Drawing tablets have always been a necessary tool for photo retouchers but just about everyone can benefit from incorporating one into their workflow. Now the new Huion HS64 is a great affordable entry-level option.I first started using a drawing tablet in high school as a graphic artist and it took me a long time to get used to it. When I started working as a photo retoucher it quickly became the most important tool I used. I can not imagine doing any photo editing without my large tablet or Microsoft Surface Pro and I use one or the other every single time I edit whether in Photoshop or Lightroom. I consistently recommend getting a tablet to photographers who ask me how they can speed up or improve their editing. I firmly believe when mastered it is an essential tool for professionals. However, I realize the learning curve can sometimes be difficult at first and often the cost of buying something you are just learning to use is pricey. That's where Huion comes in. Huion has been around for some time and has been getting better and better with each new device. Plenty of digital artists both professionals and hobbyists use Huion products with great results. So I knew Huion could produce a great product but my expectations were lower for the HS64 as it is a cheaper entry-level tablet. I was pleasantly surprised after using the tablet for the first month.
Right out of the box the HS64 doesn't disappoint. The packaging is pretty nice for its price point and it comes with all the needed accessories. The tablet's size is roughly 7.87x6.54in with a working surface area of 6.3x4in, which is still compact while still having a sizable working area. It has a decent weight to it with zero flex, yet still light and thin enough to slip it into a laptop sleeve for on the go. There are four fully customizable quick access buttons located at the top. Each with a slightly raised surface and firm click when pressed. The working surface is smooth and seems to be prone to finger smudges but is easily cleaned.
The pen is similar in design to most tablet stylus with a wider taper where the hand grips it. There is no eraser nub at the rear like a lot of other brands but I didn't really find I missed it. It is extremely light to hold which might make some feel it is a little cheap but it has zero flex and no loose pieces. There are two buttons along the side that felt much better than my Wacom pen, just slightly raised with no wiggle. It doesn't need a battery or to be charged getting its power through use with the tablet via electromagnetic resonance. The material on the grip is quite soft and doesn't feel slippery which is something I have a problem with my Microsoft Surface Pen. Overall the pen feels better than other similarly priced entry-level stylus and my only real complaint is the pen nib. It works fine and even comes with a bunch of extras which is nice but I would have liked a variety of hardness options. I tend to like a soft nib that feels more like a pencil than a pen tip. I realize this is a personal preference but different photographers and artists have different needs so variety would have been nice.
I really appreciate that the four quick access buttons are completely customizable. I find I use a lot of macros that are not usually available with other brands. It was very easy within the Huion software to program exactly what I wanted for each button.
Using the pen on the working surface felt decent. I’m not a very good artist but it was super responsive and fluid. I had no issues getting nice consistent lines. The sensitivity is very impressive and much better than I would have thought for a device at this price. The pressure sensitivity has 8192 levels which seems pretty consistent with other products on the market. The pen has a resolution of 5080 LPI which is also very good. The pen also has a decent tilt range making it possible to do some interesting shading movements.
The tablet works on both Windows and MacOS, but more interestingly it also works on Android 6.0 or higher devices. I tested this out on both my cell phone and my Nexus 7 tablet. Both devices worked right away by just connecting with the 2 supplied Micro USB and USB-C OTG adapters. I tested it out on several drawing apps without any issues and even Adobe Photoshop, Sketch, and Illustrator. I feel like this is probably a feature more useful for digital artists rather than photographers. Although I do a lot of mobile editing on my cell phone both for social media and sending test shots to clients. If I really needed to use a tablet on my device I would probably just pull out my laptop. I was surprised to see that it even worked with Lightroom mobile which maybe I could see using with selective brushes on a larger tablet. It draws its power from your device so make sure you have a full charge as it will drain the device faster. It is important to mention that when using the tablet on Android devices it only uses the left half of the working surface. Essentially the equivalent of the device's screen in portrait mode. Also of note, you can't turn the device into landscape mode as the tablet surface doesn't change with it. Although I suppose you could simply turn the actual tablet, this is not an intended method.
What I Liked
- The overall size and weight
- Pen sensitivity and performance
- Customizable buttons
What I Didn't Like
- Only one type of nib
- No Bluetooth connectivity
- Would like heavier pen
- No touch dial
If getting a tablet is something you've been considering or you are looking for something thin and light to take on the road with you. Then I think this is a great option. The sensitivity is on par with much more expensive devices and it has all the basic needs for typical photo retouching. You won't regret getting the HS64 and adding a tablet to your workflow is sure to speed it up. If you're a more seasoned tablet user than Huion makes a variety of more feature rich devices while still at a low price. I prefer a larger working surface area and the new HS610 has the same performance with a lot of the missing features of HS64 at a larger size. However, I have often thought of getting a smaller device for bringing on the road and the HS64 fits that need perfectly. I don't even notice it slipped into my laptop sleeve.