Saturday, January 6, 2018

Huion 1060 Plus graphics tablet: review

A few months ago I finally caved and upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10.

I'd tried Win10 before, when they were doing their intensive free-upgrade marketing, but went back to Win7 simply because my old (maybe fifteen years old) Wacom Intuos tablet lost all pressure sensitivity in Photoshop, and nothing I did could get it back. Wacom were no help; they haven't produced any updated drivers for that tablet for years.

The situation was somewhat improved with recent versions of Win10, as the Intuos worked just fine in conjunction with Windows Ink, Win10's own native tablet control software. In everything except Photoshop. I suspect this is just lazy bloody-mindedness on Adobe's part; the fact that the tablet works OK in every other application indicates to me that they could do the same if they chose, but choose not to.

Anyway, I just worked around Photoshop's intransigence for a while, but then decided to buy a new tablet. There's no way I could afford another Wacom, so I went searching for something cheaper, but still capable. The one I settled on is the Huion 1060 Plus.

It's slightly larger overall than my old Intuos, but much more of that footprint is taken up by working area, and the form-factor is better suited to modern landscape monitors. It's not a wireless tablet, unlike most these days, but I don't mind that — the Intuos was a corded tablet, and I've found that wireless models have a tendency to get laggy when the strain goes on. The Huion claims a resolution of 8192 levels of sensitivity and about 5000 samples/second, but I haven't really noticed any particular improvement in feel over the old Intuos' 1024.

One lack that is significant: the Huion doesn't appear to support tilt sensitivity at all. That's not a major deal for most of my work, but I have made use of it from time to time, and it's a pity not to have it.

There are 12 configurable shortcut buttons on the left of the working area. They're not something I'm likely to have need of; I tend to use the keyboard for all of that.

The tablet has 8GB of internal storage (in which are stored the driver installation files; something none of the installation instructions thought to mention). 8GB isn't a huge amount, but it would be enough to store a few images if you were moving the tablet from machine to machine.

The Huion's pen is actively powered, unlike the passive pen of the Intuos, and it lacks the eraser nib on the back end that has become pretty standard for pretty much every other tablet pen I've seen. Its eraser function is moved to one of the side buttons, the other of which is the "right-click" button. It's not as comfortable to use as the Intuos' pen, but it's not terrible. The pen is recharged via its own proprietary USB cable, which is something I'm going to have to be sure to keep track of, since I very much doubt I could replace it easily if I lost it.

All in all, the Huion is not as good as a Wacom tablet, even one as old as mine. However, it did only cost about a sixth of what I would have to pay for a comparable Wacom, and it's certainly good enough for 99% of my requirements. It would be great if I could have both tablets installed at once, so that I could use the Intuos in the apps that it works in, but alas, they do not work or play well together.

Note: before I found the installation files in the tablet's internal storage, I tried to download the drivers from Huion's website. The site is incredibly slow and unreliable; I tried twice to get the 8MB of files, and both times I ended up with zip files that were prematurely terminated at about the half way point, having taken about half an hour each time to get that four megabytes of data before they were cut off.