For creators these days, a pen-based interface is pretty important. It has a much more direct interaction method versus traditional mouse or trackpad interactions. The old mouse and trackpad are disconnected from the information that you’re actually interacting with on the screen. Touch displays solve that to some degree, but fingers are big and clunky. A more-precise stylus provides much more accuracy. We’ve covered some Wacom displays here on Pocketnow before, and I’ve personally been a big fan of since starting as a graphic designer in the late 1900’s. Today, we get to review a competitor to Wacom’s high-end pen displays in the form of the XP-Pen Artist 24 Pro. I’ve always sworn by Wacom pen tablets/displays, so it will be very interesting to see how the XP-Pen Artist 24 Pro compares, especially since its price is considerably less than a comparable Wacom pen display.
The Artist 24 Pro’s screen size is about 23.8 inches diagonally which is 20.74 x 11.67″. The display resolution is a nice 2560 x 1440 pixels. In terms of the whole monitor’s size, it’s 24.88 x 14.57 x 1.76 inches. For color gamut options, we’ve got an awesome 90% of Adobe RGB color gamut! You can also use 88% NTSC or 120% sRGB with a color depth of 16.7 million. The contrast ratio is 1000:1 and the response time is 14ms. The viewing angle is about 178 degrees and you can get a brightness level of 250 cd/m2. There’s a 100x100mm VESA mount, too. The stylus doesn’t require a battery and supports 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity as well as 60 degrees of tilt sensitivity.
What’s in the box
The XP-Pen Artist 24 Pro includes a slew of wires and accessories for connecting the display to your computer.
If you have a display port capable USB-C port, you can use the USB-C to USB-C cable in the middle of the above photo to connect the pen display directly to your computer. This works really well and supports the full resolution of the display. If you don’t have a USB-C display port, you’ll have to use the USB-A to USB-C cable on the left to connect to your PC for data transfer AND you’ll have to use the HDMI cable on the right to connect to your GPU. If you have to use the HDMI cable, then you’ll probably only get a 1920 x 1080 pixel display resolution, so it’s better to have a USB-C display port.
You actually get two pens for the Artist 24 Pro! There’s a big cylindrical case to use to keep one safe as well.
The other end of the pen case also unscrews to reveal 8 spare pen tips for when you wear out the one that’s already in the pen.
All of the ports you’ll need are on the back in the above inset area. You’ll need the DC power whether you use the USB-C display port or not. There are two additional USB-A ports here (labeled “Host”) which you can use to connect other peripherals such as a keyboard or whatever.
Hardware and Design
First of all, the 90% Adobe RGB color gamut is beautiful. Getting as close to 100% Adobe RGB as possible is very important for photographers and graphic designers. It’s a wider color gamut than you would get with other monitors or laptops. The Adobe RGB color gamut is an improvement over Apple’s DCI P3 color gamut as well.
The Artist 24 Pro ships with a screen protector over the monitor display area, and that screen protector sheet was very reflective. I was much happier after peeling off the protective plastic which revealed a beautifully anti-glare screen. This is so much better than using iMac’s or Macbook Pro’s which have extremely reflective screens. The Artist 24 Pro diffuses ceiling light reflections really nicely. It’s a joy to work with. Still, I like to keep the ceiling lights off and use a well-placed lamp for room lighting in order to avoid glare completely.
The display looks great, but what about the pen interaction interface? Well, that works great as well. Windows 10 has pretty good inking and pen interaction usability, except for a few bugs that were added in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. The Artist 24 Pro software driver has some good workarounds for Windows 10’s problems, and we’ll talk more about those in the Software section below.
Let’s talk about those express keys and roller dials in the bezels though! There are 10 express keys on each side! That’s 20 programmable hardware buttons. Twenty!! There’s also a dial on both left and right bezels and this too can be programmed to control whatever you want.
The bezel buttons feel great. Not only do they have nice tactile feedback, but they also have some texture differentiators. As seen above, one button has a dot protrusion while another has a dash protrusion. This helps you identify the location of your express key buttons simply by touch. You can keep your eyes on the display and what you’re doing with the pen, while feeling for the programmed controls you’re looking for by using touch alone. This is a huge efficiency booster. Most people use regular keyboard shortcuts for this kind of thing, but being able to program your own hardware buttons to do the things you want is a huge advantage. If you’re left-handed, you can program the buttons on the right side to be your most-used functions, while if you’re right-handed, you can program the buttons on the left side to be your most-used functions.
Wacom’s Cintiq Pro 24 doesn’t have this many programmable bezel buttons at all. It doesn’t have any. Instead, they sell a separate programmable remote that you can hold in your non-dominant hand. Personally, I kind of like the bezel buttons since they’re built-in, don’t require charging, and won’t be as easy to lose as a wireless remote.
