Artist perspective on Sony Vaio Duo 13... pending fixes.

Discussion in 'VAIO / Sony' started by stoneseeker, Sep 5, 2013.

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  1. stoneseeker

    stoneseeker Animator and Art Director Senior Member

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    *EDIT* Read this post from further along: http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/son...y-vaio-duo-13-pending-fixes-3.html#post339154 to find out how the machine/Ntrig performs with a program that registers the pressure properly... new Clip Studio Paint trial. AMAZING RESULTS!

    Hey guys,

    This will be short for now, -*EDIT*- (nope, somehow not short, sorry! lol)- as unfortunately like Lisa Gade warned in her thorough review for the Duo 13 (Sony VAIO Duo 13 Review - YouTube) the machine is currently a no-go for any creative professional until Sony and Ntrig work out what has the firmware so F--KED up right now.
    I was sorta hoping it would be worked out by now, and my wife really needed a computer with a pen (she is a jeweler and wanted to make repeating patterns in Illustrator, doodle in Sketchbook Pro, and do 3D mockups in Cinema 4D) ASAP, so since there was a good deal that expired a couple weeks ago, we decided to jump the gun and order one in hopes the kinks would get worked out eventually. So until that happens this will be a very incomplete review.

    Some kinks previously mentioned have been worked out:

    -The crappy wifi issue running lots of complaints seems to have been made much better with a specific update to the wireless card that brought her net bars from two bars to full. The update specifically says it deals with fixing the problem with poor connectivity.

    So at least this shows Sony is listening to complaints. Whether they will get anywhere with the pen is another story. Considering how much they tout this device at creative professionals and talk your ear off about it having a pen, it better get fixed to work at least as good as the Duo 11.

    So, from what I understand from digging around, the Ntrig digitizer is not communicating properly with the various software that use windows tabletAPI to sense pressure. The programs that should work (and kinda work ATM) are basically never able to apply 100% pressure. Somehow they are only registering to a maximum of 1/4 the strength due to the firmware(?) reporting 1024 levels instead of 256 or something like that, so 256 is max you can push, but the software thinks 256 is only 1/4 the way there! So Sketchbook Pro and Artrage suffer from tools that are barely visible, and unless you turn pressure sensitivity off are virtually unuseable aside from a few tools that work alright because you don't need to press hard.

    So not good.

    Some kinks I discovered that I never heard of before on this device:

    -VECTORING. Yep, its there and its bad. It seems certain programs are worse, and seems like a strange result of the GPU doing something funky, not Ntrig, but I'm not sure. Since it depends on the software I will talk about each one I tried specifically after.

    -LAG. The Ntrig uses a different tech I know, but this can't be right. When you move your hand and then stop with Wacom it stops under your pen when you do. The Ntrig pen just sorta slowly stops coming to a crawl under your pen tip for a split second instead. Like a strange lag that follows you everywhere. Also when bringing the pen to the screen for a new stroke, it lags a split second creating a straight line where it should be curved if you started too quick. It mean you can't cross hatch or draw quickly without your lineart having little "hooks" or straight bars at the beginning. Is this normal Ntrig users??? This to me is the most unacceptable one, and would change how you have to draw. It's impossible to draw quickly without the beginning of strokes to be messed up.

    Programs I have tried:

    Photoshop CS6: Obviously, until Adobe makes the switch to windows pressure in CC, no pressure sensitivity yet. However, when I first started it up and opened a blank canvas at 150 DPI and 100px x 800px the pen lagged and vectored like hell! So I tried different brushes and it didnt make a difference, it was way worse than the videos of the vecotring on the duo 11. So I went into the settings performacne tab and turned off the GPU acceleration and features, and also set brushes to Basic instead of advanced and then opened a new canvas. Worked as you would expect. Flawless, no vectoring. So Intel iGPU seems to be interefering with the pen somehow, but I can't be sure. It's a more powerful GPU than my T902, but T902 has GPU acceleration and features on (except openCL) and it works fine with the brushes set to advanced. It may be the ULV, but I have my suspicion that it's an issue not to do with lack of juice. So, for fingerpainting and phototouch-ups etc etc, Photoshop works fine now (I can't tell any noticeable degradation from advanced brush mode to basic mode anyway) and will be even better I hope when pressure sensitivity is gained in CC.

    Manga Studio 5.0.0 : This one is disappointing on a different level entirely. No pressure sensitivity is even registered at all. The issue of the too light strokes isn't even evident because for whatever reason the pressure sensitivity has been lost. I have heard they are aware and Smith Micro is working on a fix for the Duo 13, and that Clip Studio Paint is now working on the Duo13, so if anyone has a link for me to download the rumoured working version, please let me know and I will try that. Also, the lag and vectoring is the worst with MS5 than any other software I tried. Is there a way to turn off graphic card acceleration in MS5? that may help like it did for CS6.

    Sketchbook Pro: Works best of them all. No vectoring, no lag. The pressure sensitivity being stuck at a quarter max is still evident, even if I turn it to maximum pressure in program. Useable for her for now at least, she just can't use airbrush cause you can't see it.

