There are now tons of pen tablet makers out there and the options have given new users far more power to choose from a wide variety of styles, features, and obviously prices. The new $40 Veikk Voila L gives beginners an impressively competent “bare-bones” pen tablet to learn on for scant little investment.
The Veikk Voila L is a USB-C connected drawing tablet made for illustrators, designers, and photographers that is a little different from most of the other competitors out there. While most pen tablets have small and discrete touch-sensitive buttons built into the tablet, the Veikk Voila L goes a different route and gives users a physical dial wheel and four “mechanical” typing-style buttons to access shortcuts programmed for their drawing or editing applications of choice.
Technically you can program these keys to work in any application but I’m not sure anyone outside of the creative world would ever seek out one of these tablets and take advantage of this.
Users can assign custom functions to these buttons to sync with their most used commands in each app, and even replace and swap the buttons out with some of the provided “extra” buttons that come with the device in case they have a color preference between the black and orange combinations. While this is a pretty interesting move with mostly aesthetic motivations, the Veikk Voila L is an interesting tablet as it comes in even cheaper than the VK1060 that I previously reviewed. So just how well does it stand up to its semi-big brother?
Design and Build Quality
Out of the box, the tablet greets you with a rather minimalistic and simple design. Included with the tablet is a USB-C cable to connect to your Linux, Apple, or PC computer, the battery-free pen and protective case, a small user guide, replacement pen nibs and extraction tool, and a small baggie of replacement and interchangeable buttons so you can have all black, all orange, or any combination in between you might prefer. The tablet itself is about the same size as its siblings and matches up with the Wacom Intuos Pro (Small) and, like it’s VK1060 sibling, it weighs noticeably less than the Wacom Intuos Pro tablet.
The user manual isn’t really much help as it just points you to the Veikk website and download pages to get the drivers and documentation you may need. As with most other accessories, it is recommended to shut down applications like Photoshop and Lightroom that you would use the tablet with to avoid any hangups during the installation of the drivers, but even so, the setup was rather straightforward and easy.
Unlike its siblings, this particular tablet doesn’t come with a “smudge glove” but given its even lower cost, that’s hardly a surprise. The tablet itself is about the same size as the VK1060 and the surface is a clean matte design that feels equally similar to a clean sheet of high-quality paper. Since this tablet doesn’t have any wireless features, there is no battery which means no charging is required to get it up and running, but it does mean you’ll need the USB-C cable connected at all times during use.
Despite its low cost, the tablet itself feels pretty tough and I wasn’t worried about traveling with it simply tucked into any of my camera bag pockets. Unlike most devices with mechanical buttons, since these were interchangeable, I was never actually worried about anything breaking off during transport either.
Like most pen tablets on the market, the Veikk Voila L pen tablet features 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity and features a working area of 10 inches by six inches (10″x6″) and, according to the company, has a report rate of 290 PPS with a resolution of 5080 LPI and a tilt capability (for the pen) of about 60 degrees.
The dial wheel is incredibly responsive — almost overly so– and reacts to even the slightest touch. It’s accurate regardless if it is set to zoom, cycle, or scroll, just be ready for it to jump around on you if you even slightly bump it while you work.
The mechanical buttons were actually kind of fun to us. Since I grew up using mechanical keyboards, there was a touch of nostalgia for their design that just made me kind of happy to click them.
Leveraging the software, you can customize the dial and buttons to control pretty much anything you need. In Photoshop, for example, you can quickly adjust brush size, opacity, hardness, flow, or even adjust the zoom or scroll up/down. Something I liked to do was program the “larger” key on the tablet as the Undo Last (CTRL Z) so I could mess with creative pen strokes and quickly undo anything I didn’t like without having to leave the tablet at all.
As for the tablet itself, it’s made entirely of rigid plastic and feels impressively sturdy. There are four rubber feet on the tablet’s backside to help keep it in place on smooth surfaces.
The one thing I wasn’t personally a fan of was the USB cable connection point. Most of the other tablets I’ve tested and reviewed have that insertion point on the top or right-hand side of the tablet, which worked great for my personal setup and how I tend to organize my cables. But with the Voila L, the connection point is on the top-left corner of the tablet near the dial wheel which made it a little awkward. Not a deal breaker, but it was a little annoying juggling cable, which also made me wonder if this tablet may be better suited for left-handed users.
The included pen is practically identical to the ones shipped with other Veikk tablets, right down to its material and carry pouch. In use, the pen is quite responsive and well-balanced. The nib is pressure sensitive (as mentioned above) and features the familiar customizable two buttons that can be configured to each user’s preference within multiple applications.
