Drawing tablet consumers are some of the ficklest buyers in the world. Finding the right tool for the job depends heavily on the software it’s compatible with. Since the bulk of drawing tablet purchases are for educational and professional use, some users won’t have a choice on the software or hardware side.
Consumers that are offered flexibility with their personal tools will find options like the XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro a must-have. This is as close as you’ll get to a product that spurs change from older drawing hardware.
The XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro comes in black, and doesn’t waste any screen space. The borders on the edges allow easy handling without getting in the way of the actual product. On the left face of the screen are the express keys, while the right side of the tablet houses the utility buttons. Whether you’re holding it or using the built-in stand, the tablet’s design stays out of your way.
If you’ve used any tablet in the Artist Series, you won’t really notice the visual difference since the changes are on the functional level. At first glance, the buttons are different and the pen feels the same. After using the tablet for an hour, you realize those small changes in the Pro edition makes your workflow more efficient. This small quality of life design change will go unnoticed, and ultimately unappreciated without long-term use.
The appeal of the XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro is the upgraded screen. Both the built-in screen and external functionality have been improved. Some of the changes are stunning, and others are a bit on the ‘out there’ side.
Internal – The internal screen has a great color gamut in its 15.6-inch 1080p display. While some users will complain about the lack of a 4K screen, the introduction of the 178-degree viewing angle will more than make up for it. That is a huge benefit compared to other tablets in the same price range. Combined with the adjustable stand, users won’t feel uncomfortable with extended use of the screen. The stand has support for 15 to 85-degree angles, with out-of-the-box support for a vesa mount.
External – Support for 4K resolutions bumps this product up to the next level, but your actual mileage will be hardware-dependent. The internal display has high color potential, up to 92 percent Adobe RGB accurate. Comparing the 1080p internal display against a 4K screen is unfair, but there are times where a 1440p setup struggles to compete. This sounds insane, but at the consumer level where calibration is optional, it makes sense. If you have a subpar external display that hasn’t been adjusted, then you’re missing out on a huge part of the external benefits provided by the XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro.
Windows users will have no issues with the included HDMI to Mini DisplayPort cable. It is a plug and play install, but may be slightly finicky on dedicated HDR setups. It’s nothing that can’t be customized, but is something you should be aware of. More importantly, Mac users don’t have to scour the world for a compatible cable. It’s a small touch that should be the standard for any company that’s serious about their drawing tablets.
In the unfortunate event that Windows decides to throw a fit, you can download the necessary drivers online or use the included USB thumb drive. The software installs quickly and allows you to immediately make changes that suit your current setup. With the right hardware and settings, external display use will be the bread and butter of the XP-Pen Artist16 Pro.
If you plan on maximizing the portability of a drawing tablet, both the pen and tablet need to be high quality. The XP-Pen Artist16 Pro comes with two rechargeable P02S stylus pens and a multi-function pen holder. As far as accessories go, it is the bee’s knees and will fare better than a Surface Pro pen. With that said, the tablet doesn’t have the same care.
There is nothing wrong with the durability of the tablet, and dead pixels are rare on shipment. But the included screen protector will drive you mad with its rainbow spots. It is a poor-quality protector on an otherwise great tablet. Taking it off is easy enough, but finding a replacement is another story. Buyers may feel the need to jerry rig their own protectors using a higher quality brand.
The screen protector issue is minor, yet is worth pointing out since there have been a few complaints about the screen not being flush. For some users, there is a gap between the glass screen and IPS screen. But before you decide against buying the tablet, those users also say the gap is barely noticeable. You have to sit at a certain angle to even notice it, and most users will need to have the flaw pointed out. Similar quality control issues have happened with bigger flagship devices. For reference, look at the stylus on some of the Samsung Note devices.
A quality control issue with the screen combined with a shoddy screen protector is not a good combo. Out of the box it is great, but it’s too early to tell if there will be long-term consequences after extended usage.
This section is all about the P02S rechargeable stylus, because without it you have a more up-to-date Blackberry Playbook – and nobody wants that. There is nothing but good news when it comes to the stylus, as it has been giving plenty of consideration with the updated XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro. Included in the package are two pens, two pen charging cables, a single stylus pen power adapter, and a single pen holder. The black drawing glove is a nice touch, but comes down to personal preference.
Charging is quick, but the cables are short. It is a good idea to keep a dedicated space available just to charge an unused stylus. The stylus lacks weight, but makes up for it with precision. There are 8192 levels of pressure sensitivity that offer an unprecedented amount of control. The Artist 16 Pro is responsive, doesn’t lag, and glides across the screen like a dream. With the tablet and the pen being lightweight, it is possible to work for hours without getting fatigued.
Having to troubleshoot capability issues messes with workflow. This isn’t a problem with the XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro that works with new and old programs. Even open source programs like GIMP can be customized to work with the advanced functions of the tablet. Users that are still rocking old Toon Boom Studio may want to update, but aren’t forced to. This is the type of compatibility that makes or breaks the purchase, and is one of the biggest selling points for this tablet.
There are some personal configurations that need to be dealt with on the user side. Without proper experience, it can lead to some lengthy first-time setups. If you’re on a tight crunch and need something to work out of the box, then the XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro is considered a compatibility nightmare.
With proper love, this tablet works with anything. As a drawing tablet directly out of the box, it is built for mainstream products like Adobe. How much time you’re willing to dedicate to the setup will determine whether or not it exceeds your expectations.
How Does the XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro Compare?
Wacom is still the king that every drawing tablet is measured against. The Wacom Cintiq 16 is a balanced model that works well as a foil against the XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro. In a head-to-head matchup, it is a close call. There is no wrong choice, but it is hard to ignore the massive price difference between these two tablets.
|XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro||Wacom Cintiq 16|
|88% NTSC / 120% sRGB color gamut||72% NTSC color gamut|
|Driver level support for 4K external resolution||4K support with reasonable DPI scaling|
|HDMI-MiniDP adapter||3-in-1 cable with HDMI connections included|
|2x P02S rechargeable stylus with power adapter||1x Wacom Pro Pen 2 that charges off the screen|
|Easy access face shortcut keys||No express keys included|
|Built-in fully adjustable stand||Built-in legs|
The XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro Gets the Job Done
Users that own an older version in this series of drawing tablets will now have a reason to upgrade. There are enough quality of life options to make it worthwhile, and support for the Artist 16 Pro is moving forward by banking on the new features.
These new features are absolutely useless if you don’t follow through with a customized setup. What makes the XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro a great device is how well it molds to the individual user. Buyers who want another paint by the numbers drawing tablet will be better off spending their money on a competitor. For the maximum amount of flexibility as a hobbyist or professional, this is an excellent deal.