At a really reasonable price, the new tablet from XP-Pen packs enough punch to compete with much more expensive products on the market. It’s definitely a quality tablet for artists with lots of extra goodies to boot.

About XP-Pen

XP-Pen was founded in Japan in 2005 as a professional developer of graphics tablets, pen display monitors, stylus pens, and other tools aimed at visual content creators. 

Why Edit With a Graphic Tablet

Artists who transition from physical mediums, like paper and canvas, to the digital world quickly learn how inadequate a mouse is.  It just doesn’t feel natural in the hand compared to a pencil or a paintbrush.

Graphics tablets offer an enormous amount of control and precision in your retouching. They can also speed up your workflow a lot. If you’ve never used a graphics tablet for photo editing before, you may wonder if you actually need one. But I will say, this is one of those pieces of equipment that, once you’ve been using it for a week, you’ll wonder how you ever got on without it.

A graphic tablet will speed up your workflow allowing for both quicker and more precise strokes, the result is improved retouching output in a faster time for your client. A device such as this will both make and save you a considerable amount of money and time as a professional digital artist. More precise, controlled results mean your retouching output is itself improved while the time you spend doing it can be reduced by hours a week.

XP Pen Innovator 16 1

[Related Reading: Wacom Intuos 2018 Review | Wacom’s Base Intuos Still Sets The Tone For Pen Tablets]

Graphic Tablet Vs Display Tablet

Graphics tablets and drawing monitors are designed to work with styluses to produce artwork through mimicking drawing or painting on traditional media digitally. They are developed with the technology to sense the pressure or tilt the artist puts on the stylus to produce line weight in order to digitally replicate the use of a pencil, paintbrush, etc. 

Tablet PCs are generally designed to be mobile mini-computers in similarity to mobile phones to act like miniature laptops.

Graphic tablet benefits:

  • Express keys (mechanical keys you can add functions such as erase or fill)
  • More affordable
  • Great life span (years and years)
  • No parallax
  • They are built to last unlike their screen counterparts
  • You never block your vision with your hand
  • Active stylus

About the Innovator 16″

At a really reasonable price, the XP-Pen Innovator 16 packs enough punch to compete with much more expensive products on the market. It’s definitely a quality tablet for artists with lots of extra goodies to boot.

The 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.

With a 15.6” panel, it has plenty of room upon which to draw.  At a rather svelte one-third of an inch thick, it’s portable enough to take anywhere a laptop can go.

XP Pen Innovator 16 4

An alternative to Wacom?

When looking for a new drawing tablet, you might have come across the Wacom Cintiq 16 and the XP-Pen Innovator 16. These two are the best mid-range drawing tablets in the market and comes with a wide range of features.

The innovator 16 has a lot going for it, whether we talk about its premium-metallic build quality or the slimmer and compact form factor.

The display of the Innovator 16 has a superior color accuracy and better contrast. It comes with multiple shortcuts options including onboard buttons and dials. The Wacom Cintiq 16 lacks all these features.

The only advantage Cintiq 16 has at this point is its slightly better stylus. But the stylus of the Innovator 16 is also nearly as good.

The final nail in the coffin comes in the form of the price tag. In spite of having better features and better build quality, the Innovator 16 comes at a considerably lower price tag (of just $499 regular, currently on sale for $399), compared to the Cintiq 16.

Here you can see how similar their functions are:

XP-Pen Innovator 16″

Wacom Cintiq 16

Dimension

443.27 x 256.45 x 9 mm

422 x 285 x 25 mm

Display Size

15.6 Inches

15.6 Inches

Working Area

344.16 x 193.59 mm

344.16 x 193.59 mm

Resolution

1920 x 1080 (16:9)

1920 x 1080 (16:9)

Color Accuracy

125% sRGB

96% sRGB

Brightness

250cd/m2

210 cd/m2

Contrast

1200:1

1000:1

Response time

16.4 ms

25 ms

Laminated Screen

Yes

No

Screen Type

Matte + Textured

Matte + Textured

Stylus

Battery-free

Battery-free

Pressure and Tilt

8192 pressure Levels
60° tilt

8192 pressure Levels
60° tilt

Shortcut Buttons

8

No

Dial

Rotating + Touch

No

Tablet Stand

Included

Foldable Legs

Build Material

Metallic (Premium)

Plastic

Weight

3.08 lbs (1.4 kg)

4.1 lbs (1.9 kg)

[Related Reading: Wacom Cintiq Pro 13 Review | A Immersive Editing Experience For Photographers]

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Technical Specifications 

  • Dimensions: 443.27×256.45x9mm
  • 125% sRGB, 92% Adobe RGB, 88% NTSC 
  • 8 Express Keys
  • Battery-free stylus
  • Price – $499.97 regular (Currently on sale for $399)

What’s in the Box

  • 1x 15.6″ Graphics Display
  • 1x Battery-Free Stylus
  • 1x 3-in-1 USB Cable
  • 1 x Extension Cord
  • 1x Power Adapter
  • 1x Portable Stand
  • 1x Pen Holder (comes with 8 pen nibs)
  • 1x Quick Guide
  • 1x Cleaning Cloth

XP-Pen Innovator 16″ In Action

Portable Size 

With its industry-leading 9 mm profile and sleek black and silver design, the 15.6″ Innovator Display 16 is perfect for drawing and editing on the go.

The Innovator is somewhat comparable to an iPad.  With its ample display and beautiful matte silver finish on the sides and back, it almost feels like a tablet.  Of course, that comparison falls short, as the Innovator is super wide, two-and-a-half times wider than my iPad, and has a wide, one-inch bezel around the display.  Additionally, there are 8 large buttons on the side along with a pair of rotating wheels, something that won’t be found on any tablet.  Even so, it’s really thin, just as thin as my iPad, and surprisingly light.  It feels solid and well made; there’s no sense that I could easily twist it or bend it and thus crack the display.  The Innovator looks and feels like a quality gadget.

