XP-PEN Artist Pro 16 Review

The XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 combines portability and great features at an irresistible price...
XP-PEN Artist Pro 16 Review

Contents

This XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 review falls in the entry-level category for digital artists, but is it just that, or is there more to it? This article will be answering this question and many more you may have about the XP-Pen Artist Pro 16.

XP-PEN Artist Pro 16 product overview

So, what are you getting with this XP-Pen model? Well, you get an awesome drawing experience, for starters. It’s a lightweight and well-built tablet with impeccable color accuracy.

However, it doesn’t come with a stand, and the mess of wires will irritate you if you like working with minimal disturbance. Also, get ready to deal with a complex installation process.

But the Pro 16 has some familiar features as previous XP-Pen models. The “slim, sleek, and swift” design resembles the Innovator 16. The build quality also follows the same pattern as the Innovator 16. 

XP-Pen Artist Pro 16

Dimensions: 7.45 x 10 x 0.35 inches | Display Area: 13.5 x 7.6 inches | Display Resolution: 3840 x2160 UHD | Item Weight: 1520 grams | Shortcut Keys: 8 | Connection type: USB-C | Compatible with Keyboard: No | Processor: N/A | Memory: N/A

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Specifications

Dimensions: 17.45 x 10 x 0.35 inches | Display Area (Active area): 13.5 x 7.6 | Item Weight: 4 pounds | Display Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | RGB Gamma Ray: 2.0 | Response time (report rate): 16.4ms/220RPS (max) | Connectivity Type: USB cable | Supported software: Windows, Mac, Chrome, and Linux | Battery Power: AC power | Multi-Touch: Yes | Pen Pressure Level: 8192 levels | Express Keys: Yes | Resolution: 5080LPI | Viewing Angle: 178o | Display Colors: 16.7 million

Who is this for?

If you are looking for an awesome entry-level graphics tablet and can’t afford the more expensive Wacom or Huion versions, this is may be the one for you. If you are a serious artist looking for a stable entry-level graphics tablet, the Pro 16 has everything you need.

The stylus is top quality, the color accuracy doesn’t lie, and you’ll love the design and build quality. XP-Pen made it even more attractive with a 16-inch display. We have seen similar entry-level tablets with 13-inch displays. This one doesn’t cut corners.

Why we like it

The Artist Pro 16 seems to have a lot going for it. XP-Pen didn’t want to make it a completely different product from the previous Innovator 16 so they chose to stick with some features here.

However, there are elements in this device that feel entirely new and excellent for any digital artist.

The stylus, for example, has been improved to work even better with the display. XP-Pen added the X3 smart chip to make the pen feel like drawing with a natural pencil on paper. The response time is great, and the overall drawing experience is a breeze. 

Another thing that we love about this display is the fully laminated screen. This means you get a faster response time, and the parallax is almost nonexistent. You can even use the pen to cut out a selection easily.

The color gamut is another great thing here. XP-Pen tells us it’s up to 92% Adobe RGB. Our own tests gave us 99% Adobe RGB. That’s colossal and as precise as it gets. When drawing using many colors, this device should be fun to use. 

Flaws but not deal breakers

The only flaw that seems to stick out like a sore thumb on this thing is the power connection. There seems to be way too many cables to work with. Like you’ll see below. There is one USB cable that extends into 3 different cables.

We’re used to having one USB-C to USB-C cable for most drawing displays. The wire mess just makes this device look a bit clunky. However, for those who need a HDMI connection, this shouldn’t be a huge deal. 

Pros

  • It’s a thin, lightweight display. It’s sturdy and looks durable too.
  • It has decent gamut coverage and color precision.
  • The stylus has a new technology – X3 smart chip
  • It comes with function keys – a physical dial and a touch dial
  • It comes at a great price

Cons

  • Still has the standard 1080p resolution
  • RGB gains and color temperature all over the place – no control and tough to calibrate
  • The 3-way cable gets in the way
  • It doesn’t come with a stand
  • HDMI-only display connection.

