If you look at mobile devices over the past 10 years, you might notice that their displays have become bigger and bigger.
I’m slowly understanding why. I recently reviewed an 8-inch tablet, and now I’m on the Magic Drawing Pad’s 12.2-inch screen. Compared to the 8-inch tablet, the Magic Drawing Pad’s larger display is so much more impressive, just based on sheer size. It weighs 599 grams and has a 6.9mm thickness.
The name “Magic Drawing Pad” should also hint that this tablet is meant for drawing, so I’ll be testing it on that front too.
I must say, I really enjoyed the Magic Drawing Pad, even for idle YouTube watching or surfing the web. However, you might be interested in this tablet because of its drawing and notetaking capabilities, so I’ll spend a good amount of this review on that aspect.
Display and Stylus
I thought it’d be good to address the display and the pen, because XP Pen is promoting this as an important selling point of the Magic Drawing Pad.
According to marketing materials provided by XP Pen, the Magic Drawing Pad has a 12.2-inch IPS screen with 2160 x 1440 pixels, giving it a 3:2 aspect ratio and 60Hz refresh rate. It encompasses 109% sRGB color gamut and 82% Adobe RGB.
They’re saying that the XP Pen has a professional anti-glare etched glass surface that provides a paper-like drawing experience.
In real-world use, I found the screen to be large, bright and had vivid colors.
The X3 Pro Pencil is included in the package, and it’s a lightweight passive electromagnetic stylus which means there’s no need to charge it.
XP Pen X3 Pro Pencil
XP Pen says it has 16384 levels of sensitivity which is a huge step from its competitors. Apple does not publish how sensitive their Pencils are, but Microsoft’s Surface Pens have 4096 levels of sensitivity. Hence, in terms of raw numbers, XP Pen’s X3 Pro Pencil works great.
I liked the fact that the XP Pen X3 Pro Pencil does not need a battery. This means the X3 Pro Pencil remains lightweight, like a real pencil.
The X3 Pro Pencil also has a button that you can activate with your thumb. The button allows you to alternate between pen and eraser tools in some apps, which is quite useful because the alternative would be you having to tap on the eraser tool, erase, and then tap on your pen tool to continue writing.
You do have to be careful about not losing the X3 Pro Pencil, though. There’s nowhere to store it on the tablet itself. However, on the included TPU Case, there’s a slot where you can keep your X3 Pro Pencil.
One caveat, though, is that Android does have a ceiling as to how useful it is for professional photo production.
If I had a pen with 16K pressure points, I’d love for it to work with my Adobe Creative Cloud apps like Photoshop. On Android, you get a dumbed-down Photoshop which is a far cry from the computer version.
I feel that the X3 Pro Pencil’s potential can be lost on the Magic Drawing Pad because you can’t get apps for photo production where being able to adjust your pen pressure is an essential part of photo editing.
Is Writing On It Really Paper-Like?
XP Pen emphasizes that you’ll get a writing experience similar to writing on paper.
Yes, it’s definitely better than writing on raw glass. There’s a bit of a texture to the surface of the Magic Drawing Pad that makes it much more enjoyable than putting a stylus onto the slippery surface of my other tablets.
Digital ink comes out immediately so it does mimic the instantaneity of writing or drawing on paper. Also, you get palm rejection (as I would expect).
That said, it doesn’t feel 100% like writing on paper because it’s just a bit too slippery to feel like paper. The closest comparison would be writing with a ballpoint pen on a single sheet of thin paper placed on glass. That’s how it feels like.
I suppose, therefore, it’s true that you’re getting a “paper-like” experience, with emphasis on the “like” part.
Comparing the experience of using the X3 Pro Pencil to the Microsoft Surface Pen’s experience, I find that I prefer the X3 Pro Pencil because it feels more natural than writing with the Surface Pen.
For a “pen”, the Surface Pen is unnaturally heavy because of its AAAA battery, whereas the X3 Pro Pencil doesn’t need a battery which makes it more agile and natural, like a real pencil. Though not having a battery means it doesn’t have a wireless connection which can be a downside (we’ll explore this in the price and value section).
XP Pen has also included replacement pen tips for the X3 Pencil, a tip puller and a two-fingered glove designed to prevent smudges on your tablet and to allow you to slide more easily between areas on the screen when drawing or writing.
