Review unit provided by Huion
Huion has finally added 1440P resolution to their small and mid-size pen displays with the release of the Kamvas Pro 13 (2.5K) and Kamvas Pro 16 (2.5K). Prices are US $399 and $599 respectively. Their other 1440P models are the Kamvas Pro 24 (2020), Kamvas 24 and Kamvas 24 Plus (2021) (review).
Just to give you the bottom line up front, these new 1440P or 2.5K resolution pen displays have fantastic drawing performance and terrific colour support. If you have the budget, these are definitely products to consider. I don't have any issues to highlight for the hardware but there are some minor driver related issues.
These are the items included in the box:
- Micro fiber cleaning glove
- Artist glove
- Quick start guide
- Pen case
- 5x felt pen nibs
- 5x plastic pen nibs
- 1x nib remover
- Huion PW517 pen
- Huion ST200 stand
- USB-C to USB-C cable (1m)
- USB-C extension cable (1m)
- 3 to 2 cable (1.5m)
- USB-A extension cable (1.5m)
Huion has redesigned the old 3-to-1 cable into a 3-to-2 cable. One end has full-sized HDMI, USB-A for data, and USB-A (red coloured) for power. The other end has two USB-C connectors (one video, one data)
If your computer has a USB-C port which can output video signal, definitely use the USB-C cable connection since it reduces cable clutter.
The connector for the 3-to-2 cable looks tough and the cables are quite thick. It looks like the cable is made to last.
If your computer's USB port can provide enough power to drive the pen display at maximum brightness, there's no need to attach the additional cable for more power. I'm quite surprised my Window laptop LG Gram 2021 and the M1 Macbook Air 2020 are both able to drive the display at maximum brightness. Note that the laptop battery will drain much faster as it's powering an additional display. My laptop's total battery life dropped from 10 to just 2-3 hours with the pen display connected.
The Huion PW517 pen is a good looking pen with solid build quality. It's comfortable to hold with its huge rubber grip.
It supports tilt and 8096 levels of pressure sensitivity. It's not powered by battery so no charging is required. There are two customisable side buttons.
The pen nib has minimal movement.
The replacement nibs come in the form of five felt nibs (review) and five plastic nibs. These nibs (model PN05F) can be purchased separately when they are worn out. The felt nibs are only compatible with the Huion PW517 pen and not with older Huion pens.
The felt nibs provides slightly more texture compared to the plastic nibs. However, you won't really get the paper-like drawing experience since the felt nibs are still quite smooth on the drawing surface. The tactile drawing experience is similar to what you get on pen tablets without displays. The felt nibs provide a dampened tapping sound which is nicer compared to the plastic nib hitting the display. I suspect the felt tips may wear off faster so it may be good to just buy some extras together with the pen display.
The Huion ST200 stand can be deployed in two angles. Technically speaking you can deploy six angles but many angles are too similar.
There are big rubber pieces on the stand to cushion the pen display. Just make sure the edge of the movable metal support plates don't scratch the back of the pen display.
When you first take the pen display out, you'll see stickers with instructions on how you should connect the cables.
The pen display measures 43.6 x 24.7 x 1-to-1.15cm. Weight is 1.28kg.
The matte textured metal back has four rubber feet.
The drawing surface is matte glass and that's how the anti-glare looks with reflections on the display.
There are eight customisable physical shortcut buttons on the left.
The ports are on the same side as the shortcut buttons.
If you're left handed, you can use the driver to change the orientation so that the shortcut buttons are on the right side. The cable will bend slightly but even when the cables point upwards, they bend too. The cables should be durable as they are quite thick.
That's the pen display connected to my LG Gram laptop with a single USB-C cable. I've been using that LG Gram for months and I really enjoy the combination of 16-inch display with 1440P.
This a beautiful looking pen display. Build quality seems solid. The display measures 15.8 inches diagonally and the resolution is 2560 x 1440, aka 1440P, aka 2.5K.
