XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP
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With the Artist Pro 16TP, XP-Pen challenges competitors like Wacom with an economical touch-screen 4K drawing tablet. If you're a digital artist looking to up your productivity without an excessive price tag attached, the Artist Pro 16TP offers the features you'll want with a minimal trade-off. Whilst touch options aren't equal across all systems, all can benefit from the color-rich display and ease of integration into their workflow.
- 4K resolution
- 15.6" Multi-touch Screen
- Fully laminated display
- Anti-glare, non-grainy glass
- Digital eraser on PH2 stylus
- Brand: XP-Pen
- Active Area: 13.6" x 7.6"
- Multi-Touch Support: Yes, Multi-touch Screen
- Pressure Sensitivity Levels: 8192 Levels
- Connection: USB-C to USB-C, USB-C to USB-A + HDMI
- Color Gamut: 92% Adobe RGB, 124% sRGB, 88% NTSC
- Tilt Support: 60°
- Resolution : 3840 x 2160 (4K)
- Pen : PH2 Stylus
- Compatibility : Windows, macOS, Android
- Vivid color gamut
- Affordable 4K screen
- Minimal parallax
- Connectivity for both older and newer devices
- Stylus pen-case manages extra nibs and lightweight stylus
- Limited touch-screen support on macOS
- Lack of integrated legs (kickstand)
- Cord-length is too short for some workspaces
With the release of Artist Pro 16TP, XP-Pen poses a question. Can a multi-touch 4K graphics tablet still be budget-friendly and still help you create and edit gorgeous digital artwork?
As the first 4K entry in XP-Pen's Art Pro line, this graphics tablet offers a variety of powerful features to simplify digital work for a range of skill levels. However, a drawing tablet's value depends on your workflow, so is it worth investing in for your needs?
XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP Technical Specifications
With the Artist Pro 16TP, XP-Pen has released their first 4K Ultra HD graphics tablet. So if you've previously used XP-Pen's tablets, this seems like a step forward in terms of competing with the likes of Wacom's Cintiq Pro 4K tablets. Relative to its specs, the XP-Pen is pricer compared to their other Artist Pro entries, but it still offers a much cheaper entry point into 4K relative to the competition.
In terms of its other features, the Artist Pro 16TP utilizes similar ranges seen across its other products. It has 92% Adobe RGB and 124% sRGB to help deliver color accuracy across its 15.6” screen. As standard with XP-Pen products, there are still 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity and 60 degrees of tilt function via its stylus.
Connecting the Artist Pro 16TP
Now let’s begin talking about the set-up and how the Artist Pro 16TP would fit in your work area. First off, there are two options to connect the Pro 16TP to your system. You can either connect via a USB-C to USB-C connection, or utilize a USB-C to HDMI and USB-A splitter cable if you have an older computer.
If you are using the HDMI/USB-A connection, you’ll want to consider your available ports. With the HDMI/USB-A cable, the HDMI cable portion is bulkier, so if they're placed in nearby ports then the two connections can end up fighting for space. There's enough cord length to spread the USB-A to another port, but you'll have more cord to deal with atop your workspace.
If you don't have an HDMI port, such as if you're connecting with a MacBook Air, adapters can prove helpful. By utilizing a Mini DisplayPort Thunderbolt to HDMI Adapter I had, it helped spread the cords to one side of the laptop without them being directly on top of each other. The USB-C connection type is the more ideal type; the option to use the Artist Pro 16TP across a wide age range of devices is welcome.
The Artist Pro 16TP also provides a USB-C port strictly to help power the device. Depending on where you are in the world, XP-Pen has also provided an assortment of regional adapters for this.
While it's optional to use this as a secondary power source rather than the device it's plugged into, it allows you to utilize the max brightness of the display. Once unplugged from the power adapter, the Artist Pro 16TP dropped from 100% brightness to 50% instead.
Beyond connectivity, there are a few design notes to keep in mind with Artist Pro 16TP's cords. First off, they feel a bit shorter than they could be. If you're using a higher table or desk space, you may find the power adapter won't have the length to make it to a wall outlet.
