I'm not usually one to write reviews for hardware or software that I use. There are far more qualified souls out there with more hours and probably more expertise than I have.
However on rare occasions I come across something that might save other artists a massive amount of money and time by way of productivity.
In this case I'd like to point out a tablet by Yiynova called (unfortunately) the MVP22U (V3). Not exactly the most slick name on the market for sure, and definitely doesn't roll off the tongue like the word 'Cintiq' does. However it does have a pretty amazing super-power: It can save you frigging hundreds of dollars for roughly the exact same performance specs as a comparable Cintiq.
My old tablet was a Cintiq 12wx which was a lovely bit of kit with very few flaws, save for one: It was like drawing on an index card. And while it did it's job with gusto and was a workhorse for many years, it started showing it's age, and had some problems crop up. When I started taking on projects that required more detail and clarity I found that I couldn't use the Cintiq very well in that role. I'd heard a lot of chatter online about a company called Yiynova that was supposedly making units to rival Wacom's line of hardware, and decided to do some digging. I found out that there was a recent unit added to the line called the MVP22U. A fully HD screen that could go to a native resolution of 1920x1080.
I found a handful of reviews, mostly about their last unit (the msp19u), and after seeing Ray Frenden give his impressions I decided to take the chance on the $1200 CND price tag. Especially given the general equivalent offered by Wacom was in the $2400 range. And since Wacom didn't list it's tablet as having the ability to sprout wheels and drive you around town to buy you the best meals at the best restaurants, I figured saving a grand was a far better gamble.
It arrived in some of the most nondescript packaging one could imagine. It was nearly the tablet version of a brown-paper-wrapper. But given that I wasn't buying this thing in the hopes it had runway lights and dubstep blasting out of every side of the packaging it wasn't much of a concern to me. What was awesome is that it was packed for shipping incredibly well. Several small plastic forests were felled to provide the bubble-wrap encasing this precious cargo unto it's final destination, and for that I can't be more grateful.
The unit itself is pretty damn solid. I had to push slightly around the edges, as I've read another artist having to do, and indeed heard a slight click, meaning it might have been raised just slightly. However the screen was happily seated at that point and I haven't had issue with it in the couple months of use. Most other people's reviews said they had no issue with the screen being elevated or separated. It's actually a good balance of being weighty enough to not go anywhere when it's set down on it's stand (built into the back), and not so heavy that you can use it to rupture oranges with (Wacom tended to be heavy when I used the bigger ones briefly).
At this point, I can list the good and bad that I've encountered with this unit. This is about 2 months into continued use every day:
The screen is damn near glorious. It's brighter and feels more crisp than an LG IPS monitor I used and it's leagues less muddy and dark than the cintiq display. As much as I loved the cintiq, it drove me crazy that I had to use my main IPS monitor to heavily colour and contrast correct because it ran much darker than most screens did due to an anti-glare film under the screen. With the Yiynova I don't have this problem. I'm told it might run slightly cool, and I can see that, but it calibrates easily.
The surface of the screen is also glass. This might be a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you prefer. I personally don't care about the surface I work on as long as it's not scalding me, or akin to sandpaper. I slightly prefer the glass surface simply due to being able glide easier when I make more sweeping gestures.
It's also a very crisp display. I've had no problem with dead pixels (again, this might vary from unit to unit) and didn't seem to have any aliasing issues. There was also only very slight parallax on par with Wacom's units. I'm told it's an improvement over the 19's parallax. Lag is nearly non-existent unless you are using 800px or up brushes.
The cables are sadly hard-wired to the monitor itself, meaning you can't unplug them if you ever had need to, and if they became damaged you would have to send the whole unit off to be repaired.
While the advert states that you get two pens of a different nature, one pen that was the last generation model, and one pen that is the new and improved model, to my surprise I received two pens that were the newest model instead. I don't know if this is intentional, or I was mistakenly given two of the latest model pens, but I certainly won't complain.
The pen doesn't have an 'eraser' nib on the back. In my case I never used the eraser on a cintiq anyway, so it made little difference, but it is a caveat to some artists for sure. It also requires a battery to operate which is provided in the package with the unit. I've heard the battery can last months even with continuous use though.
Note that the pen also doesn't support tilt function that some brushes might use.
All in all I thought it felt pretty good in hand, and wasn't too weighty or too light to use.
Solid construction, made of metal, and is easily adjustable. It doesn't rotate however. The rubber feet on both the tablet and the stand itself ensure that it has very good traction on a desk surface, so you won't have to worry about the screen sliding around if you lean on it (A plus, since I grew tired of chasing my cintiq around with a butterfly net and duct tape to get it to sit still).
My advice is to drink heavily and have a good long cry before dealing with the software. Make whatever sacrifices you need to whatever deity you worship, burn incense, and become a damn monk, because this software is one of the most eggshell laden minefields I've had to ever use. Some people report having no problems, while other's state it doesn't work with certain software, while still others report it only works with software between 1PM and 3PM on the third Tuesday of every fifth month.
Now, I will add a note here that I've heard Yiynova are working hard to get their drivers to work better with each release of them. But there haven't been all that many driver updates as far as I've seen.
First up, you will need to scour your system with bailing wire and razorblades doused in bleach of any and all Wacom drivers. The Yiynova drivers are apparently terrified of Wacom Drivers. I can only figure that Yiynova's drivers owe Wacom some money or something, and Wacom threatened to go full Joe Pesci on them if they ever saw them on the street.
The drivers do install easily at least. They aren't pretty to look at, but they're utilitarian and have most of the functions one would need for calibrating the hardware.
When I installed the drivers, I tested the tablet first with Manga Studio 5EX and had no problems other than getting used to the new pressure sensitivity. You might need to play with this a little to your own preference. There didn't seem to be any problems at all with the program working with those drivers.
When I tried Photoshop, however, the nightmare began. Everything seemed fine at first until suddenly the tablet forgot it was a tablet. The pen suddenly stopped working, then would only draw straight full-pressure lines when the stylus was dragged across the screen. I did everything I could within Photoshop to remedy this, including using a 32bit version to test it. It was hit and miss whether the stylus would work or not. There were other reports of this happening with the 19u as well, and fixes ranged from re-installing everything to BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD.
In my case it took a solid week to figure out that it was the Admin prompt that would pop up on the screen before Photoshop started that was causing the problem. Of all the absurd things to actually interfere with these drivers, it turned out to be Windows UAC settings. After turning off the UAC warnings the stylus hasn't had a problem in Photoshop since. But it's an added annoyance to turn off UAC every time I want to use Photoshop to do some editing.
If you are in the market for a larger tablet but don't have ridiculous spending cash for a Wacom tablet, this is a very solid choice. I've absolutely loved the Yiynova, despite it's drivers driving me to drink. I've used it daily and couldn't be happier that I went this route since it's under half the price (in Canuck-bucks at least) than the equivalent Wacom device. You even get little mittens with it so you don't get the screen smudged on hot summer days, or for you to wear around to the supermarket in attempts to look cool and enigmatic (and mostly get laughed at).
I think Yiynova are onto something here. As long as they continue working on quality control and do something about their drivers, they could save artists fist-fulls of cash in the future.
That's generally it. My short (absurdly long) review of the Yiynova MVP22U(V3).