Parblo Coast16 Review

Parblo was kind enough to supply me with the Parblo Coast16 for testing and review purposes. I actually received this tablet around 2 months ago, but the older drivers did not work so I was only able to legitimately start testing the tablet once they released their new May 19, 2018 drivers which are actually stable.
Aug. 13, 2018 Update: Parblo has removed these new drivers from their website, so you can only download the old drivers for the time being. I’m not sure why they decided to take down the new drivers even though they were working quite nicely for me.
Sep. 21, 2018 Update: Parblo re-uploaded the drivers I used in this review to their downloads page. They also have the download link for the other driver in case one or the other doesn’t work for you.

As usual, I write my reviews with my completely honest opinions about the worth of a tablet compared to other choices currently available. However, if you believe that receiving a tablet for free automatically makes a reviewer biased… Well, you can take your leave now.

That aside, the Parblo Coast16 is a relatively new tablet aimed at being an affordable 15.6-inch drawing monitor for new and experienced artists. The specifications and appearance look fairly good, but whether it’s actually as good as it seems, let’s find out.

Onto the review!

Please note!
-I am not a Mac or Linux user!! I only tested this tablet on Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.
-Prices may have changed since I wrote this review.
-Check when a review was written. Some aspects may improve or change over time, so it is in your best interest to concentrate on reviews which are less than 1 year old.



Table of Contents



How good is this tablet?

Design: Quite nice! (For right-handed people)
Build quality: Fairly good.
Screen quality: Not particularly good.
Tablet drivers: Decent, but quirky.
Drawing experience: Very good!

Overall: Decent, but screen quality is a bit disappointing.

My verdict:
-If you are considering this tablet, it is certainly a workable option. However, it is not particularly appealing compared to other 15.6-inch drawing monitors in the same price range when taking the lower screen quality and quirky drivers into account.


Important specifications

Price: 399.00 USD (when this review was written) Amazon.com
Active Area: 11.8 x 7.5 inches, 15.6 inch diagonal
Resolution: FHD 1920 x 1080 (16:9 ratio)
Display Type: IPS
Pen Type: Battery-free
Pen Buttons: 1 side buttons, eraser on end
Pen Pressure: 8192
Pen Tilt Sensitivity: None
Expresskeys: 8 buttons, 1 rocker ring
Multi-touch: No


What’s in the box?

2 - Tablet Box

The Parblo Coast16 comes in a classy white box with the tablet printed on the front. I quite like these kinds of straightforward boxes.

3 - Contents

The things that come in the box:

  • Tablet
  • Pen
  • Pen Case
  • Combined cable (HDMI and USB type-A to Mini-HDMI and USB type-C)
  • Pen nib replacements x6
  • Screen cleaning cloth
  • Anti-fouling glove
  • Driver installation CD
  • Quick start guide

4 - Tablet overall

The Parblo Coast16 is a fairly good looking tablet with a surprisingly big screen for such a thin tablet.

The screen is a slightly textured glass panel which gives a tiny bit more resistance than a smooth glass screen. The texture helps reduce the glare of reflected lights by a decent amount.

The tablet feels fairly sturdy when twisting it between my hands and I don’t think it should break too easily when using it normally.

5 - Tablet thin

This tablet is quite thin and is probably quite easy to carry around. It’s a bit long though, so it will not fit in bags that cannot fit 17-inch laptops

6 - Tablet buttons

There are 8 buttons and a wheel on the side. They feel decent to use, although they’re a bit on the loud side.

The Parblo Coast16 comes with two legs built into the back of the tablet. If you don’t have a separate tablet stand, you can use the tablet at a 30 degree angle using these two legs.

There are two problems with this design. The first problem is that this is only for right-handed users, and left-handed users cannot use it. The second problem is that a 30 degree angle is still fairly low and can be uncomfortable to use for long sessions.
However, that being said, this is still better than not having this option at all.

8 - Tablet ports

The tablet runs off of USB type-C and Mini-HDMI, but not to worry, the cable they included connects to standard USB type-A and HDMI on your computer.

9 - Cable

The tablet is powered by the USB port. My desktop PC only has USB 2.0 ports and that was able to supply enough power for the tablet, so basically all computers should be able to power the tablet with USB unless you have an extremely old computer which only has USB 1.0 ports. In that case, you will most likely need to plug in both of the USB type-A plugs to pull enough power.

The tablet comes with a battery-free pen with an all plastic body. The pen is fairly comfortable to hold with a gradual taper which makes the top thinner than the bottom.

