Jeremy Laukkonen is automotive and tech writer for numerous major trade publications as well as the creator of a popular blog and video game startup. A fan of EVs since the early 2000s, he stays up-to-date on the myriad complex systems that power battery electric vehicles.
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Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen
Great color gamut
Solid build quality
Convenient pen holder
Includes two pens
Good shortcut button design
The included screen protector is a fingerprint magnet
No touchpad, circle pad, dial, or touch controls
Confusing naming structure between several similar XP-Pen tablets
The XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 is a 15.6-inch inch drawing tablet that provides 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, comes with an extra pen and a drawing glove, and features best-in-class color accuracy. It lacks some key features, like touch controls and pen tilt functionality, but a fantastic color gamut makes it an intriguing option at a mid-range price point.
We purchased the XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro Drawing Tablet so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
Professional artists and hobbyists looking to step up from a basic drawing tablet to a pen display like the XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 will find a lot to like. The Pro 16 is a 15.6-inch inch drawing tablet that provides 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, comes with an extra pen and a drawing glove, and features best-in-class color accuracy. It lacks some key features, like touch controls and pen tilt functionality, but a fantastic color gamut makes it an intriguing option at its mid-range price point.
We recently put it to work, testing things like color accuracy, parallax, how well the pen performs, and more. Read on to see if it gets the job done.
The XP-Pen Artist Pro 16 is a fairly plain looking pen display, with a matte black plastic case, an inset glass screen, and a fairly thick bezel. It has eight shortcut buttons located on the left side of the device, or you can flip it around to place the buttons on the right for left-handed use.
It’s light enough to hold in one hand to get the positioning just right, but it’s heavy enough that you probably won’t want to do so for prolonged drawing sessions.
While the case is a bit thicker than other 15.6-inch drawing tablets we’ve looked at, the Artist Pro 16 is still fairly lightweight. It’s light enough to hold in one hand to get the positioning just right, but it’s heavy enough that you probably won’t want to do so for prolonged drawing sessions.
The screen is glossy, but it comes with a matte screen protector preinstalled. The screen protector helps cut down on glare, and it feels nice and smooth when you draw on it. However, the screen protector is a major smudge magnet. So much as brush the screen protector with a finger or your palm, and you’ll leave big smudges. XP-Pen does include a drawing glove to cut down on this, or you can just remove the screen protector. The glass is sturdy enough that you won’t scratch it with the pen nibs.
We found the setup process to be fairly painless, but you have to follow it pretty closely to avoid big headaches. First, you need to remove any old pen display or drawing tablet drivers that you may have installed in the past. Then you need to install the included driver, or download the latest driver from XP-Pen. You’re then ready to connect the display to your computer and turn it on.
We were able to complete the setup process in less than 10 minutes, but your mileage will vary depending on how much trouble you have identifying and removing old drivers.
The other part of the setup process involves installing the monitor stand, which is pretty easy. It installs with four screws, like most of these stands, or you can attach the display to any VESA-compliant monitor arm.
The XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro has a 15.6-inch IPS display that’s capable of a maximum resolution of 1920 x 1080. That’s pretty standard for tablets in this price range, but the Artist 16 Pro really shines in terms of color reproduction. It boasts a massive color accuracy of 120 percent sRGB, which translates to 88 percent NTSC and 92 percent Adobe RGB. This sets it apart from most other drawing tablets in this price range, and even puts it above a number of more expensive Cintiq models.
The display is where the XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro differs the most from the two other similarly-named XP-Pen products. The cheaper Artist 16 pen display offers a lower 74 percent Adobe RGB, which makes it a poor choice if you need accurate colors. The more expensive Artist 15.6 Pro has the same excellent color accuracy of this model, but it adds tilt brush support. Overall, this is one of the better displays that you’ll find in a pen display at this price point.
The XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro is a pen display with 8,192 levels of sensitivity, and you can really feel it when you get down to work. The pen feels smooth and responsive, and the driver even lets you adjust the pressure curve to tweak it more to your liking. There is a bit of parallax, but it wasn’t enough to get in the way during our testing process.
The build quality of the pen feels a bit cheap, but that’s more or less standard for these mid-priced drawing tablets. The pen is actually a lot more comfortable to hold, and less prone to slipping, than most competitors’ pens due to a rubberized grip. XP-Pen also throws in an extra so you can keep working if one runs out of power in the middle of drawing.
