Review: XPPen Deco Pro (gen 2) pen tablet

Review unit provided by XPPen (Facebook | Twitter)

The XPPen Deco Pro (gen 2) is the world's first wireless pen tablet to feature 16,384 (16K) levels of pressure sensitivity.

This is an upgrade to the previous Deco Pro and is now the pen tablet with the best drawing performance from XPPen.

The tablet is available in three sizes:

  • XL - 15 x 9 inches - USD 199.99
  • L - 11 x 7 inches - USD 169.99
  • M - 9 x 6 inches - USD 139.99

There's 10% off during the pre-order period which ends mid-August.

Things included


Items included in the box are:

  • Deco Pro (gen 2) Pen tablet
  • X3 Pro pen
  • Pen case
  • 4 replacement hard nib
  • 4 replacement felt nib
  • USB-A Bluetooth wireless receiver
  • XPPen ACK wireless shortcut remote
  • USB-C to USB-A cable (1.5m)
  • USB-C to USB-C cable (1.5m)
  • Warranty card
  • User guide
  • Artist glove

Specs

  • Color: Black & Grey
  • Resolution: 5080 LPI
  • Report Rate: 200 RPS (max)
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0/Wired
  • Battery Life: ≥10 hrs
  • Battery: 3030mAh/3.7V
  • Stylus: X3 Pro Smart Chip Stylus
  • Pressure Levels: 16K levels
  • Tilt Recognition: 60°
  • Reading Height: 10 mm
  • Port: USB-C
  • Power Output: 5V ⎓ 2A
  • Compatibility: Windows 7 (or later), macOS 10.10 (or later), Android 10.0 (or later), Chrome OS 88 (or later), iOS (works only with certain apps), Linux (connected only via cable or Bluetooth Dongle)

Design


The review unit I received is the XLW and it's huge. The active drawing of 15 x 9 inches is noticeably larger than A4-sized paper.

To get the best drawing experience, you should get the appropriate size to pair with your monitor size.

  • XL 15 x 9 inches - Good for displays 27-inches or larger
  • L 11 x 7 inches - Good for displays 16 to 27 inches
  • M 9 x 6 inches - Good for displays 16 inches and smaller, and laptops


Design for the pen display is clean and simple. Build quality is solid.

The pen tablet does not have any hotkeys but thankfully there's the XPPen ACK05 wireless shortcut remote included.


The XPPen ACK05 wireless remote shortcut has a dial that can be customised with up to four shortcuts, and 10 hotkeys that can be customised with up to 40 shortcuts.


The back is made with metal and there are six rubber feet with good grip on the table.


The wrist rest area in front is curved slightly for comfort. There's some space beneath on both sides for fingers to lift the tablet easily.


At the top right is the power/bluetooth pairing button, and a switch to switch Bluetooth connection between two devices. This pen tablet can connect to two devices with Bluetooth. The tablet can be used with wired mode without any Bluetooth connection.

USB-C charging port is at the top, middle.

The battery life is rated for just 10+ hours. If you draw for many hours a day, you may have to charge it often, e.g. once a week. The light indicator will flash red when battery life reaches 20% so you'll know in advanced to charge the tablet. The tablet can still be used while tablet is charging.

Pen

The X3 Pro pen comes with a pen case with additional hard and felt nibs.


Build quality of the pen is solid and feels premium. The large silicone grip is comfortable to hold. The two side buttons are customisable and there's an eraser at the back. This pen is not powered by battery so no charging is required.


The pen supports tilt and 16K levels of pressure sensitivity. The pen tip has minimal movement when in contact with drawing surface.


The black hard pen tip provides a nice tactile drawing experience.


The felt pen nib has even more texture and to the extent that it feels like the felt nib may wear out faster. I highly recommend buying extra felt nibs and you can get 20 pieces for USD 15.

Driver

Drivers are available for Windows, MacOS and Linux.


You can probably leave the work area and screen mapping as default unless the aspect ratio of your display is very different from the pen tablet.


Pressure curve can be adjusted by moving the three control points. The two side buttons and eraser button can be customised.


These are the possible shortcuts you can set for the pen buttons and hotkeys on the ACK05 remote. Keyboard shortcuts can be used. If you use dual display setup, the Switch Display feature works fine.


Customising the ACK05 wireless shortcut remote is straightforward enough. If you need a full tutorial, see my full review for the ACK05.

Drawing performance


The line tests above (click for a larger view) were created with Medibang Paint Pro.

1. Thin lines can be drawn easily even with a thick brush. Initial activation force is minimal. This pen is very sensitive. There is minimal wobble and jitter with slow diagonal lines.

2. Lines are able to taper smoothly and sharply. The strokes will start thin, thick and taper.

3. The true test of how sensitive a pen is whether it can draw thin lines after drawing thick lines and the X3 Pro pen is able to do that. Line transition from thin to thick to thin is smooth.

4. Lines with consistent width can be drawn easily by maintaining consistent pressure. Test #3 and #4 are diagonal lines too and there's no noticeable wobble and jitter.

5. Dots sometimes do not appear when tapping the pen. CSP, Photoshop and Affinity Photo do not have this problem.

Overall drawing performance of the pen is terrific, consistent and predictable except for the dots with Medibang Paint.


Tilt works fine. Cursor is able to follow the direction of the pen.

Drawing experience


Drawn with Medibang Paint.


Drawn with Clip Studio Paint


Drawn with Affinity Photo.


Drawn with Affinity Photo.

Drawing experience is fantastic. Drawing on the matte textured surface with the felt nib is satisfying.

Changing the line width with pressure is easy, effortless. Lines always come out exactly the way I expect them to.

Am I able to see or feel the difference between 16K vs 8K levels of pressure sensitivity? Not really. Anyway, I cannot think of any conclusive method to use to test the difference between 16K vs 8K pressure levels.

I did not use the eraser on the pen because it's just easier to use the hotkeys or keyboard shortcuts.


The main thing that affects drawing experience is the mis-match of the huge pen tablet with the small laptop display. Drawing a long line on the pen tablet translates to a short line. Also, working on such a huge pen tablet, for me, is quite tiring. I personally prefer working with 10 x 6 inch pen tablets so the M or L-sized Deco Pro (gen 2) will work better for me.

And my table is too small for such a huge tablet also.

Conclusion

I actually prefer the design of the previous Deco Pro which looks more stylish to me. The new one has a clean and simple design that works and it's alright.

Drawing performance is excellent and this is definitely good enough for professional artists. The ACK05 shortcut remote works fine and is useful if you have the use for it.

I have reviewed many pen tablets over the years and this one from XPPen is definitely one of the best in the market currently.

This is a product I can recommend easily if you have the budget.

Pros and cons and a glance
+ Clean and simple design
+ Premium built quality
+ Comfortable wrist rest
+ Matte textured drawing surface
+ Pen is sensitive and accurate
+ Drawing performance is excellent
+ Sample felt nibs included
+ Felt nib provides satisfying drawing experience
+ Nice pen case is included
+ ACk05 wireless shortcut remote included
+ Bluetooth can pair to two devices and switching done via a physical switch
+ Tablet can be used while charging
+ Tablet can be used in wired mode without Bluetooth connection
+ No driver glitches
- Battery life just 10+ hours
- No built-in hotkeys

Availability

The XPPen Deco Pro (gen 2) is available from XPPen online store.

If you get it during the pre-order period before mid-August, there's 10% off.

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