XP Pen Innovator 16 7

Be Aware

The Innovator 16 is not a standalone drawing tablet and therefore needs to be connected to a computer.

Innovator 16 Vs Artist 15.6 Pro

Perhaps these could be the closest models within the same company, being the innovator of the newest launch. 

The Innovator 16 comes with a fully metallic body from the front as well as the back. Even the shortcut dial as well as the power and brightness buttons on the side are metallic – giving you a very premium feel.

Both the tablets have a very similar design with the drawing area on the left and shortcut buttons on the right. But the buttons on the Innovator 16 look more mature and minimalist and have better tactility. Other than that, the Innovator 16 also has smaller bezels which results in the tablet being 24mm shorter in height compared to the Artist 15.6 Pro – even though both these tablets come with the same screen size. As said before, the newest model is the thinnest. 

On paper, the Innovator 16 comes with a slightly better color accuracy of 125% sRGB compared to 120% RGB in Artist 15.6 Pro. The newest model offers a better user experience in general. 

The XP Pen Artist 15.6 Pro comes with a single rotating mechanical dial. The Innovator 16 comes with a mechanical dial as well as a touch-based virtual wheel. The touch-based virtual dial on the Innovator 16 works just like the rotating dial but instead of rotating it, you have to move your fingers over it in a circular motion.

The Drawing Pen / Stylus

The pen is very responsive, and the sensitivity is fluid, but it’s hard to imagine that anyone could really sense the 8,192 levels of pressure that XP-Pen claims for this product.

The Innovator Display 16 comes with a battery-free stylus that never needs charging, allowing for hours of uninterrupted drawing. The stylus supports up to 60 degrees of tilt action, helping you to create natural and seamless shading.

XP Pen Innovator 16 9

The Editing Experience

Drawing on the tablet feels good. The matte coating gives a slight texture to the drawing surface which is good news because some tablets can feel too much like drawing on glass.

That little bit of resistance when you slide the pen goes a long way towards an organic drawing experience.

On the other hand, if you’re one of those artists who dislikes having the “bite” of texture when you’re drawing, don’t worry. The matte coating is removable. It peels off easily and can even be replaced if you change your mind.

It’s easy to get consistent line widths and smooth transitions along the pressure curve with this product. In some tablets, the pressure isn’t smooth, and the line width will suddenly jump unexpectedly or feel difficult to control, but the Innovator 16 doesn’t have that problem.

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

The anti-glare matte screen protector will produce a white haze when light is reflected off it. If there are no reflections, then there’s no issue. Viewing angles are good. Colors don’t shift much even when viewing from different angles.

Set-Up 

As the Innovator is a display tablet, it doesn’t work alone, like a tablet computer does; it must be connected to a computer in order to work.  The graphics software with which you draw, such as Photoshop or Krita, runs on the computer and is merely displayed on the Innovator.  Think of it more like a monitor, a fancy one that you can draw on.  As it requires a computer to work, most of the setup process involved getting it to work with a computer.

XP Pen Innovator 16 10

Performance 

The Innovator’s display is very nice.  It’s a 15.6-inch drawing surface, which is really huge.  There’s plenty of room to move your hand around without running the pen over the edge.  Despite its large size, the Innovator’s display doesn’t get hot, even when in use for a long time.  Then means it’s perfectly suited to drawing on your lap if you find that more comfortable than using the stand.  The resolution is 1920 x 1080, which is ok but not amazing.  (By comparison an 11-inch iPad Pro is 2388 x 1668, and a 13-inch MacBook Pro is a whopping 2560 x 1600.) The surface of the display is matte, and it does a nice job preventing glare and unwanted light reflection.

Pros

The Innovator 16 has a truly beautiful HD display with a color accuracy of 125% sRGB. This is a huge bonus for visual content creators and other artists looking to print their work. I was really impressed with the vibrancy and the clarity of the color.

There’s a lot of options for customization. The display has its own controls for color, contrast, gamma, brightness, etc.

Also, the stylus pen is highly responsive and the tablet itself quite lightweight. This tablet works for both left-handed and right-handed artists too.

Alternative

Another option from XP-Pen that is worth considering if your budget is a bit tighter is the Artist 13.3 Pro. This graphic tablet is smaller and size but similar in performance.  As an early Christmas present and for a limited time, XP-Pen is offering some goodies in the purchase of this tablet: Fenix Jigsaw Puzzle, Art Print Poster, and Shortcuts Stickers Pack. You can check them out here. 

XP Pen Innovator 16 12

Cons

The maximum brightness could be brighter since brightness tends to deteriorate with time. The other downside is not about the pen display but about the stand. It’s sturdy but also limited to just one angle so that may impede its use as a main monitor unless you want to hunch over all the time. Also, it will nice seeing here that it will be compatible with USB-C without having to use the HDMI cable (modern Macbook pros don´t have this port and you will need an extra adapter)

Final thoughts 

I found the Innovator 16 to be a truly solid product that shines in all the right areas. The Innovator 16 is a beautiful pen display with fantastic drawing performance. I did not experience any major glitches or issues. The driver works well. Even though it’s thin, the build quality is solid. It certainly has a premium look and feel. What is more important, this is a quality product with a very affordable price tag.

The pen feels very natural in hand and is a pleasure to use.  The software that controls the Innovator is very configurable, allowing a unique set of customizations for each of its many supported software packages.

Considering all these factors it is easy to conclude that if you are looking for a mid-size quality drawing tablet – the XP Pen Innovator 16 is an absolute deal – and a great value for money.

Check Pricing & Availability of the XP-Pen Innovator 16″

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