Searching for a graphics tablet is always tricky, as there are numerous options for drawing tablets available in the market. Each claiming to be the best.
But none of the tablets can be considered a complete package as they often lack in one area or the other.
These entry-level cheap drawing tablets are the worst culprits. Initially, they may seem like a good deal but they cause a lot of trouble in the long run.
On the flip side, premium tablets like Wacom Intuos Pro are way too expensive for what they have to offer.
Well, the Xp Pen Deco Pro (Amazon) is one of the rare few tables in the market that we can wholeheartedly recommend.
After using the Xp Pen Deco Pro for a few months we are finally here to share our honest views about it.
In this Xp Pen Deco Pro review, we will discuss all the features the tablet has to offer and find out what makes it different from other options in the market.
Quick look – Features and Specifications
Here is a quick look at all the main features of Xp Pen Deco Pro.
It is important to know that Xp Pen Deco Pro is available in two sizes – Small and Medium.
Other than the size of the drawing area and price, there is no difference between them.
Xp Pen Deco Pro – Design and first impression
Just by the first look, you can see – this is not your usual pen-enabled surfaced slapped on top of the plastic frame design.
For its excellent design, Xp Pen Deco Pro has even been awarded the “Red dot award“.
The tablet looks modern and minimalist with matte black and metallic silver color that really complements each other.
Being made from metal, holding the tablet for the first time in hand “it feels reassuringly high quality”.
There has been a lot of thought put into making this tablet. Everything is well laid out, very symmetrical with the use of different materials.
The tablet has a massive drawing area on the left, with buttons and an advanced shortcut option on the right.
On the backside, there are two large rubber strips that grip the surface and keep the tablet securely planted on the surface.
The tablet has a thickness of 16.5 mm near the buttons and control surfaces and a thickness of just 7mm near the drawing area.
Plus the corners are rounded and edges are beveled for a smooth surface finish.
The overall finishing, panel gaps, as well as sturdiness of the Deco Pro, is right on point with no rattling sound coming out of anywhere.
Xp Pen Deco Pro is available in two models small and medium. With the smaller variant, you get 9 x 5 inches of the active working area.
Whereas the medium variant has a really massive 11 x 6 inches of working area. Apart from the size, there is no difference between the small and the medium size tablet.
For making the device feel more like drawing on paper, the tablet comes with a textured surface. The surface texture provides slight resistance which helps with controlling the stylus better.
Looks like Xp Pen have been working on improving the texture of their tablets. The Deco Pro feels a little different than the previous generation of Xp Pen tablets. It has a got a mild texture with a soft feel which is very satisfying to draw on.
The texture on the Deco Pro definitely feels a step above normal pen tablets in the market, but it is a few points below Wacom Intuos (the difference is very subtle).
Deco Pro small or medium – Which tablet to pick
Since we already mentioned, other than the size there is no difference between Deco Pro small and medium.
So, which of the two tablets should you pick over the other.
Well, the right answer is – it all comes down to the size of the monitor you are using.
If you are working on a laptop or using a monitor which is around 19 inches or smaller – then the Deco Pro small is the right choice for you.
Similarly, the medium size Deco Pro is suitable for artists who work on larger monitors with screen sizes of 24 inches or more.
Shortcut buttons can be really handy for making quick changes on the go. It minimizes the use of a keyboard, saves time, and provides and seamless drawing experience.
The Xp Pen Deco Pro definitely over-delivers when it comes to shortcut options.
Overall the placement of buttons is on point – they are easy to reach and easy to distinguish one button from the other.
The button has a rubbery texture and gives a nice click sound on pressing.
All the buttons can be set to custom shortcuts of your choice with the help of the driver.
The driver also allows you to create application-specific shortcuts, where you can have a different set of shortcuts for different drawing apps.
Roller and trackpad
This is one of the highlights of the tablet which separates the Deco Pro from all the other tablets in the market.
Out of all the drawing tables in the market, only a few come with these advanced shortcut options.
Of those tablets that come with these options, they either come with a touchpad or a rotating dial.
With Xp Pen Deco Pro, you essentially get both the touchpad as well as the roller.
