Ever since I saw my first Wacom Cintiq, I’ve thought graphic pen displays were a cool technology. However, they were priced for professional artists and I couldn’t justify spending that kind of money just for messing around. But when Monoprice held a clearance sale, I could not resist a Creator 22 (Item #39945) for just $170.
The underlying panel has the good color and viewing angle typical of IPS displays. With a 1920×1080 “Full HD” resolution it is acceptable but not great. Noticeably lagging in today’s world of 4K UHD and Apple’s “Retina” displays. There is a tangle of wires feeding into the back of this unit. A HDMI cable for video, a 12V DC @ 2A power supply, and a USB-A port for graphical input. In theory USB Type-C can handle video, power, and input all in a single cable, but we don’t have that advancement here. Heck, peripherals like this aren’t even supposed to use Type-A ports (peripherals are supposed to be Type-B) but here we are anyway.
According to the enclosed manual, there was supposed to be a USB flash drive in the box with device drivers, but I didn’t find one. Fortunately, there was a download link on the Monoprice product page. While the product has a Monoprice name on it, the driver installer showed a different name: Bosto. Looking over Bosto Tablet’s website, it appears Monoprice Creator 22 is a rebranded variation of the Bosto 22Mini.
Part of Bosto’s driver is a calibration app, where we are to tap the pen at crosshairs drawn in each corner so the driver can map their position to onscreen display. Unfortunately, this calibration app doesn’t work properly on setups with multiple monitors: the crosshairs were drawn on the wrong monitor and I couldn’t figure out how to move it. To work around this issue, I disabled all other monitors to run the calibration routine. Afterwards I could re-enable remaining monitors and thankfully pen input knew to work on the correct display. However, despite running the calibration routine, the cursor position did not always match up with pen position. It seemed fine near the center, but near the edges & corners the position would be off by up to 3mm. I would not be happy if I had paid full list price, but I was willing to tolerate it at discounted price.
Out of the box, there was a clear protective sheet of plastic attached to a tab that told me to remove before use. Under that glossy sheet of plastic is another sheet which is intended to stay. This second sheet has a matte surface that serves two purposes here. In addition to an anti-reflective effect, the texture feels better than a slick glass surface for drawing. Unfortunately, this textured surface sheet is already trying to peel from the monitor, leaving white bubbles all around the edges. I presume this texture sheet will eventually wear out and would need to be replaced, but I found no replacements from either Monoprice or Bosto. This is not a dealbreaker as I might never use it enough to introduce noticeable wear. The other consumable is the pen nib, and here Monoprice was generous. The manual listed six replacements, but I actually had twenty in my box.
Given the above, “acceptable but not great” is my general summary of the Monoprice Creator 22 at its clearance $170 price point. I wouldn’t have been happy if I had paid full price, probably telling myself “shoulda sprung for a Wacom One” if I had. But at clearance price it is a great entry point for me to mess around. If the novelty of pen input fails to capture my long-term attention (quite likely, as I know myself) I still have a serviceable ~22″ IPS 1080p HDMI screen. And if playing with pen input turns into something with actual utility, I may justify moving up to a Wacom Cintiq.
In the meantime, my first impressions here were based on some minimal time with my new toy. Roughly on par with the amount of time I got to play with a Surface Pen on a Surface tablet or an Apple Pencil on an iPad. So relative to a tablet-based drawing solutions, my initial highlights are:
- Will never have palm/finger interference problems.
- Much larger surface area.
- Textured drawing surface feels better than glass.
- Affordable (due to clearance sale.)
- Requires a computer.
- Tangle of cables
- Lower pixel density.
- Dead-end discontinued product.