Review: XPPen Artist Pro 16 (gen 2) pen display

Review unit provided by XPPen (Facebook | Twitter)

The XPPen Artist Pro 16 (gen 2) was released in August 2023 and is the upgrade for the XPPen Artist Pro 16 from 2021, and the bigger option to the XPPen Artist Pro 14 (gen 2).

XPPen sells several 16-inch pen displays and below are the ones from 2020:

Since XPPen products are often on discounts, actual prices are lower than those listed above.

The price of the XPPen Artist Pro 16 (gen 2) is US $539 at time of review and comes with a 3-to-1 cable (otherwise sold separately) and 2 years warranty.

The upgrades over the Artist Pro 16 (2021)

There are several improvements:

  • Pressure sensitivity has increased from 8K to 16K
  • Resolution has increased from 1920 x 1080 to 2560 x 1600 (16:10 aspect ratio)
  • USB-C port provides more secure cable connection
  • Matte textured glass used instead of matte screen protector
  • Pressing down on the glass will not create colour ripple effect
  • ACK05 wireless shortcut remote is included

The one downgrade is the lack of hotkeys but XPPen has included the ACK05 wireless shortcut remote (review) in the box.

Bottom line

Overall design looks good and build quality is excellent. The display with 16:10 aspect ratio is a selling point and the increased resolution is extremely welcome. Drawing performance is good however it does suffer from more diagonal line wobble or jitter compared to the XPPen Artist Pro 14 (gen 2) which uses the same pen and technology. To get straighter lines while drawing, you may have to apply smoothening to the lines.

Things included

  • Pen display
  • XPPen ACK05 wireless shortcut remote
  • 1x USB-A power adapter with interchangeable plugs
  • 1x USB-C to USB-C video cable (1.5m long)
  • 2x USB-A to USB-C cable
  • 1x USB-A to USB-A extension cable
  • 1x Microfiber cleaning cloth
  • 1x Drawing glove
  • 1x X3 Pro Smart Chip Stylus
  • 1x Pen case (with 4 plastic nib, 4 felt nibs, one USB-A wireless receiver)
  • 1x Quickstart guide
  • 1x Warranty card


What's not included is the 3-to-1 cable with HDMI, USB-A and USB-C. If your computer does not have USB-C for video, and you use HDMI for video, you will need that 3-to-1 cable which cost USD 19.99. This cable may be included as a free gift during promotion.

There's also no stand included.

Oh, the box packaging art is created by Shan Jiang, an artist from Shanghai who's based in London. You can see more of his artwork on his Instagram page.


Contact info for XPPen support is provided on the label on the protective wrapping.

Design


This is a very clean and simple design. Corners are rounded off. Bezels are big with space for resting your hand, and there's a wrist rest at the bottom made with metal


When the two foldable feet on the back are folded, there are five pieces of rubber padding with good grip on the table.


The foldout feet can only deploy the pen display at this angle and it's a comfortable angle to draw with.


Both sides has slight indent that lets your finger slide under easily to lift the pen display.

Overall build quality of the pen display is excellent with the metal construction.


The two USB-C ports at the top are recessed so this means less cable movement and less likely to have loose connection or cable damage.

Display


The 16-inch IPS LCD display has 2560 x 1600 resolution. Visual are sharp with no noticeable pixelation from one arm's working distance away.

The 16:10 aspect ratio is more productive than the common 16:9 because given the fixed width, you have 11% more vertical space. Any extra space on a small display is welcome. The downside is when watching 16:9 videos, there are black bars at the top and bottom. I hope XPPen can make more pen displays with 16:10 aspect ratio in the future.

Colour accuracy is really good. I measured colour support 100% sRGB, 98% AdobeRGB, 95% P3 and 94% NTSC. This is better than the XPPen Artist Pro 14 (gen 2) with 85% AdobeRGB.

Maximum brightness is 171 nits which is alright for use in a bright room environment but I wish it could be higher.


The display used matte-textured anti-glare glass which provides a nice tactile drawing experience with both plastic and felt nib. The glass will not scratch compared to matte screen protectors.

Viewing angles are good. There's minimal colour shift and drop in brightness. Visual quality is affected by reflections diffused by the anti-glare. To get the best visual quality with this display, it's best to avoid having reflections on the display.


