The Huion GT-220 is a budget alternative to the Wacom Cintiq 22HD. The Huion retails at about $1,000 and the Cintiq is $2,000. So from a pure cost standpoint, at half the price, it’s already an attractive option, but how does it actually stack up?
Above is video review summary of what I’ve written below. In the written review, I’ll dive a little further into my thoughts about the tablet, including some of its issues and quirks.
The tablet itself is a really nice size, it sits comfortably on my desktop and offers plenty of room to draw. It’s substantially smaller than my Cintiq 24HD, which is a nice change, considering the Cintiq is like putting a desk on top of your desk.
It looks like it might be built out of metal, but it’s actually plastic. The unit itself is quite thin, but it has some nice weight to it, so it doesn’t feel cheap. The build isn’t quite as good as the Wacom products I own, but it’s not bad either, totally acceptable for a cheaper alternative.
The most obvious thing though, is the lack of buttons on the tablet. Wacom users will be used to having hotkeys, but you’ll have to do without them here. I personally don’t use them anyway, I just have a small keyboard I keep off to the side. It provides me with way more functionality than physical tablet buttons, it’s just a matter of learning the shortcuts.
The stand it uses is easy to operate, and typically fairly sturdy, but I’ve found that there’s a bit of wobble occasionally if you go at the unit too hard on the upper corners. Another issue is that the cords attach at the bottom of the unit, which means they have a tendency to get in the way. They’ll sometimes try to peek through the front, which makes the unit uneven, and if you lay the unit down too far, it’ll rest on top of them and become wobbly. It’s more of a minor annoyance than anything, but I do wish they had the cords attach from the top or side.
The last real issue I have with the build is with the buttons. The power key and the the menu buttons are on the bottom of the unit, so it ends up resting on them if you tilt it too high. I haven’t had an issue with accidental presses, but it makes them very difficult to get to.
The unit I got also came with a screen protector, which I believe you’ll have to purchase separately. Unlike Cintiqs, the screen is actually quite glossy, and the screen protector minimizes that, as well as gives you a slightly rougher surface to draw on, which is comparable to a Cintiq. I prefer to work with it on, but otherwise, it’s still not a bad feel.
The display itself is solid, and probably the GT-220’s strongest point. The screen is an IPS panel, which means it’s higher quality than most LCD displays. This means that you’re going to get solid color reproduction, crisp pixels, great viewing angles, and often higher brightness. This is a definite upgrade from Huion’s last display. Plus, this screen is definitely brighter than my Cintiq 24HD and main monitor, so I really appreciate that.
And, like any new display, you’re going to have to do some color calibration, but I found getting the colors right to be fairly easy compared to other experiences I’ve had. Out of the box, the display was a little too cool, and a little desaturated, so I tweaked it for about 5 or 10 minutes until I was happy.
The stylus is decent. It doesn’t feel cheaper, but it doesn’t feel expensive either, it’s kind of middle of the road. In terms of drawing and painting, the stylus works quite well, the pressure sensitivity is nice and it offers consistent feedback. It has 2048 levels of pressure, just like the latest Wacom tablets. One of the key features it doesn’t have is tilt sensitivity, which I missed at first, but soon realized it’s not something I use terribly often, so it’s not super hard to work around.
It also doesn’t have an eraser like Wacom styluses, and instead has a port so you can charge it via USB. The lack of eraser might bother some, but for me it’s not a problem. As far as the battery is concerned, it does seem to last quite a while, so I wouldn’t be too concerned about it dying while you’re working.
There are a couple problems I encountered with the stylus though. The first, is that while you can program two keys on it, for some reason it likes to press the wrong one about half the time. This could be a driver issue, or more likely just poor manufacturing. So ultimately, I had to set both keys to be the same button press.
Another issue is that the stylus has to be fairly close to the screen for the button press to work. At first it was annoying, but I quickly got used to it, just something to be aware of. The last issue I had, and hopefully they’ll fix this with a driver update, is that it doesn’t register when you’re holding a key down. So if you do any functions that require you to hold one of the stylus buttons down, it might not work as it seems to register it as a single click, rather than a constant press. Minor issue, but worth noting.
You also might notice a bit of jitter/shaking when you’re holding your stylus towards the outer edges of the screen, but this is common to many screen tablets. I found it to be almost negligible, plus you’ll typically be working in the center of the screen anyway, not the corners or edges.
Overall, it’s pretty good, and I’m sure they’ll work out some of the kinks as time goes on.
The first issue you might run into after getting this unit is the installation. I found that my drivers simply wouldn’t install because they couldn’t overwrite a couple of Windows files. Apparently this is a common problem, and Huion support was super helpful with it. The solution was to simply delete the the files it was trying to replace, and it installed fine. However, if you still have any sort of Wacom product, deleting those files means it’ll no longer work. Below is a quick video I made to show you how to work around that.
And as far as the driver options are concerned, you’re basically limited to pressure sensitivity settings and setting up the keys on the stylus. This is a bit of a letdown considering the amount of options the Wacom drivers have, but without all the hotkeys, it does make a little bit of sense. I do wish there was more control over the pressure curve though, and that you could map the stylus buttons to specific programs rather than having a global setting. I also wish you could set a button to switch to another monitor, but the only way to switch which monitor you’re working on is manually in the driver window.
Overall though, aside from some minor quibbles, painting is a pretty solid experience and it behaves pretty much how you would expect it to. I’d say it’s very comparable to working on a Cintiq, so it’s pretty easy to sort of push those little nitpicks to the side.
The one thing I did notice however, is sometimes the pressure input seems to be inconsistent. You can watch the review above to see what I mean. It’s actually fairly minor, it’s like a very small jitter in the size/opacity of your brush strokes. The fix I found for this is the Lazy Nezumi plugin, which I show in the video. You might not notice it at all, but I tend to be picky about technology.
If you’re looking for a solid Cintiq alternative, I’d say the Huion GT-220 is worth looking into. It’s not without some flaws, but at $1000 less than the 22HD Cintiq, it’s definitely an attractive option. I didn’t find any of the issues I ran into to be anything that would make me throw up my hands and quit using it.
Overall it feels pretty good and looks great, so if you can get by without some of the bells and whistles that the Cintiq offers, I think you’ll find that it absolutely gets the job done.
I hope you found this review helpful, and feel free to ask any questions you might have!
You can see the Amazon listing for the tablet here: amzn.to/1pdPJws
Reid Southen a.k.a. Rahll
I'm a professional freelance illustrator, concept artist, and matte painter working in the entertainment industry. I love just about anything sci-fi related, and I'm a huge fan of film and games. I also love lens flares, gotta have lens flares.
Websites: ReidSouthenArt.com - Carbonmade - Blog
Age: 26 Residence: Rochester Hills, MI