If there is one single factor that indicates quality hardware, especially in the digital design and art world, it’s being able to use something efficiently that otherwise does not conform to one’s personal preference and comfort.
Enter Xencelab’s Small Pen Tablet. As someone who regularly uses a screen-based surface to draw, or at the very least, a medium to large-sized substrate, I was worried about transitioning back to something smaller than 11” in regard to active drawing space. Perhaps due to already having experience using Xencelab branded products in the past, or just from having used many tablets throughout my art journey, I can safely say that Xencelab’s smallest offering is a joy to use.
Before diving into the details of the Xencelab pen tablet, let’s take a moment to discuss what comes in the box. Inside the stylish but not overstated packaging, users will find the tablet itself, a sturdy and durable carrying case, a USB-C charging and connecting cable, a rather nice nib and stylus holder complete with two different pens, with an accompanying ring and USB dongle, and finally, a medium-sized palm-rejection glove.
“I found the drawing and painting experience with Xencelab’s small tablet just as intuitive and responsive to use as my daily drivers…”
Starting with the two styli that ship with the small drawing tablet. Xencelab gives the option to either use their standard three-button pen and a thinner variant, better suited for 3D designers or those looking for a different feel from your typical and often thicker alternative. Regardless, both pens feel great to use thanks to how light they are in hand, while still feeling high quality and familiar, not dissimilar to products found in leading competitor brands such as Wacom.
For those who are curious and perhaps unfamiliar with Xenelabs, the still burgeoning company actually consists of ex-Wacom designers and employees, which no-doubt contributes partially to the quality of their lineup of devices.
The tablet itself features a 6.93 x 3.89” drawing area which visually looks cute and perhaps even a little cramped. However, I found myself quickly well-adjusted using it, producing clean and untapered lines with accurate pressure sensitivity and steadiness. In other words, I found the drawing and painting experience with Xencelab’s small tablet just as intuitive and responsive to use as my daily drivers (Xencelab’s medium drawing tablet and my iPad Pro 2018).
My favourite aesthetic feature of Xencelab’s tablets are the LED lines of demarcation that not only make it easy to keep track of where you should be resting your hand, but just simply being able to change the colour adds a lot of personality to the overall experience.
The tablet features three buttons that can be accessed from the top of the device, which by default allow you to change the pressure, adjust settings, and change your display, all via the free downloadable software that I recommend first-time users download, as it also provides profiles for popular apps such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Finally, the buttons can also be reassigned to other functions if desired, giving those the ultimate flexibility when looking for a setup that works for their needs.