Unlike the other tablets, this tablet does not come with a stand/base for the pen, and the extra nibs are just included in a small plastic bag. Again, the costs have to come down from somewhere, so I get it.
Also similar to it’s siblings, the pen for the Veikk Voila L tablet is missing the “eraser” tool that is customarily found on the “eraser end” of the pen (like on the Wacom Intuos or Xence Lab versions). Again, not a deal breaker, but you can see again where Veikk saved some money.
Pen Pressure and Using the Tablet
Using the pen to draw and retouch felt precisely the same as with the other Veikk tablets, and especially considering it is such a simple, basic, and cheap device, it was incredibly smooth and accurate. You’ll have to forgive my absolutely terrible penmanship, but there was practically no jitter whatsoever when transitioning from hard to soft, or fast to slow (and vice versa) pen pressures and movement. During my testing on both an Intel and M1 mac — (sorry, I didn’t have access to PC or Linux devices for this review) — I never experienced any input lag or signal drops either.
While retouching, the pen tablet worked flawlessly, so much so that I had to double-check the price of the tablet on the website, as frankly, these things are beginning to just work too good for their bargain basement price. Transitioning from large to small details and small to large brushes was fast and smooth and gave me zero issues. The accuracy of the pen was practically perfect and with customizable mapping, that accuracy can be adjusted even further.
Even when dragging the pen incredibly slow and with very minimal pressure, the Voila L tablet was shockingly smooth and accurate, with the only visible “shakiness” coming from my own hands.
Usability and Performance
Customizing the tablet and pen is rather straightforward and pretty much identical to all of the other Veikk tablets. The software — which is found in the system preferences — leverages a dropdown menu so that if you happen to have multiple tablets in use on one device, you can use that dropdown to select each tablet to configure should you have or need custom controls for each.
I did not experience any connective and usage issues with this tablet after the installation like I did with the previous tablet. This could be because the older drivers were still on my system so the macs were able to pick up and run with this new tablet without a reboot, but I would still recommend rebooting after installing the drivers anyway just to be safe.
From the software window, you can assign custom functions to the dial and mechanical buttons to sync up with their most commonly used commands and adjust the screen to tablet size mapping (or swap between left and right-handed modes) to maximize the performance and preferred working areas.
Finally, you can check the current version of the software you have installed, check for driver updates, and customize the pen’s buttons and click/press sensitivity from inside the system preferences window. It seems my previous Veikk issue with the app crashing when checking for updates has been resolved as I wasn’t able to duplicate this issue on either my Intel or M1-based Macs this time.
Basically, this tablet just plain worked — and worked surprisingly well. Below are a couple of portraits I retouched using the Viekk Viola L.
A Surprisingly Good Low-Budget Option
Despite its incredibly low price of $40, the Veikk Voila L Tablet is surprisingly great. Once you get past the quick installation process, the tablet is very easy to use and has next to no jitter or lag on inputs, making the pen feel very reactive and accurate to how it would feel if it were an actual pen or paintbrush.
The mechanical buttons are quirky, but I came to really like them and the dial wheel is actually pretty useful, albeit a touch over-sensitive. The only negative thing that I can say about this particular tablet is that the customizable buttons are limited compared to other tablets with four (five if you count the dial wheel) available compared to six to 10 or more on other devices, and the fact that this tablet is 100% wire connected only to use. But that’s a major nitpick considering the low cost of this tablet.
I was asked by my editor how much this tablet is actually worth, and I think that since it has half the programmable buttons of a wired Wacom alternative and lacks Bluetooth, it certainly isn’t worth as much as $250. But $150? Yeah, that seems reasonable. That should put into perspective why I’m so enamored with this little tablet that is only charging me $40 for $150 in performance.
The Veikk Viola L just plain works, and as a bonus if I were to leave it behind in a hotel or coffee shop somewhere, I definitely wouldn’t be broken up about it since it costs so little to replace.
Are There Alternatives?
There is a seemingly ever-growing list of alternatives in the tablet market, and most are from names you probably recognize. Sitting closer to the “pro” side of the fence is the XP-Pen Deco Pro Small that costs $130, the Wacom Intuos that runs $149, and the Xencelabs pen tablet that retails for $360.
For the more budget-minded, inquiring minds can find the $40 Wacom One which is the closest in price to the Voila L, and of course the $50 Veikk VK1060. Another budget option worth considering is the $90 Huoin Inspiroy H1161.
Should You Buy It?
Yes. If you are a beginner and need a cheap tablet to learn on, or even a seasoned pro looking for a spare tablet to use as a travel-only device, the $40 Veikk Voila L is definitely worth it.