power.
Other features – Xencelabs Quick Keys
Renaming – Yes, you can rename your Quick Keys for personalization.
Orientation – The quick keys can be oriented to any angle (0°, 90°, 180°, 270°) of your choice. By changing the orientation the text on the OLED also rotates to the proper side.
Wired/wireless operation – The Quick keys can be connected wirelessly using the same USB dongle that is used by the Xencelabs pen tablet. Alternatively, you can also connect it using the given wires. During wired connection, the shortcut remote also charges its batteries in the background.
Layout – Xencelabs Quick Keys has a USB-C connector at the top, a power switch at the bottom, a Kensington lock at the left, and a large silicon base at the bottom.
Software support – Works will all drawing/non-drawing related software, and can even work with browsers. Can also be useful for tasks such as animation, 3D design, video editing, streaming, and so on.
The Xencelabs Quick Keys (Amazon) can also be purchased separately. For more options, you can have a look at our article on the best shortcut remote accessory for digital artists (new tab).
Connectivity – wired and wireless
There are two ways of connecting the tablet to the computer.
- Wired connectivity
- Wireless connectivity (using USB receiver)
The tablet comes with two USB-A to USB-C cables. The USB-C end of the wires is L-shaped and connects to the tablet. The USB-A end connects to the computer.
If your computer does not have the older USB-A connector, you can use the included adapter and connect the cable to the USB-C port on your computer.
The second wire connects to the included Xencelabs quick key and the computer.
On both the Xencelabs tablet and Remote the USB-C connector port is located at the top (away from your working area).
And since they are L-shaped connectors, the wires do not stick out – they make your setup look uncluttered.
The wires are of high quality and measure 6.5 feet (200 cm) in length, which is plenty long.
While connected in wired mode, the batteries inside the tablet and the Quick keys also get charged in the background.
Wireless connection via wireless dongle (receiver)
Wireless connection is pretty simple. All you need to do is connect the Wireless dongle (receiver) to your computer and turn on your tablet and Quick keys. And voilà! you are connected.
The power switch on the Xencelabs tablet is located on the top edge, whereas the power switch in Quick Keys is located on the bottom edge.
Once done, the LED light located near the power button will turn solid blue to indicate you are connected to the computer.
You will also be able to see your connected device in the Xencelabs driver menu upon connection.
The Xencelabs tablet has a battery capacity of 3000 mAh and can last up to 16 hours on full charge (2.5 hours charging time).
The Expresskey remote (Quick keys) can last anywhere between 25- to 53 hours depending on the usage – on a full charge (1.5 hours charging time).
Xencelabs tablet/shortcut remote LED indicators explained
Location – power switch, connectivity port, and Kensington lock
The power switch and LED indicator on Xencelabs Quick Keys are located at the bottom.
The Kensington lock and the USB-C connector port are located towards the top.
Pen tablet drivers act as a bridge between your drawing tablet and your computer. They help your computer understand pressure, tilt, buttons, and location data. Plus they give the artists more customization options.
Although most of the drawing tablets (in general) come with pretty good drivers, but the amount of customization Xencelabs driver offers is pretty unmatched.
As you have noticed, throughout the review we have displayed multiple tablet, stylus, and quick keys customization options available with Xencelabs.
Things like being able to customize the sensitivity of eraser, pen tilt, quick keys wheel as well as being able to change the color and brightness of LEDs, plus the ability to change the default idle turn off time for tablet as well as the Quick keys – You don’t get this level of customization with other pen tablets.
Overall Xencelabs gets 10/10 (ten out of ten) for its driver.
The driver is free to download and the setup process is incredibly easy and user-friendly.
Included in the box is a high-quality soft-touch medium size Xencelabs branded 2-finger drawing glove.
The gloves help with smooth hand movements on the drawing surface. It also soaks up sweat well and is skin-friendly and comfortable to wear for a longer duration.
Sidenote – You feel a bit more professional when drawing with the glove on 🙂
The Xencelabs SE medium bundle also includes a high-quality Xencelabs branded tablet sleeve.
It has three storage compartments that fit the Xencelabs Medium pen tablet as well as all its accessories.
The main storage compartment at the back is padded and has a soft furry lining on the inside. Its size is such that it fits the tablet snugly.
Your gloves and cables go into the second compartment.
The third compartment has two pockets that perfectly fit the Xencelans Quick Keys and the Pen holder box.
Finally, the storage sleeve closes with the help of a long velcro strip. It makes everything (tablet and its accessories) incredibly easy to carry and easily fits into the backpack.
Other options (similar options)?
Realistically, there is only one other graphics tablet that comes anywhere near the Xencelabs Pen tablet in both in terms of feature and pricing, and that is Wacom Intuos Pro.
