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Xencelabs Small Tablet Review A professional graphics tablet low IAF & elegant design

Xencelabs Small Tablet Review In Few Words (Mini Review)w

Xencelabs sent me their small tablet to write content for, and I chose to write this review. Giving the many features of the tablet, there was a lot to write about. I was very impressed with it in general. It’s a tablet that’s aimed at professionals, so there was no surprise here. When it comes to the design, Xencelabs Small Tablet is quite an elegant tablet. It features backlights with customizable colors that can be customized to one of multiple solid colors (It can’t produce rainbow colors). While Xencelabs Small Tablet can be connected to your computer via USB cable. It also supports wireless connectivity using the USB receiver, and it worked okay.

Drawing with Xencelabs Small Tablet was quite satisfying with the low IAF it has. It was quite nice to have 2 different pens to pick from, one thick & one thin. The thick pen having 3 buttons was a nice touch. I am thinking of using the additional button to toggle between the eraser & brush tools.

The optional Quick keys remote offers many ways to define keyboard shortcuts & other functions. It allows you to define up to 40 functions (divided into 5 sets). Not to mention the dial that makes stuff like resizing the brush, zooming easier. you get 3 hot keys on the top of Xencelabs Small Tablet itself in case you chose not to buy the Quick Keys.

All in all, Xencelabs Small Tablet is good choice for anyone working professionally or serious about drawing. The price is not what I call affordable, but it is very decent for what you get.

Promotion:- Get 30% discount on Xencelabs Small Tablet from the offical store (Offer ends 15 September 2022).

You can check the price of Xencelabs Tablet & Quick Key remote in the following affiliate links:-
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Xencelab Tablet Medium:-
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Quick Key Remote:-
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Pros Of Xencelabs Small Tablet

  • Low IAF that makes drawing satisfying
  • Wireless support
  • 2 pens to pick from
  • 3 buttons on the thick pen.
  • Has an elegant & posh design, with customizable backlight.

Cons Of Xencelabs Small Tablet

  • When connected wirelessly, the mouse movement become wobbly sometimes.

Technical Specifications

  • Tablet Name:- Xencelabs Pen Tablet Small
  • Model Number:- BPH0812W-A
  • Available Colors:- Carbon Black
  • Tablet Dimensions (W x H x D):- 9.21 x 7.27 x 0.3 in / 234.18 x 184.66 x 8 mm
  • Active Drawing Area:- 6.93 x 3.89 inch / 176.10 x 99.05 mm
  • Active drawing area’s aspect ratio:- 16:9
  • Hours Per Charge:- 16 hours (2.5 hours charging time)
  • Pressure sensitivity levels:- 8192 levels
  • Tilt sensitivity:- ± 60 degree (For both pens)
  • Works on Windows 7 or later, Max OX X 10.12 or later, as well as Linux.

Unboxing, Installation & Setup

I unboxed Xencelabs Small Tablet & found that it comes with the following :-

    • Xencelabs Pen Tablet Small (BPH0812W-A)
    • 3 Buttons Pen (PH5-A)
    • Thin Pen (PH6-A)
    • Pen Case
    • USB-A To USB-C Dongle (Inside the pen case)
    • USB Cable (Inside the pen case)
    • 6 standard nibs (Inside the pen case)
    • 4 felt nibs (Inside the pen case)
    • Medium glove
    • USB Wireless Receiver
    • Carrying Case
    • Nib removal tool
    • Quick Start Guide / Thank You Card
    • Warranty Booklet

Right after unboxing, I connected Xencelabs Small Tablet to my Windows 10 computer using the USB-C to USB-A cable. In case your computer doesn’t have a USB-A port, the tablet comes with a small USB-C to USB-A dongle in the pen case.

The laptop I used for testing had a Wacom driver installed. To avoid any conflicts with the Xencelabs Small Tablet driver. I uninstalled & restart my computer. That way, we get to setup Xencelabs Small Tablet’s driver on a clean machine. I expect some people to have a graphics tablet driver installed on their machine, so this can serve as a nice test for the installation process.

I went to Xencelabs website & downloaded the driver from there. When I ran it, I was welcomed by this screen:-

Then you pick between manual or guided setup, I picked manual so I could see all the available options.

After that, I got to see all the driver options I needed to configure. All I had to do was unchecking Windows Ink before I could start drawing on Photoshop:-

Note About Windows Ink:- I usually disable Windows Ink because I use Photoshop, since not disabling it tends to cause issues with it, like the pen drawing straight lines instead of the strokes I intended to draw, the brush tool dragging the canvas instead of actually drawing, losing pressure completely or temporarily & so on. If you use another drawing program, like Paint Tool Sai, you may want to keep it checked, or else pressure won’t work for you.

