Quite a while ago I wrote a review of the Yiynova MSP19U, a Cintiq alternative tablet monitor. I was pretty pleased with it, but it did suffer from relatively low resolution and from a TFT screen with poor viewing angles for color reproduction.
Now I have a review for you of the upgrade model, the Yiynova MVP22U(V3) Tablet Monitor. It’s actually the third version of this monitor, as you can tell from the name. I have owned the Yiynova MSP19U+ Tablet Monitor, the MVP22Uv1, V2, and now V3 (for somewhat complicated reasons, see below). The V3 is a very noticeable upgrade over the V2, which in turn was a big step over the V1. This is a full HD 1920×1080 tablet monitor — no touchscreen, stylus pen only, with 2048 degrees of pressure sensitivity.
The earlier models: V1 and V2
I was an early adopter of the V1, which does not seem to be available anymore. The V1 suffered from the fact that the large screen was a TFT, like the 19 inch model — even close up, you would see color issues resulting from the viewing angles on a TFT screen, just because the 22″ screen was so big. There were also font rendering issues caused by the drivers for the monitor itself. I returned my V1 in favor of a V2 (which is) when that came out, because of a desire to upgrade from the TFT screen and because of the font firmware patch. Panda City generously offered to swap the monitor out originally for the firmware patch, then let me pay the difference to get an upgrade.
The V2 added a firmware patch for the font issue, and also upgraded to an IPS panel. The panel was pretty good, but only offered a VGA connector. This meant that you had to use an adapter to use it on a modern video card with digital outputs such as DVI. I ran it with a DVI to VGA adapter. I still had font issues, though they were improved; it may be that the issue was around the VGA conversion. The IPS panel solved the color and angle viewing issues. The improved firmware also introduced better pen tracking particularly for slow lines.
The monitor now uses a DVII connector. The cable splits near the end with a USB offshoot that needs to be connected for the pen tablet functionality to work. It is still a cable that is permanently attached at the monitor side, alas; I am running it to an extender cable with a DVII extender, and also running a USB extender.
This is in anticipation of switching from the built-in VESA stand to a monitor arm. The VESA stand permits a wide range of tilt, but dragging it around on the desk is getting old.
The monitor does have eight hotkeys at the top. These can be mapped to any number of things, including opening software packages, keystrokes, media control, and more. These mappings are not per software package, however. The buttons are also a bit hard to reach.
V3 now has an even better IPS panel than the V2, with improved color gamut. Out of the box, a calibration check at lagom.nl’s monitor testing site showed dead-on color accuracy, sharpness, black levels, and gamma. Basically, it crushed every test but one. The only issue was on the inversion test — slight flickers on 1 and 7b, noticeable on 3. (For comparison, my HP ZR22w flickered slightly only on 4a and 4b; my Viewsonic only on 4b).
In comparison, the V2 flunked the sharpness test (oversharp, and there was no sharpness adjustment in the OSD), and flickered strongly on patterns 3 and 7b. It also exhibited a slight reddening on the full-screen purple test; the V3 does not. Unlike the 19U and the V1, both of which ran cool out of the box, the V3 was perfectly calibrated from the get go.
As the V3 is a new panel, it also has a new OSD. This OSD has more or less the same options as the V2 did:
- Brightness, contrast, gamma
- Color temp, and R, G, B
- A sharpness setting rather than clock and phase (since it is digital)
- Horizontal and vertical OSD position, and language (it supports a lot of languages, too).
The older V2, given the VGA connector, had phase, autoadjust, and horizontal and vertical offset for the screen. These don’t apply with a digital connection.
Pen and drawing
The various Yiynova models, going back to the 19U, have always had great pen tracking. There have been a few generations of pen and some firmware adjustments to pressure sensitivity, but it has always been great. The V3 has 2048 levels, and no tilt support. I have no issues whatsoever with line straightness doing a ruler test. There is no “waviness” from imprecise tracking behind the screen. There is no jitter outside from that of your own hand. The tablet was perfectly calibrated all the way to the edge of the display, out of the box — actually slightly better than the V2. I am able to draw literally to the exact corner pixels, at all four corners. If you haven’t drawn on a Yiynova yet, it’s basically excellent, and quite comparable to Wacom, barring tilt.
At this point I have been through many Yiynova pens. 🙂 They all require a AAA battery, unlike Wacom pens. None of them have erasers. None of them support tilt. They all have a rocker button that the drivers let you map.
- Original 19U pen: This is the one that came with the 19U. Getting to 2048 required pressing pretty hard. Also, the rubbery “sleeve” was not the sturdiest design. I think this pen has been phased out completely now. A second 19U style pen came with the V1. I don’t have to press as hard as the original. More sensitive to light strokes — easier to make light lines with.
- v1 22U pen (a slightly earlier version of P2H tablet pen): I don’t have it anymore, but I had to press hard though not as hard as the 19U pen. It felt “stiffer” across the board. These pens introduced a whole new pen barrel, with a shiny glossy plastic for most of it and a rubberized grip area. The whole thing is rather sharpie-like, but also much sturdier than the original pen.
- The P2H tablet pen is the current version of that pen, after it was revised based on feedback from artist Ray Frenden, and the drivers were tweaked as well, to adjust the pressure curve. Sensitive to light strokes, and I don’t have to press anywhere near as hard to reach 2047. Now, this is of course also paired with the new firmware in the tablet itself. The reduced jitter and improved tracking likely makes a difference here too.
