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Review: XP-Pen Innovator 16 Pen Display

The XP-Pen Innovator 16 is the thinnest pen display XP-Pen has made so far. This is the first pen display in the new Innovator series, and the third 15.6-inch pen display, after the XP-Pen Artist 15.6 and XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Pro.

By the way, this is a review unit provided by XP-Pen. This is not a paid review. None of my reviews are paid reviews.

Things included

Power adapters for various countries are included.

That's the USB extension cable which you may need.

3-in-1 cable. One end has a USB-C like connector that goes to the pen display. The other end has HDMI, USB-A for data, and USB-A (red) for power.

This is the usual pen case from XP-Pen.

The cap can double as a pen stand.

At the other end you can find 8 replacement nibs and the nib remover.

The pen model is PA5. This pen is different from the other pens that came before. The design is more tapered at the end. There are two side buttons.

This pen supports tilt sensitivity and 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity. It doesn't run on battery so no charging required.

The pen has a large rubber grip and is comfortable to hold. The nib is firm and does not wobble.

That's the included AC 41 display stand.

The stand is made of sturdy plastic. Design is clean and simple. There are rubber stripes at the top and sides, and a latch at the bottom to hold the display in place.

It's easy to deploy. The support can be pushed out and locked in place. Only downside is it can only be deployed at one angle.

This stand is also available separately for US $26. There's also the AC 42 display stand ($20) which is made for 12-13 inch display, and can also be used with the iPad Pro.

When I first took the Innovator 16 out of the box, I thought this was one of those drawing tablets without screens. It's that thin. 9mm to be precise.

The silver and black colour scheme also reminded me of the XP-Pen Deco Pro which is slightly thinner at 7mm.

That big piece of paper attached to the screen is a notice to tell you to remove the plastic protective firm and not the matte screen protector.

After you peel off the plastic protective firm, you should see a matte surface. If you see glossy or reflective surface after peeling, it means you have also peeled off the matte screen protector.

People have accidentally peeled off the matte screen protector before. Hence the need for a large notice.

That's Innovator 16 connected to my Macbook Pro running Windows 10.

You can use one USB to power the pen display but it can't drive the display at full brightness.. If you only use one USB port and turn brightness up to the max, it will produce a coil whine sound. The proper way to use two USB ports for sufficient power to that you can get maximum brightness which I measured to be 198 nits, lower than the advertised 250 nits.

This pen display only uses 8W of power, which is low, so it doesn't produce much heat. You can definitely draw on this for long periods without discomfort.

The included stand provides a nice angle to work with.

If you need other angles, you can prop up the stand with something -- I use a book. If you want to use the Innovator 16 as your main and only monitor, you'll probably need to find more things to prop up the stand so that the display is as vertical as it can be. It's not good to be hunched over for long periods of time while working.

The design looks beautiful. Most of all I was impressed by how thin it is. Build quality is solid

The 15.6-inch drawing area is a comfortable size to work with. It's slightly wider than A4 paper.

Resolution is 1920 x 1080. There's pixelation with fonts and user interface but it's still a very usable resolution.

This pen display is even thinner than the included pen.

The laminated display has no gap between the pen tip and the line beneath. When drawing, the lines looks like it's from directly beneath the pen tip.

The anti-glare matte screen protector will produce white haze when light is reflected off it. If there are no reflections, then there's no issue.

Viewing angles are good. Colours don't shift much even when viewing from different angles.

I colour calibrated the unit and measured 100% sRGB, 87% AdobeRGB, 82% NTSC, 92% P3. Colour accuracy is quite good.

The back is matte surface full metal. There are no rubber feet so you're supposed to use this together with the included stand.

There are 8 physical shortcut buttons that can be customised to specific keyboard shortcuts.

There are two customisable dials/wheels. The silver dial can be rotated. The black dial is touch sensitive and you have to move your fingers in clockwise or anti-clockwise.

Power button and brightness control buttons are on the side.


This is Windows driver ver 1.6.4. Mac driver has the same functionality.

These are the customisable options for the pen's two side buttons.