Of course, there are still the hot keys & other stuff to take care of. I will talk about them in their own section. I didn’t face any issue in installing the driver, but in case you did. Xencelabs offers 3 older versions of the drivers to try. Sometimes older versions work better for whatever reason, so it’s quite nice to have the option.

The Design

Before we talk about drawing, let’s take a quick moment to talk about Xencelabs Small Tablet’s design. It’s very compact & posh. It suits the professional customers they are trying to serve. The tablet surface itself feels soft to the touch.

When you turn Xencelabs Small Tablet on, the brackets that indicates the activate area lights up. The bracket light can be changed in the driver program. It can also be adjusted to be dim, medium or bright, or can be turned off completely.

The side edges of the tablet are tapered, making it easier to pick it up:-

On the back of the tablet, you connect the USB cable, and it’s also where you turn it on in case you decided to use it wirelessly.

Drawing Experience

Drawing Surface & Pressure

As I mentioned above, the tablet surface feels so soft, but how was it like to drag the pen on it? When using the pen with the standard nibs, there was a decent amount of friction whenever I drag the pen. You can also try the felt nib if that’s your thing, which causes less friction with the tablet surface, and can be pleasant to draw with. I personally prefer to have low friction on the tablets I use for drawing, but I always state that has more to do with preference.

When it comes to the standard specifications, Xencelabs Small Tablet supports 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity, which is the standard, and it’s more than enough to anything you would want to draw. It also supports ±60 degree of pen sensitivity on both pens.

Excellent IAF

I tested the thing that’s way more important than pressure sensitivity, which is IAF. IAF stands for Initial Activation Force, and it determines how much force you need to apply with your pen before strokes actually start to appear. Pressure sensitivity is not very useful if IAF is higher than certain threshold. From my tests on Xencelabs Small Tablet, it had a very low IAF. Simply dragging the pen across the tablet surface, and without me pushing the pen down at all was enough to produce very thin strokes. Any graphics tablet that passes this test is deemed very good by this standard. Now, Is it important to have IAF that low? Not exactly, as long as IAF is low enough, you can use any tablet you want. Graphics tablets with really low IAF tend to be more enjoyable to draw with. Some artists actually are picky about these things, and would only settle for really low IAF. It’s one of the reasons some of them would prefer Wacom over any brand. Having such a low IAF means that I have not issue recommending this tablet to any artist.

It Comes In Two Sizes

The Xencelabs Small Tablet I tested had 6.93 X 3.89 inch active drawing area. It’s a small tablet, so that was expected. There’s is a medium version of the tablet with 10.33 x 5.8 inch active area in case you want or need more drawing area. I mostly always recommended medium tablets, but started to develop soft sport for the small ones. I usually alternate between the two whenever I get to choose a tablet to review.

Despite Xencelabs Small Tablet’s small size, I had no problem drawing with it on a 23-inch 1080p screen. It’s on my 1440P display where I found it a bit small to give me enough control, if you use a monitor with similar resolution, I would recommend the medium Xencelabs tablet, unless you absolutely prefer small tablets overall.

A Drawing Of Lolita Made By Xencelabs Small Tablet

Wireless Support

Xencelabs Small Tablet supports wireless connectivity. And I actually used it wirelessly about half the time I tested it. To use it wirelessly, you only need to plug the USB dongle that comes in the pen case. Unlike Bluetooth, the dongle takes one USB port from your computer, but it works right away without the need of pairing or any of its issues. In case the wireless didn’t work right off the bat, you may need to connect the tablet via the USB cable & pair it from the driver program:-

I tested wireless on two computers, including my main computer. On my main computer, I found that the mouse movement got a bit unstable sometimes for a short period time, this could be something that has to do with my setting or something, it didn’t affect my ability to use the tablet, but I am mentioning that here just in case. The tablet turns itself off after it sits idle for a while, the amount of idle time can be adjusted from the driver settings, it can be disabled if needed.

The receiver allows you to pair up to 2 devices to it. I paired the Quick Key remote as the second device, and this will be the next part we will be looking at.

The Quick Keys Remote

One of the optional accessories for Xencelabs Small Tablet is the Quick Keys remote. It provides you with numerous hot keys to use to your heart content. The first thing that came to mind when I saw the Quick Keys remote in person was how big it was, as the images on the website gave moi the impression that it was small. I have placed it side by side with Xencelabs Small Tablet to let you have an idea on how big it actually is:-

To connect the Quick Key to your computer, you need to pair it with the wireless Dongle in the driver settings. Which as I already mentioned, it supports pairing up to two devices. You also have the option to connect it to your computer using USB-C cable if you so desire.

The Quick Keys has 8 hot keys. These hot keys can be programmed to do keystrokes, mouse clicks, modifiers & more. The screen on the middle displays a label besides each button indicating its function. You can customize that label in the driver program when you program the button.

