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Artist Pro 16 Gen 2: Full Review of a Professional Drawing Tablet

Artist Pro 16 Gen 2

Artist Pro 16 Gen 2: Full Review of a Professional Drawing Tablet

At first glance, the Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 from XP-Pen looks like just another drawing tablet. But the high price tag makes it stick out like a sore thumb from the competition. Why is this tablet more expensive? What does this tablet offer that the competition lacks? And is there anything new that we get in exchange for the bigger investment?

We managed to get our hands on one of these drawing tablets to put it to the test and see if it’s really worth it. In short? Yes, it definitely brings some cool features to the table, and its color accuracy, resolution, and new technology make it worth the investment for some. But it isn’t for everyone.

In today’s article, we’re going to dive into all of the specs, features, and pros and cons of the Artist Pro 16 Gen 2. We’ll look at who this drawing tablet is perfect for, and why you might want it. But we’ll also explore a few of the drawbacks and why you might want to consider an alternative option. Let’s get started!

Artist Pro 16 Gen 2: Best Deal Today

  • Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 – XP-Pen

Alternative Models

  • Artist 16 (not the Pro version) – Amazon
  • 16TP (4K version) – Amazon
  • Star G640 (budget alternative from the same company) – Amazon

Artist Pro 16 Gen 2: Overview

Release date and price

The Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 launched in late 2023 as an update to the previous version. It introduced plenty of new features, which we’ll get into in a moment. But the price tag might scare away novices to the field. At an MSRP of over $500, it is not a small investment. The good news is that you get a lot for that price, and even if you can’t stomach the full investment, you can opt for cheaper models from the same company.

Different Models

It shouldn’t be surprising that drawing tablets have been out for a while. So, this is really nothing new. But XP-Pen, originally established in 2005, has been in the business for many years, all the while releasing slightly more powerful and feature-filled devices over this time. 

The Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 is the company’s latest release. But they also have other models, such as the Artist 12 and the Artist 24, which, as the names imply, are different sizes of drawing tablets. The company also makes cheaper models, like the Star G430 and G640.

These are entry-level drawing tablets that were designed to be the artist’s budget replacement for a mouse. So, it’s safe to say the Artist Pro 16 is one of their flagship offerings. But what are the features that make it special?

Features

The Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 is a redesign of the previous generation. As such, the creators made every effort to listen to users’ demands and integrate as many features as possible. So, it is safe to say that this is a highly polished iteration of a drawing tablet that comes with a ton of extra features.

We’re going to tear into each one of these features in more detail shortly. But to give you the rundown, you get a 16-inch display at a pleasing 2560×1600 resolution. This is more than enough screen real estate to dive into some intricate art projects. Plus, you can zoom in as much as you want — something you can’t do with traditional pen and paper.

The star of the show is probably the X3 Pro Smart Chip Stylus. Developed by XP-Pen, this is the newest iteration of their famed drawing pen. It is capable of up to 16,384 pressure levels, with the heightened pressure sensitivity allowing you to get much more fine-grained control over each stroke and line. In addition to the tablet and pen, you also get a Bluetooth remote control, with programmable buttons and a handy little dial.

Artist Pro Pen
The included battery-free pen comes with its own case and multiple tips.

Artist Pro 16 Gen 2: Review

The standout feature that XP-Pen touts for this device is that it offers over 16,000 levels of pen pressure sensitivity. For creative designers and artists who are trying to get the most precision and accuracy possible, this is excellent news. 

This is also good news for artists who were always a little uneasy about using a drawing tablet to create since you’ll be able to craft designs more similarly to a real-world pen and paper or canvas and brush style experience.

Drawing tablets have been historically known to offer a subpar experience compared to conventional methods, or at least require a heavy learning curve to get things right. The Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 is noticeably friendlier to beginners and helps you get the hang of things quickly. Let’s look at individual aspects a little more closely, starting with the design.

Artist Pro stand
The Artist Pro is propped up by two feet on its back, elevating it to the perfect angle.

Design

The Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 sports a plain black metal finish, without much to say. When you open the box, you’ll need to plug it into your computer with the included cables. Everything routes around the back of the device. There are only two USB C cables needed, so they stay out of the way with no worries.