Bloatware or Pre-loaded Software?
The difference between bloatware and pre-loaded software lies in how useful they are.
In my view, XP Pen has loaded some really useful apps onto the Magic Drawing Pad that will allow you to start drawing and notetaking without having to download a bunch of programs. Most of these apps can be used immediately without the need to sign up for an account, so you can test it out immediately.
Drawing, Writing and Notetaking Apps
The XP Pen Magic Drawing Pad comes with a bunch of software that allows you to start drawing from the moment you finish setup. These include:
- ArtRage Oils (for art)
- Bamboo Paper (for notetaking and writing)
- Concepts (for art)
- Notes (for notetaking and writing)
- ibisPaint X (for art)
- MediBang Paint (for art)
- WPS Office (for annotating PDFs)
A good number of apps provided are freemium, so you’ll have some restrictions or annoyances like ads in MediBang Paint or limited writing tools in Bamboo Paper.
That said, I found apps like Concepts to be fun because they provide you a great range of tools to draw and write. You can really feel the result of modifying your pen pressure in this app.
The inclusion of WPS Office was also pretty interesting, given that one use is for people to annotate PDFs. WPS Office allows you to do that right out of the box.
Besides these pen-specific apps, I thought the inclusion of Spacedesk was pretty useful.
Spacedesk allows you to connect your XP Pen Magic Drawing Pad via a USB cable or through your network so that you can have an extra monitor for your desktop or laptop.
The idea of it impressed me. You’ll get an extra 1440p screen for no extra cost (although you’d have to buy a stand for the Magic Drawing Pad).
I opted to use a USB cable to mirror my desktop, expecting that it would give a virtually lag-free experience (since it’s a wired connection). Unfortunately, I felt a bit disappointed there was some lag involved.
Because of the lag, you can’t use the Magic Drawing Pad for anything that moves. No movies or games. It’s really only useful for stuff that you need to reference and not interact with, such as software documentation or a website with information that you need to review often.
For a third monitor, this is great. For a second monitor, I’d expect to have something with less lag.
I also had the bright idea of running the PC version of Adobe Photoshop on the Magic Drawing Pad via spacedesk. Unfortunately, the X3 Pro Pencil doesn’t work, so you can’t enjoy that 16K levels of pressure sensitivity on the full version of Photoshop.
Still, I appreciate XP Pen for including this app, hence providing me with a cost-effective and flexible solution for expanding my workspace.
The Magic Drawing Pad comes with the NXTVISION app which helps you enhance colors and contrast. You can toggle settings like image, video and game enhancement.
If you’re a professional dealing with images or videos, this might irk you because it will detract from the accuracy of the image.
When I was working at night using spacedesk, I noticed the Magic Drawing Pad’s screen being much more yellow than the rest of my computer’s screen. It turns out that NXTVISION had its “eye comfort mode” turned on. Glad I wasn’t doing some important color-related task!
NXTVISION is cool if you want the best-looking images, but if you want color fidelity, get rid of it!
There’s nothing wrong with it, and there’s nothing amazing about it.
You get a Mediatek MT8771 processor with two A76 2.4GHz cores and six A55 2.0GHz cores. You also get 8GB of RAM and 256GB internal storage with the potential for more storage by installing a microSD card.
The XP Pen Magic Drawing Pad runs everything smoothly. It plays PUBG Mobile. It plays Genshin Impact. It plays 1440p videos (which is what you need for its display). It loads apps quickly.
Oh, but it can’t play Fortnite because the Epic Games Store says it’s not supported. And when it comes to Genshin, I noticed that the graphics was less sharp than when I last tested it on the Alldocube iPlay50 Mini Pro NFE.
The iPlay50 has a similar processor if just a bit slower, 2xA76 at 2.2GHz and 6xA55 at 2.0GHz, plus both had a Mali-G57 GPU.
I opened up Genshin on both tablets. The Magic Drawing Pad’s graphics were definitely blurrier. I think one reason comes down to the increased 1440p (versus the 1920 x 1200 pixel screen on the iPlay50) resolution on the Magic Drawing Pad that’s hampered by little increase in processing power, and another reason is the bigger screen which makes flaws more obvious.