Also if you’re using the HDMI/USB-A to connect, there's more cord tension unless the Artist Pro 16TP is laid flat. Since this cable pairing isn't curved in design like the USB-C to USB-C cable, the vertical upright design leads to the cord pulling in one direction or the other as it's connected. It works against gravity to a degree if the tablet is upright, so you may wish to consider this if you're connecting via an older device.
Positioning the Artist Pro 16TP
With the Artist Pro 16TP, there are no actual leg-stands on the device. At the back of the device, four rubber feet provide a sturdy grip when laid flat atop a surface. However, you'll otherwise have to find alternative means to introduce some angling to the display.
Amongst XP-Pen's accessory lineup, I chose to try out the AC18 Display Stand. It wasn't designed specifically for the Artist Pro 16TP, but it was their largest offering and the one recommended when purchasing the Artist Pro 16TP. Outside some minimal jitter at times, it offered an otherwise sturdy and wide range of adjustability while drawing on the Artist Pro 16TP.
So depending on your work style, you'll want to consider how exactly you want to display the Artist Pro 16TP. It's a potential hidden cost area, but it keeps the total tablet cost down.
Keeping Your Tablet Safe With the Anti-Theft Port
While not everyone will use a security slot, the Artist Pro 16TP's price point is high enough to consider anti-theft measures. However, finding the right lock isn't as simple as purchasing a standard-sized lock that would fit most laptops.
To utilize the Artist Pro 16TP's security lock, you'll need to keep in mind both the dimensions of the security slot and the depth of the locking mechanism that needs to fit inside. The security slot is 4 x 8 mm, but that information alone isn't enough to work with. The locking mechanism needs to have a length over 4.5 mm to appropriately fit the slot's depth and lock inside.
Typically, XP-Pen does a good job at providing accessories relative to the features of their tablets. However, they don't sell a suitable lock, so you'll need to source one elsewhere. When purchasing, it's advised to look over the schematics of the lock to make sure you have one that'll fit.
Utilizing the Multi-Touch Screen
Beyond the 4K display element, the Artist Pro 16TP offers touch-based controls as a large selling point. At the left side of the tablet is its power button and mode selection button, to swap between the touch presets. With a quick press, you can alternate between the three presets to suit your current needs.
You can either turn touch completely off, give equal priority to both touch and stylus, or give priority to the stylus over touch. To avoid accidental deflections while working, I typically preferred pen priority mode. But if you frequently use touch during your drawing process, it's simple to swap back.
However, there are some caveats to using touch on the Artist Pro 16TP. Foremost, it isn’t so great if you use macOS. Windows users can pan, zoom in, zoom out, and rotate by touch. If you’re a Mac user, your options are much more limited.
After doing a clean install of the drivers and re-enabling permissions to everything, I was able to get tap-based touch recognized and the option to scroll up and down. However, if you're a fan of the more typical touch controls used for drawing, you're better suited with an alternative option for integration with macOS.
Still, it ultimately depends on your desire to use touch controls. If you’re trained on hotkeys and quicker with them, you might not mind this at all.
Customizing Your 4K Display
Like with the touch controls, the Artist Pro 16TP takes advantage of a simplistic button set-up to adjust your visual settings much like a standard monitor. At the top of the tablet, two multi-use buttons allow you to bring up the menu, adjust values, and make your selections. Once you're familiar with its layout, it can take seconds to adjust a visual preset or fine-tune a setting to make sure you're seeing it as needed.
Besides general visual preset modes like standard, movie, and game, there's also the option to adjust your overall color temperature. Depending on your use case, you can alternate beyond locked presets and fully custom settings. So if you're shifting use between personal and professional realms such as printing artwork or photography, you can fine-tune for better visual accuracy.
XP-Pen's PH2 Stylus
After using the P05D stylus with the Deco Mini 7W, I was curious how the PH2 stylus would compare.
In terms of weight, they’re roughly the same as both battery-free styluses. The PH2's texture and finish feel nicer in hand; it does feature only one shortcut button in exchange for having a digital eraser at the back. Still, there's also no ergonomic grip to the PH2, so if working for a longer period I could feel some more discomfort on my hand.
