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Review united provided by Xencelabs
Xencelabs (pronounced as “sense”) is a new company under Hanvon Ugee, a company that has been making digital painting and handwriting products since 1998. I found out on Linkedin that some of Xencelabs’ employees have previously worked for Wacom. So that’s why they can actually possible to form a new company, hire employees and start selling premium products in this incredibly competitive drawing tablet market.
At the time of this review, Xencelabs is selling Pen Tablet Medium and the Quick Keys Remote, both products aimed at creative professionals.
The Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium a medium sized drawing tablet priced at US $279.99. Just for comparison, Wacom Intuos Pro Medium is US $379.99, and many drawing tablets from other brands can be found for less than US $150. With higher prices come higher expectations. Hopefully you can find out whether this product is worth your money at the end of my review.
The packaging is nice. Everything in the box is packed really neatly. I’m not showing you the insides so that in case you get the tablet, you’ll have the satisfaction of unboxing and seeing everything for the first time.
The items included in the box are:
- Brand sticker
- Quick-start guide
- An artist glove
- USB-A to USB-C cable
- Pen case
- 2x pens, thin and thick
- 10 replacement nibs
- Nib remover
- USB-A wireless receiver
- USB-A to USB-C adapter
- Carring case
For the price they are charging, it’s good to see a good number of items included.
The pen case has solid build quality and matte texture throughout.
Inside the pen case are all the pen accessories. Two battery-free pens are included, one thin (PH6-A) and the other thick (PH5-A). The pens are also sold separately for US $46.99 and $49.99 respectively.
Both pens support tilt sensitivity and 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity.
Design for the thin pen is just a cylindrical body with two side buttons and an eraser at the back. Diameter is thicker than a typical wooden cylindrical pencil. It has a nice weight to it. Build quality is solid.
Grip section is matte textured and extends beyond the mid-way of the pen. The material used for the grip section does not seem like it will attract dust easily.
The thicker pen is noticeably thicker but still has the same weight as the thin pen. Build quality is also solid.
This thicker pen has 3 side buttons and an eraser.
This pen is also comfortable to hold. This grip section is definitely rubber and I can see it collect more dust easily compared to the other pen.
The inclusion of two different pens is interesting. Both pens are great to hold. I kinda wish the two pens are actually both thin come with removable rubber grip. That way you can have either two thin or thick pens.
The nib does have some movement, but it’s minimal movement that should be easy to get used to. I don’t even think about that when drawing.
Of the ten replacement nibs, 6 are black and 4 are white (felt). The black nibs provide good friction and tactile experience when drawing. The white nib has even more texture. It’s like drawing with a pencil vs chalk.
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That’s the USB-A wireless receiver and adapter in case your computer only has USB-C.
The carrying case or tablet sleeve is surprisingly good. The fabric seems tough and durable. Stitching is good. Design looks good.
There are four pockets in total. The main pocket has this velvet padding on all sides. The two smaller pockets are inside the medium size pocket.
The main pocket measures 24 x 32cm so it’s probably big enough to hold a 13-inch laptop. Shown above is my 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The velcro holds everything in the pocket securely.
Not sure about people actually carrying their drawing tablets around, but the case being able to double up as a laptop case is fantastic.
The clean and simple design of the tablet looks good. The build quality is solid and there’s definitely no plasticky feel at all.
The active area is 10.33 x 5.8 inches. This is considered a medium size tablet and is a good size to pair with most monitor sizes, from small to larger 27 (better) or even 32-inch monitors.
The thin tablet comes with rounded corners and curved palm rest.
Beneath the left and right edges are recessed areas that allow you to pick up the tablet easily.
Six rubber feet prevents the tablet from moving on the table.
The USB-C charging port is located at the top middle with the power toggle button on the right.
Battery life is rated to last for 16 hours. The tablet can still be used when it’s charging via the cable.
There are only three customisable physical shortcut buttons on the tablet. For those who prefer many shortcut buttons, three feels limiting, but still better than none. Anyway, Xencelabs does sell an additional accessory called the Quick Keys Remote (US $89). Unfortunately I don’t have a review unit for that so I can’t test it or tell you if it will work with other brands of pen tablets (it should).
Actually the lack of physical shortcut buttons doesn’t really affect my workflow or productivity since I prefer to use a proper keyboard for all my keyboard shortcuts.
The drivers are for MacOS 10.12 to 11 (Big Sur) or newer, Windows 7 and 10. Hopefully the Linux drivers will be available soon.
You can set specific keyboard shortcuts or choose pre-programmed shortcuts for the physical shortcut buttons. If you use more than one monitor, Switch Display allows you to move the cursor from one display to other.
You may want to set the auto-sleep timer here to have the battery life last longer.
I tested the tablet with various drawing software on Mac and Windows and the drawing performance is excellent.
The pen has minimal initial activation force. As long as the pen tip touches the drawing surface, even without any pressure applied, you can get a line. The pen is very sensitive at low pressure levels.
Lines can transition from thin to thick and back smoothly. Curves turn smoothly. It’s easy to maintain consistent pressure. Drawing performance is consistent and predictable.
I did not experience any glitches with various drawing software I’ve tested, namely Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, Medibang Paint Pro, Clip Studio Paint and Krita. Pressure and tilt sensitivity work as expected.
Tilt sensitivity works great.
The overall drawing experience is excellent. Lines come out exactly the way I expect them to.
Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium is a good looking tablet with solid build quality. Drawing performance is consistent and predictable, in other words, excellent. I did not encounter any glitches with the various drawing software I’ve tested.
My overall experience is very positive. The product works as expected so this review is easy to make.
The only downside is perhaps the limited number of physical shortcut buttons.
This drawing tablet is certainly more expensive than other drawing tablets, but not as expensive as the Wacom Intuos Pro. For the higher price, you do get extra things such as two pens and a pretty good carrying case.
You can decide whether this is worth the money based on the experience I’ve shared.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Pros and cons at a glance
+ Design looks good
+ Solid build quality
+ Excellent drawing performance
+ Good quality pen case included
+ 10 replacement tips included
+ Two pens included
+ Pens are battery-free
+ Pens have at least two side buttons plus eraser button
+ Good quality carrying case included
+ Pen supports tilt and 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity
+ No glitches experienced with various drawing software tested
– Limited number of physical shortcut buttons
– Price is higher than other competing tablet models
Where to buy
These are the various prices for the different products and related accessories:
- Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium – US $279.99
- Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium bundle with Quick – $359.99
- Xencelabs thin pen – $46.99
- Xencelabs thick pen – $49.99
- Xencelabs Quick Keys Remote – $89.99
- 10x standard nibs – $8.99
- 10x felt nibs – $12.99
You can find all these products and more from Xencelabs website.