Looking at our benchmarks, the Magic Drawing Tablet sits somewhere in the middle of the pack when compared to all the tablets we have tested. Its benchmarks are close to the Alldocube iPlay 50 Mini Pro NFE and Samsung’s budget-tier Tab A9. However, Samsung’s flagship Tab S9 leaves the Magic Drawing Pad in the dust.
The Magic Drawing Pad comes with a custom UI and Android 12. For a January 2024 release, the Magic Drawing Pad serving Android 12 means it’s two generations obsolete as Android 14 is already around.
We asked XP Pen whether they would update it to Android 13 or 14 and they said they would not, stating that the Android version is fixed to the tablet’s chip platform.
XP Pen says you can get eight or more hours of battery on the Magic Drawing Pad. I got 7 hours and 9 minutes in our standard test where we play a HD YouTube video on a loop at maximum brightness with the audio muted.
Its 8000mAh battery gives me a sense of security that if I were to fly cross-continent or trans-Atlantic, I’d be OK. However, I would be concerned if I had to fly trans-Pacific and couldn’t charge it. Luckily, longer flights these days mostly have charging ports.
That said, I noticed that charging the Magic Drawing Pad can take a while. The best way to get the fastest charge is to use the included 20W charger which will allow fast charging.
I tried another charger that was rated for 45W PD, but it didn’t perform as well as the included charger. If you charge with a slow charger, you’d have to charge it overnight.
Basically, this means that if you are traveling and only have access to a slow USB charger on the train or plane, you might not be able to charge and use the Magic Drawing Pad.
Price And Value For Money?
We asked XP Pen for price information and they stated that the price for the US market is $499.99, and you can use the coupon MDPUS50 to get a $50 discount at their US store. The European price is 499.99 Euros.
The $500 price tag wedges it between the Lenovo Tab P12 (379 Euros/$349) and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ (599 Euro/$599). Both tablets do include a stylus, are in the 12-inch space and have 128GB of storage, and there’s a surcharge to upgrade to 256GB which the Magic Drawing Pad has by default.
If you’re going the premium route, the S9 FE+ has a 90Hz screen, same high-quality build as the much more expensive standard S9 series, an IP68 rating, at least 3 years of guaranteed updates, two different kinds of optional keyboard covers. Battery life is a bit better on the S9 FE+ as compared to the Magic Drawing Pad.
The higher refresh rate would create a more natural writing experience and the S9 FE+ benchmarks way higher than the Magic Drawing Pad. The S9 FE+ also plays Fortnite, which is not supported on the Magic Drawing Pad.
If you’re going to budget route, we were impressed with the price-performance ratio, large and high-res display. It also plays games at medium settings and has a good stylus, fingerprint reader but has weaker battery life than the Magic Drawing Pad (7 hours versus 5.5 hours on the Lenovo).
In terms of the included stylus on both devices, Lenovo’s included Tab Pen Plus charges via USB-C and can therefore offer useful stylus-related features like a magnifying glass, laser pointer, and remote control for apps like PowerPoint.
The S Pen included with the S9 FE+ is an unpowered version, so you won’t be able to remote control apps. Nonetheless, we feel that the advantage in precision and responsiveness offered by the 90Hz panel on the S9 FE+ is huge.
The Magic Drawing Pad’s price might have put it between a rock and a hard place, given the two competitors we have listed. We feel that if you’re someone who just wants to draw casually, you will do fine with the Lenovo Tab P12. On the other end of the scale, you can also step up and go premium by getting the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+.
The Magic Drawing Pad is a great tablet that I enjoy using. In fact, I use it every day.
I enjoyed using the X3 Pro Pencil because it’s light, has 16K levels of pressure sensitivity and I enjoy writing on the surface of the Magic Drawing Pad. I also enjoyed watching YouTube and browsing the web on the bright, colorful 12.2-inch screen.
As a buyer, you’d have to consider your feelings about the Magic Drawing Pad’s price versus its competitors. For about $100 less, you can get a more affordable Lenovo Tab P12. For about $100 more, you can get a better spec-ed Samsung Tab S9 FE+. It comes down to you testing these tablets and seeing which tablet and stylus you like best.
- Stylus with 16K pressure points
- Good screen
- Useful software selection
- Average processor/GPU
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