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Wacom vs XP Pen (2020): The Better Brand For Your First Tablet

A good graphics tablet is a must-have for anyone who’s looking to get deeper into making digital art. It makes drawing easier, and is compatible with a lot of devices and software that are industry standards. Graphics tablets are a mainstay for professionals, but more budget-friendly models let even beginners buy and learn using their own tablet. Two of the most well-known tablet brands, Wacom and XP-Pro, have models that cater to different audiences. Let’s take a look at two of their more affordable models, the Wacom Intuos and the XP Pen Deco 01 V2, and see how the two tablets stack up against each other.

Wacom Intuos vs XP Pen Deco 01 V2 Comparison Chart

ModelWacom IntuosXP Pen Deco 01 V2
 Wacom CTL4100WLK0 Intuos Wireless Graphics Drawing Tablet with Bonus Software Included, 7.9' X 6.3',...XP-Pen Deco 01 V2 10x6.25 Inch Digital Graphics Drawing Tablet Drawing Pen Tablet with Battery-Free...
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Active Area6.0″ x 3.7″ (small)
8.5″ x 5.3″ (medium)
10″ x 6.25″
Pen Pressure4096 levels8192 levels
Tilt SupportNoYes
Pen Buttons22
Eraser on PenNoNo
Tablet Shortcut Buttons48
Android CompatibilityYes (limited to some devices)Yes
ConnectivityWired or BluetoothWired
ColorsBlack, PistachioBlack

Tablet Design

Wacom remains an industry standard with its micro-textured tablet.

The Wacom Intuos S has 4 buttons, while the XP Pen Deco 01 V2 has 8.

Out of the two, only Wacom offers two different sizes at small and medium. The small option is the smallest out of the three, coming in at a total area of 7.9 by 6.3 inches. XP Pen’s Deco 01 V2 is bigger than either of Wacom’s offerings at 13.8 by 8.5 inches but still as thin; both brands have tablets with a thickness of around 0.3 to 0.4 inches. The Intuos S and the Deco 01 V2 are in the same price range, but the medium Intuos model can reach up to double the price (depending on the seller). For this reason, plus the fact that the medium option has no technical advantages over the smaller Intuos, a medium Wacom Intuos isn’t that recommendable.

Both come with tablet areas that are riddled with micro-textured raised areas. These little bumps are important for easier stylus control, since a surface that is too smooth will make your pen slide too much. Comparisons between the Intuos and the Deco series’ material show that a lot of users prefer Wacom’s approach to texturing their pads. Some users also noted that Wacom tablets in general can last for longer, owing to their more scratch-resistant panels. It’s worth noting that your dominant hand won’t bother you regardless of your choice of tablet. Both brands cater to both left-handed and right-handed users in different ways. While Wacom opted to go for producing a symmetrical board, XP Pen’s tablets have all buttons on one side. It’s up to you to turn on left-handed mode and then flip the tablet around to fit your needs.

Active Area

The Deco has a bigger active area than both Wacom sizes.

XP Pen’s tablet (left) owes it’s larger work area to its bigger overall design, which may be a must-have for some artists.

If the absolute most important specification you’re paying attention to is active area, the Deco 01 V2 would be the best choice. It has a relatively huge 10 by 6.25 inch workspace with enough space left at the sides to rest your inactive hand near the shortcut buttons. Compare this to the 6 by 3.7 inch active area that the small Intuos has: the Deco is as tall as the small Intuos is wide. If you’re working on a notebook up to a medium-sized laptop, the Wacom Intuos active area will be more than enough. However, if you’re going for a more home-oriented set-up with a bigger screen, it’s worth it to get a bigger tablet like the Deco.

In terms of buttons, the Deco 01 V2 wins simply because it has more: XP Pen’s tablet has 8 compared to Wacom’s 4 plus a power button. These buttons minimize your need to use your keyboard, and depending on your set-up, that might be a big factor. More buttons means that you have more options for programmable shortcuts, which will help make your illustrating and graphic designing experience more efficient. One advantage (or disadvantage, depending on how you look at it,) that the Intuos has is that it doesn’t have a separate pen holder. Instead, the buttons at the top are concave and are meant to serve as a pen slot for whenever you aren’t using it.

Pen Features and Pressure

The Deco 01 V2’s pen pressure is better (at least on paper).

Wacom’s pen (left) fits snugly in the pen-slot-slash-button-dock, while XP Pen products (right) have tilt support.

Another advantage that the XP Pen Deco 01 V2 has is its built-in support for tilted input. This feature is supported when using software like Clip Studio Paint or Photoshop, which is something that the Intuos simply cannot offer. Tilt sensitivity comes in handy whenever artists do shading. It makes for a more realistic image or, at least, something that’s closer to how it would look when made in an analog way. This feature works hand-in-hand with the Deco 01 V2’s more sensitive pen. It has more than eight thousand levels of pressure, compared to the Wacom Intuos’ 4096. A higher number is always better, but most users note that the difference between the two lies more on paper than in actual performance.

Both models have pens with two buttons and no dedicated eraser. These two buttons can be used for making additional shortcuts that make your work easier. The pen sensitivity and tracking are exceptionally calibrated for both brands’ offerings, despite Wacom’s lower overall pressure sensitivity. The Deco 01 V2 does have a dedicated pen holder, so that’s something to keep in mind if you prefer that over Wacom’s solution. Keep in mind, too, that neither has a case for the stylus, which might be a must-have for artists who travel more. Comparing the two models’ pens, you can’t go wrong with either choice.

Verdict

Your choice depends on how big your tablet has to be.

The Wacom Intuos is a solid choice for any beginner. It’s easy to use, compatible with even some Android devices, and very durable. While your art improves, you won’t need to change tablets right away since this one will last you a considerable time. It has a very scratch-resistant panel, so you won’t be bothered as much by any blemishes that might affect how the tablet reacts to your pen. Its symmetrical design ensures that no extra adjustments are needed to make it work for you if you’re left-handed. The only downside is its size. Only the Intuos S is worth the price that Wacom set; the medium option can be unjustifiably expensive without any other additional features for ease of use aside from a bigger active area.

If size matters a lot for you, then choose the XP Pen Deco 01 V2. It’s more affordable than the Wacom Intuos M, and with more buttons and a bigger active area, it’s undoubtedly a bargain. It’s also compatible with more Android devices than its competitors, and can be configured to work in a vertical orientation to suit the phone’s screen better. Its sensitivity works well enough that even slowly drawn ruled lines show up without much jittering.

An exclusive feature that the XP Pen Deco O1V2 has over the Intuos (and even some other XP Pen tablets) is its tilt sensitivity. Depending on the kind of artwork you do, the absence of this capability on the Intuos might be a deal-breaker. One disadvantage that the Deco 01 V2 has is that it’s more vulnerable to scratching than Wacom’s tablets. This might make your pen glide more than you want it to. Despite that though, it’s still a great choice for home artists who have enough space for the relatively bigger tablet. The larger active area works best with big screens, making your entire illustrating experience as intuitive as possible.

Last update on 2020-09-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Mauie Flores
Mauie Flores

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying, blogger and content creator passionate about writing, music, and good food.