The matte surface does introduce some grain and colour noise to affect the visual quality, but it's not too bad. That's the compromise for having a matte surface.


The display is laminated with no gap between the glass and LCD, and hence there's no parallax. When drawing, there's no gap between the line and the pen tip.


Cursor tracking is accurate up to the extreme edge.

MacOS users beware! 16-inch with 2560 x 1600 resolution is not a good match with MacOS. To achieve proper scaling with sharp UI elements, you need to use the BetterDisplay app for UI scaling to achieve sharper visuals. The default scaling options from MacOS are limited and not good enough.

Pen


The new X3 Pro Smart Chip Stylus is housed inside a solid matte textured metal pen case.


The pen supports tilt and 16,384 (16K) levels of pressure sensitivity. There's a big comfortable silicone grip area, two customisable side buttons and an eraser on the back. The pen is not powered by battery so no charging is required.


According to the XPPen, the pen has initial response rate reduced to 90ms, accuracy increased by 20% (cursor tracking), initial activation force of 3g and a 0.6mm retraction distance (how much the pen tip moves inside the pen).


The pen nib is not firm but has minimal movement. It's kinda like drawing with a ballpoint pen which has that sort of movement, but there's less movement here.

Driver

I'm duplicating some content from the XPPen Artist Pro 14 (gen 2) review here since the same driver is used.

The pen display supports Windows 7 (or later), macOS 10.10 (or later), Android (USB3.1 DP1.2), Chrome OS 88 (or later), Linux. At the time of review, the Linux drivers are not available yet.

The drivers I've tested are Mac driver ver 3.4.9_230829 and Windows driver ver 3.4.9.230815.


The display settings can be left as default unless you have issues with mapping the drawing area.


If you experience cursor misalignment, you can calibrate the pen and display with the Calibration button.


The pressure curve can be adjusted with 3 control points.

I usually set one side button to Switch Display/Switch Monitor. There are three modes: cursor on display #1, cursor on display #2 and cursor across both displays (like a mouse).


To customise the XPPen ACK05 wireless shortcut remote, pair it first with the computer with either Bluetooth, USB wireless (through Bluetooth) or cable. Once the remote is paired, the same driver can be used to customise the hotkeys.

The dial can be configured with up to four shortcuts. Rotation only works with Photoshop. To get rotation to work with other drawing apps, those apps must have keyboard shortcuts for rotation.


The shortcut remote has 10 customisable hotkeys. You can create up to four groups of shortcuts (total 36) and use a hotkey to switch between the groups. That little USB adapter is a Bluetooth receiver for computers without Bluetooth.

Shortcuts and groups of shortcuts can be created for specific apps. Those shortcuts will then load automatically when the app is active. E.g. You can have one set of shortcuts for Photoshop, another set for Clip Studio Paint.

Key combination works. E.g. Ctrl + Shift + A.

Press and hold will not activate repeated keys. E.g. Press and hold [ or ] will not increase brush size repeatedly.

Line tests

I have three sets of line tests from Medibang Paint Pro, Photoshop and Clip Studio Paint.

For some reason, XPPen Artist Pro 14 (gen 2) seem to have slightly better drawing performance, especially with the lack of wobble or jitter with slow diagonal lines.

The reason I did the line tests with different apps is because I see inconsistency with drawing performance.


Medibang Paint

1. The pen is very sensitive and the initial activation force is minimal. As long as the pen tip is in contact with the surface, even if no pressure is applied, you can draw a thin line. There's slight wobble and jitter with slow diagonal lines, but it's not as obvious with Photoshop and CSP.

2. Lines are able to taper smoothly but not as sharply as I expected. Photoshop and CSP are able to produce smooth and sharp tapered strokes.

3. Line transition from thin to thick to thin is smooth. Pen is able to drawn thin lines easily after the thick lines. You may notice slight jitter and wobble with this diagonal line.

4. No issues with maintaining line width by applying consistent pressure.

5. Dots can be drawn easily.

6. No issues with joining separate lines. There are no gaps and lines do not overshoot.


Only issue with Photoshop is with the tapered strokes that may end with a round end.


