I think one of my favorite things about the current state of the display tablet industry is how there seems to be a non-stop growth of affordable alternatives to the historic “major players” in the game, making it easier and much more justifiable for photographers to make the leap into not just using a pen tablet, but a large and color accurate display version suitable for proper photo editing.
Being able to apply the pen directly on the screen that you’re looking at makes it feel much more like an actual canvas or physical photograph, allowing the user to make edits much more naturally. While the learning curve can be a bit steep for first time pen tablet users, it seems there’s never been a better time to try using a display tablet that offers a 4K resolution to work with on a large surface, that also can double as a second (or even primary) monitor when not working on images.
The Huion Kamvas Pro 24 4K offers a 23.8-inch high-resolution display for creatives to work with along with a selection of cables and accessories to make using the device as easy as possible for users. This includes a branded glove to help protect the screen when using, the stylus pen with additional nibs, and the KD100 Key Dial that can be completely customized with each users favorite and most used keyboard shortcuts.
Design and Build Quality
The $1119 24-inch Kamvas Pro 24 4K from Huion comes in a sleek all-black design mimicking most standard monitors/displays and offers a maximum resolution of 3840 x 2160 (16:9) at 185 PPI (pixels per inch) and a contrast ratio of 1200:1. The device itself measures 23.19 x 14.33 x 0.89 inches (589.2 x 364 x 22.7mm), offers a maximum brightness of 220cd/m2 (nits), and weight 13.89 pounds (6.4kg), which is rather heavy for a display tablet, but also ensures it’ll stay in place when seated on a desk or monitor arm.
The tablet does not feature any touch capabilities and has a single button on the top right side to power it on and off, but also acts as a menu button if held for three seconds. Along the top of the tablet you’ll find ports for the power adapter, the DisplayPort connection, a full sized HDMI connection, and a USB-C connection.
On the right hand side of the tablet you can find two USB-A 2.0 ports and a 3.5mm audio output for external speakers or headphones. The USB hub I find pretty useful. However, the audio port felt like an odd addition for a display tablet. I get that it can double as a 4K monitor, and many monitors offer the same connections, but I can’t help but feel like removing this feature could cut the cost of the device down even more, making it a more attractive option for creatives.
The back of the tablet has several screw thread/mounts that can be used to mount the tablet to a desk stand or VESA-compatible monitor arm, or can be laid flat on the desk or use the built in “flip-out” legs so the device can be used on an angle as well. Ideally users will want to get a separate stand so they can take advantage of the Kamvas Pro 24 as both a pen tablet and a 4K Display, but in a pinch, the provided kick-stand works just fine.
The pen will be familiar to users who have used any of the other pro Huion tablets. It features two customizable buttons with a silcone grip. Sadly, there is no eraser tool on the end, but the stand for the pen does include eight additional nibs and a removal tool to grip and insert the nibs as needed.
The Keydial is small and lightweight and includes short rubber feet for grip on the back of the device making sure it stays put regardless of what surface you place it on to use. It connects via USB-C using a cable provided, but can also be used wirelessly and features a power button on the side of the keydial to power on/off the device when running in a wireless mode.
Setup and Customization
The Kamvas Pro 24 4K supports both PC and Mac systems as well as Android (USB 3.1 DP1.2 or later) and works pretty much immediately (as a display) once you’ve connected it to a Mac, and after installing the application and drivers from the official Huion website, configuration is pretty fast and easy. Once powered up users will have to choose to have the display setup as a secondary/extended display, or as a mirror of their main screen. From here you can get going using the pen and tablet together to work with as a regular computer or as a drawing/retouching device, however I recommend running the calibration software to ensure the pen will work as accurately as possible with how you handle the device.
Additionally, using the Huion application, users can completely customize the keydial mini hotkeys, the pen buttons, the working area of the display tablet (in case you only want the “retouching” pen area to be localized to a smaller portion of the screen).