The rotating dial is located in between the shortcut buttons with the touchpad (virtual wheel – as Xp Pen calls it) present inside it.
The circular metallic wheel can be rotated left or right to perform various shortcut operations such as changing the size of the brush and eraser or zooming in or out of the canvas.
The wheel has a smooth movement with no clicking steps. You can set the wheel to perform up to 5 different shortcuts.
TouchPad (Virtual Wheel)
The trackpad behaves like a virtual wheel. You can perform shortcuts by touching the wheel in a circular motion in a clockwise and anticlockwise direction. Alternatively, you can do just the left or right swipe. It allows you to scroll and pan the page.
Similar to the mechanical wheel, the trackpad can be set to perform 5 different shortcuts of your choice. In normal non-drawing applications, the trackpad works like a normal touchpad.
Controllable LED lights
Some artist really likes to work in the dark as it helps with concentration. The deco Pro comes with a blue-colored circular indicator light which is located around the touchpad and white lights at the corners of the active drawing area.
In the driver settings, you have the option to dim the LED lights to 50% brightness or to completely shut them off.
Deco Pro Stylus – PA1
The Deco Pro comes with a very capable stylus with 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity. In addition to that, the stylus also supports tilt up to ±60°.
Stylus – Design and Build quality
The Deco Pro stylus has a very distinct design with metal at the back and silicone grips at the front half. The black portion of the stylus has a matte feel which helps with holding the pen better.
The stylus has an ergonomic shape, which comfortably fits in your hand. The front end of the pen is wide which slowly tapers off towards the back.
It is interesting to note that – even though the pen is made of metal, but somehow the metal does not contribute to the overall weight. The pen is still lightweight and nimble.
Shortcut buttons on the pen
There are two shortcut buttons located on the side of the stylus.
To help you easily feel them without looking the buttons have been raised slightly above the surface and have a smooth texture compared to rough texture on the surrounding area.
On pressing, the button gives good feedback to let your know the click has been registered.
Last but not the least, these buttons are customizable and can be set to any shortcut of your choice in the pen settings.
Recharging the pen – Not needed
The Xp Pen PA1 is a passive stylus which means it does not need to be charged. It does not have a battery inside and works on EMR (Electromagnetic Resonance). Click here to know more about how it works.
How does the stylus perform
Drawing tablets have gotten really good in terms of accuracy. Even cheaper graphics tablets have accurate stylus nowadays. So it is no surprise that the Deco Pro performs really well in terms of stylus accuracy.
Coming first to the pressure sensitivity. The Deco Pro stylus comes with 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity.
As you can see in the picture above – in the pressure test – there is a very smooth transition between the thick and thin lines. There are no weird pressure bumps in between.
Similarly, we can see a smooth transition between low and high opacity. So we can see that the stylus performs really well in the pressure test. It is well balanced and accurately calibrated.
Next, we come to the accuracy test. Some stylus produces uneven wavy lines at slow speeds. In the above image, we can see the pen produces a super sharp and straight line at fast as well as slow drawing speeds. Similar results can be seen in the cross-hatching test.
Furthermore, observing the individual strokes – particularly at the end part you can see that the strokes do not end abruptly. They have a nice taper at the back.
The pen also comes with a title sensitivity of ±60° which works as expected.
Pen holders are important as they protect the stylus from being damaged and store them neatly. The Xp Pen Deco Pro comes with robust and strong pen storage. It is cylindrical in shape and made of plastic with soft-touch material on the outside.
The front cap of the pen holder doubles up as a pen stand. It has rubber pads at the bottom to help it stand on smooth surfaces.
Coming to the other side of the pen holder, there is a small removable cap. Opening the cap you will find 8 extra pen nibs, all neatly stored in small compartments. There is also a nib remover tool at the center. As the name suggests, it helps with removing the nibs from the stylus.
Connectivity – How to connect the tablet to the computer
This is probably the most incredible feature of the Deco Pro.
There are three ways in which you can connect the drawing tablet to your computer (or Android device).
- Wired connectivity via USB cable
- Wireless connectivity via wireless USB receiver
- Wireless Bluetooth connectivity
Wired connectivity is very straightforward. Simply connect the L-shaped USB-C connector to the Deco Pro tablet (shown below), next connect the other end to your computer – and you are done.
