Searching for graphics tablets can be tricky, there is an overwhelming number of options available in the market but none of them can be considered a complete package.
Entry-level cheap graphics tablets may seem like a good deal but they cause a lot of trouble in the long run. Whereas premium tablets such as Wacom Intuos Pro is way too expensive. Well, Xp Pen has released its latest – Deco pro tablet to address these issues.
In this Xp Pen Deco Pro review, we will look at all the features the tablet has to offer and find out what makes it the complete package. You will also see – how it compares to the other tablets in a similar price range.
Quick look – Features and Specifications
Here is a quick look at all the main features of Xp Pen Deco Pro.
|Xp Pen Deco Pro - Features|
|Dimension||399.7 x 227 x 16.5 mm|
|Active Area||11 x 6 Inches
9 x 5 Inches (small)
|Roller Wheel||Mechanical wheel + Trackpad|
|Pen Pressure||8192 Levels|
|Pen Tilt||±60° degrees|
|Report Rate||200 RPS|
|Buttons on Pen||2|
|Support||Windows, Mac and Android 6.0 and above|
The Xp Pen Deco Pro is available in two sizes. Small and Medium. Other than the slightly smaller drawing area of 9 x 5 inches, there is no difference between the two models. You can check more about Deco Pro small on Amazon.
Xp Pen Deco Pro – Design and first impression
The Deco Pro is one of the most unique looking tablets with some of the features which was never seen before in a drawing tablet. It has been awarded the “Red dot award” for its excellent design.
The tablet has a massive drawing area on the right and the shortcut buttons on the left. The tablet looks modern and minimalist with matte black and metallic silver color really complementing each other. Overall it looks unique and beautiful.
The Deco Pro also shines in terms of built quality. The whole tablet is made of metal and feels cold and strong in hand giving a very premium feel. There are two long strips of rubber pads on the base which holds the tablet in place on smooth surfaces.
The tablet is thicker on the left (towards the buttons) and super thin at the right – towards the drawing area with a subtle slope in between. Its thickness measures 16.5mm on the thick side and around 7mm in the thinner side. The corners are rounded off and the edges are beveled.
Xp Pen Deco Pro is available in two models small and medium. With the smaller tablet, you get 9 x 5 inches of the active working area. Whereas the medium tablet 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 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.
Deco Pro small or medium – Which tablet to pick
Bigger is not always better, in this case as we already mentioned apart from size every other feature is the same in both the tablets. Selecting the right tablet depends on the size of your monitor.
If you are working on a laptop or using a monitor which is around 16 inches or smaller – then the Deco Pro small is the right choice for you. Similarly, the medium size Deco Pro is suitable for the artists who work on monitors with 19 inches, 21 inches or more screen size.
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 over-delivers in terms of shortcut options.
Overall the placement of buttons are on point and they are easy to reach, identify and press. They have a rubbery texture and give a nice click sound on pressing.
All the buttons can be set to custom shortcut with the help of the driver. The driver also allows you to create application-specific shortcuts, where you can make custom shortcuts for different applications.
Roller and trackpad
This is one of the highlights of the tablet and also one of the most distinct features which separates the Deco Pro from all the other tablets in the market.
Some tablet comes with a rotating wheel while other tablets come with a touchpad. But, Why not both?
This is essentially what Xp pen have done with their deco Pro tablet. It comes with a rotating mechanical wheel on the outside and a virtual wheel(trackpad) inside the ring.
The circular metallic wheel is a shortcut which you can rotate to perform various shortcut like 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.
The trackpad behaves like a virtual wheel. You can perform shortcut 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.
Holding the pen in hand, you can feel the cold metal at the back but somehow it does not contribute much – to the overall weight. The pen feels well balanced and light.
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.
Shortcut buttons on the pen
There are two shortcut button on the side of the pen. The buttons have a different texture from the rest of the pen. They are raised slightly above the pen surface to easily find them without looking. They give a crisp clicky feel on pressing.
The pen buttons are customizable. In the driver settings, you have the option to change the default shortcut to the shortcut of your choice.
Recharging the pen – Not needed
The Xp Pen PA1 is a passive stylus which means it does not needs to be charged. It does not have a battery inside and works on EMR (Electromagnetic Resonance). Click here to know more.
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 good 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 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
Connecting the drawing tablet to the computer is super easy. The Deco Pro connects to the computer with the help of a USB cable. The same cable can also be used to connect with Android devices.
The L shaped connector has a USB Type-C port which gives you the flexibility to plug the connector from either side. The L shaped connector does not allow the cable to stick out of the tablet. It can be neatly tugged away from the tablet without making the setup look messy.
The tablet works with both the Windows and Mac devices but you need to download and install the driver first.
Driver and advanced settings
A driver is an application which 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. Which 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
Some artists like to keep things simple and handy. If you draw on mobile or tablet or willing to try making art on mobile devices, Deco Pro could be a perfect tablet for you.
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 the Android devices with the help of the included OTG connector and the USB cable. Simply plug the USB cable to 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
- 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 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 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 equally large area all at one-third of the price.
Final thoughts/ Summary
Using the tablet – the first thing you will notice is the superior built quality, which no other tablet can match at this price range. The Deco Pro feels like a serious drawing device made for professional artists, not some cheap toy tablet.
The Roller-Touchpad combo makes a huge difference. It is incredibly well implemented, smooth and handy.
Being able to change the brush size while zooming in and out of the canvas without even pressing a button or touching the mouse is something you appreciate every time you use the rollers.
Overall, If you do not want to spend a lot of money, but still want a complete package – the Xp Pen Deco Pro (Amazon) is the right choice.
It has the premium metallic build quality, a massive drawing area, well-laid-out shortcut buttons along with a mechanical wheel and touchpad, and everything you can expect in a drawing tablet. It may not be the cheapest drawing tablet but it is well worth the price.