From within these customization settings you can also adjust the pen pressure levels (with custom modes) of the pen, as well as customizing up to 18 commands on the keydial mini and the multi-function dial on the top left corner can be used for zooming in/out, rotating images, adjusting brush/cursor size, or cycling through layers. The button in the middle of the dial allows users to switch between these options for quick and easy access.
I’d recommend spending some time doing this for the keydial since there is no screen or changing indicators, it can be pretty easy to forget what button does what. I started with the default settings at first and several times I accidentally full screened and/or minimized my applications thinking I was hitting a different key simply because I forgot which one was where or my hand had moved slightly. If you have additional screens you can leave the keydial customization screen open but you’re still only able to see one button at a time in that app as well.
The Screen Itself
As I mentioned above, the 23.8-inch “Quantum Dot” LED (QLED) offers users 4K resolution with a fully laminated anti-glare Etched Glass panel allowing for smooth and distraction free work in bright environments. The company claims a pretty accurate 98% sRGB and 95% Adobe RGB color gamut coverage with the calibrated results being closer to 99% of sRGB and 94% for Adobe RGB.
With its large size and accurate color display, the system offers users a rather impressive experience with its only shortcomings being its relative lack of brightness compared to other systems. In most cases (since us retouchers tend to work in darker environments) this shouldn’t be much of an issue, however when working in bright environments, 220 nits may be a little dim for some. Beyond this, the 24-inch display offers users a great amount of space to zoom in on the tiny details and ensure their work is perfected before publishing. After a few weeks of use, especially leveraging the included glove, the screen showed absolutely no signs of wear or scuffs
Pen Pressure and Usage
The PW517 battery-free pen that comes with the Huion Kamvas Pro 24 4K offers users 8,192 levels of pen pressure with a “resolution” of 5080LPI and can handle up to 60 degrees of tilt in any direction during use. The pen itself is quite comfortable and weighted nicely for a natural pen-to-paper feel when using it. Inside of the base for the pen, users will find an additional 10 nibs (five plastic and five felt) and the replacement tool for easy swapping.
The pen itself was accurate, and during my retouching I had zero issues with its usage and even found some custom settings, like the “slightly hard” mode in the presets, that worked exceptionally well for my style of editing. Using 100% opacity and flow to test the pressure and jitter when drawing, it was clear there was pretty much nothing interrupting the flow of the pen on the screen, however I did notice there was some noticeable lag/latency when working with very fast motion. I don’t think this would be an issue for most photographers and retouchers, but for illustrators and artists it might prove a little bit of a hindrance. It was subtle, but definitely noticeable.
Not Perfect, But A Perfect Price
I’ve used a lot of pen and display tablets over the last few years, and with each advancement in technology, it’s getting harder and harder to find faults between the different brands. The Huion Kamvas Pro 24 4K is no exception to this rule either with its only real flaws being the lack of touch controls, the slightly dimmer screen, no customizable buttons on the tablet itself, and its slightly heavier than expected weight.
Even with those things in mind, the fact that the system only costs $1,119 and is impressively color accurate for any 4K monitor more than makes up for it, and retouching on the tablet is actually very responsive.
Are There Alternatives?
There are quite a few alternatives in the tablet market from the usual suspects and range in price from about $300 to $4,000. First up are the “1080p” options including the XP-Pen Artist Display 22 R Pro that costs $479, the $339 Veikk VK2200, and the “2K” resolution Artist 24 Pro from XP-Pen which costs $899.
Wacom has a lot of options of course, including the Wacom Cintiq Pro 16 that runs $1,500 or the Wacom Cintiq Pro 24 for $2,000. The 13-inch Wacom One (1080p) comes in at $400, or you can jump over to the pro-level Xencelabs Pen Display 24 for $1,899.
Should You Buy It?
Yes. If you’re looking to dip your toe in the water of 4K capable display tablets, the Huion Kamvas Pro 24 4K is worth the $1,119 price of admission.