Today’s guest blog post is by Matt Strieby, from NewLeafDesign.com.
I have to admit I almost jumped out of my chair when I saw the price of the Yiynova MSP19U+ graphics tablet.
Some background: I had been wanting a 20” Cintiq tablet ever since I saw the one my sister bought almost 10 years ago. I’m sure she was getting tired of seeing the drool marks on her tablet every time I left after visiting. But at $2000+ a pop, it was never on my “short list” of purchases. Something else always took precedent: a new monitor, a new PC, storage solutions, software upgrades…you get the idea. So I “made do” with my positively Stone Age first-gen Wacom Intuos 9 x 12. But being as my brain is wired like, well, a human being, my desire for being able to draw in a way that actually allowed me to see both my hand and the drawing at the same time never waned. I started thinking I could live with a 13” Cintiq. Hell, for half the price of the big unit, I was willing to lose some real estate. While looking over reviews for that tablet, I stumbled upon the Yiynova.
Okay, this is waaaaay too good to be true. That was my first thought. For $620, I imagined some half-assed pile of bottom-drawer electronics and el cheapo plastic that barely worked. But I started reading reviews and watching YouTube videos and, to my great surprise, it seemed most people actually liked this piece of Chinese tech. Actually, not just liked, but loved. Seriously. So after much hemming, hawing, and general vacillation (I hate making big purchases), I took the plunge.
And I’m so glad I did.
A lot has been written about the Yiynova in the two or so years since it appeared on the graphics landscape, so I don’t want to duplicate too much of that. However, I realize that as graphic designer that uses–gasp–Windows (cue sinister organ music/thunder), I might be able to offer a unique perspective. I’ll give you a minute to regain your composure…or consciousness. Yes, I am a graphic designer that uses a Windows system. Long story that, so I won’t bore you here. Most of the reviews I found were from Mac users, and while I found them generally helpful, I was a bit frustrated by the lack of Windows-user perspectives. So I intend to fill that void here.
During my searches, I had managed to find a handful of Windows user reviews, but all of them were using 7 or earlier, so I was greatly worried how the Yiynova would interact with Windows 8.1, which is what I’m running. Despite all the gnashing of teeth and and general hand-wringing over the current Windows OS, let me say that it’s not as bad as all the negative press makes it out to be. It’s far from perfect, and it can be annoying, but once you figure out how to more or less stay in the desktop environment, it works as well as 7 (and that was a good OS, even by non-Redmond standards). But the thought of running a piece of Chinese hardware with Microsoft’s newest system did give me pause. I’m not dissing Chinese products or Microsoft (well, okay, maybe I’m dissing Microsoft), but, well…you know. Maybe not the best combination?
It turns out I didn’t have any major reasons to worry, but there have been (and continue to be) some “hiccups.” So let me detail what I did to set up my Yiynova and the bumps I encountered along the way and what I did/am doing to solve them.
Setting up the Yiynova
First of all, let me reiterate what almost every user, Mac or Windows, has said because it can’t be said often enough: you must eliminate any trace of any Wacom driver on your system! To take it one step further, I even removed my old Wacom from the office and it’s currently gathering dust in the garage (goodbye, old friend!). Totally unnecessary, I know, but I’m funny like that.
As other reviewers have noted, the set-up guide and user manual are all written in Engrish, and are thus mostly to completely useless. Take this gem, for instance: “Pay attention that at the ‘button’ window in there you will see the ‘monitor mapping’ block, which shown ‘monitor 1’ only while the monitor setting at mirror mode.” Right. Couldn’t be clearer. So, I decided to slog through the set-up on my own, drawing from things I had learned by watching the YouTube reviews. What follows is what I did, step-by-step. I can’t guarantee this will work for everyone running Windows 8/8.1, but I hope it can be of some use if you find yourself in this situation.
However, the interface in this tab is not exactly the most intuitive design I’ve seen. It took me a minute to realize that you couldn’t change the monitor by simply clicking on one of the other monitor icons (that would make too much sense, right?). You have to go to a drop down menu near the bottom and select it there. So after selecting “Monitor 3” from the drop-down, I was finally drawing on the tablet.
After that, I was able to do the pressure test and 9-point calibration with ease. Those tabs are, thankfully, pretty self-explanatory.
Well, that was pretty much it for basic set-up. Despite my fears, I was able to get the tablet upacked, hooked up and working properly in under an hour. Of course, that was just my first worry to be allayed. How would it perform on a day-to-day basis? That’s will covered in my next entry.
If you find it helpful, here are the “vital specs” of my system:
First of all, I built my own box. Just so you know. I’m not saying these are all the best choices, but I tried to make the best choices inside my budget:
Processor: Intel Core i7-4771
MB: Asus Z87 Plus
Graphics: EVGA GTX 650
Primary HD: Samsung 849 EVO SSD (120 GB)
Storage: Western Digital (Black) 2 x 2TB (RAID 1)
PS: Corsair AX850
Memory: Viper DDR3/1600 MHz (4 x 8 GB)
OS: Windows 8.1
Monitor 1: Dell Ultrasharp U2410 (24”)
Monitor 2: Dell Ultrasharp 2001FP (20”- it’s ancient, but it’s a good place to put overflow)
Monitor 3: Yiynova MSP19U+ Yay!
The Yiynova is on the far left. Now that I have so much hardware, I will soon be building a new full-wall-length “wraparound” desk set-up that will accommodate all of this better.
Matt Strieby is a freelance graphic designer specializing in cd package art for independent bands and musicians. He lives in Washington State with his wife, daughter, two cats, and several million unnamed dust mites. A self-described “plant nerd,” Matt would rather be out in the forest sketching trees, but it’s darned hard to put food on the table doing that. Graphic design isn’t a bad alternative. His portfolio can be viewed at NewLeafDesign.com.
Stay tuned for Part II of Matt’s report, where he details his day-to-day experiences with the Yiynova MSP19u.