The Huion Inspiroy Dial 2 is the latest drawing tablet from this budget-friendly brand that has been catching up to Wacom in the last year. This tablet is a design update to the award-winning Huion Inspiroy Dial. Not only has Huion revamped the design and feel of the Inspiroy Dial but it's also included the new battery-free PenTech 3.0 stylus. Sounds great? Well, it is.
Drawing tablets like the Huion Inspiroy Dial 2 enable you to replicate the actions on a tablet onto a computer screen to create digital art and edit photos. We have a guide to the best Huion tablets for comparison to the new Inspiroy Dial 2, as well as a guide to the best drawing tablets with a stylus.
To review the Inspiroy Dial 2 I spent a couple of weeks using it, doodling art in ArtRage Vitae and Rebelle 5. The tablet's top features include six programmable Quick Keys, two customisable dials, a battery-free stylus with 8,192 levels of pressure and Bluetooth 5.0 support for wireless use – the Inspiroy Dial 2 also works with Mac, Windows, Android and Chromebooks.
Huion Inspiroy Dial 2 review: design
The Inspiroy Dial 2 is a slim and neatly designed tablet that comes in a little longer than the previous Inspiroy Dial – it's actually the exact same width as a MacBook Pro, meaning when you have it set up it sits perfectly aligned.
The drawing space is a well-sized 10.5 x 6.5 inches, which makes it larger than most budget tablets and the same size as a Wacom Intuos M, but roughly $50 / £40 less. The build quality is excellent and solid, with no 'flex' in the middle and feels robust to take some hits. The drawing service has 5,080 lines per inch.
The drawing space is smooth and silky, the 'tooth' comes from Huion's new pen technology that has less nib 'wobble', and felt nibs for added friction to get that pen-on-paper feel. The stylus' sensor has been lowered from 6mm to 3.5mm too, for faster responses. It's battery-free, too. The pen comes with a handy caddy to stand in or lay across when not in use, and inside are replacement nibs.
While the new pen impresses, it's the Inspiroy Dial 2's left-hand dual-dial Quick Key panel that is the real design star here. The silver panel hosts two switch dials that can be customised with up to three functions per dial – this works by pressing in the dial and then clicking it through the options, whether that's simple zooming or switching tools. The buttons and switches feel good and not cheap, and the dials have a nice subtle 'click' as you swirl the dial.
Huion Inspiroy Dial 2 review: app
Huion tablets come with an app downloaded from the Huion website that controls the drivers, pen setup, and tablet adjustment, and you can program the dials and Quick Keys. What I love is you don't actually need this to get the tablet working, you can plug the Inspiroy Dial 2 directly into your laptop, PC, or even phone and start noodling away. It can also be connected via Bluetooth, which is handy because the package lacks a USB-C to USB-C adapter.
So, the app. This is a smart way to get more from the tablet and it's a good upgrade on the last time I tried using the Huion app and driver setup. For a start you can manually scale the 'grid' workspace to your screen, meaning you can get full-screen drawing capacity. You can also set the table to left- or right-handed use or even a vertical use with the buttons now at the top, handy if you want to lean back and lap-doodle.
The app's main use is to assign functions to the dials and Quick Keys, enabling you to set exactly how you want to use the tablet. This is the same as you'll have encountered on other tablets, but the dials enable you to dig a little deeper into what functions you want and how you'll use them – you can now think laterally about the use of a tool not simply what the tool is; reducing and increasing paint opacity, for example, feels more natural on a dial than a button.
There's a caveat to this excellent app, as it currently only works on Mac, PC and Linux, meaning Chromebook and Android users need to rely on in-software options to set up the Inspiroy Dial 2's dials and Quick Keys.
Huion Inspiroy Dial 2 review: performance
The Inspiroy Dial 2 is very easy to set up, simply plug it into your computer or even a phone, and it's good to go; this is particularly good for Chromebooks as there is no need to download a driver. This drawing tablet uses Bluetooth too, so it's easy to use it anywhere and any way you like, and in use battery life came in around 15 hours.
In use, I found the Inspiroy Dial 2 really easy to use and had little jitter or lag. There was some small delay in brush strokes at first on my old Windows device, but it settled within seconds of continued use without a need to drop into the app for a refined setup.
The workspace is just the right size for me, as I just like to doodle amateur digital art, pros may need a little larger tablet. I use ArtRage Vitae and splash around with some digital paint, make a mix of sharp quick strokes and longer, deeper marks, and find the new Huion pen and tablet performs really nicely and accurately. For a 'budget' tablet with a good-sized workspace and a high-spec pen, this is excellent.
The dials and Quick Keys work nicely too. In ChromeOS, it's harder to set them up as you need to rely on support from the app you're using, in Windows I'm able to assign functions in minutes. There's a new kind of tactile approach to using a tablet with a design or digital art app when you can twirl the dial to zoom in and out or cycle brush sizes. The Inspiroy Dial 2 is genuinely easier and speedier to use than some more expensive tablets.
Huion Inspiroy Dial 2 review: should I buy one?
The Inspiroy Dial 2 is priced at $159.99 / £159.99 which prices it around 25 per cent less than Wacom's similarly-sized Intuos M and for the cost, it really is a great tablet. In fact, price aside this is still an excellent drawing tablet that has more features than some more costly tablets.
The dials are a great addition and the design and integration of them impresses. But the real star here is actually Huion's new pen, which feels great, is super accurate and is designed closer to the weighted, bulbed end of the Wacom pen.
A small grumble is the connectivity to Chromebooks. I use a Chromebook, Mac and Windows, and my ChromeOS device has become a great casual computer for doodling as it's so fast and easy to use, but the Huion app is currently not compatible. Also, Huion continues to omit USB-C adapters from its package, likely to pull down costs, but it would be welcome.
This aside, the Inspiroy Dial 2 is an excellent drawing tablet for pros and amateurs alike, and you'll likely find deals around that drop the price even lower. I'd imagine you can get this excellent tablet for around $145 / £130 if you hunt.