review

XP-Pen Star G960S Review Drawing Tablet Compatible With Chromebook

Friday, May 15, 2020

Digital drawing hardware comes in all shapes and sizes and, unfortunately, in all kinds of prices, making a purchase decision all the more difficult!
If you're a beginner who is just starting out in the world of digital art, you probably don't want to commit too much money; hence you should look to a pen drawing tablet like the XP-Pen Star G960S, rather than a more expensive one with a built-in screen.
The XP-Pen Star G960S drawing tablet works and feel like a touchpad mouse. It has a flat, pitch black surface where you draw on it with the included pen, while connected to a computer which mirrors the drawing in a computer screen.
Without a built-in screen though, you will be drawing down on the tablet while looking at a separate screen. Because your hand is separated from the image you are drawing, you have to build up eye/hand coordination.
That said, the Star G960S has an impressive report rate so, it can register about 230 reports per second; hence lag is virtually indetectable to the naked eye, which is perfect for playing OSU, although the Star G960S large active area is not really suited for playing OSU. The Star G430S and Star G640S are better choices.
With ±0.4mm center accuracy rating, the Star G640S pad is most accurate at registering movement in the center. The XP-Pen Star G960S tablet has a 10mm reading height, which allows you to hoover over the drawing area without actually dragging the pen over it.

While the XP-Pen Star G960S looks like an iPad or Windows tablet, it is not. The XP-Pen Star G960S, just like all pen drawing pads, doesn't integrate any computer software; hence the XP-Pen Star G960S will not work unless it is plugged into a Windows (Win 7, Win 8 and Win 10) computers or Mac (ver. 10.10~10.15) computers.
Chromebook operating system is also supported. Ubuntu and Linux distribution computer software (i.e. CentOS, archOS, etc) are supported too by the XP-Pen Star G960S.
When using the XP-Pen Star G960S with phones or tablets, you have to use the included OTG dongle adapters, which makes the connection plug-and-play. When connecting the XP-Pen Star G960S to a Windows computer or Mac computer, you will need to download the specific drivers for XP-Pen Star G960S.
When connected to a computer, Android tablet or smartphone, the XP-Pen Star G960S is recognized as a mouse input device that actually works as a mouse. To draw on a computer though, you will need an app or program software that you can draw in.
The neat thing is you won't have to pay anything since a lot of software is free to use. The XP-Pen Star G960S is compatible with most software including Photoshop, Medibang, Painter, Word and PowerPoint.
The XP-Pen Star G960S drawing pad surface has a smooth paper-like finish with four express/shortcut buttons, which are flat with a loud clicky sound. The default orientation of the XP-Pen Star G960S is with the express buttons on the left hand side, although you can rotate it anyway you want if you want to the express buttons on the right hand side, top or bottom of the drawing pad.
white led lights up when registering input of the pen
The express shortcut keys, active area and pen button function, as well as the pen pressure sensitivity can be configured and adjusted from the PenTablet software.
You can also turn Windows Ink on and off, as well as configure the XP-Pen Star G960S in right-handed or left-handed mode. When turning the computer off, the right or left handed mode is remembered automatically.
Like many pen drawing pads, the XP-Pen Star G960S does not support touch control so, you won't be able to use your fingers and, it won't work in horizontal mode when connected to an Android device. iPads and iPhones are not supported.
The dimensions of the XP-Pen Star G960S drawing pad are 32cm long, 21cm wide and 10mm deep (as thick as an iPad) with non-beveled edges and rubber feet on each corner to prevent sliding. The active area where you draw on, it's the size of a 9x6 inch picture frame so, the active area of the XP-Pen Star G960S is 23cm long and 15cm wide.
The included pen it's the XP-Pen PH3, which is an electromagnetic digitizer (passive) hard plastic pen (non-battery powered), lightweight (10 grams) and with 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity (266RPS report rate).
The spec of the PH3 pen are pretty good considering the Surface Pen has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. The Apple Pencil pressure levels is rumored to be in that same ballpark, although noone knows for sure since Apple does not reveal the pressure level value of  either generation of Apple Pencil.
The higher the levels of pressure, the more precise the pen can  be. This allows higher control for fine line work like drawing thinner lines for rendering veins in a person's arms. Aside from drawing and sketching, the Star G960S drawing tablet works superb for adding handwritten input to documents. In fact, the XP-Pen PH3 pen is more suited for note taking than long art sessions because of how thin the diameter of the pen is.
The XP-Pen PH3 styli that is included with the XP-Pen Star G960S has a steady nib and feels natural to use as you don't have to press as hard to start drawing. Also, the XP-Pen PH3 pen supports tilt sensitivity so, you will be able to tilt the pen for broader/ narrower strokes. That said, rotation is not supported (neither does the Apple Pencil supports it) so, you won't be able to create a stroke from different angles unless you rotate the drawing pad around manually.
While tilt sensitivity is supported by the pen, you won't be able to draw straight up for a fine line because the XP-Pen Star G960S tablet only supports tilt up to 60 degrees.
The XP-Pen PH3 pen has a loophole at the back of it, as well as a single, textured button on the middle of the pen that lets you toggle between drawing mode and erasing mode. The pen is about the height of an original Bic Cristal ballpoint (13cm).
10 replacement nibs included
Replacement nibs (and removal tool) are included, although a digital artist anti-fouling lycra glove is not included, which is handy and useful to prevent greasy smudges from the side of your hand. A digital artist drawing glove may look silly but does gives you more control and your hand won't be sticking to the tablet surface when it gets sweaty.
The Star G960S comes with a non-proprietary 1.6 meter long USB data/charging cable, which means if the cable breaks or misplaced you can replace it with any other USB-A to USB-C cable (as long as it's a data/charging cable).
The nice thing about the included USB cable though, it's that it has a right-angled, low-profile USB-C plug connector so, it fits snugly alongside of the USB-C port of the Star G960S. A regular straight plug USB-C connector would stick out, making the USB-C port of the Star G960S more prone to damaging.The Star G960S is available to buy on amazon and on XP-Pen website.

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