It's important to note that MacOS does not work well with 2560 x 1600 resolution on a 16-inch display. If you scale the UI, UI elements will appear fuzzy. That's because MacOS works better with HiDPI and low DPI displays. E.g. 27-inch 5K, 27-inch 1440P, 13 to 20 inch 1080P. This also means the Huion Kamvas 13 (2.5K) will also not work well with MacOS. Thankfully, Windows does not have any issues with UI scaling as the UI elements will remain sharp regardless of the scaling used.
Colours look great out of the box. I've colour calibrated it and measured colour support for 99% sRGB, 97% AdobeRGB, 91% NTSC and 89% P3. Huion claims 145% sRGB colour support but that's really just for marketing purposes. Anyway my calibrator cannot measure beyond 100% sRGB. Having 97% AdobeRGB is terrific. This pen display has good colour accuracy.
Huion listed the LCD display as an 8-bit panel which supports 16.7m colours. I opened a 16-bit gradient file (download) in Photoshop and could not notice any banding and that's great. My LG Gram display (89% AdobeRGB) showed banding.
Viewing angles are good. There's minimal colour shift or drop in brightness when display is viewed from the side.
I measured a maximum of 158 nibs and that's quite good for a pen display powered by a USB port.
As long as there are no reflections on the display, you'll get fantastic visual quality.
The downside to the matte glass is it introduces colour noise/grain. So this can make the visuals look slightly fuzzy. This is to be expected with matte drawing surfaces. If there's less grain (less matte), you'll get better image quality but a less tactile drawing experience. If you go with more grain for the paper-like drawing experience, image quality is affected.
The display is laminated so there's almost no visible gap between the pen tip and the line beneath.
Cursor tracking is quite accurate. The cursor is almost always directly beneath the pen tip, regardless of the angle of the pen.
I'm right handed and the cursor will stray a few pixels to the left at the left edge of the display. Cursor tracking is almost perfect at the right edge. I've never clicked anything wrong by mistake.
When I switch to holding the pen with my left hand, the cursor will stray a few pixels to the right at the right edge of the display, but cursor track will be perfect at the left edge.
Press and hold the power button for a few seconds to call up the OSD menu.
Settings you can change are view modes (user, movie, game), brightness, contrast, saturation, colour temperature, RGB numbers, sRGB or AdobeRGB colour mode.
The OSD settings can be adjusted with the pen. Very convenient. But you can't use fingers for adjustment as this is not a touchscreen.
Driver for Windows and Mac have almost similar functionality. The drivers I've tested for this review are Windows driver ver 18.104.22.1680 (5 Jan 2022) and Mac driver ver 22.214.171.1242 (5 Jan 2022).
The pen's two side buttons are customisable.
The Windows Ink feature may affect pressure sensitivity. This should be toggled on or off for troubleshooting if pressure is not working as expected.
There are three control points for adjusting the pressure curve. Having three control points allows for finer adjustments compared to using a slider or one control point for adjustment.
The pressure test box doesn't work. It's a glitch.
The eight shortcut buttons can be customised.
You can set your own keyboard shortcuts. There's also Switch Display for moving the cursor from one display to the other when you're using dual display. Precision mode makes the cursor moves much slower so that you can draw with precision.
Default mapping should work just fine. If there's cursor offset, you'll have to use Monitor Calibration to match the cursor to the pen tip. If you're left handed, you can change the orientation 180 degrees.
The optional Huion KD100 Keydial (review) uses the same driver. Just use the drop menu at the bottom to switch between the KeyDial and the pen display.
Here are the glitches I experienced with the driver:
1. Pressure doesn't work with Adobe Illustrator CC 2022 on Mac
This is a common problem even with pen displays from other brands.
2. Pressure doesn't work by default with Adobe Photoshop CC 2022 on Windows
This glitch regarding pressure with Photoshop (Windows) has a workaround. You have to create a file called "PSUserConfig.txt" with the following text:
And save that file to "C:\Users\[USER]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\[Adobe Photoshop Version]\[Adobe Photoshop Version Settings]". And hope it works. It did for me.