Features and benefits 

Let’s look at what the Pro 16 offers you.

Key Features

There are some similarities between the Artist Pro 16 and Innovator 16. However, these features stand out;

  • Two customizable dials
  • 8 Express keys
  • New X3 smart chip Stylus
  • Ergonomic 9mm screen
  • Anti-glare film
  • A full laminated display

Design and build quality

XP-Pen decided to stick with the same design and build as the earlier Innovator 16 graphics tablet. The design features a slim, swift, and sleek tablet. Obviously, buyers must have loved what XP-Pen did with the Innovator 16, and they decided not to change a winning formula.

The design chosen here gives the tablet a premium look. It also features a solid metal finished with a space gray color. It’s only 0.25-inch thick. This makes it highly portable. You can easily carry it with you on your travels.

But XP-Pen chose to include what we would call a “clunky” 3-way cable that you must use to power and connect the tablet. So here goes the mess of wires that you should expect with this Pro 16 device.

A USB-C port connects to a HDMI cable for display, a USB-A for pen input, and another USB-A for power. We would argue that a single USB-C to USB-C cable would’ve sufficed here. But this is maybe the biggest drawback with this pen display. 

For customization, XP-Pen did well. There are 8 programmable buttons on the left side of the screen. There is also a mechanical dial and, of course, the touch-sensitive surface that acts as the secondary dial. 

We love the shortcut buttons. They are nicely dampened and feel great when you click them. The materials used feel more premium and classy too. 

But there’s something about the mechanical dial. As we said, the top side is touch-sensitive, which was a bit of a problem with some of us. If you have fat fingers, it gets in the way. Because the dial itself is small, we kept activating the touch dial all the time.

However, the good thing is that you can turn the touch dial off in the settings. It’s great to have the option of touch, but we found it more clumsy than convenient.

You can use the mechanical dial to zoom or adjust the brush size. However, it doesn’t have a click mechanism. It’s a smooth rotation. That presents a problem because there’s no tactile feedback, and you won’t really know how far you’ve zoomed in until it’s too late.

We found ourselves having to adjust backward every time because we kept overshooting. That’s also because of the delay between the mechanical input and the digital output. But that’s just us nitpicking. Not many entry-level graphics tablets come with a physical dial and eight programmable keys. 

The back of the display tablet is just plain. There are no rubber feet for resting on the desk. You’ll need a stand. But no stand is included with the Pro 16. You’ll have to order one separately from XP-Pen’s website.

The Innovator 16 came with a stand, albeit a cheap one, but a stand nonetheless. If you love working with a stand, this one doesn’t include one. We had to rest it on our laps. It was a bit awkward with the cords tethered to the desktop, but we had no other option. 

We also love the pen case. It comes with 9 spare nibs and a small nib remover (circular). The case is made of the same material as the tablet (we’re not entirely sure).

The case is awesome and makes an enjoyable click sound when pushed to reveal the pen and nibs. The only thing we felt they should’ve done is to include a few different nibs instead of the 9 identical ones. Different nibs can add to a drawing’s liveliness. 

Screen and resolution

Like we have said, much of Artist Pro 16 mirrors the previous Innovator 16. The screen too looks very similar. There’s a slight difference, and that is the work area. Whereas the Innovator 16 had a 15.4” work area, the Pro 16 has a 15.6” work area.

That may not be significant, but it makes you wonder why. But that’s not the issue here. The screen is fully laminated and has a textured anti-glare film. 

A fully laminated screen gives you a lot of freedom when drawing because it eliminates parallax. It means the response time is great, and the drawing experience is smooth. For example, you can precisely cut out a selection using the Pen Tool. 

Another awesome thing with the Artist Pro 16’s screen is the color gamut – the screen’s ability to replicate most colors accurately. A higher percentage color gamut helps to render accurate drawings.

The color accuracy for this device is rated at 99% Adobe RGB. That’s the same as saying, very accurate! Surprisingly enough, the Pro 16 shares the same 1080p resolution as the Innovator 16, even though the Innovator’s color gamut is a little lower – 92% Adobe RGB.

