Best Smartphone Companion for Surface Devices

Discussion in 'Microsoft' started by dstrauss, Jun 23, 2016.

  1. dstrauss

    dstrauss Comic Relief Senior Member

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    Random thought for the day:

    Do you suppose we could start a GoFundMe page for Microsoft to help it pay to license the S Pen from Samsung and put them in a proper silo in the Neo and Duo?
     
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  2. nnthemperor

    nnthemperor Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    What was the reason the switched to Ntrig again? They made a wrong turn and here we are still looking for the best device (Windows of course).

    Sent from my SM-P205 using Tapatalk
     
  3. Marty

    Marty Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    I know this might be an unpopular opinion (and I find myself surprised that I'm saying it), but maybe it was actually a good thing that MS switched to N-Trig...

    Ok, ok, before you tear my throat out, hear me out. :D

    The first iterations of Surface N-Trig on the SP3 (which were basically a direct port if DuoSense 2) certainly left a lot to be desired. But MS quickly tried to make improvements⁠—real improvements⁠—in the form of PixelSense/MPP controllers in the SP4 and significant OS optimizations in the form of DirectInkAPI in the SP5.

    I say 'real' improvements because these changes happened at the hardware-level and kernel-level which takes significant R&D commitment. Not to mention the rapid pace with each new iteration of Surface (~1.5 years), while UD EMR languishes for ~5-7 years before showing any improvements (and those being only ports of existing capabilities of Wacom Pro DTK EMR).

    Look at how many other Tablet PC AES solutions have lacked real development support: N-Trig was going nowhere fast before MS bought them, Atmel and Synaptics pens were cruel punishments that thankfully died, and even Wacom AES adoption seems to be slowing recently.

    We all know manufacturers tend to just stick any touchscreen on there devices to tick a box, and they'll usually choose the cheapest solution (i.e not Wacom). So if MS had not formally adopted and pushed N-Trig/MPP, the reality of the current Tablet PC landscape could have been sh*tty, cheap Synaptics touchscreens all over the place, with messy/confusing/conflicting info on pen input.

    I'm glad that era is over.

    The contribution, nay⁠—the brilliance⁠—of MS was keeping digitizer hardware-integration costs low for OEMs by providing native OS support, thus ensuring baseline pen support on nearly all touch-enabled x86 devices.

    And they've shown consistent effort in improving what the baseline offers: I've commented on how good the pen feels on the SPX (better IAF/pressure control and response time) with hints of future generational advancements and rumors of an upcoming new pen release in 2020 by @desertlap.

    True, some devices such as the Elan-based digitizers on the Spectre x360s do lag behind the latest MPP tech, but at least you know there's definite improvement on the horizon, instead of the blind hope of the 2000-era tablet landscape.

    Phew! So tl;dr, the move to N-Trig by MS had the effect of democratizing and elevating the lowest-common-denominator pen input for all Windows tablets. Yes, there was pain at the beginning and even now, it's far from perfect. But in hindsight, it was all for the best. ;)
     
  4. dstrauss

    dstrauss Comic Relief Senior Member

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    :p Ding dong you are wrong...:p

    It has kept us at a lowest common denominator solution. I defy anyone to say there is any N-Trig or other AES solution that feels and inks as precisely and smoothly as (1) Wacom EMR (particularly S Pen) or (2) Apple Pencil. Yes, everybody ships something with a pen, and nobody uses them because they suck.

    So our small niche of the world that actually uses these technologies should at least be happy that Samsung and Apple are keeping precise inking "a thing" and be glad for it. Just "good enough" is not an answer, and as devises continue to shrink, magnetic sticking pens are going to be an even more frustrating solution. As much as I like the potential design of the Neo and Duo, I feel the future looks like

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2020
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  5. dstrauss

    dstrauss Comic Relief Senior Member

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    My recollection was -
    • rocky relationship with Wacom (Wacom didn't even want Microsoft saying it was their tech in SP1 and Sp2)
    • digitizer layer more expensive then letting electronics sit in the pen
    • N-trig was cheaper than Wacom overall
    • maybe some Samsung interference as they invested in Wacom
    Regardless - we have a 16:10 8" Wacom digitizer and precise S Pen in a $285 Android tablet - so how much could a proper digitizer really cost Microsoft at this point - unfortunately they took the wrong fork in the river like the Prescott family...

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Lilawyn

    Lilawyn Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Gotta disagree with your disagreement. :D (This obviously isn't applicable to mobile devices, but bear with me...)

    The N-trig technology on the Surface Studio 2 is "good enough" in the way where almost nothing like it currently exists on the market. Its closest competitor (Lenovo A940) was inspired by it, and I'm excited for future all-in-one devices. But what I'm specifically talking about is it is a giant (!!) tablet pen/computer where its main pen-enabled panel is
    + slim
    + cool-to-the-touch. Seriously. This thing never heats up like my Wacoms did. Even after 8-10 hours of panicking-before-the-deadline drawing. It therefore doesn't require intake vents/fans/etc on the panel.
    + integrated with a computer, which means minimal-to-no-wires. Seriously, the only wire I have to have on this machine is plugging it in to a power source.
    + no fans necessary on the tablet; barely any fan necessary on the base unit. This will become important in a moment...