Tilt works fine with Photoshop CC 2022. Cursor shape can follow the direction of the pen.
3. Pressure does not work by default with Krita (Windows)
Just go into Settings > Configure Krita > Tablet Input Options, change from Wintab to pointer 8, then restart Krita. Pressure works afterwards.
Drawing performance is fantastic because the pen is sensitive and accurate.
Here's the line quality test with Photoshop.
1. Initial activation force is minimal. Pen is quite sensitive at detecting changes with minimal pressure.
2. There's no jitter/wobble with diagonal lines drawn slowly.
3. Lines can taper smoothly
4. Transition from thin to thick is smooth.
5. It's easy to maintain consistent pressure to draw lines with consistent width.
6. You can draw dots by just tapping the display.
Drawing performance is similar with the various drawing software I've tested except when there are glitches.
Pressure and tilt works with Krita on MacOS but not on Windows for some reason.
Medibang Paint Pro (Mac)
Clip Studio Paint (Mac)
Affinity Photo (Mac)
Medibang Paint Pro (Mac)
Clip Studio Paint (Win)
That's actually the same sketch I draw in my review for the Huawei MatePad 11. But I used the Concepts app instead. That building's the Flinders Street Railway Station in Melbourne.
Main difference between drawing on a pen display vs a portable tablet is, the pens with pen displays are usually more sensitive and there's no finger gesture support.
The Huion Kamvas Pro 16 (2.5K) is a well designed pen display with solid build quality and and fantastic drawing performance.
I really enjoy working on this pen display. Drawing performance is consistent and predictable. Lines always come out the way I expect them to. The PW517 works really well. More specifically the pen can detect pressure changes really well when you're drawing with a light touch.
15.8-inch display paired with 1440P resolution is a good combination. The extra sharpness and detail is a noticeable upgraded compared to 1080P. The price is a noticeable step up from the 1080P models too. The Kamvas Pro 16 (2019) (review) is US $469 while the Kamvas Pro 16 (2.5K) is US $599.
If you don't want to spend so much, consider the Kamvas Pro 13 (2.5K) instead which is US $399. I will recommend this instead of the 15.6-inch 1080P model because I feel like the higher resolution on a smaller display will provided a better experience compared to a larger display at 1080P. 13.3-inch is still a good size to work with.
I don't really have any complaints regarding the hardware. There are some software issues or glitches though which I hope Huion can fix in the future with driver updates.
The new Huion Kamvas Pro pen displays with 2.5K or 1440P resolution are products I can recommend easily unless you're using software affected by the driver glitches.
You get what you pay for and in this case I'm confident you will be very satisfied with your purchase. I know it's January but I'll just go ahead and say that this should be one of the best pen displays for 2022, unless there are more surprises later this year.
Pros and cons at a glance
+ Beautiful design
+ 8 customisable shortcut buttons
+ Solid build quality
+ 1440P resolution noticeably sharper than 1080P
+ 99% sRGB, 97% AdobeRGB colour support
+ Laminated display
+ Matte glass drawing surface
+ Huion PW517 pen is accurate and sensitive
+ Accurate cursor tracking
+ Pen has tilt and 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity
+ 10 replacement pen nibs included, and 5 are felt nibs
+ Stand included
+ USB-C to USB-C connection possible, and cable is included
+ Cables is thick, seems durable
+ Fantastic drawing performance
+ OSD settings can be adjusted with the pen
+ Has drivers for Windows, MacOS and Linux
- Matte drawing surface introduces grain and colour noise
- Left handed users will have the cable pointed downwards and bent
- Driver issues with Photoshop (Windows) and Illustrator (MacOS)*
- MacOS does not work well with 2560 x 1600 resolution on 16-inch displays
*At time of testing.
Where to buy
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And if my review is inaccurate in any way, let me know in the comments section below.