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Hands-on review: XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Pro ticks all the boxes

By Kai Ping Lew
Mon 24 Feb 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

XP-Pen is a supplier of graphics tablets, pen display monitors, stylus pens, and related accessories with a mission to bring artists into the digital age with tools and technology to suit their individual needs.

Over the last 14 years, XP-Pen has been dedicated to the research, design, production, and marketing of digital tablets.

With sales to more than 100 countries and regions around the world, XP-Pen has become a well-known brand of digital graphics tablets.

Recently, it released the XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Pro, a drawing tablet that offers impressive specifications for a price that’s on the affordable end of the range compared to its competitors.

We took a look at what’s in the box.

Unboxing

One of the first things you notice when unboxing the Artist 15.6 Pro is that it's the complete package deal.

XP-Pen hooks users up with additional accessories like a tablet stand, a pen case that doubles as a pen holder, matte screen protector, drawing glove, and cleaning cloth from the get-go – something that users on a budget will appreciate.

It also comes with eight replacement nibs to make sure that this singular purchase of the tablet can keep even the most frequent users of their drawing tablet sorted out for a long time.

Getting started is easy - I simply connected the Artist 15.6 Pro to my computer with the included HDMI and two USB cables to start drawing, no wall plug needed. I love that the XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Pro doesn't require an external power source because it means it can be used as a drawing monitor on the go. 

 

Build Quality

The Artist 15.6 Pro is incredibly light and portable, with a thickness of only 11mm. I loved how easy it is to unplug and bring along with me to a different workstation or set it up outside of your home or your office.

It has eight customisable express keys and a red dial that can be programmed to perform different functions in different apps.

I found the red dial comfortable to use, putting functions like zooming in and out of the canvas and changing brush sizes at my fingertips. 

Having that many shortcuts can take a while to get used to, but I found that once I started using them, they integrated into my workflow, gradually becoming second nature and allowing me to capture my ideas faster.

The drawing tablet connects to the power source and to the PC via a singular USB-C port, which I liked for keeping my workspace relatively uncluttered.

The tablet stand that comes bundled with the tablet is fixed at a sixty-degree angle, which most artists will find is the angle they default to when drawing on the tablet.

For a free stand, I was quite surprised by how secure and robust it was.

Display

The 15.6-inch full-laminated IPS Display has a 1920x1080 resolution that delivers rich colours, vivid images, and dazzling details in a wider view.

I loved how wide the drawing surface on the 15.6 Pro is, reducing the need to constantly zoom in and out of the screen and risk getting my proportions messed up.

After calibration, the screen has good colour accuracy (the colours can come out slightly colder out of the box) and the display has an impressive 120% sRGB colour gamut.

Stylus

The Artist 15.6 Pro’s stylus is highly sensitive, with up to 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity, which I found provided accuracy, control, and fluidity effortlessly for the finest sketches and lines. The PA2 pen also has the advantage of being battery-free, so it doesn’t need to be charged continuously.

It supports tilt functionality, with 60 degrees of tilt function to ensure accurate imitation of a real tilting brush effect and delivering smoother and more natural transition between lines and strokes.

The one thing the stylus struggles with slightly is with reproducing straight lines as there is slight weaving that’s only noticeable on very small brush sizes.

There is no parallax when drawing on the screen, and the stylus’ performance is consistent and predictable across different drawing apps such as Adobe Photoshop, Clip Studio, and Painter.

Operating systems

The XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Pro works with devices running on Windows 10, 8 or 7 and Apple devices running Mac OS X 10.10 or above.

Verdict

The XP-Pen Artist 15.6 Pro is a very respectable and affordable drawing tablet for someone who is just getting serious about producing digital art.

The tablet’s generous bundle means that you have everything you need to start without having to spend on accessories on top of the cost of your big tablet spend.

This makes it a great choice for those who create in lots of different places (because it’s light and not too expensive in case something happens to it), those who are looking for a full package (and don’t need to wonder if it will be compatible with an existing kit), or someone who doesn’t necessarily work in the graphics industry and doesn’t want to fork out the cost of a higher-end drawing tablet but still wants to have decent specs.

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