To the naked eye, that’s nothing huge at all, but a higher color gamut has its advantages. 

Just to be clear, 1080p resolution isn’t the best a display can offer you as a digital artist, but it is a standard high enough to operate with little to no pixelation. Another disadvantage with this display is the lack of control.

You can only adjust one setting – brightness. That means you can never get what you want with color temperature and white point. The white point can be adjusted to look better by lowering the brightness. However, go too low and you can’t see your drawing. 

The calibration here can be a bit tricky. We recommend tinkering with the brightness setting until you get what you want. If you can work in a dimly lit room, the better. If not, pick a brightness setting, calibrate it, and never touch it again.

This will give you better results. Even so, the display is still more accurate enough for general digital drawing. Professional artists may fumble with it, but it should work fine with time.

Pen and stylus

Despite most of the Artist Pro 16 looking like the Innovator 16, the stylus pen looks a bit different. To be honest, it is awesomely different. The pen has a “smart chip technology,” the first one among XP-Pen devices.

The X3 smart chip tech is meant to improve the performance and structure of the stylus. The Pro 16’s pen feels and performs like a traditional pencil. 

But the pen doesn’t really look that different. We’d say it’s very much the same as other XP-Pen’s styluses. However, there’s something different about this one. It’s a bit thinner and sleeker. It actually feels a lot like an Apple Pencil. 

Pressure sensitivity

XP-Pen touts this pen to be able to produce a “10-fold increase” in sensitivity. What that translates to is a precise 3 grams to activate the response from the graphics display. That literally feels like drawing with a pencil on paper.

Even if you lightly dragged the nib across the canvas without exerting any pressure, you will still see marks. The chip inside the pen is also resistant to electromagnetic interference. That means the pen is more reliable. 

There are still the standard 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity with this stylus. However, you can use it to accurately make soft lines without putting in additional pressure. That in itself is very impressive – you don’t get it with many drawing displays. 

We’re not really sure what the X3 smart chip adds to the pen (we can’t tell even by looking at videos and animations), but it’s working alright. The pen feels nice to draw with, and we can tell it’s going to be our favorite XP-Pen Stylus for a while.

Price and performance 

For what the Artist Pro 16 seems to be able to offer, $450 feels like a steal. The price is somewhat similar to the Innovator 16, but the Artist Pro looks better, and the drawing experience is even better. The combination of portability and excellent features puts this tablet right up there with some of the best in the business.

Power 

The power connection is a bit of a mess, we have to agree, but that is probably the only Achilles heel of this device. We still don’t know why XP-Pen didn’t just go with the same setup as their Artist 24 Pro (a much older version, by the way), which only uses a USB-C to USB-C connection.

However, we agree that some people may need a HDMI for their older computers. But that shouldn’t be an excuse. We can only imagine that the Artist Pro 16 was a direct transition from the Innovator 16, and the designers may have omitted or forgot to change the power connection.

Social proof

We’ve had our experience with XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 drawing tablet, and we have shared much of what we think about it. However, you don’t have to take our word for it. Today you can never really be too sure when you are trying to get something that will cost you a lot of money.

We searched for what other people have to say about this product on the internet. Here are some of them;

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Alternatives

In case this drawing tablet doesn’t sound like something you’d love, we have recommended excellent alternatives that could. Here they are and how they compare to the Artist Pro 16.

Huion Kamvas Pro 16

HUION KAMVAS Pro 16 Drawing Tablet

The KAMVAS Pro provides an excellent substitute to the above Cintiq tablet by Wacom with its 16 inch matt anti-glare digital display and 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity. Considering its very completive price tag, we think this is among the best digital drawing display tablets currently on the market.

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The Kamvas Pro 16 is one of the many graphics tablets from Huion. It’s somewhat similar to the Artist Pro 16 that we just reviewed. There are one or two different things, but not too much if you are looking for the best alternative.

