[Active Stylus + Capacitive Screen] Vs Active Digitizer & Other Queries

Discussion in 'The Tablet PC Life' started by kidrow, Oct 31, 2014.

  1. kidrow

    kidrow Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Hi all,

    1. I'm just wanting to know what the difference for sketching/sculpting (in zbrush) would be when comparing-

    a) a combination of an active stylus like the Joy Factory Precision Stylus (or Lynktec Active Stylus) paired with any generic Capacitive touch screen Windows tablet (like Asus Transformer, Onda V975m etc.)

    with

    b) a tablet with an active digitizer like the Surface Pro?

    I can't think of much else besides pressure sensitivity, (provided the active styli work as advertised).

    2. Is Artdock/Touchkey compatibility so limited? A quick search threw up these 2 threads & not much else-

    http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/threads/artdock-guide-compatibility-and-links.58400/

    http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/threads/touchkey-a-universal-artdock-alternative.63098/

    So is it a big risk going for a tablet other than the ones mentioned in those threads?

    3. On the tablets where Artdock/Touchkey is known to work well, are multiple, simultaneous "key-presses" possible? For eg. hitting Ctrl+Alt+Shift + Marquee selection in Zbrush, on the Surface Pro.

    4. Can a Baytrail processor with 2 gigs of ram be able to handle ~5-6 million polys in Zbrush? Most responses I've come across say that you are taking a chance running Zbrush on an Atom processor & limited ram. But no one seems to have actually tried it?

    Thanks for taking the time. I think you've probably guessed by now that I'm exploring options on a very tight budget, :). Just hoping to find a good mobile Zbrush sketching tool without burning a hole in my pocket.
     
  2. Marty

    Marty Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    I'll take a stab at your first question (no pun intended :vbtongue:). The main difference is in how Windows recognizes the input: ie. pen device (active digitizer) vs touch (capacitive stylus). Here are some scenarios this affects:

    1) Hover tracking - An active stylus can move the cursor by hovering the pen above the screen without clicking.

    This allows you to: see icons/visual cues for manipulation of UI elements (eg. resize/rotate arrows, auto-hidden video controls, etc); see hover popup context info (eg. web objects links, file info in explorer); and any other UI feature that activates on cursor coordinates (edge scrolling, auto-hidden taskbar, etc).

    With a capacitive stylus, you are forced to click before moving the cursor, which will often interrupt the above UI modes.​

    2) Palm rejection - If Windows detects that the pen is hovering (as above) or touching down, it will deactivate touch based input.

    With an active stylus, this allows to resting your palm on the screen while drawing or writing. This improves ergonomics drastically (especially in landscape orientation), allowing the device to used more like a physical notepad.​

    With a capacitive stylus the pen and palm is simply treated like a finger. If you accidentally touch your palm to the screen, it will cause erratic cursor behavior and accidental presses of UI elements.​

    3) Auto-switched input mode - In many drawing applications, a pen device activates a writing tool, while touch input initiates a pan/zoom/rotate gesture.

    For example, in OneNote, pen input will automatically switch to the inking tool, while a single touch input will automatically starting panning the page.

    With a capacitive stylus, you would only be able to pan, unless you turned off the auto-switch mode. Without this mode however, navigating around the canvas becomes much more cumbersome (as you must use the scrollbars).

    Additional note: this also affects behavior in non-drawing apps like browsers (pen allows text selection; touch is reserved for panning)
    4) Stroke smoothing - Active digitizer firmware will generally sample the raw coordinates of cursor movements at a much higher frequency than a touch digitizer firmware, resulting in noticeably smoother line quality in most drawing apps.

    With an active digitizer, drawing in sketching/painting apps will produce fluid, more natural looking strokes. This is because at the raw input level (before any software smoothing algorithms are applied), it is reading cursor position at much shorter intervals.

    With a capacititive pen, the resulting stroke in many apps will appear jagged and/or slightly jittery. The faster your stroke, the more apparent this will be. (You can compare both scenarios in MS Paint where both pen and touch activate paintbrush tool.)​

    So basically an active digitizer/pen allows more nuanced and controlled interaction in Windows (desktop mode) vs a capacitive stylus.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2014
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  3. kidrow

    kidrow Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Thanks for that detailed reply. Clears up the confusion for that 1st question very, very well.

    So if I am looking at a capacitive screen tablet purely for art, I'll first have to look at the specific programs I'll be using to better gauge the shortcomings in the functionality.
    For instance, I've used Sketchbook Pro on Android & found the program is easily accessible even on capacitive screens. [So in Sketchbook Pro on Android, I don't mind not having the hover detection ability. Neither the pen pressure sensitivity. For palm rejection, I've seen people wear gloves.]
    So if I'm okay with the compromises I need to make, it just leaves the question of whether or not the styli I've linked to work as advertised.
     
  4. Marty

    Marty Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Your welcome!

    I added a very important point regarding stroke smoothing, you may want read if you are planning to use this for art. I would definitely recommend going with an active digitizer if you are going to be using the tablet PC purely for art.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2014
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  5. kidrow

    kidrow Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Many thanks for the detailed reply. Much appreciated.

    Yes, I'm trying to find used tablets with active digitizers that will fit my budget, but then I'm compromising on the horsepower. Which is where the other questions about compatibility, & minimum juice requirements come in.
     
  6. tijo

    tijo Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Looking at the system requirements for ZBrush
    Current Bay Trail atoms are definitely above the minimum. A quad core Bay Trail should at least be equivalent to a Core 2 Duo, so you could look at how your workload would do on a core 2 Duo. Avoid Clover Trail like the plague (Z2000 series) though.

    The quality of capacitive styli can vary quite a lot, so you'll have to look for reviews.

    Regarding your budget, a X220t would be a decent choice that will pack some oomph. Elitebooks 2760p tend to go for dirt cheap on eBay as well. The display has very disappointing color accuracy, 50% sRGB, but in terms of price/performance, there are some sweet deals to be had.
     
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  7. kidrow

    kidrow Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Thank you for your reply.

    Any idea how many active points one will be able to work with in Zbrush? I'm sure all current gen processors including the atom will be able to run Zbrush. But how many subdivision levels can you get out of them? That's something I don't think anyone has tried out.

    The only demo of zbrush on an older tablet pc which I came across on Youtube, was on a Lenovo X60t. I believe the gentleman in the video mentioned someplace (zbrushcentral?) that he was able to work with ~5 million points. If what I've recollected is right then yes, the Bay Trail processors should be able to handle at least as many polys.

    Have looked at a few & the consensus for sketching seems to be the Cosmonaut, or the Kuel H10/12. Or something disc-based like the Adonit Jot Pro. Or the active ones I've mentioned in the OP.

    Yes, I'm eyeing the X220t. They can be had for ~$150-250 used (or rather battered & bruised) on ebay. But I'm unsure about the extent to which the buttons can be re-programmed.
    I have therefore created another thread, but have had no responses so far, :(.

    Again, thank you.
     
  8. djayjp

    djayjp Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I truly can't believe so much could be written without mentioning the single most important point regarding stylus vs digitizer...: only the latter is PRESSURE SENSITIVE. Additionally, certain programs (which I believe includes zbrush) will be able to input tilt angle of the digitizer as well.
     
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