Clip Studio Paint performs well.

It's strange that Medibang Paint Pro has more diagonal line wobble and jitter from the Artist Pro 16 (gen 2) than the Artist Pro 14 (gen 2) even though both pen displays use the same technology. Anyway, the wobble and jitter is not significant and can be smoothen by applying software smoothening at the expense of introducing more latency.


This was drawn with Medibang Paint with a combination of lines that have and don't have smoothening. Even with drawing with a brush that does not have smoothening, the lines were not really affected by the wobble or jitter when I'm drawing at my usual speed.


Since the pen is so sensitive, you can actually use a single brush width for the whole drawing, and just vary the width with pressure.


A thin line can be drawn even with a thick brush selected.


The ACK05 wireless shortcut remote is useful for those who have a use for it. You can customise up to 36 shortcuts with the shortcut remote, but I still prefer using my keyboard because I can have access to all keyboard shortcuts.


Here's a quick sketch with Krita. No issues here.


This was drawn with Clip Studio Paint. The pen performance is great.


This was drawn with Affinity Photo. This truck has plenty of diagonal lines and I did not experience any diagonal line wobble or jitter issues.

Conclusion

My overall drawing experience is very positive. Even though the line tests shown some wobble and jitter with the slow diagonal lines, I didn't really see those issue while drawing. Drawing performance is pretty good. The pen is very sensitive and versatile due to the fantastic support for pressure sensitivity. The 16-inch display with a matte surface is satisfying to draw on.

The XPPen Artist Pro 16 (gen 2) is a huge upgrade over the previous model in so many ways. There's better cable connection, better colour accuracy, 16:10 aspect ratio, and higher resolution. This is also better than the 14-inch model due to the higher resolution and better colour accuracy, but it's USD 539 vs USD 377.


This pen display together with the Artist Pro 14 (gen 2) are the best pen displays from XPPen right now. I can't wait to see the next refresh for the 24 inch pen displays from XPPen.

Pros and cons at a glance:

+ Beautiful design
+ Solid build quality
+ 16:10 aspect ratio display
+ Laminated display
+ Display has foldable feet
+ Fantastic colour accuracy with 98% AdobeRGB
+ Matte glass drawing surface
+ Matte drawing surface has minimal grain and colour noise
+ X3 Pro pen is accurate and sensitive
+ Accurate cursor tracking
+ Pen has tilt and 16K levels of pressure sensitivity
+ Pen case included
+ 8 replacement pen nibs included, and 4 are felt nibs
+ USB-C to USB-C video connection
+ Cables connection seems secure and durable
+ Fantastic drawing performance
+ Supports Mac, Windows, Android, Chomebook and Linux (driver upcoming)
+ Two years warranty
- Metal edges are not beveled
- Another stand is needed to prop up the display for non-drawing work
- No OSD menu for manual colour adjustments
- No 3-to-1 cable included (sold separately for USD 19).
- More diagonal line wobble and jitter with Medibang Paint Pro
- Drawing performance not as good as Artist Pro 14 (gen 2)
- MacOS users need BetterDisplay app to get sharper UI scaling

Availability

The XPPen Artist Pro 16 (gen 2) pen display is available from XPPen online store.

If you have intention to buy one, consider supporting me and my work by using the affiliate links above. I earn some commission for each sale at no extra cost to you.

And if my review is inaccurate in any way, let me know in the comments section below.