The whole tablet is rather thick, but it stays relatively light, weighing about as much as your average laptop or portable monitor. With a built-in stand, you can prop it up so the display is at an angle. Two legs pop out from the bottom, setting it at the perfect angle for use.

We saw a similar design from Wacom drawing tablets a few years ago. So, it is nice to see that familiar format gaining popularity. To top it off, the bezel is nice and thick — something that would be a negative on most displays — but this gives you plenty of room to comfortably rest your hands while you’re drawing.

Ports and Connectivity

So, we mentioned that it only uses two USB-C cables. This is pretty impressive, especially considering all of its capabilities. Your desk won’t be cluttered with HDMI cables, USB cables, and other display cables. Just plug in one cable for power, and then the other one to your computer. Since both of the ports are located on the back, they stay out of the way. Plus, since they are both interchangeable, you don’t have to worry about which one is which when you are plugging them in.

Artist Pro ports
You’ll only find two ports on this device, and they are located right next to each other along the top edge of the tablet.

Graphics

The high-resolution screen on the Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 makes this device really stand out from the previous generations and competing drawing tablets. The 2560×600 resolution display gives you plenty of screen real estate to work with, and the 16-inch size lets you take full advantage of this resolution without feeling cramped.

The color accuracy is excellent and noticeably better than on low-end drawing tablets. You get a 99% sRGB rating for enhanced color gamut coverage and 159% sRGB color gamut area ratio. All of this just means that the color accuracy will make your images line up more closely with what you imagine, and your final creations will look their absolute best on the widest range of displays.

Another thing I can’t help mentioning about this drawing tablet is the aspect ratio. The 16:10 aspect ratio offered by the Artist Pro Gen 2 is arguably the best you could ask for. Often called the “golden ratio,” the 16:10 format gives you much more verticle space to work with compared to the typical widescreen format. Along with the gigantic screen and high resolution, this is the perfect compliment.

Pen and Case

The Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 is not your typical touchscreen. You can’t just tap your finger and get to work like you’re finger painting. You need the pen, or “stylus” if you want the more technical name. This is your connection to the device. Just like a real piece of paper! The pen is your brush. So, it’s good to know that this is one of the most powerful pens you can get.

Your first impression is precious, and the pen’s unique and intuitive case serves to make sure you have the absolute best first impression. The case is made of thick brushed metal, and it has some serious weight to it. You can pop open the case by pushing on the bottom, and the pen and its selection of various tips will pop right out for you to take your pick. Flip the pen around, and you can use it as a digital eraser.

Artist Pro pen and case
The pen comes with its own carrying case that also holds the rest of the interchangeable tips.

The Remote

The pen may be a vital feature for a drawing tablet, but the remote control is a welcome extra. This little attachment is included with the Artist Pro Gen2, but you can even get it for previous generations or different models. What makes this piece special is that it seriously extends the capabilities of your digital design workstation. 

You get several programmable buttons and dials to create the perfect custom workflow. You can map the buttons to individual brushes and tools in your digital art software. The dial is particularly useful since you can use it to adjust your brush sizes or zoom level.

Plus, you don’t have to deal with extra cables cluttering your desk, since the device has Bluetooth. The biggest downside here is that it actually uses a USB Bluetooth receiver to connect to your computer. So, you will need a USB-A port. If you don’t have one of those (looking at you, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro), then you’ll need to find an adapter.

Along with the pen and the drawing tablet, the remote helps you build a full design setup in just a tiny package. It doesn’t have the most premium feel, but considering it’s just an accessory that you don’t often see in other drawing tablets, it’s a welcome addition.

Artist Pro remote
The remote gives you a tool to extend the functionality of your drawing tablet and create a whole custom digital art studio on your desk.

Software

The first drawback when it comes to software is obvious. This is not a standalone device. You can’t use it unless you have a computer. So, your choice of software will certainly play a part in your experience. Whether you want to draw in MS Paint or Adobe Photoshop — that part is up to you. But you’ll need to connect it to either a Windows, Mac, or Linux computer first.

I tried this device out on both my Windows 11 laptop and my MacBook Pro, and it has no issues connecting immediately to either one of them. Plus, the Artist Pro 16 will also work with Linux or Ubuntu just fine — their website lists drivers for Ubuntu, CentOS, Redhat, Arch, and many other Linux distributions. 

