A Challenger Appears: Review of Yiynova MSP19U
by December 12, 2013

Filed under: Industry Insights

Oh, Cintiqs. When I was attending college they were the gold standard for those of us who worked digitally. Nothing beats the ability to look at what you’re drawing while you’re drawing it.

But I’m not here today to talk about Cintiqs, which for a while ran the risk of being one of those ad hoc product names, like Kleenex or Tupperware. There’s another company that’s recently shown up on the scene with their own take on the tablet monitor, and AppNeta’s been kind enough to procure one for my workstation.

Let me introduce to you the Yiynova MSP19U.

Yiynova review

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never owned a Cintiq myself, so aside from price I won’t be comparing the Yiynova to a Cintiq. The rig I use at home is the Wacom Intuos 4, and it’s served me well for about four years. Compared to a tablet, the tablet monitor has myriad advantages right out of the box, my favorite being how it neatly sidesteps the entire issue of aspect ratio.

Out-of-the-box setup was simple, and should be for anyone who has a PC, however if you’re working on a computer with DVI or DisplayPort inputs, you need an additional adaptor to connect the Yiynova. For the rest of us, the cable to the computer is a handy hybrid VGA/USB cable. It’s essentially one cable to the computer, one cable to power, and you’re set. The cable to the computer could be longer: I had to do some significant rearranging of my work station to allow for the degree of mobility I was looking for. Software installation was uneventful.

Yiynova review

What I do like is the lack of buttons or other mashable things on the front of the tablet monitor. Accidental button-presses on my Intuos 4 were frequent and frustrating due to the way I tend rest my hand, and from what I’ve seen the Cintiq has the same buttons on the front. Thank you, Yiynova, for making it very hard for me to press anything by accident!

In terms of hardware, the Yiynova isn’t much bulkier than my monitor. It has a handy pull-tab in the back for adjusting the tilt that’s easy to use one-handed. The pen is dead simple, comes with batteries and a backup nib. Folks who are used to Wacom products will notice that you don’t get any extra luxury nibs: you get a simple plastic nib, no felt option, no texture options. There’s also no ‘eraser’ on the other end of the pen. For me, the extra nib types and the eraser button were little more than gravy in any case — I don’t miss them.

Yiynova review

(The stand doesn’t come with the tablet; that’s actually from my Intuos.)

The Yiynova’s screen is untextured glass. The glide of the plastic nib over the glass is very slick. I ended up having to calibrate mine to adjust for the distance between the nib and my cursor: you can’t get rid of it, of course, given that it is an artifact of the glass between your nib and light diodes, but you can optimize for the way you tend to draw. I’m not a fan of how reflective the surface is — our office’s halogens reflect off of it fiercely. The viewing angle is also a bit limited and the wrong angle can mess with your colors badly, but I prefer to paint with the thing almost in my lap, so tilt hasn’t been much of an issue for me.

Yiynova review

I found the resolution to be a little bit disappointing — it pixelates text and can be frustrating if you’re working with typography. This may be a constraint of the technology in general rather than the Yiynova in specific, though I’m uncertain. The pressure sensitivity is excellent and the calibration process is quite bare-bones simple, and took me less time to set up than the hardware.

All told, the Yiynova tidily satisfies my itch to take digital painting to the next level. Many moons ago, before I procured my first tablet, I began with a mouse — a terrible habit which I continued with for a number of years, actually. My first drawing tablet was magical. Suddenly here was something that afforded all the control of a pencil, but attached to a computer! From then on, painting with a mouse seemed a ludicrous anachronism. The feeling I get from using the Yiynova calls back to that quantum leap of ease and ability.

Yiynova review

One thing I have not yet done is link you their website, and this is because it comes with a disclaimer: for the creators of a product that caters to artists and designers, their website is terrible. You cannot make purchases on their website and the navigation is confusing. I’m in Canada, and had to go through several steps before I found out that only place us canucks can purchase one is on amazon.ca. Their documentation is also clunky and full of interesting typos. I’ll chalk this up to their relative youth as a company, but really, Yiynova, please hire a designer!

In summation, if you’re a digital painter who’s looking for that gold standard and you’re wondering if it’s worth it to save up for a Cintiq, I would say that for the difference — at least $2000 versus around $700 — it is worth it to go with the Yiynova. It could be that those who are used to Cintiqs will continue to prefer them. Stranger things have happened. However, the Yiynova is a worthy product that has offered me everything I dreamed of when I was dreaming of tablet monitors, without the crippling price point.

Happy painting!

Yiynova review