Review: XP-PEN Artist 16 Pen Digitizer Monitor

I've been getting quite a lot of requests for the review of the new XP-PEN Artist 16. So let's get on with this review.

Disclaimer: XP-PEN sent over a review unit for this review.


XP-PEN currently has three sizes for pen digitizer displays. There are the Artist 10.1, Artist 16 and Artist 22. So the Artist 16 is the medium size pen display in the product line.

I've reviewed the Artist 22 last year and was reasonably satisfied with its performance. That product worked well and predictably. As a quick summary, the Artist 16 performs quite well but I discovered some issues. Anyway, let's start with the specs:

  • Product dimensions: 40.5 x 25.5 x 3.3cm without stand
  • Active area: 34.4 x 19.3 cm
  • Screen: 15.6 inches with 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • Panel type: IPS
  • Colors: 16.7 million
  • Contrast: 1,000:1
  • Input ports: HDMI and USB
  • Pen: Rechargeable
  • Pressure sensitivity: 2,048 levels
  • Resolution: 5080LPI
  • Report rate: 200 reports/second

And these are the things included in the box:

  • The display
  • mini-DisplayPort to HDMI adapter
  • USB cable for connecting the display and computer
  • HDMI cable
  • 2x stylus pen with stand
  • 2x charging cable for the pen
  • 8x replaceable nibs
  • Power cable and power brick
  • Manual and driver CD
  • Black glove


The only graphics port on the Artist 16 is the HDMI port. They have provided a mini-DisplayPort to HDMI adapter. So if your computer has either HDMI or mini-DisplayPort, you're good to go. If you output from a DVI port, then you will need to get a DVI-HDMI adapter.

Build quality and design

The build feels pretty solid. There's a good weight to it but it's not that heavy since it's just a 15.6-inch display.


There's a matte surface bezel with rounded corners. 8 physical shortcut buttons are on the left. For left handed users, that might be an inconvenience?


The screen is glossy with a black bezel as well. The screen is a 15.6-inch display with 1920 x 1080 resolution. It's the same resolution as the Artist 22. Because the screen is smaller, everything appears sharper and it's more difficult to spot the pixelation (although it's still there). It's a perfectly fine resolution to work on. User interface elements like menus, buttons are all at decent sizes and easy to click accurately with the pen.



The stand behind is adjustable at different angles. When the monitor is almost vertical, it's the bottom of the screen and the stand propping it up. When you tilt the monitor is almost flat, the bottom lifts up and it's only the stand supporting the monitor, and because the base of the stand is smaller, it has tendency to wobble more when you press down hard while drawing. The stand from the Artist 22 is better because it's the stand that supports the monitor at all angles.


That the latch that you can release to change the angles.

The cables now come out from the left side. So when the monitor is laid down, the cable are not being pressed upon.

The IPS screen and colours

The IPS panel is supposed to have good colour reproduction but it is definitely not as good compared to normal IPS monitors. When I first turned on the power, the colours were off by quite a bit. I used the Spyder 5 Pro calibrator to calibrate it. The monitor's settings only allow you to adjust the brightness and contrast. So colour calibration has to be done either through your operating system's colour management, or with the help of a calibrator (which saves a lot of time).


On the other side are 5 menu buttons to access the monitor's menu.

I calibrated the monitor three times actually. First time, it had a sRGB gamut readout of 86%. I adjusted the contrast via the monitor and calibrated again and I got 89% sRGB. On the second day, I still wasn't pleased with the colours and calibrated it again, this time it reached 96% sRGB. The colours look relatively good now, but you can't really compare to standard IPS monitors out there. Viewing angles are decent. The glossy screen is reflective so it could be a problem if you have lights coming from your back or top. Compared to matte screen pen displays like the Artisul D10, Artisul D13 and Wacom MobileStudio Pro, the glossy surface does have the advantage of making the screen look brighter and colours slightly more vibrant.

Drivers

As usual, uninstall all other tablet drivers before installing the XP-PEN's.

After installation, you will need to restart the computer for the stylus to work properly.