However, the overall weight and feel served as a good companion to the Artist Pro 16TP display. However, the Artist Pro 16TP doesn't utilize the X3 stylus smart-chip technology that XP-Pen is moving forward with. If you're more stylus-focused, you may wish to consider what the similarly named XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro offers in respect to feel.
For those that don't mind the more traditional stylus feel, XP-Pen still offers some added incentive here. The PH2 comes with a push-pen case, so it’s very easy to both keep the pen protected and have instant access to extra nibs. Removing a nib simply involves you inserting it in the hole then moving forward to lessen it. Then you can exchange and discard the nib that needs changing and move on.
Also, albeit not explicitly stated, I found that if you disable Windows Ink under XP-Pen’s settings that you won’t be able to use the digital eraser in other software.
Drawing on the Artist Pro 16TP
As for the display of the drawing tablet itself, let’s talk a little bit about its build. As previously noted, this is XP-Pen’s first 4K display; it’s a good-sized one. It features a glossier screen that’s more smooth, so it's a different experience relative to XP-Pen's screenless drawing tablets.
The screen type does come with a fair share of benefits as well. To help you work longer, there's anti-glare glass to help reduce eye strain and reduce outside light interference. On top of this, there’s a fully laminated display so you'll experience minimal parallax.
With this said, if you’re after a more matte, textured finish to draw on then you won’t get this experience with the tablet. Personal preference is more a factor here; I found the display feel easy to work with overall. Occasionally, I’d find software setting differences that would impact performance temporarily; XP-Pen's Artist Pro 16TP offered good colors and a solid digital drawing experience.
For instance, on macOS, I did have to calibrate the tablet several times to get everything evened out. I was experiencing some parallax otherwise, and the calibration process would sometimes not register the final input properly. With some persistence, however, it was a smooth, rich drawing experience.
Getting Started With Free Software
As always, XP-Pen offers free software with their products. There’s the option to try out Explain Everything as well as ArtRage, openCanvas, or Cartoon Animator.
Since I previously got to try out openCanvas, I decided to go with ArtRage 6 this time. As a digital canvas that’s lighter on system resource demands, it worked seamlessly with the Artist Pro 16TP. As such, I advise getting a feel for the tablet's settings, touch control, and stylus on one of the free options first to get a feel and iron out any potential kinks.
Also as an upside, if you're a consistent XP-Pen user, you can build a tiny software library for free. Before making a purchase, you can also check out what's currently being offered via XP-Pen's website as well.
Working with Adobe Photoshop on the Artist Pro 16TP
As part of the Artist Pro line-up, I wanted to see how the 16TP worked with more industry-geared software like Photoshop.
Now there are a few things to note about the Photoshop experience. First off, touch controls didn’t work unless I had Use Graphics Processor enabled under Photoshop’s Performance settings.
Secondly, I did run into some initial input lag and some relatively minor detection issues. It wouldn’t always detect if my strokes were light like when very lightly sketching. If you use more pressure while drawing you'd probably never notice it; the input lag was noticeable enough while drawing quickly.
To help fix this, I ended up adjusting Photoshop’s memory usage and the advanced settings for the graphic processor. With a few tweaks and some quick line tests, I was able to get everything running smoothly on a laptop.
Take A Gaming Break With XP-Pen
With XP-Pen releases, there’s usually a subtle nod to a fun use for their product. With the Artist Pro 16TP, it's centered around its USB-C DC 5V/300mA output. Thus, the Artist Pro 16TP connects easily with the Nintendo Switch and serves as a great secondary display.
So if you need to take a break, it's easy to just plug in your Switch, remove the Joy-Cons, and start playing.
Should You Buy the Artist Pro 16TP?
With the XP-Pen Artist Pro 16TP, it's a great option for those looking to break into 4K with XP-Pen. As it’s the biggest competition is the Wacom Cintique Pro, you'll need to weigh if you prefer to save some money at the cost of integrated features and build differences. Additionally, if you're a macOS user, touch control limitations can sour usage some based on present limitations.
But if your foremost focus is to work with and capitalize on the 4K option, the value point speaks for itself. The Artist Pro 16TP offers plenty for its cost especially with the free software considered. If you can fit it into your set-up, it's a great graphics tablet to work with.