    Wacom and the hardware partners using Wacom, so far, have failed to put out something comparable. All of the Wacoms I've owned would get UNCOMFORTABLY hot after 4 hours of intensive photoshopping. I'm not sure if this has changed in modern generation Wacoms, and I'm not sure when I might get to find out... because unfortunately I fall into a VERY small niche. I developed a dust mite allergy three years ago, and now I'm in the position where I can only own/use tablets that have a minimal heat/fan profile. I haven't been able to successfully de-allergenize a device that's tipped past the point of no return with dust in its internals (and I sure have tried with cleaners/vacuums/air canisters/heat treatment on my old Wacom).

    So far, I haven't seen an EMR tablet that has been able to deal with its heat build-up issues with a fanless solution. The Wacom One actually looks like the first EMR screen tablet that doesn't have onboard cooling. I'm quite excited about that!

    I also love the drawing experience on the Samsung Notebook 9 Pen. It's the first EMR screen that I've been able to use since 2018. It blows the pen experience of the Surface Studio 2 out of the water...but it's still just a mobile notebook device. Nothing currently exists for my specific set of needs in the EMR world. And I'm not convinced that Wacom cares at all to address my needs.

    So I appreciate that Microsoft is pushing ahead with N-Trig, building devices with better cooling profiles. It's incredibly important to me in a way where it isn't for most users. This mostly applies to bigger tablets/artist peripherals. When it comes to smaller tablets, EMR has done wonders. Now if only those technological advances could work their way back up the chain. :p
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2020
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  7. darkmagistric

    darkmagistric Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    I have to tip my hat to also being glad Microsoft switched (and bought) n-trig as well. To reiterate what Marty already said....the MPP/Ntrig performance gap between the Pro 3 and Pro 5 is substantial. I hated drawing on my Pro 3.....but I love drawing on the Pro 5........especially with the new Slim Pen.......I now gladly choose to draw on my Pro 5 over EMR devices like my Mobile Studio, Galaxy Book, or Zbook. And the slim pen is just operating at the Pro 5 level.....should certain rumors be true.....an updated pen chipset in a future product could offer even better performance. EMR still has the edge but it went from narrow to razor thin.

    The only criticism I can throw at Microsoft in pertaining to the pen....is that they keep the general purpose MPP for everyone else back down to Pro 3 levels.....and they make some really head scratching choices...like omitting the pixels sense chip in the Surface Go, and not offering a slim pen keyboard for the Pro 3-7 users.....that separate charging dock sucks having to schlep around.

    And let’s not forget the Added benefit of not being weak around magnets. In case of the keyboard cover, slim form factors, and other accessories......EMR has too many weakness in that front. Just look at the Galaxy Book 2.....the magnets incorporated into that device to turn it from a Galaxy Book Into basically a Samsung branded Surface Pro were so poorly implemented the pen performance suffered drastically. The Zbook X2 manages to avoid that......but that a is much larger device with larger bezels.....clearly engineered around the magnetic weakness.... but for the slim and sleek surface line....switching from Wacom to N-trig was ultimately the correct choice.
     
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  8. darkmagistric

    darkmagistric Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    I would chalk the heating issue more at Wacoms poor engineering over the EMR tech itself. Given how thick and heavy all their displays end up being.....it really makes no sense why they get that hot in the first place. Even in case of the Wacom One.....that is a 14mm thick device.....so crippled by its three in one cable and need for external power.....when other devices like the Samsung Tab S6....which uses the same digitizer.......is literally half as thick....with a built in battery and full android chipset. I think it’s just Wacom engineering just being stubborn.
     
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  9. desertlap

    desertlap Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    I was going to post this anyway, but BGR must have heard the same rumors we did yesterday. So Samsung may be planning for the next version of the Note to actually be more like a successor to the Fold.

    This makes sense on one level as Samsungs history has been to use the Note as the innovation model for new tech. But I also have to wonder if it isn't also a response/preemptive strike to the Microsoft Duo

    https://bgr.com/2020/01/30/galaxy-fold-2-vs-galaxy-note-20-two-s-pen-phones-to-launch-this-year/
     
  10. Tams

    Tams Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I'd buy that.
    Haha, I knew I'd have buyer's remorse buying the Fold, but at least I'll have another piece of significant/more interesting tech history (to add to my growing collection of the N900, 808 PureView, and Note Edge).

    If Wacom's own standalone hardware is anything to go by... that Android version of the Mobile Studio was terribly supported and a brick. The Windows Mobile Studios are bricks. HP showed that there was no need for them to be that big.
    It makes me wonder if the reason why many companies have abandoned Wacom EMR is because Wacom are a pain in the arse to work with and leave a lot of the work for EMR to the manufacturers (while likely still charging too much). Samsung have little choice with the Note line, and if they've already put the work in there, then using it in their other products makes sense. That and owning a share in Wacom.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2020
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