You can define 5 sets for the 8 keys, totaling 40 functions. You can toggle between the sets using the rectangular buttons at the bottom. To be able to use any of the additional sets, you have to enable it first using settings by pressing the options button and selecting “Enable Set B” (or any other set of your choice) from the menu:-

Then you can go about defining the hot keys for each set. This has some benefits, as it makes it possible to define a set of shortcuts for each task (like drawing, painting… etc). Usually, it’s hard to have enough hot keys on a graphics tablet to do everything you want to do. Particularly if you compared them to keyboard shortcuts, which gives you access to literally hundreds of shortcuts . The multiple sets in the Quick Keys, along with the ring functionality, is a good attempt at helping you with that by giving you a lot of options, and if used effectively, I think it can help with that to a degree.

On the top of the hot keys, there’s a dial. The dial can be programmed to do common functions like zooming in & out on the canvas, resizing the brush and more. Pressing the button at the center of the ring toggles between these functions. You can customize the backlight around the dial for each of these functionalities. Assigning a color for each one (Or no color at all) can help you distinguish between them.

You can hold the Quick Keys remote in your hand, or simple place it on your desk. I found it a bit wide for my hand, so I may alternate between holding it & placing it besides me. You also have the option to use it in any orientation you want, the driver settings gives you the option to set the orientations of the labels to match that:-

The driver options for the Quick Keys were so detailed that I probably couldn’t cover all of them, but I hope I gave you a good idea of what you could do with them. Bear in mind that the Quick Keys remote is sold separately, and don’t come with the Xencelabs small or medium tablet. You can either buy the Quick Keys remote separately, or buy the tablet bundle that includes the Quick Keys with it, whatever is cheaper for you.

After some time fiddling with the Quick Keys. I found out I could use the remote to write short sentences. ^^

The Hot Keys

In case you don’t have the Quick Keys remote, Xencelabs Small Tablet has 3 hot keys on the top of Xencelabs Small Tablet itself. It’s not the best placement for hot keys in my opinion, because you will have to extend your arm to reach them, which could get in the way while drawing. I think having hot keys on the side is more ideal. As in the Quick Key remote keys, the 3 hot keys are programmed to open the settings dialog, adjust pressure & switch the display the tablet is mapped to. You can program the keys to do other things, like mouse clicks, keyboard keystrokes, modifier, navigation, run an application & more. Even if you already have the quick keys. The keys can be programmed to do some of the non-essential functionalities that you don’t use on a regular basis, or you can completely disable them if that’s not your thing.

The Two Pens:- PH5-A & PH6-A

Xencelabs Small Tablet comes with 2 different pens instead of one, thus the plural in the title. Some tablets come with two identical pens, where you charge one while using the other. In this case, the two pens are actually different. One of the pens is thick with 3 buttons on the side (PH5-A), while the other is thin, but only has two buttons (PH6-A), and is a good option if you prefer a pen that’s similar to regular pencils. Both pens are battery-free, so no need to worry about charging them in the future.

Besides the 3 buttons on the thick pen & the difference in thickness. The two pens are identical. You can program the two/three hot keys on the side in a similar fashion to what you can do with the keys on Xencelabs Small Tablet itself. You can program the buttons on each pen to do totally different things. You can have the button on one pen do undo/redo, while the other pen to switch between 3 different tools. In theory, it’s possible to use both pens together if you can find the right your workflow.

The 3rd button in the thick pen activates pressure hold by default, and pressure won’t work while you’re holding the button. Both pens have an eraser at the back, similar to how traditional pencils work. Just like everything else with Xencelabs Small Tablet is, the eraser button can be customized as well. I found the thin pen to be quite comfortable to hold, though the thick pen is tempting with its 3 buttons. I certainly hope having 3 buttons will become the norm in graphics tablets in the future.

The pens come in an elegant case, along with the wireless USB dongle & USB-C to USB-A adapter. You get 10 spare nibs to use:- 6 standard nibs & 4 felt nibs, as well as the nibs removal tool.

A Final Word On Xencelabs Small Tablet

I have had a good time trying out Xencelabs Small Tablet & drawing with it. I was expecting good things from it given the price tag & how it looked like on paper, and I am glad it delivered on that. I hope you liked my Xencelabs Small Tablet review, and that I covered everything there’s about it. If you have any questions about it, you can ask them in comments. I will try my best to answer them.

You can check the price of Xencelabs Tablet & Quick Key remote in the following affiliate links:-
Xencelab Tablet Small:-
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Buy From Xencelabs Store

Xencelab Tablet Medium:-
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Quick Key Remote:-
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See Also:-

SweetMonia
I am an anime artist, and huge fan of digital art. I love drawing with pencils too. But I rarely do that anymore nowadays. Since some aspects of digital art can be tricky, I try my best to explain the concepts as easily as possible.

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