The advantage of having an L-shaled connector is the cable does not stick out of the tablet and goes flush with the tablet body – keeping your setup relatively clean.
Connecting the tablet using USB receiver is simple as well, just connect the receiver to your computer and you are done. – easy.
Bluetooth connectivity is my personal favorite. As you don’t even need to carry the wireless USB receiver or risk losing it, just open Bluetooth and connect.
Before Deco Pro, only a few models of Wacom tablets had this Bluetooth connectivity feature, it is nice to see that Xp Pen has started including this in their tablets.
Driver and advanced settings
A driver is an application that helps your computer to communicate with the tablet and helps it understand the pressure and tilt data.
The driver is the main control center of the tablet. It allows you to change the default express keys of the tablet to the shortcut of your choice. Similarly, the mechanical wheel and the touchpad can also be customized.
Coming toward the pen controls. You can change the pressure curve along with the two buttons on the stylus.
As mentioned earlier, there are LED lights on the tablet. In the express key settings, you will find the option to dim or completely turn off the lights.
Coming towards the advanced settings – the driver allows you to set application-specific shortcut buttons. This means you can have a different shortcut for different applications. Once you switch from one application to another – the shortcuts automatically change.
Support for Android phones and tablets
The Deco Pro is compatible with all the Android 6.0 or above smartphones and tablets. IOS devices are not yet supported.
The tablet can be connected to Android devices with the help of the included OTG connector and the USB cable/ receiver. Simply plug the USB cable into the tablet and OTG connector to your phone and tablet. Connect both of them together and you are good to go.
The tablet works with all the popular drawing applications for Android – such as Autodesk Sketchbook, Medibang paint, Ibis paint X, Infinite painter, and so on.
Most of the drawing apps support pressure sensitivity but not tilt recognition. The buttons are dials are also not supported by android apps.
Xp Pen has its own application called Deco Draw which supports the shortcut buttons as well as the touchpad.
Accessories – What you get in the box
Xp Pen is known for providing a generous amount of accessories with their tablets. The Xp Pen Deco Pro contains the following items in the box.
- Deco Pro – graphics tablet
- Stylus (PA1) – Battery-free
- Pen holder/stand
- 8 Replacements nibs
- USB to USB-C cable
- Wireless receiver
- OTG adapter for Android devices
- Drawing glove
- Quick Guide
- Free Driver (to be downloaded separately)
As mentioned above – the Deco Pro comes with free drawing gloves. The xp pen branded glove is made of synthetic material that easily soaks up sweat and dries fast.
It has a medium fit and feels soft on the touch.
How it compares to other tablets in the price range
In terms of price, the Wacom Intuos is the closest tablet it compares to. The Deco pro has a larger drawings area, more features, and better build quality than the Wacom Intuos.
The Deco Pro can be seen as an alternative to the Wacom Intuos Pro. XP Pen Deco Pro has similar features, better build quality, and an equally large area all at a fraction of the price.
Final thoughts/ Summary
So far we have compared a number of different aspects of the tablet and you have witnessed that Xp Pen Deco Pro stands tall on all the benchmarks.
Whether you want a large drawing area, great stylus performance, high quality textured surface, wireless connectivity, shortcut buttons, advance shortcut options (roller+touchbar), metallic build or an attractive design that looks good on your desk – the Xp Pen Deco Pro (Amazon) has got it all.
The drawing experinace on this tablet is exceptionally good and the roller-touchpad combo is very practical and takes your overall experience with the tablet to the next level.
Wireless connectivity on this tablet works great with negligible latency – so everything remains as fast and smooth as in wired connection.
The overall appal of the tablet, how premium it feels and how well Xp Pen have designed it – as an artist you will really appreciate that.
Price wise, Deco Pro is one of the more expensive ones in the market.
But the value, features and quality it brings and the way it overdelivers on its promises and does not cheap out on accessories – its price is totally justified.
If you are a professional artist looking for some high quality digital drawing tablet, you should defineatly go for the Xp Pen Deco Pro.