Xencelabs Pen Tablet vs Wacom Intuos Pro
In the review, we have already mentioned on several occasions that Xenelabs pen tablet is either equal to or better than Wacom Intuos Pro in every single feature.
The Wacom Intuos Pro is a better choice only for those artists who want to convert their sketches on paper into digital form with the help of the Wacom Intuos Pro paper edition. For every other use case, the Xencelabs Pen tablet is better.
Frequently asked questions
Here are some of the frequently asked questions that we encountered being asked about Xencelabs Pen Tablet medium bundle.
How well the “Nebula while” color of the Xencelabs Pen Tablet holds up
During our two-month usage, the white color looks as good as new, with no stains and marks anywhere on the surface.
In our opinion, the materials are such that they do not require any special care or maintenance.
Should you buy just the tablet or get the whole bundle?
The tablet alone is good enough, but to get the most out of this device, we would recommend you to get the whole bundle.
The Xencelabs Remote and the tablet sleeve are very handy and practical.
For example, in our review, you may have seen the background changed a lot. That is because I was traveling and I found the tablet sleeve to be very handy.
Small vs medium Xencelabs Pen tablet
As we told you earlier in the review, it all depends on the size of monitor you are using.
If you use a laptop with a screen measuring 15 inches or less, go for the Smaller size Xencelabs tablet (check on Xencelabs store). For 15 inches and above you should get the Medium size Xencelabs Pen Tablet.
Can Xencelabs pen tablet and Quick keys be charged with power brick?
Yes, I tried. They can be charged with a power bank (but not advised officially).
What can be improved in Xencelabs Pen Tablet?
As good as the Xencelabs Pen Tablet is, there are still some things that we believe could be improved.
The buttons on Quick Keys (shortcut remote) – They are a little mushy. We would love to see them being more tactile.
Only one USB-A to USB-C adapter – In a wired connection, you connect one adapter to the tablet but there is no adapter given to connect the Xencelabs Quick Keys.
Although wireless mode works fine, but still logically speaking – there should be two adapters for two wired devices.
Carry handle on Tablet sleeve – The included tablet sleeve should have a carrying handle on the side.
Bluetooth connectivity – So that there is no risk of losing the wireless dongle. The dongle also takes up a port on your computer which is not ideal as you might also have other wireless devices such as a wireless mouse plugged in.
No silicone grips on Pen holder – Unlike the Xencelabs pen tablet and Quick keys, the pen holder has no silicone grip at its bottom which makes it slip around on smooth surfaces.
What we really like about the Xencelabs Pen Tablet?
Premium-ness – The overall build quality of the Pen Tablet and its accessories.
Automatic detection/connection – The driver automatically detects the tablet and quick keys simply by turning them on, without you needing to press any connect button. This is super convenient.
Sleep timer – Tablet and the Xencelabs Quick Keys have sleep timer which turns them off after they are left idle for some time to preserve battery.
Automatic charge – The tablet charges automatically in background, in wired mode.
Drawing surface quality – The surface texture is very well balanced and is of high quality. There were no scratches or spots during our relatively heavy-handed use.
One dongle for both devices – Both Xencelabs Pen Tablet and the quick keys connect through the same wireless dongle.
Battery life – Battery lasts a long time.
Added use for Xencelabs quick keys – The Xencelabs Quick Keys can also be used for non-work-related tasks. I used it when playing different games and it worked great.
Customizability – There is no other tablet on the market that gives you this level of customization and settings.
Different LED colors for different modes on the roller (Quick Keys) – You can simply glance over the wheel to know whether it is in the scroll, zoom, or other modes.
Final thoughts – Should you buy the Xencelabs Pen Tablet (Medium Bundle SE)
So far we have covered every single feature of this tablet. And we realized there was one recurring theme that we observed throughout the review – it was attention to detail.
Xencelabs knew they made a really good drawing tablet that artists will enjoy but they went above and beyond to provide the best possible drawing experience.
This can be seen by the way they have sloped the lower edge of their tablet to provide comfort to the wrist. They have also included cutouts on the sides to comfortably pick up the tablet.
Similar design language can be seen in the Stylus. The way they have nailed the initial activation force, and how they have provided settings eraser pressure sensitivity and pen tilt. No other brand does that.
And their Shortcut remote is hands down the best shortcut remote for artists. It is far superior to Wacom Expresskey Remote or any other shortcut remote out there.
So considering everything, and after having used the Xencelabs Pen Tablet for about two months, we can now confidently say that – If you want the best graphics tablet on the market – Go get the Xencelabs Pen Tablet Bundle!
Although Xencelabs tablet costs a little higher compared to other options in the market. But that higher price reflects in the overall quality and performance of this device.
We are sure you will be really satisfied with this tablet and it will last you a long time.
Buying options (Where to buy?)