Xencelabs could give Wacom a run for its money with the Pen Display 24
OPINION: If Apple and Samsung run the smartphone industry then Wacom is king in the graphics tablet market. The brand is a popular choice for artists and designers that work on pen displays with its biggest competitors up until this point being names like Huion and XP-Pen.
However, that might not be the case for much longer. I attended a demo for Xencelabs’ first pen display, the Pen Display 24, and left thoroughly impressed.
Xencelabs (pronounced Sense-labs) is a relatively new company that first emerged in 2019 with its small and medium pen tablets. The Pen Display 24 is the first tablet the brand has launched that includes a screen, but that doesn’t mean the pen display is off to a slow start by any means.
The Pen Display 24 has a large 24-inch screen with a 4K resolution. The pen display is capable of displaying 1.07 billion colours, including 99% RGB and 93% DCI-P3, and is Pantone and SkinTone validated.
However, it’s the features that set it apart from the crowd that interest me the most. Like Huion’s 4K Kamvas displays, the Pen Display 24 has no built-in fan. Instead, Xencelabs has designed the tablet with a heat-dissipating metal rear meaning there’s no noisy cooling system.
The screen is also glare-free. Reflections are something that Wacom tablets in particular tend to struggle with so this could be a game changer for artists who prefer to work outdoors or with a bit more natural light. The glare-free coating is something I experienced the benefits of with my own eyes when scribbling on the Xencelabs tablet in front of a window and below ceiling lights and the difference between the Pen Display 24 and the MacBook beside it was clear.
Unlike Wacom’s Cintiq Pro 24, which can tilt up to 20 degrees using its built-in legs, the tilt stand boxed up with the Pen Display 24 is able to prop the device up from 16 degrees to 72 degrees. Furthermore, the display is VESA mount-ready, meaning there’s no need to spend extra on an adapter if you decide to mount the device.
I’m particularly excited about Xencelabs’ plan to make the STL files for its Pen Clip attachments and Pen Slot dimensions publicly available. This means that anyone with access to a 3D printer will be able to create or commission pen and remote holders, attachments and feet for their Pen Display 24. It’s even possible to change the colour of the bezel using the Pen Slots, meaning the basic black design can be brightened up with just about any colour or design you can imagine to better match your desk aesthetic.
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These features alone likely won’t be enough to convince a Wacom loyalist to sell their Cintiq and make the switch to a Xencelabs pen display, but the price could definitely sway newer artists.
You can currently get the Pen Display 24, two pens and the Xencelabs’ Quick Keys remote bundled together for £1850. For comparison’s sake, the Wacom Cintiq Pro 24 costs £2449.99 with one less pen included.
Neither of these pen displays would be considered particularly budget-friendly, but for growing artists and professionals in need of high-end gear, the low price and customisation of the Pen Display 24 might just be enough to give Wacom some healthy competition.