Art Resources and Tutorials

Drawing Tablet Review: XP-PEN Deco 03

Drawing Tablet Review: XP-PEN Deco 03 | Art-Res
Table of Contents

My Wacom Bamboo capture’s port broke, and I wanted to invest in another drawing tablet. This is my review of the XP-PEN Deco 03!

A nice image showing off the DECO 03 from XP-PEN's Website
A nice image showing off the DECO 03 from XP-PEN's Website
Wacom is the industry standard, but I think the competition is getting better, which bodes well for us artists! I did a bit of research and decided that this tablet seemed like a great deal, considering its prices and features.

My old Wacom Bamboo Capture was well loved, but did get laggy at the very end. It was also a bit small. This tablet is bigger and better, and I am quite enjoying it so far.

Specs & Overview

Pen: passive (doesn’t require batteries–dope)
Active Area: 10” x 5.62”
Resolution: 5080 LPI
Express Keys: 6 customizable one and this nice circular dial
Report Rate: 266 rps
Pressure Sensitivity: 8192
Interface Support: Type C (nice! Plugs into Type C on tablet, but full-sized USB on the computer side)
Compatibility: Windows 7/8/10 & Mac OS 10.8 and above Both wired + wireless interface.

Full specifications + compatibility information

Overview

+ Clean, thin, and sleek design.
+ Passive pen is accurate, responsive, and a good size and weight.
+ The dial is a great feature

  • The surface seems like it’s a bit easy to scratch, but not really much more than the old Wacom bamboo.
  • Using Mac OS drivers, does not have pressure sensitivity in Autodesk Sketchbook. It does for Krita, PS, and a lot of others.

Overall, great bang for your buck! $99 USD on average. Deals can be found on ebay sometimes.]

Form & Function

A picture of the tablet from the company website
Unboxing!
Unboxing!

The tablet is thin and light, which I really like. The corners are rounded, but the edges where your arm rests probably could be smoother. The whole thing is large enough that it’s not that much of an issue for me, but I could see that as a place to improve.

Configuration

This is from a Mac perspective, so if you have windows, it may be different. From what I’ve read, the installation process seems pretty smooth.

On Mac, installing drivers is really easy. On their site, they list compatible programs, so I recommend looking at the specs + compatibility link that’s listed in the beginning of this review to see if this tablet will work for you. A lot of popular programs are fully and officially supported, like SAI, Photoshop, and Clip Studio Paint.

I use Krita, and the lines are a tiny bit shaky, but not that noticeably so, and Krita comes with stabilizers, so I don’t have a real problem. The software also just reached a major new version, which may also play a factor.

Configuration is easy, through “Pen Tablet Settings.” It’s pretty straight forwards. I did configure my pressure curve to be a bit shifted to the left so that I don’t have to press as hard as default. This way, I can presserve the pen tips.

Pen Tablet Options
Pen Tablet Options

The pen

The pen comes with a handy holder that contains spare nibs, as well as a place for the pen to stand on your desk. There’s felt on the bottom of it, and the whole assembly is a nice touch.

For the drawing instrument itself, it’s quite well made. It isn’t too light, but lighter than my old wacom pen, has a nice grip that is comfy to hold, and has 2 configurable buttons that are easy to press. The nibs are long, so I think they will last a while. If there are any issues, I will let you guys know in a future update.

It’s a responsive pen, and I like drawing with it just as much as I did my Wacom Bamboo.

The tablet

I am a huge fan of the dial (and the express keys). That’s a unique feature to this tablet, and is a great tool. I have it currently set to brush size, but you have options! It’s easy and smooth to turn, and you have clickiness that allows you to feel and control it without looking. You can also press down on the button on the middle of the dial, as yet another express key.

One thing I would suggest is to make sure nothing is too close to the dial. If you bump into it, it can cause an unwanted change because it’s pretty sensitive which is annoying.

The surface of the tablet itself is nice because the drawing texture is nice. It’s not too glidy or glassy, but also not so rough that it’s annoying to use. It scratches a little when you draw on it, but that’s what happened to the old bamboo as well. The DECO 03 may be a tad softer, but I will need more time to fully evaluate the long time durability of this tablet.

I am guessing this tablet will last a long time, though. The choice of USB Type C rocks, because you’re less likely to jam it in the wrong way and break it, compared to the fragile micro USB. I also like that you can use it wireless, though it’s a touch more laggy and less smooth when using it that way.

Drawing Experience and Samples

Overall, this thing is great to work with!

I love the texture, since it balances perfectly between roughness and smoothness. The pressure sensitivity is awesome for this price point, as it’s on par with Wacom’s Intuos Pro line of tablets.

A quick sketch using the tablet
A quick sketch using the tablet
These types of tablets are also really helpful in graphic design work. I also hope to start dabbling in vector illustration.

A design contest entry I created
A design contest entry I created
I’ve also enjoyed using it to annotate PDFs because I don’t feel like purchasing an iPad Pro. It’s definitely dope!

Final Words

I hope this review helps! I recommend purchasing this product. It’s been a great replacement, and I really think it’s a quality product. XP-PEN seems to show passion for their products, and their customer service is pretty responsive as well!

Thanks for reading! If this post helped, please consider sharing it with your friends! ❤️



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