XP-Pen is a leading manufacturer of creative devices, most notably drawing tablets. The firm has a range of impressive devices, both with and without screens. Recently, I reviewed the XP Pen Artist 22, and found it to be a capable and impressive canvas for hobbyists and professionals alike, without being too expensive. What if you want something a little bit smaller, though?
For artists pressed for desk space, getting a smaller device might be preferable. To that end, XP-Pen also makes a 13.3-inch model, dubbed the Artist 13.3 Pro. We went hands-on to find out if this tablet makes the grade. Spoiler: it does.
Bottom line: The XP-Pen Artist 13.3 Pro is a great and affordable drawing companion ideal for hobbyists and professionals alike. The three-in-one cable sorely needs to be updated to a single USB-C capability, but it's nothing a cheap adapter can't solve.
- Bright and vibrant display
- Excellent pen accuracy
- Convenient size with easy-to-use stand
- Programmable buttons and dial
- Outdated cables requires two USB-A ports, or extra power socket
XP-Pen Artist 13.3 Pro: Price and availability
The XP-Pen Artist 13.3 Pro is available to buy from most major hardware retailers, most notably Amazon. You can also grab the XP-Pen 13.3 Pro from XP-Pen's own website here. Generally, the XP-Pen Artist 13.3 Pro costs $300 to buy new, but you can score a bargain on eBay, as well as during sale holidays like Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day.
XP-Pen Artist 13.3 Pro: What you'll like / What's good
The XP-Pen Artist 13.3 Pro's headline feature is potentially its size. Those working from smaller apartments or university accommodation may not have the desk space to accommodate larger tablets, such as XP-Pen's Innovator 16 or their Artist 22 or 24-inch models. As such, this smaller, more manageable 13.3 Pro model might be just what the doctor ordered.
The 13.3 Pro is a slimmed-down incarnation of their Artist 24 Pro model, complete with a range of programmable buttons and a mechanical dial. It sports a 1080p HD display, complete with an Adobe RGB rating of 91%, and a 14ms response time. Creating strokes and shading felt as snappy and instantaneous as you might expect, and the gorgeous matte display provided some nice paper-like resistance that makes it far preferable to work on than the glass of a Surface device, for example.
The tablet provides 8,192 layers of pressure sensitivity and 60 degrees of tilt, both of which work extremely well. I began painting Moreau from Resident Evil Village, finding it easy to produce finer details, using the tablet's programmable buttons to easily undo mistakes, alter pen sizes, and so on.
The XP-Pen Artist 13.3 Pro comes with capable driver software that lets you fine-tune the six buttons and dial to your liking, adding custom key combinations that let you improve your workflow across virtually any app.
While Sketchable is designed completely for touch, I found it incredibly easy to navigate using the battery-free stylus that comes with the XP-Pen Artist 13.3 Pro. The programmable buttons also are a boon for apps like Adobe Animate, allowing you to quickly and rapidly iterate through keyframes and make new ones without reaching for a mouse.
Like most products, though, not everything is perfect.
XP-Pen Artist 13.3 Pro: What's not good
Perhaps the only real major criticism I can leverage at this tablet is the outdated interface mechanism it uses. Like most older devices, it connects up with a full HDMI cable but also has two USB-A cables, one for power and one for data. Either you can use both cables in your laptop, or connect the power USB-A cable to a provided wall adapter.
Some of XP-Pen's more up-to-date devices use USB-C and combine power, data, and video onto a single port. The Artist 13.3 Pro desperately needs a revision to accommodate this new standard, since the vast majority of laptops don't even have two USB-A ports these days, let alone two situated comfortably next to an HDMI port. Getting this connected up comfortably was a chore, with cables streaming all over the desk. It's ultimately not a big deal, as something veteran artists are familiar with, but it's worth staying aware.
There really aren't any additional criticisms I can leverage at the XP Pen Artist 13.3 Pro. I do wish it had full-touch support with palm muting too, but that would likely inflate the cost. I also find the groove between the display and the bezel to be annoying when it comes to dust accumulation. I don't think it would necessarily damage the device, but it's irritating to clean.
XP-Pen Artist 13.3 Pro: Competition
There are several 13-inch options on the market from various companies, including XP-Pen itself. XP-Pen has a 12-inch option, as well as an 11-inch option. If you want a device that can also function as a PC and sports full ten-point touch support and inking, the Surface Go 2 could be a strong alternative. It's comparably priced to the XP-Pen 13.3 Pro too, although the inking results are not as impressive, it can serve as an all-in-one device for hobbyists using lightweight apps like Sketchable. The pen isn't included, though, which definitely inflates the price comparison.
XP-Pen Artist 13.3 Pro: Should you buy it?
The XP-Pen Artist 13.3 Pro is an impressive device for its $300 price point, with a bright and colorful display, handy programmable buttons, and a slim, lightweight profile. The included art glove and cleaning cloth is a nice gesture, and the range of pen nibs and stylus is something competing devices regularly charge over $100 for.
Whether you're a beginner, a hobbyist, or a professional looking for a drawing tablet with a smaller profile, the XP Pen Artist 13.3 Pro will serve you well.
Jez Corden is the Managing Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!
Good review. When you say Surface Go 2 inking resu