However, the pen button (yes, singular pen button) is flush with the surface of the pen making it impossible to use without looking at the pen and searching for the button. Because I couldn’t tell where the button was just by feeling the pen, there were many times while I was drawing that I accidentally pressed it because it just so happened to end up under my finger without me noticing.
I believe having the pen button flush with the surface is an extremely bad design as it 1) makes it harder to find and use quickly, 2) you can’t feel it so you can accidentally press it if you re-grip your pen and the button ends up under your finger, and 3) the pen gets to roll freely off your desk because there are no protruding buttons to stop it.

The top of the pen has an eraser tip which has good pressure sensitivity just like the pen tip.

The Parblo Coast16 comes with a very nice pen case which also holds the replacement pen nibs and pen nib remover. A pen case is always a great freebie in my books.


Screen quality

12 - Tablet screen

The Parblo Coast16 has okay screen colours out of the box, but they’re a bit washed out at first. If you can, I recommend calibrating the screen colours, but you can certainly still use the tablet without calibrating.

I calibrated my screen with a ColorMunki Display and DisplayCal.

To access the colour options, you should open the monitor settings and go to the “Color Temp.” section. There, you should change the setting to “User” and that will allow you to manually adjust the level of each colour.
Aside from that, the monitor settings are as shown in the photos.

14 - Screen side

The IPS screen has fairly good viewing angles, although the texture of the screen makes the image blurry when viewing the screen from extreme angles. However, anywhere where your head would naturally be while drawing, the colours look the same which is very good.

15 - Tablet Gamut

Despite the screen colours seeming quite good to the naked eye, my calibrator says otherwise. These results are in line with what Teoh Yi Chie noticed about the colour gamut on his Parblo Coast16 review (link). He measured a low 75% sRGB and 57% AdobeRGB gamut, and I measured 70% sRGB and 49% AdobeRGB. Either way, this is clearly not the 72% NTSC (roughly 100% sRGB) that Parblo advertises on their Coast16 product page.

This low colour gamut is the biggest con about this tablet. As I was drawing on this tablet, I was unable to see the difference between saturations of 80%-100% because of the low colour gamut. Because of this, I had to keep the drawing open on one of my other monitors while doing all my colouring to make sure I wasn’t over-saturating any of my colours.
I believe if you are buying a drawing monitor, you should be able to do all your art on that monitor, so having such a low colour gamut like this is quite a big con.

16 - Nvidia settings

One thing to note if you have Nvidia drivers is to go into the Nvidia settings and change the Output Dynamic Range from “Limited” to “Full”, and the Output Color Depth from “8 bpc” to “12 bpc” for the Parblo Coast16. Doing this and then re-measuring the colour gamut gave me a 4% increase from 66% sRGB to 70% sRGB. However, even then it is still quite low.


Tablet drivers

Aug. 13, 2018 Update: Parblo has removed these new drivers from their website, so you can only download the old drivers for the time being. I’m not sure why they decided to take down the new drivers even though they were working quite nicely for me.

The tablet drivers are pretty easy to install. Just go download the latest version from parblo.com and remove all other tablet drivers you have on your computer before installing it.

17 - Drivers icon

Once you install the drivers, it should ask you to restart your computer to allow the applications to be installed properly and you should let it do so.
After you restart, an icon should automatically appear in your System Tray which looks like the above. You can access the tablet settings by clicking on that. (The System Tray is the area on the taskbar by the clock.)

18 - Drivers all

All the tablet settings are accessible on this one window.

The pen button and shortcut keys are customizable to basically all functions possible. I’m not sure what the “(reserved function)” function is for.

Unfortunately, the wheel on this tablet is not customizable and only has 2 functions assigned to it: Zoom and brush size.
I am a firm believer that spin wheels should be customizable in the off chance that the pre-built functions do not work in certain applications. If the wheel is customizable, then you can manually assign shortcuts that work, or just use the wheel for different shortcuts altogether. A wheel without any customization is quite a big disappointment to me.

The “Current Coordinate Mode” decides whether the tablet is mapped to all your monitors, or just one monitor. The shortcut changes between those two modes.
It’s an interesting feature, but it could have been better if you could toggle between every monitor. Or better yet, if you could choose which specific monitors to toggle between.

The “Monitor Setting…” button opens up the Windows Display options. In the Windows Display options, make sure to check that the Parblo Coast16 is set to 100% scaling since there can be problems with calibration if you use a different scaling percentage.
On my Windows 10 computer, the scaling defaulted to 150% scaling, whereas on my Windows 8.1 computer the scaling properly defaulted to 100%, so make sure you check!