- The new V3 has both the P2H and the new P2X Premium Tablet Pen. The P2X pen performs identically to the earlier pen, but it has a much better fit and finish; the pen now has a taper much like a traditional ink quill, bulging before the nib. This enables the part where you grip the pen to be thinner. The exterior is now a slightly tacky material that feels great. There’s also a light, supposedly, to inform you of low battery, but I have never seen it come on (batteries last forever in these pens).
All in all, the new pen is just great. Right now, the V3 comes with one of each of the P2X and the P2H.
Note that pens do have some slight variation. The new P2H that came with the V3 is stiffer than the one I had with the V2; it takes more pressure to reach 2047 (max). However, it registers very soft strokes, at sensitivity around 8-15. I have two P2Xs, because I bought one standalone for the V2 when they came out. One of them is slightly more sensitive than the other — my lightest stroke registers at single digits with one (like the P2H), and in the teens with the other. Both seem to take about the same to get to 2047.
The box included a CD with new 8.0 drivers. They are apparently mostly for compatibility with Windows 8. I had the 5.02g drivers installed previously, and the tablet worked instantly without anything needing to be installed. But I decided to try the new drivers anyway. I am running on Windows 7, 64bit.
I found that the 8.0 driver required me to uncheck “Supports Digital Ink” on the Info tab. Otherwise, the pen would not work unless the control panel was open and on the Pressure tab. I could sketch in the pressure tab, but if I switched tabs, I lose the pen altogether.
I did try going into Tablet PC settings, and it showed that my main monitor (not the tablet) was the one with the pen. But I couldn’t change it to the MVP22U because that control panel would not recognize taps on the screen. It didn’t matter if Supports Digital Ink was checked or not.
I did not have problems using the ink tools in Office.
Mapping express keys to Common function -> POP MENU worked, but I was not able to make the pop menu work on the tablet. It worked correctly with the mouse on the other screens. If I opened it while the cursor was on the tablet, it forced my mouse to jump to one of the other screens completely, and I was unable to move the mouse to the tablet (it was like it wasn’t there). If I tried using the pen to tap it instead, any tap just closed the menu.
The pressure sensitivity works just fine in Photoshop, Manga Studio, Inkscape, Pencil2D, and Sculptris. It works with FireAlpaca, but you need to set it up: If you go into File->Environment Setting and set “Brush Coordinate” to “Use Mouse Coordinate” instead of “Use Tablet Coordinate (recommended)” both the line and the offset are fixed.
It did not seem to work out of the box in Sketchbook Pro. I could swear it used to under the old drivers, so I will have to investigate that more.
I checked with Panda City, and they told me that 5.02g is actually the recommended driver for Windows 7. Note that 5.02g is NOT on the CD they send, so if you run Win 7, you should download that version from their site. I will probably try reverting back and running thorough tests to see if there is any difference.
Fit and Finish
All three of the 22Us have shared the same chassis more or less. But something in the manufacturing process has clearly improved. In the V1, the buttons at the top actually had light leakage behind them. In the V2, they were slightly loose and wobbly. On the V3, they are just solid, and I see no light leakage.
The monitor is white, with a fairly big bezel, particularly on the bottom. The glass is held on with little clips that protrude slightly, so there is a bit of a lip all the way around the very edge of the monitor. One nice thing is that the glass goes edge to edge, so there is no border for your pen to hit when you draw off the edge of the actual screen. It does get squeaky with the plastic pen nib and the glass, though. Some modders have tried making felt nibs out of the Wacom ones, and it seems to work, but I have not tried it myself.
The V2 came with a couple of monitor adapters. The new version comes with three: one each for HDMI, VGA, and MiniDisplayPort/Thunderbolt.
The V3 also came with Yiynova Artist Gloves, a pen stand, a P2X pen and a P2H pen, both with the new hard plastic case with stands (the V2 only had relatively flimsy thin plastic boxes for the pens). There are extra nibs and nib removal tools included with each, so now I have a ton of them. 🙂 This may be a holiday promotion only. Right now, list price for the monitor shows as $1200, but it’s on sale for $999.
In short, The Panda City (the US distributor for Yiynova) has really phenomenal customer support.
My V2 had developed a “pixel crawl” issue over the course of almost a year of usage, where the monitor would go out of phase, and pixels seemed to “wiggle.” It also seemed to regularly “forget” its correct phase settings for auto-adjust — auto adjusting would even send it to numbers that weren’t valid sometimes (outside of the 1-100 range). Talking with Panda City, we concluded it was some form of electrical interference, but could not pinpoint it. They once again offered to swap out the monitor, and once again allowed me to upgrade.
I can’t say enough about how phenomenal Panda City’s customer support is. They are extremely attentive, and have sent me things like a new pen holder when one broke. I generally get an answer within an hour, even on a Sunday night. They have also been very open to discussions about driver changes, firmware bugs, and so on, relaying my feedback backto the team in China.
The V3 comes with a two year warranty where the earlier V2 came with a one year.
All in all, I am contemplating making this my main monitor now. They really have perfected it; about all that I could wish for would be a few more hotkeys, a nicer chassis, and maybe little labels for the buttons on the front or side rather than the back.