    Artrage 3.5 : Same as the others, lags, vectors, and that wierd pressure sensitivity issue is evident here as well. Funny, because this ships with the Vaio Duo 13 and is proof the thing is broken.


    Duo Sense 2 thoughts: In Photoshop when I turned off the GPU, it can draw circles really fast without any vectoring, which I heard the Duo 11 struggled with. Except that the only time you see vectoring is in that split second of lag when you begin every stroke. It's like it needs a second everytime you put the pen tip on the screen before you can draw, so for now the Duo Sense 2 is a massive fail for any serious artist or sketcher. Perhaps when the firmware is adjusted for proper pressure communication this wil be fixed too? Who knows. Maybe I should try updating or down-grading the GPU driver since it seems to be a GPU related issue to an extent. Can another Ntrig user chime in? Can you draw fast with yours? rapid strokes I mean? You don't get a jump everytime the pen starts a stroke?

    The pen is heavier but I like it. It feels nice in hand and the whole unit is polish and luxurious feeling.

    Accuracy is amazing. I'm used to Wacom, and I gotta say one thing they have over Wacom is accuracy at the edges with none of the usual edge drift. There is the occasional moment when it drifts away from your pen tip, but it isn't replicable, if you try again in the same spot it won't happen again. I haven't bothered calibrating it because it doesn't need it. UNlike every Wacom device I have ever used that required me to do crazy tricky calibrations to get it to not drift under my pen tip outta sight in certain portions of the screen.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    So I'll update here when a fix is released and Sony finally delivers something worth talking about. ATM, this thing would be dead in the water for a sketch artist, painter, or anyone who wanted to use the pen for more than pointing at small buttons.

    It still works great for my wife's needs fortunately, but with the options coming out of the woodworks now I am almost wondering if we should try to get it returned instead of living with the issue until someone feels like fixing it.



    As far as the rest of the unit goes:

    -the screen is sturdy and stays in place. It can be used on your lap at an angle and does not fall. The people sayin that clearly did not have the screen hooked to the mini hooks.
    -the screen is nice with vivid display, bright and crisp. Great contrast as well. There is backlight bleed where none is visible on my T902, but otherwise completely comperable if not a bit better to the T902 screen.
    -touch works very nicely.
    -powerful 3D. You could play games on this thing much better than other ULV devices I have tested, in some cases it bested my 3Dmark scores on my full voltage T902 even when the T902 was staying at turbo mode for the short tests.
    -CPU (i5) seems quite adequate. I tried scrubbing around and moving things in a large complicated Flash file that would have the ATIV 700t chugging. It handled it quite nicely.

    Beautiful laptop hybrid, blending sexy and functional. If only it could get the digitizer right it would stand a chance with artists.

    Post any questions or requests below.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2013
  2. cmenice

    cmenice Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Thanks so much for writing this up. Looks like I'll shelve my enthusiasm for the new VAIO Tap 11. I guess it's going to be that new Note 10.1 as a hold over after all.
     
  3. RabbitSteak

    RabbitSteak Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Thanks for the thorough review, I guess Duo 13 is a no go for now,
    too bad that the beautiful & powerful machine is crippled by the pen, maybe artist is not one of Sony target market :p-
     
  4. bloodycape

    bloodycape confused Senior Member

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    How is the Duo 13, and the latest N-Trig in general when it comes to annotating documents and note taking?
     
  5. stoneseeker

    stoneseeker Animator and Art Director Senior Member

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    I'll test that along with Fresh Paint tonight later on. What program for notetaking would you recommend most? Journal, Onenote? I don't know which of these is typically used best with Ntrig, but I'll try a few.
     
  6. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Thanks for the write-up!

    It sounds like the Sony/N-Trig partnership needs a fair bit of tweaking. Hopefully they'll get this worked out with their Flip series when it releases in a few weeks. I get the impression that they're probably aware of these drawbacks; hopefully that will translate into some positive fixes in time. As we've seen with the Surface series, bad press in the first few weeks of a product release can really kill sales momentum even if things get sorted out later on. If people are really happy from the outset and sales sky-rocket, then that can only be good for further investment in the artist community by big manufacturers. If these devices die sales-wise, then I can see a lot fewer risks being taken on us in the future. It could spell years of setback.

    The reviews when those models ship ought to be interesting!

    I sure hope they do get this stuff worked out; those 15" screens are beautiful, and I'd hate to see them fail due to half-baked driver support.

    Question: What happens to the pressure curve when you adjust brush sensitivity in MS5 and PS? Can you compensate for the pen's 1/4 pressure problem?
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2013
  7. Marty

    Marty Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Thanks for the review, Stone! I was wondering if you could clarify a few things that have cropped up on other threads:

    1) Can you program the buttons? If not, what options are there under N-Trig's control panel settings.

    2) How is palm rejection? Do you any stray vectored strokes when lifting the pen on and off while resting your palm? Would you say the reliability is good enough if they enlarged the screen to 15"? (I know I've hammered this point, but believe me, if you used the 1st gen DuoSense, this problem utterly ruined the stylus experience).

