Not too long ago Huion contacted me and asked if I would be willing to review their upcoming GT-220 if they shipped a unit to me. I had never heard of Huion before, but the products on their site looked interesting, especially for the price.
Behold! The new Huion GT-220! This is a 21.5″ tablet monitor with an IPS display. It has a native resolution of 1920×1080 and has 2048 levels of pressure.
Other than mobile tablet devices, like the Fujitsu ST5112, Asus EP121, Wacom Companion, and Windows Surface Pro, I’ve never used a desktop tablet monitor. It looked and sounded great, so let’s see how it turned out.
If you don’t want to read the review, I also created a video review that shows the GT-220 in action.
Here are some more specs from the Huion site!
|Screen Size||21.5″ (Diagonal)|
|Display Area (H x V)||476.64 mm x 268.11 mm|
|Pressure Sensitivity||2048 Levels|
|Viewing Angle (Typical)||H : 178° V : 178°|
|Pixel Pitch (H x V)||0.2485 mm x 0.2485 mm|
|Hand Input Resolution||5080 LPI (Lines per Inch)|
|Reading Accuracy||0.12mm 2048 PPI (Pixels per Inch)|
|Contrast Ratio (Typical)||1000 : 1|
|Number of Colors||16.7 M|
|Report Rate||220 RPS (Revolutions per Second)|
|Response Time||5 ms|
|Video Interface||VGA DVI HDMI|
|Data Communication Interface||USB|
|Power Supply Type||External Adapter|
|Power Supply (Adapter)||Input 100-240 VAC, 50/60 Hz, Output 12VDC, 3A|
|Operation Power Consumption||<36W|
|Standby Power Consumption||< 1W|
|Pen Power Consumption||300uA (Max.)|
|Errors of Digital Pen Detecting||±3mm (Tilted ±50°from Vertical)|
|Operating System Support||Windows XP or later,mac OS X10.7 or later|
|OSD Language||English, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese, etc.|
|Operation Temperature||5-+40°C (41-104°F)|
|Operation Humidity||10-80% (Non-condensing)|
|Unit Dimension (L x W x H)||520mmx40mmx320mm|
|Carton Dimension (L x W x H)||558mmx124mmx408mm|
|Rechargable Pen||Minimum 800 hours of continuous use|
|Accessories||1xVGA cable,1xUSB cable,1xAC adapter,1Xpower cable,1xdriver
disc,1xpen charging cable,1xpen holder,1xpen tip removal tool,8xspare pen tips
Before I unboxed the unit, I watched and read some other reviews online about the GT-220. Everyone mentioned that you needed to install the drivers before plugging in the device, otherwise you would be in for a nasty surprise. I also read through the manual.
After I unboxed everything, I noticed that the driver disc that was supposed to be included was missing. Apparently China doesn’t allow the export of discs, so unless you live in China, you won’t be getting the disc. No big deal, I’ll just go download the drivers from their site.
I downloaded the Mac drivers and installed them on my Mac desktop. During the installation I received an error message and the drivers never installed. I looked around online for some help, but nothing worked. I then contacted Huion, but their response was to give me the link to the site I had already found via Google. That was pretty much their only solution. I guess it didn’t matter anyway considering my Mac desktop doesn’t have a VGA or HDMI slot.
Luckily I have a PC desktop as well. The drivers worked and I plugged in the GT-220. Now the problem with my PC is that it is probably around 8 years old. It only has 4 GB of RAM and is pretty slow.
Below are some images from the Huion site. I don’t have a very good camera and the lighting in my apartment is horrible, so there isn’t a reason to take pictures that won’t look as good as these.
Driver Options & Calibration
The driver options are pretty spartan. You can change the pressure of the stylus to hard or soft and customize the two trigger buttons. Aside from that and calibrating the pen, there isn’t much else.
Whenever I’m working in Photoshop, I always map alt to the first trigger button, which activates the eyedropper tool. Unfortunately whenever I clicked the first trigger button, it didn’t activate the alt button like it was supposed to. Not only that, but it would randomly think I was pressing the second trigger button, which was mapped to right-click.
If I don’t map a modifier key to the first button (alt, ctrl, or shift), it seems to work. It will still sometimes think I’m pressing the second trigger though. I also found that mapping a modifier to it will work outside of Photoshop, but not in Photoshop.
Having a useless trigger button is a huge problem for me since that drastically reduces my speed and efficiency.
Calibration has been a pain and I can’t get the cursor to appear underneath the stylus tip. I’ve even tried offsetting where I click during the calibration process, but I still can’t get it quite right.
Like most tablets, there is some cursor drift around the edges of the screen.
The Stylus & Stand
The stylus is very light and a little smaller than the standard Wacom stylus. Instead of an eraser on the end, it has a port to recharge the stylus.
It also has two trigger buttons, but like I just mentioned, only the second trigger button works in Photoshop. I searched around online and it seems that several other people have this same problem. I believe Huion’s response was to simply replace the stylus.
The stand opens to contain the replacement nibs and tip removal tool. The design is almost identical to the Wacom stand, except the materials are much cheaper.
Since the GT-220 has an IPS display, the colors and viewing angle is pretty nice. I did some tweaking in the menu options, but I think the colors are fairly close to other monitors.
The contrast looks nice and the screen is bright. Since I’ve been working on a tablet PC for the past 5 years, it is nice to paint on a large screen again.
