The XP-Pen Deco 01 V2 is a mouthful of a name, but let’s unpack it for you. XP-Pen is a popular manufacturer of drawing gadgets, and the Deco is a midrange line of drawing tablets (which lacks a screen to see, so you rely on your PC monitor). The 01 is a lower-end model in the Deco line-up, and the V2 is the second-gen version of it.
So the Deco 01 V2’s position in XP-Pen’s line-up is as confusing as its name, but to summarise, this is a midrange model that offers you more tools and a bigger display than some of its siblings, but lacks some of the top-end features of the best drawing tablets, particularly a dialler or wheel.
But this XP-Pen device matches its middling feature set with a middling price, as while it’s certainly not one of the cheapest such devices, it’s definitely not one of the most expensive.
We’d still classify this as a tool for amateurs, as professionals will likely find themselves needing some of the features and tools of a pricier device. But for budding artists, graphic designers and note-takers, it’s a useful tool.
We tested the XP-Pen Deco 01 V2 by plugging it into our PC and using it for a variety of apps, some of which are XP-Pen’s recommended ones and some of which are third-party options we downloaded from the web. We tested with a variety of functions including pencil sketching, graphic design, image manipulation and note-taking.
XP-Pen Deco 01 V2: Price
Costing £59.99, the XP-Pen Deco 01 V2 could roughly be considered a midrange device, even after its £10 price hike over the V1 model.
XP-Pen offers more affordable options, particularly from its Deco Mini range (you can guess how they’re different to the non-mini options), and Wacom also has the One by Wacom range which is slightly cheaper.
But with a larger display and range of mappable buttons, we can see the Deco 01 V2 justifying its slightly higher price than those alternatives.
XP-Pen Deco 01 V2: Design and build
The XP-Pen Deco 01 V2 is a rather large tablet, as while the drawing area is only 10 inches diagonally, the slate is quite a bit bigger. You’re going to need lots of clear space on your desk to use it.
It’s quite a thin device, at only 8 inches across, and it’s also very light. We found it easiest to use the Deco when it was on our lap, which shows how comfortable it was,
There’s a single USB-C port, which you’ll use along with an in-box cable to plug into a USB port on your computer – it’s a very simple process, and you can easily plug it in and start drawing straight away (after your first set-up, of course).
There are also eight mappable buttons along the left side of the drawing space, which you can map to keyboard functions (so you don’t need to reach over to your keyboard to use shortcuts) or some other functions. We found these quite handy for quickly changing settings without having to put down the stylus.
Unfortunately, there’s nowhere to clip or store your pen between drawing sessions, so if you have a messy desk you’ll quickly lose track of it. XP-Pen doesn’t often use this design feature, but other brands do, as it’s super useful for making sure the stylus is always on (or in) hand.
XP-Pen Deco 01 V2: Stylus
The XP-Pen Deco 01 V2 uses an EMR stylus, and it’s one of the highlights of the device.
The stylus is very comfortable to hold, thanks to a soft rubbery material used on the stem where your fingers go, and a bulbous design making it easy to grip. The nib retracts slightly under pressure, so pressing harder with the stylus feels natural, and the weight of the stick even feels similar to your average biro or pencil.
The stylus comes with a collection of spare nibs, so you can swap them out regularly if you wish without having to buy new ones. There’s also an in-box glove, that covers your little finger and ring finger, so you won’t accidentally draw on the screen with them.
We did have two minor issues with the stylus. The first is that it can only write at up to 60 degrees – this means that if you try to write at a greater angle than that, your swipes won’t be picked up. This, frankly, became quite annoying when we were trying to tap settings at the top, or simply draw in another area.
The other issue, which is an even smaller one, is that the two buttons on the stylus’ stem don’t always do what they’re supposed to – we had a few issues where pressing the ‘eraser’ option actually just changed to another kind of pen.
But overall, this is one of the better styluses we’ve used with a tech gadget.
XP-Pen Deco 01 V2: Drawing experience
Thanks to the pen, the XP-Pen Deco 01 V2 drawing experience is rather enjoyable. Sketching quickly felt naturalistic, as though we were drawing on paper, with the only noticeable indication that we weren’t being the fact that our sketches were appearing on a computer screen instead of the surface we were doodling on.
As with all drawing tablets, there are a few missing features, like a dial or tilt functionality, and the limited stylus angle was annoying on a few occasions. Plus, lots of the tools of the tablet depend on how much you put into it – it takes a bit of re-training your mind to make using the eight side buttons natural, but once you do it, it’ll save you a lot of time.
Something we really appreciate about the device is how easy it is to use – simply plugging the USB cable into our PC meant that tapping on the Deco let us control the computer. There’s no power button you need to press, you only need to connect one cable, and the stylus doesn’t need to be charged or powered up.
Should you buy the XP-Pen Deco 01 V2?
Drawing tablets aren’t for everyone – this kind of sketching tool doesn’t have its own screen, so you’ll have to rely on your computer or laptop. Learning to draw on one device, but look at another, can take some work, though it eventually feels natural.
If you want a screen, either so you’re directly looking where you’re drawing, or think this functionality will be useful, the XP-Pen Deco 01 V2 certainly isn’t for you.
But the benefits of this tech, like the device’s slender design (as it doesn’t need a screen), the easy set-up, and the much lower price, will definitely appeal to some people who don’t need a display.
If that’s you, the Deco 01 V2 is a good choice, as it has a large screen and a lovely stylus.