    3) Regarding the lag, just to clarify, this occurs even when you hover correct? So it's not just limited to when you perform a stroke? If that's the case, I'm afraid it is almost certainly firmware/driver related, and not related to the GPU. This most definitely the issue that Sony should be working on first.

    Just a note: the "rumoured fix" for MS5 is actually just the Clip Studio Paint 1.2.7 update, which may not have been implemented by SmithMicro yet.
     
  8. dcbCreative

    dcbCreative Here for cookies.

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    Thank you for writing this review... ...It answered so many questions.

    Beyond the review itself, it appears your wife uses the exact same set of core creative application that I do; Sketchbook Pro, Adobe Illustrator, and Cinema 4D. So I was wondering if by chance you had the opportunity to test Cinema 4D? Any weird quirks? Does bodypaint respond at all to the N-Trig stylus?

    Very sad, and extremely frustrating to learn about the lack of N-Trig stylus support in Manga Studio, its not an application I currently use but one I was very interested in; like Sculptris, not an immediate need but an eventual want.

    This reminds me too much of my first experience with N-Trig; on the Lenovo ThinkPad Android Tablet. It kind-of-sort-of worked out of the box, though without pressure sensitivity in SketchBook "Pro". Rather disappointing since Lenovo promised 256 levels of pressure sensitivity; so naturally I presumed that meant in every application. Then after a few weeks of tolerance there was an upgrade of Android OS at which time the stylus stopped working altogether. It took months for Lenovo upgraded the firmware. At which time the stylus worked with the OS again but still not SketchBook "Pro", give or take the lack of palm rejection, frequently random cursor jumps, and sporadic pressure sensitivity. Eventually. after several more months SketchBook "Pro" got upgraded and everything more or less worked as desired; but by then I was too frustrated to trust my Lenovo ThinkPad Android Tablet as a reliable tool for sketching. So now I use it as a dedicated eBook reader, gaming devices, and occasional ideapad. Not the primary reason I purchased it.

    I just wanted, at the time, a digital sketchbook/portfolio. Now I'm looking for a mobile studio, something to complement the Asus G75VW (The Beast) that I do most of my actual work on. Portable but a bit conspicuous at the cafe; frightening in meetings (I look like "Kilroy" peeking over the top of the screen). But I digress.

    My fear, particularly now after reading your review, is that until its matured N-Trig, in spite of its true qualities and clear potential, will be unreliable at best on any platform. I don't think I can either figuratively or literally afford another Lenovo ThinkPad Android Tablet experience with a Sony VAIO Duo and/or Flip. The irony of which is that means my best option for a convertible tablet currently is the forthcoming Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga.

    All this is unfortunate because I want to root for, N-Trig, the industry underdog, I just don't want to get bit by it.

    Plus Sony has designed and is building some rather beautiful hardware. Alas.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2013
  9. stoneseeker

    stoneseeker Animator and Art Director Senior Member

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    In Sketchbook Pro I increased the pressure to max, which made the pencil and all other tools except for the airbrush to be quite useable. It's the only program giving me a hint as to how the Ntrig would feel if things were working proper, and it's certainly not bad. Sketching fast in Sketchbook also doesn't vector or do the werid lag thing, so its the smoothest experience on it yet.

    There is no pressure at all in MS5 right now (even though it should have at least some) so increasing the pressure does nothing yet.

    Photoshop still has no pressure support for Ntrig. I don't think we'll be seeing any too soon, and if it does it will probably be in CC, not CS6.


    *EDIT*
    I gave Fresh paint a go, and it vectors as well as has the same issue of pen pressure limited to a 1/4. Drawing fast strokes with my finger was more productive.

    I tried out some notetaking software and it performed quite well. OneNote seems to have perfect pen pressure (from what I can tell at least) and is quite nice to use. So was the Vaio note anywhere. It doesn't use pressure but the Ntrig pen was a smooth experience in it. Writing in general with the Ntrig is quite pleasant and could be the only saving grace of the Ntrig in it's current state, seeing as it has better accuracy and you won't notice vectoring in light note taking apps.
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2013
  10. stoneseeker

    stoneseeker Animator and Art Director Senior Member

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    Sketchbook Pro auto set them to eraser and tool menu but you can't change it to anything you want as far as I can see. For cruising windows it is stuck as "active clip" and Vaio note software. There is no Ntrig software in control panel. Just in Sony care there is an option to turn off the side buttons function, but nothing to allow you to customize them. Pretty lame not to gie such basic functionality if you ask me.

    Palm rejection seemed good to me so far actually. You still have to be careful but I wasn't drawing lines between my palm and pen at least. I do have to place the pen tip first though.

    well, theres 2 types of lag I noticed. 1. stroke lag. At the beginning of even simple brushes it lags for a split second and vectors the first part of the stroke as a result. 2. hover lag. Everywhere I go with the pen seems to be a touch sluggish in contrast to Wacom. Like the cursor is moving under water. Perhaps this is a Ntrig thing.

    Gotcha. I wonder if it also presents the same pen pressure issue if pressure is restored..
     
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