20 - Screen setting

The “Screen Setting…” button allows you to pick the monitor the tablet is mapped to. Follow the instructions on screen to do so.

21 - Pen calibration

The “Pen Calibration…” button opens the pen calibration. It is a 16-point calibration which is quite rare for any drawing monitor.

22 - Pen calibration mine

The 16-point calibration was fairly useful in correcting the weird default calibration that my Coast16 came with. It would have been nice if the default calibration would set the cursor to directly under the pen as it normally would, but I had to play around with the calibration a lot to fix the weird default calibration it came with.
As you can see in the above image, the red dots are where I pressed the pen just to get an acceptable calibration (the spots where the lines cross is where you’re supposed to press).
This is why I mentioned that the drivers were quirky at the beginning of this review. The default calibration is just plain weird, and calibrating takes quite a bit of effort.

23 - calibration issue

The above is a picture of the calibration window when I tried to do it on my Windows 8.1 laptop. I can’t see the bottom 8 points because they’re cut off for some reason, so I can’t calibrate it.
However, the solution to this was to change to single screen mode and do the calibration in single screen mode since all the points show up that way. Then, after you finish calibrating, switch back to extend screen mode and the calibration is how you want it to be.

The Parblo tablet drivers do not have any options for saving/importing driver settings. You may want to write down all your shortcut key functions in a notepad file just in case you need to reinstall the drivers.


The drawing experience!

The drawing experience on this tablet was actually quite good despite the calibration issues which I had. The slightly textured glass was pretty nice to draw on, and the pen pressure was smooth and controlled.

I only truly test my tablets on Clip Studio Paint because that’s all I use. You should contact Parblo support directly if you want to know if the tablet is compatible with the drawing program you use, but most major drawing programs should be compatible. Their customer support is also very kind so there’s no need to be afraid of contacting them directly.

The line control was quite good, and even with the slow diagonal line test, you can only see a slight bit of wobble. This amount of wobble should have no effect on your drawing at all.

The temperature of the tablet stayed consistently cool the whole time I was drawing on it. The only warm spot on the tablet is in the middle bottom near the Parblo logo, but it’s such a low heat that I thought it was just from my hand warming up the glass.
Extended use was no problem at all because of the lack of heat build-up.

I noticed that some of my pen clicks would be dropped along the edges of the tablet where my layers are. It was slightly annoying as it happened quite frequently, but it never got in the way of my drawing because that only happens along the edges.

Another thing I noticed was that I would accidentally press the button on my pen pretty frequently because you seriously can’t feel the difference between the button and the pen.
Luckily, I had my pen button mapped to Mouse Middle Click so it did absolutely nothing every time I pressed it, but I can imagine having it set to something else like Mouse Right Click (eyedropper tool in CSP) and picking up random colours. I am absolutely not sold on this pen button design where it is flush with the surface of the pen and made of the same material to boot.

The biggest problem that I had while drawing was that I had to check all my colours on a different monitor due to the colour gamut of the Parblo Coast16 being so low. Like I mentioned before, colours with saturations above 80% all looked the same on the Parblo Coast16, making it basically impossible to make proper colour choices above that saturation range. Not being able to tell the colours that you are picking is very annoying, especially on a drawing monitor where you expect to be able to do all your work (including colour picking) on the drawing monitor.
If you don’t own a colour accurate monitor or a colorimeter, you probably won’t notice how bad the Parblo Coast16 colour gamut is because the colours look nice to the naked eye, but trust me, the colour gamut is really lacking.


Conclusion

In all honesty, I cannot recommend this tablet, especially when taking into consideration the competing options such as the Huion GT-156HD v2 and XP-Pen Artist15.6, both of which have better colour gamuts.

Until Parblo releases the promised tilt functionality for the Parblo Coast16, or you just absolutely need the pen eraser, I just see no reason to recommend it over the other choices, especially when the calibration is so quirky and the colour gamut is, well… really bad. I really hope Parblo will rework this tablet so that the colour gamut is actually the 72% NTSC that they advertise.


Places to buy the tablet

Parblo.com | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca
People living in other regions should check their regions Amazon.

If you have any questions about the tablet, feel free to ask me!

Author: Nikage

I am a hobbyist artist. Ever since I bought my first Wacom alternative tablet, I've become interested in finding out what other alternative tablets are good, and trying to guide people to see that there's more than just Wacom on the market.

One thought on “Parblo Coast16 Review”

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