20 programmable express keys to memorize is an awful lot though. Some people make stickers to place on the buttons so it’s easier to remember what they do. I might start with programming only 5 of them since that would be easier to memorize and personally, I was really happy with the 6 programmable bezel express keys on my Wacom Mobile Studio Pro 13.
Pen accuracy is quite good as well. It’s very precise and very smooth. The pen has two hardware buttons that you can program as well, but it does not have an eraser on the back end. Also note, that XP-Pen includes a nice drawing glove for resting your hand on the display without getting sweaty hand grease all over. Excellent touch including this!
The included stand attached to the back is very robust. There’s a lever at the top that unlocks the stand’s angle.
It’s easy to pull the lever forward with one hand and lift or lower the display to whatever angle you want. Release the lever to lock the stand in place at the desired angle.
The top right corner is where some normal monitor controls are located. The button on the right is the power button. To the left of that is a display settings menu button that looks like a hamburger. Then there are + and – buttons for navigating the settings menu and changing things like brightness or contrast.
A small clip style pen holder is included, but it’s not so obvious how to use it.
It turns out there are two little rubber circular insets on the left and right sides of the monitor. If you pry the little piece of rubber out, a screw hole appears behind it. You’ll need a flat head screwdriver to screw the pen holder clip into the side.
Even though I tightened the screw, the clip still spins and wobbles, so maybe I didn’t install it properly. I didn’t see any instructions about this aspect of the tablet. Anyway, you might want to buy a different kind of stylus holder. I think I would prefer a desk-top stand that holds the pen upright for me.
There are two driver versions available for download from the XP-Pen website. At first, I tried the “Official” driver and later tried the “New UI” beta driver. The normal official driver software is shown above. It’s not terribly customizable, but certainly good enough.
The dialogue for programming the bezel express keys and dials is not super intuitive. The keys are labeled with numbers and drop-down menus let you add customized functions. At the top, there’s a row where you can add specific programs and when that program is in focus the buttons will use the customized functions for that program. One issue with this driver is that I can’t program the pen to behave differently in different programs. So for example, the “Windows Ink” option is pretty terrible in certain apps like web browsers, the Windows 10 Photos app, the Windows 10 OneNote app, etc. I would want to turn that off in those programs, and it’s not possible with this software. However…
Later on I decided to uninstall the official driver and try the “new UI” beta driver, and it was much better. The user interface design is obviously different, but my previous complaint about not being able to control the pen behavior on a program-by-program basis is fixed.
The interface for customizing the programmable dials and express keys is much improved in the new software as well.
The Express key customization interface now has labels for where the buttons exist on the bezel, but now there’s side-scrolling for matching the key numbers to new functions.
The new software even has the ability to disable certain aspects of the software completely. Thankfully an import/export for saving your configuration settings is here as well.
The interface for programming the Express keys is very extensive too. By default, one of the pen buttons was assigned to the eraser function, but I was able to change it to a “double left click” function pretty easily here.
Pricing & Availability
The XP-Pen Artist 24 Pro is only about $899.99 USD which is less than half the price of a Wacom Cintiq Pro 24. That’s some significant savings. You can order the Artist 24 Pro from the XP-Pen online stores in the United States, United Kingdom, European Union, and Australia.
Pros & Cons
- $900 is half the price of something comparable from Wacom
- 20 programmable Express keys in the bezel
- Included stand has a great range of angles
- Gorgeous 90% Adobe RGB color gamut and anti-glare screen
- USB-C displayport compatible
- Includes all the accessories you could possibly want
- Included stand can be replaced with a Vesa mount stand
- There’s no easy way to show an overlay of what each of the bezel Express keys is programmed to do while you’re working (in case you forget)
- Included pen doesn’t have an eraser on the back (hold a button down to erase instead)
- 90% Adobe RGB isn’t as good as 100% Adobe RGB color gamut
- Some may prefer a desk top pen holder rather than the included bezel mounted holder
That list of “Cons” above are very minor nitpicks compared to the list of “Pros” which are pretty excellent. As a pen display, the XP-Pen Artist 24 Pro feels very similar to the high-end pen displays from Wacom. The Wacom Cintiq Pro 24 is probably a good competitor. Wacom’s Cintiq Pro 24 has a 99% Adobe RGB color gamut though, plus a higher resolution display, more ports, and there’s a version that also supports touch… but it’s more than double the price of the XP-Pen Artist 24 Pro! So yes, the Wacom Cintiq Pro 24 is better, but is it twice the price better? Maybe not.
If we look at how the XP-Pen Artist 24 Pro compares to something that’s closer to its price range, for example, the Wacom Cintiq 22 for $1200, the Artist 24 Pro still looks like a much better deal at $900 with its better resolution, better color gamut, better bezel buttons, and better stand.
If you’ve been craving a new Wacom pen display for graphics and drawing, but are still saving up for a good one, you just might want to consider an XP-Pen Artist 24 Pro instead.