My long-cherished dream of owning a tablet monitor finally came true last month... But it came at a sanity cost, for I have transferred my allegiance to the new overlord.
Bye bye Wacom (for a time, anyway).
If you were ever put off by Cintiq's price tag and were looking up affordable alternatives, chances are you were still skeptical. Maybe you were eyeballing Yiynova for a while, but eventually decided against it because Wacom felt like a safer bet. Well boy, let me tell you one thing - "cheaper" doesn't mean "cheap." There are plenty of good reasons why Wacom continues to dominate the industry, and as a die-hard Wacom fan still, I won't argue against this. There are some great things about their products, but affordability is not one of them, especially if you're not based in the US. Yiynova, however, has been nipping at Wacom's heels for a while now, all while remaining a very cost-effective alternative. I caved in and got one. So here are my impressions after about two months of heavy daily use, both for fun and work.
There are going to be a lot of “Me’s”, “I’s” and “Personally’s” in this review instead of just a barebones list of pros and cons. If you want a more “tl;dr” version, instead, you can check out these fantastic reviews that helped me cement my decision to purchase a Yiynova MVP22U(V3)+RH over a Cintiq:
(I’m not including Frenden’s reviews since he never reviewed V3, but you can still give them a read if you’d like: frenden.com/tagged/review)
Picking a Yiynova over a hideously overpriced Cintiq was a no brainer. No, really, that six figures price tag still gives me nightmares. Cintiqs are more expensive where I live due to high import duties and whatnot (a 22HD touch would cost me around 3500USD... Ummmm, NO THANKS?). The choice was obvious. Conveniently, Yiynova have official distributors all over the world, including my country, making it actually possible to get free replacements/repairs under the warranty, hassle-free, and enjoy good customer support. Thanks, Yiynova.
I can’t speak for Panda City (aka the official US distributors) however, but I’ve only heard good things about them and their customer support. If they’re anything like ours, then I think you’ll be in good hands.
The thing itself is a dream, and it’s… Well, almost all I wanted and expected. The lower price is reflected in the overall build quality/look, but not the performance. Taking into the consideration all the improvements Yiynova have been making towards their products, in the very end they just might give Wacom a run for the money in terms of overall quality and functionality. It may not look that great, but it still gets the job done, and I think that’s really all most of us can ask for. All in all I’d say that Yiynova MVP22U is a very solid choice for those on a tighter budget.
This thing is gigantic! The screen’s viewing angles are solid and the colors are pretty good out of the box, but in my case both my main IPS monitor and Yiynova required some further tweaking to match. As it turned out, my main monitor’s disgustingly oversaturated and slaps a blue cast on everything, most noticeably greys, whereas Yiynova’s colors are a tad warmer, if not a bit dull (but this may be my flawed perception since I’m so used to high contrast). Seeing as no two monitors will interpret the colors the same, I didn’t think of these differences as TOO much of an issue in the end. You can calibrate the display manually by using the adjustment buttons at the back, but you’ll probably achieve greater results with a colorimeter, which I sadly don’t own.
As for the monitor’s physical design, the T-shaped stand is very sturdy and has rubber feet on both ends to prevent it from sliding or slipping. The stand allows you to angle to monitor to pretty much any position, be that diagonally, or almost flat. I also got a couple of desk edge stoppers, but I haven’t used them much, mostly because I’m paranoid that the whole thing might come crashing down on the floor. The monitor doesn’t generate a lot of heat even if I keep it on all day. I actually use it as a (somewhat crappy) hand warmer as the heat’s more than welcome in winter. Amazing.
The tracking is simply great, even on the very edges. Drawing feels natural. There is a nasty bit of jitter if you draw VEEEEEERY slowly, though. The pressure sensitivity is a lot stiffer than Wacom’s (which is physically hypersensitive like a virgin on prom night in comparison), so you have to press down harder to achieve full pressure. Yiynova works fine with LazyNezumi, which will most likely effectively solve any issues you might have with jitter and whatnot.
I freaking love this thing. I still have to reach for my keyboard every now and then, but the remote has enough hotkeys for most basic stuff. My personal biggest issue with Wacom Intuos4 was that I literally couldn’t find any of the buttons (or even the touch ring) with my fingers without having to actually look for them with my two eyeballs, which was annoying and distracting. Because of that, I never bothered to use them and considered them a huge waste of space. Yiynova’s hotkey remote, on the other hand, is amazing in a way that you can stick it pretty much anywhere you want, the buttons are obvious, and they’re VERY CLICKY. The ring switch also makes an incredibly satisfying and soft clicky sound and I find it a joy to use, mainly for adjusting the brush size. A lot of people will probably find the overall cheap-looking, plastic clicky-ness aspect annoying though. You can always substitute the remote with the regular keyboard or a gaming keypad if you so desire, so no big loss there.