For starters, even though the design of these two devices differ, as they should, there are still similar features. Like that slim design with extra buttons on the side of the Kamvas Pro 16. Instead of 8 physical shortcut buttons, the Kamvas Pro 16 has 6. These are just as functional as the ones on XP-Pen’s Artist Pro 16.

However, instead of a two-way dial, the Kamvas has a touch strip that works the same way. If you have trouble working the two-way dial on the Artist Pro 16, this one just uses touch and nothing more. 

In terms of the screen and color quality, the Kamvas Pro 16 has a 1920 x 1080p screen resolution. That is pretty much the same as the Artist Pro – standard resolution for these types of pen displays.

The color gamut is almost similar, although you could argue that the Artist Pro is slightly better with up to 133% sRGB compared to the Kamvas Pro 16’s 120% sRGB. Here’s a comparison table you can look at to compare the two.

Similarities

  • Both include physical shortcut buttons
  • Both have a 15.6” work area
  • They both have a 1920 x 1080p screen resolution
  • Both have almost similar color gamut (133% sRGB for Artist Pro 16 and 120% sRGB for the Kamvas Pro 16)
  • Both have fully laminated screens
  • Both don’t come with a stand. You’ll have to buy one separately for both.

Differences

  • The Artist Pro is slimmer and lighter. It has a 9mm thickness compared to the Huion Kamvas Pro 16’s 12mm thickness.
  • The Artist Pro has 8 physical shortcut buttons. The Kamvas Pro 16 has 6 – the other two are a power button and the on-screen menu button.
  • The Kamvas Pro 16 has a pen stand and 10 nibs. The Artist Pro 16 has 9 nibs
  • The Kamvas Pro 16 has 2 long strips of rubber at the back for grip on the table. The Artist Pro has nothing for grip on the table. 
  • The Artist Pro’s stylus comes with a new X3 smart chip technology.

XP-Pen Innovator 16

So finally, here’s a brief look at the Innovator 16 and how it compares with the Artist Pro 16. We have already mentioned a few areas of how these two compare in the review above. We’ll give you a condensed view here. 

With the Innovator 16, you are looking at the parent device of the Artist Pro 16 – a lot of the features here were adopted for the Artist Pro 16 pen display. The sleek, slim, and swift design originates here.

The pen display weighs the same as the Artist Pro 16 and has the same 9mm thickness. We guess XP-Pen Innovator 16’s design must’ve struck a chord with buyers and that’s why they decided to stick with the same formula for the Artist Pro 16. 

The screen resolution is the same here as the Artist Pro 16. Even the color gamut doesn’t vary that much. The Innovator 16 has a color gamut of 125% sRGB, while the Artist Pro has 133% sRGB. But XP-Pen added a slight variation to the stylus. The Artist Pro 16’s pen is the first one with the X3 smart chip technology. Here’s a comparison table you can look at;

Similarities

  • Same “slim, swift, and sleek design.
  • Same 15.6” working area.
  • Both have fully laminated screens
  • Almost similar color gamut coverage
  • Both Windows and Mac 
  • Both have 8 shortcut keys and a two-way mechanical dial.
  • Both have the same power connection.

Differences

  • The Artist Pro 16’s Stylus comes with a new X3 smart chip technology.

Conclusion: should you buy it?

XP-Pen Artist Pro 16

Dimensions: 7.45 x 10 x 0.35 inches | Display Area: 13.5 x 7.6 inches | Display Resolution: 3840 x2160 UHD | Item Weight: 1520 grams | Shortcut Keys: 8 | Connection type: USB-C | Compatible with Keyboard: No | Processor: N/A | Memory: N/A

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Overall, the XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 combines portability and great features at an irresistible price. There are one or two things that could’ve been done better, but for the price of this tablet, you get more convenience and functionality than some highly priced tablets out there.

You can trust this tablet to get your work done. This pen display should serve you well, whether you are editing photographs or making digital art. If you don’t like something about this tablet, you can look at alternatives. See the above recommendations.

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