Not your average drawing tablet.
Drawing tablets are a great accessory for creative professionals. Until recently, there have been only a few options (brand-wise) as add-on accessories for workstations. Thankfully, Xencelabs entered the market (run by a group of former Wacom employees) and has designed some miraculous, innovative creative tablets for professionals to work with. One product is the Pen Tablet Small that I was lucky enough to be able to review.
The Pen Tablet Small is designed to deliver a minimalist design that prioritizes workflow, comfort, and intuitive use in a compact size. The tablet has additional accessories and tools that come in the package making it cost-effective and a natural drawing experience for professionals. The tablet measures 6.93 x 3.89 inches in size and includes adjustable LED lights to define the drawing area. There are two different sized pens included – the 3-button pen and the Thin Pen. Both are completely customizable using the Xencelabs Settings Application. The tablet features a seamless, curved palm rest to maximize comfort as well as adjustable LED lights. The tablet has a 16:9 native drawing area.
- Model Number: BPH0812W-A (Xencelabs Pen Tablet Small)
- Color: Carbon Black
- Product Dimensions (W x H x D): 9.21 x 7.27 x 0.3 in / 234.18 x 184.66 x 8 mm
- Active Area Size: 6.93 x 3.89 in / 176.10 x 99.05 mm
- Active area aspect ratio: 16:9
- Product Weight: 398g
- Hours Per Charge: 16 hours (2.5 hours charging time)
- Cable included: USB type C to USB type A (Adapter provided)
- Kensington Security Slot
- Connectivity: Wireless or USB
- Technology: Battery Free EMR (Electro-Magnetic Resonance)
- System requirements: Windows®7 or later, Mac OS X 10.12 or later, Linux , wireless or cable connection requires USB Type-A port (includes Type-C adapter), internet access to download driver.
- Pen models: PH5-A (3 Button Pen) and PH6-A (Thin Pen)
- Pen side switches / Eraser buttons: 3 Button Pen: 3 buttons + eraser; Thin Pen: 2 buttons + eraser
- Pressure levels: 8192 levels
- Pen tilt range: ± 60 degree (both pens)
- Pen grip material: Soft Touch Rubber
- Pen size: 6.20 inches / 157.56 mm (3 Button Pen); 6.20 inches / 157.54 mm (Thin Pen)
- Pen weight: 3 Button Pen: 17 g / Thin Pen: 12 g (approx)
- Limited warranty: 2 years
WHAT’S IN THE BOX
- Xencelabs Pen Tablet Small (BPH0812W-A)
- 3 Button Pen (PH5-A)
- Thin Pen (PH6-A)
- Pen Case (H05-A)
- Dongle (ACD12-A)
- USB Cable (ACWTU06-201A)
- Nibs (6 Standard) (ACTPH6A-A)
- Nibs (4 Felt) (ACTPH6A-B)
- Glove Medium (ACG-12M)
- Adapter – USB-A to USB-C
- Carrying Case
- Nib Extracting Ring
- Quick Start Guide / Thank You Card
- Warranty Booklet
The Pen Tablet Small comes in a Xencelabs-branded box and a nice image of the product is featured on the front. The back of the box lists the main features of the Pen Tablet in English, French, and Spanish. There is also a diagram of the elements included in the box. The outer part of the box is a sleeve covering that lifts off the inner black box. When you open the lid of the inner box you will find a cardboard printout that says “Thank You” in many different languages. There is a note along with it that is from Xencelabs that explains some of the reasons that the tablet is designed the way it is. The back of the card is a quick start guide that directs you to scan a QR code, connect the tablet to the computer using Bluetooth or USB, Download the Driver from the Xencelabs website, and finally, register the device.
After you pull the quick start card out, you will see the tablet wrapped in plastic and a small black box. The black box contains a Xencelabs sticker and warranty policy. If you ask me, that could have been included in a different location rather than taking up an entire box for those two small items. When you lift the tablet out of the box, you will find a case also wrapped in plastic (this houses the pens and their accessories) and a second black box. This black box holds the USB-C charging cable and drawing glove. Finally, the entire tray lifts out and to reveal the travel case for the tablet, which is large enough to store the tablet and all its accessories when not in use. I really love this soft-sided case because it makes it easy for travel and just simple storage.
As far as setup goes, the process only took a few minutes. I am using a MacBook Pro as my main computer. So, I downloaded the driver software package for macOS. The download took about 3-5 minutes and then the installation took another 2-3 minutes. It’s a standard installation process with a lot of permission granting. The Xencelabs tablet wants to have permission to use screen recording as well as accessibility permissions. You will have to grant both of these in System Preferences and then you can use the tablet normally.
The Xencelabs application is very helpful. It’s more than a standard utility app. You have the option of customizing the tablet’s corner colors and what the control buttons do. Out of the box, they will Launch Settings, Adjust Pressure for the pens, and Switch Displays. You can also choose options like Keystroke, Modifier, Tablet, Navigation, Application, Mouse Clicks, Eraser, or disable the button altogether. The app also lets you customize the pens with similar options. You can select what the top and bottom buttons do as well as the eraser. I feel as though these customization options are really what sets the Xencelabs Pen Tablet Small apart from other stylus tablets. In addition to setting up the default options for the tablet and pens, you can also customize specific application profiles.
As far as function goes, the tablet is very easy to use. I love the smooth texture of the tablet’s surface. I preferred to use the Thin Pen because it reminded me more of a traditional writing utensil. I used it primarily with Lightroom to do photo touchups. In the photo, I painted out some flaws on the walls as well as the power cable that hangs down the wall. I also took out the cutouts on the lighting fixture digitally. The pen made these precise touch-ups much easier than if I had just used my standard wireless mouse. I love the feel of the pen and how easy it is to use on the tablet. All the hardware feels solid and not fragile at all. The performance of the Xencelabs Pen Tablet Small has been incredible and I don’t have any complaints at all.
The Xencelabs Pen Tablet Small is ideal for smaller workspaces. It performs as well as its larger counterparts but in a much more compact package. This would be great for working remotely, too. In my opinion, it is the best smaller-sized pen tablet on the market. Nick the other co-founder of MacSources has been using Xencelabs for a long time now and says “The style of the smaller tablet is a wonderful option for anyone on the go or desk bound.” We love the Xencelabs products and can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
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