The stand is pretty cool. Its main function is to be used as a pen holder for both of the pens, but it can also double as an improvised phone stand in a pinch. Plus, it has a little nib compartment for storing spare nibs, and a nib remover storage.
The DVI-I cable is hardwired into the monitor. This sucks for obvious reasons – there’s no “unplugging and replacing” it in case your cord somehow gets damaged.
The pen completely lacks any sort of tilt recognition. This was not a deal breaker for me, but might be for some people.
Never once in my decade of using Wacom pens did I ever feel the need to use the eraser on the other side of the stylus so it wasn’t a loss for me, as I find it faster and easier to use the hotkey remote/keyboard instead. Still, it gets a minus from me, just because.
The tablet configuration software is utterly lackluster and the interface, quite frankly, looks like total ass. There are plenty of configuration options for the remote, but for your tablet and pen you're given a bare minimum. There's no way to save your settings. If you want a Wacom-esque pressure curve tool to fine tune your pen pressure sensitivity, you’ll have to use LazyNezumi or built-in equivalents in software like Krita. This is something I really dislike about Yiynova, but what can you do.
The glass-fronted surface is highly reflective of its surroundings. This means that glare is unavoidable unless you buy an anti-glare screen protector. Cintiq’s matte finish will probably feel nicer to work on since it’s specifically designed to imitate paper, but the glass doesn’t bother me all that much (minus having to stare at my disheveled reflection every now and then). If anything, it makes my hand slide across the surface with greater ease, and the gloves that come with the tablet really aid in this, while also preventing smudging and the general gross “sticky” feeling I suffered so much from back when I was using Intuos4. And no, the pen won’t scratch the glass, not unless you slam it down on the screen and start scribbling on it like a madman, or if you simply neglect to replace your worn down nibs – this is very important regardless of which tablet you use, since all nibs may develop a sharp edge over time.
Whether this is good or bad is highly subjective. The parallax effect is something that is present in all tablet monitors to date (including Cintiq), but in case with Yiynova the gap between the stylus tip and the cursor is larger due to the glass thickness. In fact, it is large enough to be very noticeable at first, and is something you must take some time getting used to. In my case, being a ridiculously meticulous and “on point” person I am, I had to train my eye to look at the cursor, and not the pen tip. Regardless, the lines typically go exactly where I want them to go, so this is mostly just my own pet peeve.
Yiynova MVP22U’s design is highly reminiscent of what Macs looked like in the early 2000s: a purely white, plasticky, rickety apparatus that creaks at all the joins and yet somehow manages to perform above all expectations. I was not a fan of the huge white bezel surrounding the screen at first, mainly because I’m so used to all sorts of tablets being primarily all shades of grey and black. But, it looks much, much less ugly in person, that much I can tell. Ooh, shiny...
Funny thing, I didn’t experience whatever “driver hell” some Yiynova users are reporting, minus random pen detection and pressure sensitivity bugs which are usually easily fixed by plugging and unplugging the USB cable. Wacom drivers, on the other hand, have been a huge thorn in my backside for as long as I’ve had to deal with them. The last time I updated them to the latest version, I was greeted with a BSOD on reboot. And no, I had no leftover driver remnants from my old Wacom tablet floating in my system. Wacom drivers are just finicky as all get-out for whatever reason.
Yiynova and Wacom drivers are incompatible with each other, so I purged the latter, installed the former, and… And that was it. No pressure sensitivity issues, no nasty surprises, smooth-sailing all the way. That’s the good part. But maybe I was just lucky.
Now the bad part. My main gripe with the Yiynova drivers is that currently, you cannot expect the tablet to be compatible with ALL the software (not just drawing software). It’s understandable that Wacom, being the industry standard and the market leader, gets the priority in that regard.
For example, the newest version of Krita (3.0 and up) experiences some odd pressure related bugs on non-Wacom tablet monitors like Ugee and Yiynova. Rolling back to the older drivers or using Krita 2.9 fixes the problem. There’s not a lot of drawing software that plain DOESN’T work however – as another example, FireAlpaca doesn’t recognize my pen AT ALL, but it works fine for other people, so this is obviously something on my end. It’s not a deal breaker, really, not unless you’re very heavily dependent on a single piece of open-source software that nobody's ever heard of. I’ve tested what I could on my end, and 90% of drawing and 3D software I used works without a hitch, and other programs required some voodoo magic and virgin sacrifices to make them work. There are master lists of compatible software and various workarounds floating around on the internet somewhere, in case you need more info on something specific. Also, some drawing software absolutely refuses to work properly in extended desktop mode, for whatever cosmic reasons my puny human mind cannot fathom. I've no idea if it's an issue exclusive to Yiynova tablets or not, though.
Anyway, this concludes my first month’s impression on Yiynova MVP22U(V3)+RH. There’s a ton of stuff I never mentioned simply because I don’t know much about it. I’m dumb. Check the reviews I linked in the beginning for more info on the technical side of things!
Still, if you have any specific questions about the tablet, feel free to ask them.