It comes with a screen protector that has a bit of a matte feel to it. I usually use screen protectors anyway because I’m always paranoid that I’ll scratch the screen. The screen protector can be easily removed since it only has sticky areas in the corners. I don’t think the contrast or colors are compromised by the screen protector. I remember one of the screen protectors I used on the Fujitsu ST5112 made everything look fuzzy.
If you remove the screen protector, the glass actually grips the nib sometimes, causing it to make squeaking sounds. I prefer how it feels when working on top of the screen protector.
The screen surface did start to get a little hot. I wouldn’t say it was hot enough to cause any problems, but it gets a lot hotter than the Companion. The Companion actually never even gets warm. They must cool it with magic. I admit though, I haven’t used the GT-220 for hours on end, so I’ll report back later if I find any problems after working for longer periods of time on it.
Of course there is one problem with the screen, dust. There are numerous large pieces of dirt and debris caught underneath the screen. According to Huion, dust gets under the screen during shipping. If that is the case, then they should be shipping the unit sealed inside of a plastic sleeve. I checked around online again, and most people have this problem.
The only way to remove the dust is to unscrew the monitor and completely dismantle it. Usually taking apart your device voids any warranty, plus you always run the risk of damaging the product. Below are some pictures of the dust stuck under my screen. There is more than this, but you get the idea.
Every review I have read or watched has mentioned this, and I will again. There is a huge problem with the cords. If you lower the stand, the monitor will actually sit on top of the cords, which makes the unit unstable. It can also damage the cords since they are so close to the bottom that they have to bend quite a lot. If you want to lower your monitor, you won’t be able to.
The menu buttons are on the bottom of the screen, which means when the screen is at certain angles, you won’t be able to press the buttons unless you pick the unit up or move it off the table.
Someone on my YouTube brought up an interesting solution of turning the GT-220 upside down. I suppose you could do this. Usually video cards have an option in the control panel that will allow you to rotate your screen. I tested mine out and I was able to flip the screen. The stand still works, but it is harder to adjust, which means you might have to flip it, adjust it, and then flip it again. Of course all of the text on the monitor, like the logo and menu buttons, will be upside down. It is a bit ghetto, but it can be done. In the end, the user shouldn’t be required to turn a unit upside down in order to fully use it.
The unit itself is pretty light, weighing in at 11.9 lbs. The Wacom 22HD is 18.8 lbs while the 24HD is a whopping 63.8 lbs with the stand. I’m sure you won’t be lugging it around much since it is a desktop unit, but still, it is nice when you do have to move it.
Performance in Photoshop
Let me start off by saying again that my computer is very old. It only has 4 GB of RAM and probably needs to be reformatted. I’m running CS4 because I kept getting an error message in CC 2014 saying I ran out of RAM. That being said, the GT-220 still seems to be very responsive.
When I tried to use the GT-220 in Photoshop CC 2014, I couldn’t get the stylus to draw anything. Sometimes it would draw a straight line across the screen, but that was about it. I looked online and found some new CC 2014 drivers on the Huion Tumblr. With the new drivers I was able to get CC 2014 to work, but it caused CS4 to no longer work, so I had to go back to the other drivers.
What I’m missing are the express keys, which means you need to either use a keyboard or a Nostromo. It isn’t that big of a deal since this is a desktop tablet, which means you are going to have a keyboard sitting next to you anyway. Still, it would be a nice addition.
I’m not sure if this is just a Photoshop bug, but there is the squiggly line problem that people have reported with other tablets. Basically, if you draw small fine lines while zoomed out, they will look really squiggly and jagged. I don’t do line work, so it doesn’t bother me and I actually never noticed it until someone brought it to my attention.
When I’m just drawing random lines, for testing, the pressure sensitivity seems to be fine. When I’m actually working on an illustration, I find that I have a hard time getting the full range of pressure. I even set the pressure sensitivity to very soft, but I still feel like I can’t get the range I want. I’m not sure if it is recognizing all 2048 levels of pressure or not. Sometimes it will also throw down a big paint blob.
It could be because when I’m working on an illustration, I pick up and put down the stylus a lot since I’m making several different brushstrokes. Maybe there is a problem with the stylus activating right away when it comes into contact with the screen, I don’t know. I do know that sometimes when I put the stylus to the screen, I have to tap the stylus to the screen before it will recognize the stylus. This could be some feature to extend the battery life of the stylus.
When I buy a product that will be used for my job, I want it to work out of the box with the least amount of downtime possible. It took a few hours trying to find the correct drivers, install them on various machines before I found one that worked, and get it up and running. Even after that, it still didn’t perform as it should (stylus buttons not working, drivers not working in some apps, calibration is off).
I think this could be a great unit, but it isn’t quite there yet. I’m really not sure how some of these problems got through R&D. The cord flaw is just so obvious that I’m surprised it left the production floor.
If they can fix the problems with the stylus buttons, cords, dust, and drivers, I think this could be a great alternative to a Wacom Cintiq, especially given the price. Half of these problems could be fixed with a driver update, but who knows how long that will take.
I would just like to thank Huion again for sending me the GT-220 to review. I’m sure I’ll be using it a lot in the future.
Update 9/2/14 – Huion released new drivers on Aug. 28th that were supposed to fix the calibration issues. I downloaded and installed the drivers and it completely broke my GT-220. It no longer recognized the stylus at all. I ended up having to roll back to the previous drivers.