Huion GT-220 v2 Graphics Display Tablet: A Review
As a treat to myself for making it into the NEIS program and launching my business, I decided to upgrade from my old Wacom Cintiq 12WX tablet to a newer, larger tablet. There was no chance of me affording the new Wacoms, but through word of mouth I heard about the manufacturer called Huion, based in China. By all accounts they were near on par with Wacom in terms of accuracy, so I decided to give them a try.
Interestingly, the price of the Huion GT-220 v2 varies quite a lot depending on where you find it. The cheapest place I was able to find it was in fact the official “Huion Flagship” store on eBay. The price was $699.95 – significantly less expensive than a comparable Wacom. The version I got was the “updated” version, which purportedly has 8,192 levels of pressure. I have no idea how you could draw with enough precision to tell the difference between 1,024 levels and 8,192 levels to be quite honest, but hey, it sounds impressive.
In addition to the graphics tablet, the price included two pens and a bunch of spare nibs, and a nonsmudge glove.
Comparison to the Cintiq 12WX
It might not be fair to compare a 2009 tablet to a brand new 2017 tablet, but those are my two points of reference, so here we are.
The Cintiq is small. The screen size is 12 inches, and a max resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. This made it somewhat awkward to work with, with the user interface taking up more space than it would if it had been full HD. There was a noticeable jitter on the edges of the screen, and I often had trouble with drivers. That’s not something that is typically associated with a market leader, but in my case I did have some problems over the years. On the other hand, it was a generally reliable thing that was in such good condition after more than 7 years of use that I was able to resell it for $300. The pen for every Wacom tablet does not use a battery, so you never have to worry about it running out of juice. The screen of the Cintiq is a nice matte, so you don’t have to worry about reflections getting in the way of your view. The Cintiq has convenient programmable function buttons, to minimise the use of a keyboard and mouse while drawing.
The GT-220 has a 21 inch screen, which makes a huge difference in how comfortable it is drawing on. It felt like a great step up. And it’s large enough to keep as a second screen in my PC setup. When I used the Cintiq as a second screen, it was so diminutive that it was jarring moving between screens. Although the Huion is still smaller than my primary monitor, it feels more in proportion. The GT-220 is full HD, which is another reason it felt like a step up. The screen real estate is better for drawing than the Cintiq.
The pen has no jitter I have noticed, which is a nice feeling. It may take some pressure adjustments to get it working to your liking, and then a little practice to understand how the pressure works. Like any new art equipment, I suppose.
Now, as for the negatives…. well, none of these are by any means dealbreakers. I still really like the Huion, but here are some things to be aware of.
- Glossy screen
Reflections, reflections. Be conscious of where you use it or you might find yourself looking out the window instead of into the screen.
- Battery-powered pen
The promotional material claims it can have 800 hours of continuous use. Well, obviously I haven’t used it nearly that long, so who knows if that’s true – but the pen is rechargeable, so it’s really not an issue I see giving me any grief.
- No function buttons
I have found a potential workaround for this – an app for Windows called Tablet Pro. It makes an onscreen panel that you can customise with function buttons. I’m currently using the 14 day trial, and if I think it’s worth it, I’ll happily pay the $25. I have a feeling it will indeed be worth it. This way I can sit back and draw without having to bring a keyboard and mouse with me to the couch.
- 3 Cables instead of one
While the Cintiq had a single cable that came out the top, leading to a hub box from which 3 cables came out to connect to the computer and powerpoint, the Huion has all three cables coming from the screen itself. Be aware that you will need some cable management so they don’t go all over the place. I’ve ordered one of those plastic tubing things to put the cables into, and am using some velcro cable ties in the meantime. I’ve also lengthened the cables with extensions so I have fewer limitations when moving around.
I’ve just set up a nice new workstation (that my nephew built for me) with a dual monitor mount. I’ve ordered a quick release for the Huion so that I can easily detach and attach the monitor to the mount without using a screwdriver (if you get one for the Huion OR the Cintiq 12WX, make sure to get one compatible with the 75x75mm VESA mount). This way, it can easily alternate between being a full-fledged monitor and a drawing tablet. I mention this because I never really thought about this before now and I figured it would help some people with their decision making.