Technically, you could also use this on an Android phone, too. If you don’t mind dealing with the quirks of different apps, or some light troubleshooting, you’ll have no problem. Many Android apps are designed for a touchscreen, and since this device isn’t a true touchscreen, it might have you wasting time, constantly pinching and zooming on your phone, while you’re working. This is definitely a device that shines most when plugged into a real workstation like a Mac or PC.

As for what graphics software to use, you can stick with the classic choices like Adobe Photoshop or InDesign. But this will also come in handy for free apps like Canva, and even MS Paint. XP-Pen also hosts a free library of apps to use specifically for their drawing tablets. You can pick from different free programs for storyboarding, whiteboarding, and creating digital art.

Artist Pro 16 Paint
Even though this is a professional drawing tablet, if you don’t want to shell out for expensive software, you can still use free apps.

Artist Pro 16 Gen 2: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Useful accessories
  • High levels of pressure sensitivity 
  • Excellent color accuracy
  • High-resolution and large display

Cons:

  • Pricey for a drawing tablet
  • Needs a computer in order to operate

Artist Pro 16 Gen 2: Is It a Buy?

So, now that you know a little more about the Artist Pro 16 Gen 2, and how it stacks up against the competition and its previous generations, should you buy it? 

Buy It if…

You are a digital designer or graphic artist who wants to upgrade from a basic drawing tablet. This device is a significant step up from entry-level models, and you get plenty of bang for your buck. 

You want a drawing tablet with more precision than earlier models. Drawing tablets have come a long way, and the Artist Pro 16 Gen 2 is the latest and greatest, at least for now. If you’re looking for something to take your work to the next level, this is it.

You want something that will work across different operating systems. If you are someone like me, who uses a Mac for one task, a Windows computer for another, and an Ubuntu machine for something else, this is the device for you. It will work across different platforms, so if you want to take it with you to different workstations, you won’t be tied down.

That brings me to my next point, which is portability. It does not have a battery, but it does not need to. If you want something that you can throw in your bag next to your laptop, this will do just fine. All you’ll need is a spot to plug in. Since it weighs about as much as your average laptop, you should barely notice the increase in weight in your bag.

Don’t Buy It if…

You just want to try out a drawing tablet or just want a budget model. If you have been toying with the idea of getting into digital design, this might not be the one for you. It is not an entry-level system, and the price reflects that. If you just want to give something a try with a smaller commitment, you would do better with a cheaper drawing tablet.

You want a touchscreen monitor or a secondary display. This is a bonafide drawing tablet. It is not a typical touchscreen — you’ll need the pen. Plus, the stand may be helpful, but it doesn’t let you prop the monitor at a 90-degree angle. And you don’t have many options for mounting. So, it would make a pretty bad secondary monitor.

The price is really the only downside to this tablet that we can think of. So, if you have the money to spend on it and you want a feature-packed drawing device, you’ll appreciate the benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I set up my XP-Pen 16 2nd generation?

Setting up this drawing tablet is simple. Just plug in the USB cable to your computer. If your computer can’t power the device through the USB-C connection, then plug in the second USB cable to your power outlet. If your computer does not have a USB C port, you’ll need to use a USB C to HDMI adapter.

Is XP-Pen Pro worth it?

The pro version has a lot to offer over the non-pro title. You get a better resolution, and you also get the 16k levels of pressure sensitivity. But if you’re not creating precise graphics, you probably won’t find these features helpful. For uses like learning online or taking notes, you would be fine with the previous generation or a smaller model drawing tablet.

What is the resolution of XP-Pen Artist 16 2nd Gen?

The Artist Pro 16 2nd gen comes in at 2.5K or 2560 x 1600 resolution.

What size screen is the XP-pen Artist 16 2nd Gen?

It has a 16-inch screen with a 16:10 aspect ratio.

Can you use XP-Pen Pro without a computer?

No. You will need a computer to use the XP-Pen Pro. Since it is not a standalone device, you’ll have to fire up your graphic design, drawing, or other software to use this. Technically, you can get by with an Android phone, but this is far from ideal.

Is XP-Pen good for beginners?

Yes! It is surprisingly simple to set up an XP-Pen drawing tablet, and even if you don’t have expensive graphics software to use, you can still use free apps for drawing or taking notes.

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