The pen is actually a lot more comfortable to hold, and less prone to slipping, than most competitors’ pens due to a rubberized grip.
There is no pen tilt support, but the similarly-named XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Pro does have that feature if you really need it.
The shortcut buttons on the tablet are quite small, and only two of them have any kind of texture or raised marker to help differentiate them without looking. They’re just the right size to activate with a thumb without accidentally hitting two, and we got used to the small size fairly quickly.
During our hands-on testing, we found the XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro to be an extremely usable drawing tablet. The positioning of the cables makes it easy to adjust the angle of the included monitor stand however you like, and we found that the relatively compact size of the device made it easy to reposition on our desk while drawing.
One of the nicest features of this tablet is that the side with the shortcut keys has a notch cut out on the back. This notch is primarily designed for the USB, HDMI and power cables, but also creates a very comfortable rest for your fingers when you grip the left side of the device.
With the device gripped in that fashion, you can easily hit each of the shortcut buttons with your thumb, while simultaneously adjusting the position of the tablet on the fly. Picking it up via that same grip is possible, although it’s a bit awkward.
The ports on the XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro are fairly straightforward. You get a standard USB connector, a full-sized HDMI connector, and a barrel connector for the power supply. They’re all located in the same area. The tablet has a small cutout on the back, which allows the cables to remain hidden when viewing the device from the front. This makes cable management pretty easy, and also helps prevent the cables from interfering with the included monitor stand.
Gaomon also includes an HDMI to mini DisplayPort adapter, in case you have a Mac that has a DisplayPort connector and no HDMI jack.
XP-Pen provides drivers for the tablet on a USB flash drive, which is a nice touch for users who have moved past optical media. You also have the option to download the latest driver from XP-Pen’s website. The driver itself provides some fairly straightforward options for the tablet and pen. It’s arranged a little different from competitors like Huion and Gaomon, but the same basic options are there.
This is one of the better drawing tablets that we’ve seen in this general price range, at least in terms of performance and color accuracy.
The driver software allows you to select which monitor to draw on, in case it accidentally defaults to something other than the XP-Pen display. It also allows you to customize the functionality of the two pen buttons, the pressure curve of the pen, and assign your own shortcuts to the eight shortcut buttons.
We were able to get the XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro running with the included driver, but we downloaded the updated version from XP-Pen for testing purposes. If you have any problems with the included driver, try downloading the updated version.
The XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro typically retails for around $360, and it’s a fantastic deal at that price point. You’ll have trouble finding better color accuracy in any similarly priced drawing tablet, which makes this a very attractive option if you’re working on a budget but still need accurate colors.
You can pay more and upgrade to the confusingly named XP-Pen 15.6 Pro, which has the same screen size and excellent color gamut, but adds some additional features like pen tilt and a dial interface. You can also save some money by going for a pen display that offers poorer color gamut, or a smaller display, but you’ll have trouble finding a true alternative at a better price.
This is one of the better drawing tablets we’ve seen in this general price range, at least in terms of performance and color accuracy. Some competitors are worth looking at, but only if you’re willing to spend some more money or cut back on features.
The XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Pro is one option you might want to check out. It’s a slight upgrade to this model, and it costs about $40 more. For that extra investment, you get the same fantastic display, but add dial controls and a pen tilt function. The Artist 15.6 Pro has slightly more awkward cable placement, but it makes up for that by having a single cable for power, data, and video instead of three cables.
Other competitors don’t fare quite so well. The Gaomon PD1560 is one option that also sells for about $360, but it has a significantly worse color gamut and slightly worse parallax. We actually like the look and feel of the PD1560 better than the Artist 16 Pro, but the XP-Pen display is unquestioningly superior in terms of color accuracy.
If you have some more room in your budget, the Huion Kamvas GT-191 is an excellent option that typically retails for between $399 and $499. This slightly more expensive pen display doesn’t have any shortcut keys, but it does have a big, beautiful 19.5 inch IPS display.
One of the best pen displays out there if you need accurate colors.
The XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro might not be the perfect drawing tablet, but there is a whole lot to like in this small package. If you do work where color accuracy is of utmost importance, or you’re just tired of your paintings coming out oversaturated, then this is one of the best options you’ll find at this price range. The fantastic color gamut even beats out some much more expensive Cintiq models.
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