For this review, I was only able to test it on Mac OS. I currently do not have any Windows computer to test it on so you might have to get an idea of how it might perform on Windows via the Artist 22 review. If you don't want to read that review, I'll just summarise it here: All drawing apps work fine except Mischief.


With the driver, you can adjust the pressure sensitivity, customize shortcut buttons on the stylus and on the monitor, and also calibrate the monitor for parallax error. Talking about parallax, the glass is a few millimetres above the screen so there will be some parallax error. But parallax can be corrected easily via software so it's not a problem.


On the left is a picture to show you the distance between the tip and the screen. Picture on the right shows you how it would actually look when you're using the pen.

The pen

XP-PEN has generously included 2 pens and charging cables. Not many companies include backups. They did this with the Artist 22 also.


The pen has a nice size and comes with a huge rubber grip that covers perhaps 70% of the body. There are two side buttons but no eraser. You do need to charge the pen and the charging port is behind the pen. Since you have two pens, you can charge both and when battery runs low, you can swap. You can still use the pen while it's charging though.


There's a pen stand provided and inside are 8 replacement nibs. You can put the pen either vertically (which I like) or horizontally.

Since the screen is glossy glass, you'll get the hard tip on glass drawing experience. It does not feel as good compared to drawing on matte surface but it's certainly not a negative experience. Main thing here is the pen doesn't squeak when the nib moves across the glass.

Drawing performance

Overall, drawing performance is good. The pressure sensitivity works very well. The display is responsive and lines appear instantly as they are drawn. There's no lag.

Here are the apps that I've tested
Photoshop CS5: Works fine
Illustrator CS5: Pressure does not work
Affinity Photo: Works fine
Krita: Works fine
Mischief: Works fine
Medibang Paint Pro: Works fine
Tayasui Sketches Pro: Works fine


These are strokes from Photoshop CS5 (Mac). I used the default pressure curve and the pressure sensitivity support is very good. You can draw very lightly on the screen and it will produce a line.

Lines are smooth, tapers gradually when you draw and lift fast. In short, performance is predictable, just the way I want them to be.


These are strokes from Medibang Paint Pro (Mac). It works very well too. Same findings as Photoshop.


Tayasui Sketches Pro is a tablet app that's ported over to Mac OS. It works fine too.

The monitor would get warm after a while. The warm area is around the top left in the shape of a horizontal rectangle that takes up 1/3 height and 1/2 width.

Conclusion

Overall, I'm quite satisfied with the performance.

There aren't many issues except for the pressure not working with Illustrator CS5 (Mac) and the issue with colour calibrating. I have a colour calibrator and won't know what to do without it. *laughs*

Once it's up and working, it performs predictably. There are no glitches or strange things happening. Lines come out the way I want them to, and there's no lag.

So should you get the Artist 22 or Artist 16? Main difference is the size, and the Artist 22 does not have physical shortcut buttons. I'm fine working on either sizes. The working surface area of 15.6 inches is roomy and allows me to draw comfortably without squinting my eyes. If you have a limited budget, the Artist 16 is cheaper by over USD $120 (currently). As a Cintiq alternative, it's performs and competes well.

Pros
+ Good built quality
+ IPS panel with decent colour reproduction and viewing angles
+ 2 pens include
+ Spare nibs included
+ 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity works well
+ 8 physical shortcut buttons on the monitor
+ Input for HDMI, and has adaptor for mini-DisplayPort to HDMI
+ Works well, predictably

Cons
- Pressure does not work with Illustrator CS5 (Mac)
- Requires proper colour calibration to get the colours looking right
- Glossy screen prone to reflections, depends on your working environment
- Gets warm at top left after a while
- When monitor is laid out and supported only by stand, it can wobble when you press hard.

Availability

You can find the XP Pen Artist 16 and more reviews on Amazon. Purchases though the links get me a commission at no extra cost to you, and helps me put out more reviews like this.

Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.fr | Amazon.it | Amazon.es

Some places called it Artist16 (without the space).

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