Xcencelabs versus Wacom Tablet

In Gear Review by Patrick

One of the tools that is a staple of anyone who does retouching or processing of images is a graphics tablet. The level of precision that you get with a pen and tablet cannot be duplicated with a mouse to the same degree. There are those who prefer a mouse versus a tablet, but in my humble opinion, the tablet is superior. I have been using a Wacom medium tablet for over 7 years now and have the small for travel. Overall they are both serving their purpose but let me address the pros and cons of the Wacom.

Pros for me is that it has pressure sensitivity when using brushes and masking, it comes with a pen hat has 2 customizable buttons and a top that can be programmed as the eraser. It feels good in the hand like a pen should. It comes with interchangeable nibs from hard to soft depending on your needs. It is mappable to your computer screen for full coverage. The tablet has 8 programmable buttons and a wheel that can control brush size, cycle the layers, zoom and rotate the image. It has a driver that allows you to customize how you use the tablet in each program or application.

Cons for me on the Wacom tablet are the bugs in the drivers when each update occurs. At times I have to reboot to get the tablet to work after an update and other times it won’t work at all and I have to roll back to the previous driver until all is fixed. The tablet is wireless but the connectivity can be spotty and the charge goes fast so I have it tethered to a USB port all the time. Sometimes the tablet just stops working and the pens functions are not correct so it basically it becomes a mouse shaped like a pen which is annoying. It also at times will not work once apps like Photoshop is updated and again a reboot is necessary. A big issue for me is that I have to reach across to the tablet to use the buttons and dial. Not the most efficient positioning for a workflow when working longer.

Overall the Wacom is usable and has been a staple of my workflow. Enter a new contender from Xcencelabs.

This tablet has been getting a lot of buzz online and I was intrigued but its functionality.   Similar in style to the Wacom regarding the actual drawing service,  I have been using this for a month or so now.  However, right away you can see some major differences from the Wacom.  The tablet comes with 2 pens and the function keys are separate.  Thinking outside the box makes this a bit of a contender for a better tablet than my current Wacom.

Pros for me with this tablet are that is has a smaller footprint on my desk and that is due to the quick keys are in a separate controller versus part of the tablet.  Took a little bit of getting used to, but I like having the keys separate.   It was easy to set up once the driver was installed and the tablet was instantly recognized.  Configuring the quick keys to work in different applications was straightforward.    Price point less and competitive.  As of this post, Wacom – $379.00 (include wireless dongle and 1 pen and and charging cable) the Xcencelabs -$359.00 (includes tablet, 2 pens, wireless dongle, USB- C adapter, graphic design glove, carrying case. quick key programable pad).  

Overall the build quality of  the Xencelab tablet and associate quick keys pad is excellent.  Same if not better than Wacom.  Pen pressure and flow is smooth and just works.  One thing I did discover was in order to have the right click button work on the pen I needed to disable the Window Ink chekc box for the tablet.  Other than that, this tablet has performed well and has proven equal to if not superior to the Wacom tablet.  I can honestly recommend this to any photographic or design professional ensuring it will enhance the fun of processing images.

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