The pressure curve can be adjusted manually rather than with a slider.

These are the customisable options for the physical shortcut buttons.

There are the specific functions you can set to the Express Keys. You can choose mouse clicks, keyboard shortcuts or predefined functions.

  • Open Tablet Setting - As it says
  • Fine Detail Mode - Makes the cursor move much slower so that you can draw carefully and more accurately.
  • B/E - Brush and eraser toggle
  • Switch Monitor - Allows cursor to jump from one display to the other when you're using dual monitors.
  • KL/KR Mode Switch - Switches between different functions for the scroll wheel/dial. There's one for each scroll wheel.

You can create up to 5 shortcuts for each dial/wheel. And you can switch between the shortcuts with the KL/KR Mode Switch.

Just input the keyboard shortcuts for the dial/wheel.

Display settings such as colour temperature, colour adjustment, brightness and contrast can be adjusted with the driver. If you're left handed, you can choose to rotate the desktop 180 degrees.

Drawing performance

Drawing performance is fantastic with most drawing software I've tested (below) on Mac and Windows. Pressure sensitivity works great. Whether tilt sensitivity is supported will depend on the app.

The lines always come out the way I expect. Lines taper nicely. Curves are smooth. The pen is sensitive and accurate. Maintaining consistent pressure to draw lines with uniform thickness is easy.

Performance is predictable and consistent on Mac and Windows.

Photoshop (Mac)

Illustrator (Mac)

Affinity Photo (Mac)

Clip Studio Paint (Mac)

Medibang Paint Pro (Mac)

Krita (Mac). Tilt sensitivity works.

Photoshop (Win)

Affinity Photo (Win)

Clip Studio Paint (Win)

Tilt sensitivity does not work with Concepts (Win).

Krita (Win)

Note that for Krita tilt brushes, the stroke will start at the top and below the pen tip. You have to change the tilt settings to have the stroke start at the tip.

Oh, tilt doesn't work when the pen tip is one inch away from the edge of the screen.

Sketchable (Win) tilt brush implementation is more realistic, just like a real pencil where the strokes are beneath the pen tip.

Medibang Paint Pro (Win). When creating dots, I had to tap and drag. With other drawing software, to create dots you just tap.


The Innovator 16 is a beautiful pen display with fantastic drawing performance. I did not experience any major glitches or issues. Driver works well.

My overall experience is very positive.

Even though it's thin, build quality is solid. It certainly has the premium look and feel.

There are two downsides. The maximum brightness could be brighter since brightness will deteriorate with time. The other downside is not about the pen display but about the stand. I like the stand because it's sturdy but it's limited to just one angle so that may limit its use as a main monitor unless you want to hunch over all the time.

Official retail price is US $499. If you buy it from XP-Pen's web store, there's free shipping to selected countries and the product comes with 18 months of warranty. XP-Pen support is also quite good, judging by how responsive they are on social media.

You can decide whether it's value for money based on the performance I've shown you.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Pros and cons at a glance

+ Excellent build quality
+ Beautiful design
+ 9mm thin
+ Pen does not require battery
+ Pen supports 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity
+ There's tilt sensitivity
+ Pen case included
+ 8 replacement tips included
+ Artist glove included
+ 8 shortcut buttons
+ 2 scroll wheels
+ Matte anti-glare screen protector nice to draw on
+ Anti-glare on matte screen protector is not that aggressive
+ 1920 x 1080 resolution adequate for a 15.6-inch display
+ IPS panel colour support is good. 100% sRGB, 80%+ AdobeRGB
+ Viewing angles are good
+ Laminated display with minimal to no parallax
+ Does not produce much heat. Can be used for long periods of time without discomfort
+ Fantastic drawing performance on Mac and Windows
+ Included plastic stand is sturdy, does not wobble
- Tilt does not work when pen tip is one inch away from edge
- Stand only has one angle
- Brightness could be better. Max at 198 nit which is sufficient for indoor use

Where to buy

XP-Pen Innovator 16 is from XP-Pen's worldwide online stores:
US | AU | SEA | UK | DE | EU