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.


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.

Driver


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.

Conclusion

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

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35 Comments

Hello Teoh was waiting for

Hello Teoh was waiting for the review for the innovator for days and finally had read it thank you for the great review of pen tablet as always.,
was curious as to how well does it compete with XP pen artist display 15.6 pro?

and also if ever this tablet will have a 24 inch version. how do you think it will compare to the recent XP pen 24 pro, i was planning to buy the 24 pro when it come out just trying to save up some money for it, but when the innovator 16 came out i was thinking if the XP pen 24 pro is worth it when i buy it when suddenly an innovator 24 comes out if ever there will be such a product..

This looks like a great

This looks like a great option.

Is it to rotate this 180º and use it in "left handed mode" ? I love the buttons on my Intuos 3, and would not want to give them up with the Cintiq 16.

Do you think this display

Do you think this display tablet will be suitable for vector drawing, for example using Affinity Designer and an improvement from using a Wacom intuos pen tablet? With so many different pen display model sizes it’s becoming confusing. Do you think screen size is an important consideration for vector work?

Obviously as a sketching artist specialist you mainly focus on painting applications but I wonder if you have any thoughts as I highly revere your reviews. Thank you.

Thanks Teoh for quick reply.

Thanks Teoh for quick reply. I've been dithering about what to get for months. I'm going to take the plunge and go for this one.

Just one last quick question, when you mention the screen will get less bright over time, in your experience are you talking months or years and by how much? I rarely have the brightness up 100% on most electronic screens I use, like phones and iPad etc. Thanks.

Hi Teoh, thanks for the great

Hi Teoh, long-time reader of your blog here. Thanks for the great review! I've been doing research on drawing displays lately. Some reviewers mentioned that XP-Pen and Huion pens have higher IAF than Wacom ones. Is that still true for the most recent models you've reviewed?

Is the innovator 16 tablet by

Is the innovator 16 tablet by x-pen better than all the other x-pen tablets and do u think this tablet is better than the cintiqs since I like the shortcut buttons and dials and the Cintiq doesn't have that? But I am an artist that needs good pressure sensitivity and the tiniest pixel lag to no lag at all. I am a perfectionist and need smooth lines that go exactly where my pen goes on the tablet. Do u recommend this or should I wait for a newer model to come out? I also need a very responsive screen to pen touch because like I said, I am a perfectionist and need no lag at all.

Hello!

Hello!
Thanks for your review!
I am choosing between the Artist 15.6 Pro and Innovator 16...
May I know is the Innovator 16 monitor brighter than the Artist 15.6 pro?
My main concern is the monitor quality because I would like to use the tablet as an secondary monitor not only for drawing but simple photo retouching...
On SEA official site the price difference is around 120 USD for these two models...I am really not sure whether it is worth it....

For screen quality on both

For screen quality on both model, do you think there is a significant difference in real life?
Is Innovator 16 considered a nice upgrade from Artist 15.6 pro?
Sorry for asking so many question but I really can’t make up my mind...

I'm considering either

I'm considering either getting a laptop & XP-Pen Innovator 16 combo or straight up just iPad Pro, since it's almost the same price as the combo. Reason is that I would like do comics & 2D animation. For XP-Pen itself, it's because it has a larger screen than the iPad Pro.
What's your opinion?

For iPad Pro, definitely

For iPad Pro, definitely Procreate if only to do comics & concept art. Not sure about making animated shorts on it.

For laptop/XP-Pen, I'm using Clip Studio Paint. There's actually a CSP on the iPad, though it's a subscription. The other reason is the XP-Pen's larger real estate compared to iPad Pro.

Either choice is too tempting.

Am a hobbyist, currently

Am a hobbyist, currently using Samsung Tab S3 for drawing and such. Clip Paint Studio is out on Samsung Tab, which is great.
I'd take laptop + XP-Pen combo since CSP experience is on the tab is quite choppy. Drawing background is a no-go. Idk how the experience on iPad Pro tho.

I guess you'd take the iPad Pro if portability is the main issue. (I already have the Tab S3, so of course portability isn't an issue for me anymore. Now I just need raw power hehe)

Update: So I bought the

Update: So I bought the Innovator 16 and used it for about a month. Quite a satisfying tablet imo. Tho I ended up not using the express keys nor the dial since my keyboard muscle memory is just far more efficient at remembering where the keys are located lol.

One downside is the dial is smooth rather than ratchet. Slightly annoying as you can't quite get instant feedback from the dial ratchet on whether your brush size/opacity/redo undos/ etc, so instead you have to rely on looking at the screen to see if you've rotated enough or too much.

Other than that, I can't say it's a bigger upgrade than the previous 15.6 Artist Pro (I have a relative who also owns the 15.6 Artist Pro for me to test it out) except for cosmetics and one extra dial. So if you're short on money but still want a 16" tab then you could still go for the older ones.

The XP PEN Artist Display 15

The XP PEN Artist Display 15.6 pro is currently $359. $140 less than the Innovator 16. Other than cosmetics and slightly better colors, is it worth getting the 15.6 at this price in 2021 or should I just get the ainnovator?

Teoh,

Teoh,
I’ve been following you for some time now, and I really value your opinion and enjoy your videos and love your art work! I noticed that you said you recommend getting a drawing device according to whatever program you use. I’ve been doing digital art for about 2 years and I have an IPad Air 3 and use Procreate. I’m interested in getting a much larger device due to my vision impairment of not being able to see small things. I am interested in getting the xp pen innovator 16 or 24 pro. I don’t mind being stationary. And I would keep my iPad Air 3 for sketching on the go. Because I am used to Procreate, would you recommend the IPad Pro 12.9” or an Xp pen display 16 or 24? Is it easy to learn Medibang Paint or other programs. Thank you for any input you offer.

Hi Teoh,

Hi Teoh,

Thanks for doing this review. I noticed in your video you have the innovator 16 and a datacolor calibrator. I also have both of these. You mentioned you calibrated both your laptop monitor and the innovator 16. Do you have issues getting the colors to look exactly the same on both monitors?

I'll be working in Photoshop on the innovator and when I move my canvas window to my main monitor to check it's colors, the temperate is a bit off. Since both monitors were calibrated using the same SpyderX,(both set to the same recommended gamma and white point settings) but yield different results, its hard to determine which monitor to trust.

Are you having this issue in anyway when you calibrated both your monitors?

Thanks for this review! It

Thanks for this review! It helped me make a decision to buy this, and it's working well. Lefty mode *does* work! Not quite perfectly though, as the power cable has to be flipped in the socket to avoid sticking out below the display and making it unstable. That's a minor flaw though.

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