My original XP-Pen review for the 22E tablet I bought back in 2017 is still one of my more often read articles. Considering the number of people who have told me that they purchased based on that article, I feel obligated to post a 2021 Update that may be of interest to anyone who is currently considering purchasing one of their newer models.
Long Term XP-Pen Review
Now, first off, I should make it clear that this is not an XP-Pen review for any of the models that they are currently producing. I don’t know about you but every so often it’s nice to read something that’s not written when someone is newly in love with a new gadget. While I greatly appreciate the various reviewers on YouTube who discuss the merits of a given tablet. I’ve watched a ton of them. But for the most part they are tested until the review and then they are on to the next device. Is that real world?
I purchased my XP-Pen 22E back in July of 2017. So we’re just now right at 4 years of solid use. If it’s not apparent, I don’t tend to be the type of person who compulsively rushes to buy new equipment. At this point, From a hardware perspective, I have no complaints. Despite a lot of use, my tablet looks and feels new still. I haven’t had issues with the screen quality, needed a new pen, not do I have any trouble with any ports or connections going bad. And, it’s important to say that my tablet sits on an adjustable arm so it gets moved a lot. With a similar amount of use, the surface of my previous Intuos tablet was completely scratched up while my tough XP-Pen screen is still unblemished without even a screen protector. I mean, it could of course go to the great motherboard in the sky tomorrow, but it appears to be in great shape and functions as it did the first day. That said, my time using it is about to come to an end.
So, why am I replacing it now you may be wondering? Well, this month Windows 10 dropped an update that is causing issues with the device. I use my XP-Pen tablet for my digital art in combination with multiple screens. When I’m using the tablet, the pen is moving the cursor on whatever screen is the “main” display for Windows. I tried seeing if I could get past this by switching the main display to the XP Pen screen. That at least brought my cursor back to the correct screen but it still didn’t line up to where the pen was touching. Calibration didn’t work at all. It’s possible disconnecting all of my other screens would help, but that breaks up my workflow too much. The only solution I found is temporarily backing out the latest Windows update.
Before that, I checked for updated drivers, I discovered the last update for my tablet was in 2018. Before contacting support, I checked in on the XP-Pen sub on reddit and discovered others experiencing the same problem had already been told by support that XP-Pen was not going to update the drivers as the tablet was “too old.” I can only hold Windows updates off so long so this is not good. Rather than hoping Windows fixes this, I felt the answer was replacing my tablet sooner than later, I started researching. I looked at newer XP-Pen tablets as well as other Cintiq alternatives. Along the way, what I discovered was that this same update issue was playing out for other users with similar “vintage” display tablets. XP-Pen does not seem to be alone in only wanting to support their current models.
I looked at a lot of options. I looked at the Dell Canvas which I remember sounded promising a few years ago. Dell seems to have discontinued the line and even if I was game to get a used one you’re going to hit the same issue there eventually with a driver that stops playing well with your updated OS. I also checked out the Lenovo Yoga A940 that I had read about. Similarly discontinued with no new model. I was less excited about that one anyway as it’s an all in one computer.
It’s worth saying since this is an XP-Pen Review of sorts that I did really consider several of XP-Pen’s newer models. Based on user reviews, videos I watched, etc. their new products are much nicer versions of what I’ve used without issues for four years. I came really close to pulling the trigger on their 24 inch model. I actually went back and forth on various options as I always do. It takes me awhile to make decisions about big purchases, but I ultimately decided on a Wacom Cintiq 24 Pro this time.
Believe me at a bit more than double the price of the XP-Pen tablets that was not an easy choice for me. I am generally a frugal person. But after several days looking, I actually bought mine on Amazon. I spent some time perusing the Wacom Outlet on e-Bay where they sell used and refurbished tablets. Depending on the tablet you’re after, there were some good deals there and I am usually comfortable buying refurbished when it’s direct from the company that makes a given product. However once I settled on the Pro 24, I saw the refurbished version was only $100 less than new on Amazon. Still if you’re shopping, it’s worth checking both places though (and elsewhere) as you never know where the best deal may be without looking.
So, what about now?
Given this is my “Honeymoon is over” XP-Pen review, you may be wondering if I would still recommend them? There’s not a simple answer to this question. It depends. When I bought my trusty 22E four years ago, I had never used an actual display tablet, Cintiq or otherwise. I was not ready to spend Wacom money on what was an experiment then. So in that situation, yes, I would do it again. Another question I would also suggest that you ask yourself is are you the type of person who likes to change your technology often. If you are, it might be worthwhile to look at the Cintiq alternatives.
My main reason for going with an actual Cintiq is the expectation it will be supported for some time to come (knock wood). I am one of those people that will use a computer or computer accessory until its grave. Partially it’s a frugal thing. It’s also a comfort thing – not wanting to disrupt my world. And it’s an I hate shopping thing. Anecdotally there are people still using Cintiq display tablets that are around a decade old. So for me, the allure to switch to another maker was down to a sense of stability. If you love getting new devices, then you might not want to pay Wacom prices.
Or bluntly, and believe me, I can understand this, maybe for whatever reason, you just can’t justify the money for a Wacom Cintiq right now. I think a lot of us can identify. It was not an easy pill to swallow for me either out of the blue like this, but I was luckily able to swing going for my first choice even though it was a very unexpected cost. It’s like an often used quote I’ve heard that the best camera is the one you have with you. Sometimes the best equipment you can afford is the best choice there is.
With all that in mind, if XP-Pen sounds like a better fit for you, then my own recommendation would be to look to their latest tech. That way you have some hope of getting several years use before you run aground on an issue like I’ve had. Understand, I don’t entirely blame XP-Pen. This is a common enough problem. Windows frequently releases updates that cause issues like this with various peripherals or software. I know this is why some people prefer Mac OS. But the same thing can and does happen there. I will not wade into that subject on what is already a long article, but if you want my opinions bad enough on operating systems, I might consider writing down my two cents on the topic.
That said, if after reading my long term XP-Pen review you still have questions I didn’t answer, etc., please ask in the comments or send a message.
Note: The Amazon and e-Bay links within this article are promotional affiliate links. I get a small percentage of any purchases you might make if you follow those links but it does not impact the price you pay. And it should be clear since I’m talking about the issues I had with my existing tablet that I’m not holding back my actual feelings.