Very comprehensive review. I appreciate the amount of work Parka has invested in detailing the ins and outs of these tablet devices. I have a Huion Kamvas 13 and a XP Pen Innovator 16. My Kamvas 13 barely has no surface texture left by now, and my Innovator never had much to begin with, and it's screen protector is quite fragile and susceptible to pen scratches, so I stopped using it. I bought felt tips to adapt them, so it would not feel so sterile working on it's surface, but then I realize is just
like an iPad with cheap plastic film with barely no grip at all. Wacoms are way better in this regard. I wanted to buy the next iteration Artist Pro 16, but on their own website, the indicated accuracy for the center and corners were worse than the one for the Innovator. So I wrote them to inquire about it, and they just said it may just be a typo, and that new products have better accuracy in the centers and corners. Still, the information they provide on both products remains as it was, Innovator having better accuracy on their product specifications, but them asking of consumers to assume better accuracy in newer models, despite the contradictions. So I did not buy it. I was having hopes for this one, fell in love with the 14, but waited for the 16 inch one. Then Parka made this amazing evaluation on it, and BAM! yet again, another disappointing, confusing issue with it's line quality pops up. There was new introduced jitter with the implementation of the new X3 pen technology. Seemingly tolerable on their 14 inch model, only to find out how OBVIOUS it is on this beautiful 16 inch iteration. I really want this device, I accept and understand all the compromises they have made on this product. But their lack of transparency is astounding. Am I going to mention this on their product website, and expect they are going to try, AT LEAST, to look into this issue? I doubt it. If they could not correct a pair of in their opinion, "typos", the only thing left is hope. Maybe in another 4 years they will acknowledge and fix this. Meanwhile, I will be checking Parka blogs and his YouTube channel often, because he has integrity and talent. Maybe XP Pen should hire him as beta tester for their products. Imagine how much rounder their products could get to be from an artist perspective.

In reply to by Pozo (not verified)

I purchased and am using Artist Pro 16 (gen2).
The Artist Pro 16 (gen2) is one of the pen displays with considerably less jitter. This review only shows that the Artist Pro 14 (gen2) is extremely good.
Rival Kamvas Pro 16 (2.5k) is also in the low-jitter category, but Artist Pro 16 (gen2) is even better than that.
Also, the older Artist Pro 16 (gen1) was a pen display that suffered from relatively high jitter when the pen was tilted. By comparison, the (gen2) is almost imperceptible unless you are obsessively checking for jitter.
Of course, during normal drawing, jitter rarely gets in the way, even with Medibang Paint Pro's stabilization 0 setting.

hi teoh,

loved the review and i'd purchased this tablet....but when i hook it up to my lenovo idepad flex 5's usb c port it doesn't seem to get a signal through and the light remains red. i'm still waiting to hear from their tech support....bummer.

but in the mean time i'm wondering if i should get the 3-in-1 cable. the thing is my hdmi port and usb ports are on the left and right of my laptop (about 34 cm wide) respectively. i'm wondering if i can trouble you to tell me if the 3-in-1 heads can reach the hdmi & usb ports on my laptop comfortably or would i require extensions?

much thanks for the time to read this :)

In reply to by Mooik (not verified)

@Mooik
I'm not sure if the USB-C port on that Lenovo is able to output video.

Or it could be there's not enough power to the pen display so you may need to connect it to a power source, e.g. phone charger. Try this first.

If you get the 3-to-1 cable, you may need an extension cable (USB-A to USB-A) which is already in the box.

So, I've basically fallen in love with these 16:10 ratio tablets. I know for a fact this would be way more comfortable for me than my kamvas 13 pro I tried a few years ago; the extra inches of height the aspect ratio offers would just be so much better for me. However, i can't decide if the 14 or 16 should be my goal. The 14 would be much easier of a goal for me monetarily, and i have some concerns about desk space with the 16[my desk is quite small]. However, i'm also concerned that maybe the extra screen space would be too beneficial to pass up trying to get. But weirdly, I can't seem to find adequate comparisons between these two - i can't even find any images of the two next to eachother other than stock image that really only show one of the corners. How differently do each of these fit on a desk? And if in a situation where every dollar counts[as opposed to "money is no object"], is the size difference still a big enough improvement to be worth it?

In reply to by Azu (not verified)

@Azu
You can cut out piece of paper to size of the pen displays and compare.

Downside of the 14 is at native resolution, the UI looks smaller compared to 16-inch model.

Hi Teoh, thanks for the in depth review. I was wondering which one would you recommend for a display pen tablet. I'm choosing between XP Pen 16 artist 2nd gen and this one, XP Pen Pro 16 2nd gen.

Which one do you recommend?

In reply to by Darell (not verified)

@Darell
The Artist Pro 16 (gen 2) is definitely better due to the 16:10 aspect ratio and higher resolution of 2560 x 1600. The price is of course higher at USD 599 vs 399

Drawing performance isn't gonna be that difference. So it will come down to how much you're willing to spend.

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