With the reveal of the new Xencelabs Pen Display 24 Studio Series artists, designers and creatives finally have a real alternative to Wacom. This new drawing display features some unique real-world design decisions that will give digital artists a real choice when it comes to a new large-screen pen display.
Xencelabs drawing tablets are now some of the best around, you can read my thoughts in my recent Pen Tablet Small review and our guide to the best drawing tablets. Overall, I think the Xencelabs Pen Tablet Medium bundle is the best value drawing tablet you can get right now.
The new Pen Display 24 Studio Series has just been announced at this year's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco and there are some eye-catching features and specs that put this in contention to be a real rival to Wacom. (Watch the Xencelabs Pen Display 24 unboxing below.)
Xencelabs Pen Display 24 unboxing
The top-line features include a stunning anti-glare and fingerprint resistance edge-to-edge drawing surface. This has been designed with a larger bezel too, and for good reason. In my demo Xencelabs showed how having this wider frame enables artists to continue their pen strokes off the edge of the screen for a more natural way to draw. It serves as a rest too, for your hand as you access an app's menus. It's solving a frustration I've had with other edge-to-edge displays (and I'd include iPad Pro in here too).
The larger bezel also has a secondary use, and it's here where Xencelabs' design choices impress me. As with the Pen Tablet Medium bundle the new Pen Display 24 Studio Series will come with the excellent Xencelabs Quick Keys accessories; this enables you to program 40 shortcuts per app to speed up your workflow. The device can be clipped to the edge of the Pen Display 24 anywhere and you can set up its orientation to suit you – right- or left-handed, vertical or horizontal.
There are, of course, some eye-catching stats, such as the 4K ultra-high-definition resolution (up to 3840 x 2160) display can play host to 1.07 billion colours for accurate colour reproduction. This ensures you can enlarge your images and not lose clarity or accuracy. This display is Pantone certified too, ensuring it's guaranteed to display true Pantone colours.
Technically the Pen Display 24 Studio Series has everything you'd expect from a professional grade drawing display, but it's small details that come to light in use that impress me.
I love the anti-glare display – made from tempered glass with Xencelabs’ Super-AG Etching tech – which really does dampen any glare or shine from lights you may have in the room. In my demo a spotlight was shone directly onto the display and moved across, and there was no glare. It really is an impressive drawing experience.
The display is completely fanless too for a truly silent working experience, and Xencelabs has its own 'Virtual Tablet Mode' that enables you to hook-up multiple displays to the Pen Display 24 Studio Series and move images and files between them by simply dragging and dropping between the displays (a map of you screens is shown in the corner of the display). What I really loved is how each display is automatically mapped and resized when connected.
The Xencelabs Pen Display 24 details impress
It's the small details that matter with this new large-screen drawing display, and this includes giving you everything you need to get started out-of-the-box. As with other Xencelabs drawing tablets this includes the offering two pens, one is a slim stylus similar to Apple Pencil 2 and the other is fatter, tapered pen with extra buttons and feels like Wacom's Pro Pen 2 in use. (These pens have a sensitivity and pressure activation as low as 3g.)
The drawing tablet also comes with its Tilt Stand to easily adjust the display to how you need it – the Xencelabs Pen Display 24 weighs 5.8 kg / 12.8 lbs. There is a third-party stand in development due this summer that enables you to re-orientate the display vertically and have it drop over the edge of your desk. In fact Xencelabs is offering the CAD files for free use so expect more third-party peripherals and accessories to be released, including some Quick Key holders, pen clips and display covers designed by artists for artists.
I'm impressed by the new Xencelabs Pen Display 24 Studio Series but I'll hold final judgement until my full review. But this drawing tablet maker has a superb track record and is slowly building a range of displays and tablets that rival Wacom.
The catch? Quality comes at a price. The Xencelabs Pen Display 24 Studio Series will sell for $1,899 / £1,850 and is set to release in the second quarter of this year. You can pre-order at the Xencelabs online store now.