Dell teases Surface Studio and Dial clone

Discussion in 'Dell' started by surfaceproartist, Nov 2, 2016.

  1. artistebot

    artistebot Scribbler - Standard Member

    Messages:
    376
    Likes Received:
    371
    Trophy Points:
    76
    Having the same pen work on the Canvas AND tablet device is pretty cool. Do you notice any difference in pressure levels with large brushes since I think the Samsung is 4096 vs the Dell at 2048? Why is the screen brightness so different between the Samsung and Dell?

    I caught myself several times wondering why my pen was not working because I forgot to notice I had the wrong one in hand...LOL

    I hope Dell should fixes that issue.
     
  2. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,999
    Likes Received:
    2,024
    Trophy Points:
    181
    Well, I just got the brush off by Dell's tech support.

    They did what they could, -which once you get into the grey and murky area of product design flaws as opposed to "No, No, Plug THIS cable into THAT slot and reboot" solutions, is understandable. It's beyond their immediate scope and they need to rely on elusive engineers returning emails, which they don't. (They also didn't respond to my requests for phone numbers and email contact info so I could approach them directly. They're probably under strict instructions to NOT give that kind of useful information out to customers. And so I have really no idea what is going on, if anything, behind the scenes.)

    So the tech support pulled a bit of ass-covering by telling me that I was no longer going to be supported by their division due to some obscure technical nonsense which allows them to pass the buck to some other unsuspecting department -which will no doubt take the blame when customer support results in a returned item and refund. I'm sure management keeps track of such things and this kind of sneaky buck-passing becomes a required survival strategy. It's annoying and disrespectful to say the least, but honestly, it's the fault of the system and not the people trying to pay their bills.

    So.., basically, To Hell with Dell.

    Now I just have to work out whether or not I should keep this device.

    It has a flaw which can only be solved by a driver update, but how often does Dell update drivers? I don't know. Do I want to work with a maybe permanent performance bug in the hopes that somebody will eventually get around to solving the problem?

    I *can* work through and around it. It's not a critical flaw; it's an unnecessary annoyance which slows down my work flow. But I need a desktop machine, and Wacom seems to be having trouble getting their own Cintiq Pro 24" to market. It could be months before I manage to replace the Dell Canvas with a comparable machine.

    I have less than a week to decide whether or not to return this thing.

    Oh, and I have a sneaking suspicion that one of the reasons I got the brush off by the support team was that I asked that the 15% "Restocking" fee be waived when I do go to return it. Their job isn't helping customers. That's secondary. Their actual purpose is retaining sales and ensuring future sales. Not giving back money.

    By the way; at this point, despite the Dell Canvas being an otherwise beautifully engineered machine and having several features I didn't even know I wanted, due to this performance bug and the cowardly wall of silence from the Dell boffins, I would strongly recommend other artists in the market to NOT buy. Give the Canvas a miss and buy a Cintiq when they become available.

    Too bad.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2018
  3. Steve S

    Steve S Pen Pro - Senior Member Super Moderator

    Messages:
    6,823
    Likes Received:
    2,385
    Trophy Points:
    331
    <<...It has a flaw which can only be solved by a driver update, but how often does Dell update drivers?..>>

    @thatcomicsguy ...As a long-time Dell owner, I am sorry to say that your general intuition is likely correct. Years ago, Dell never managed to field an acceptable pen and touch driver for their Latitude XT convertible. Instead, they left it behind and moved on to the XT2, which had a better (but still not fully acceptable) driver. After a few stabs at trying to fix the problem unsuccessfully, they simply moved on again.

    I suspect that your Canvas is likely in for the same treatment, so I advise you to make your keep / return decision on the basis that this bug will never be fixed. If you keep it, at least you know what you're dealing with. On the off chance that the driver is improved or fixed, all the better. Alternatively, keep it until Wacom gets their act together and then sell the Studio and step up to the Wacom. Or return it, then at least you are free to move on...

    And don't forget that the Surface Studio 2 is somewhere in the wings. With the new Surface Hub 2 announced, it's possible that the Studio 2 may be the beneficiary of a significantly better pen interface... maybe...

    Anyway, good luck with your decision...
     
    thatcomicsguy likes this.
  4. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,999
    Likes Received:
    2,024
    Trophy Points:
    181
    I made a brief investigation into what would have to happen in order to reverse engineer the driver. I downloaded a handful of hack tools which I don't know how to use.

    I spent a couple of hours running a tutorial helpfully provided by an enterprising hacker, learning how to cheat at video games by finding critical values, such as hit points and ammunition levels, and changing them directly in working memory registers. It's pretty cool, actually, a very deductive process of investigation, with tools which do things like compare memory registers before and after on-screen events, (like getting blasted with a laser gun). -If you know you lose 50 points every time you get hit, then you look for any numbers which go down by 50. The software makes a list of everything it finds which matches the parameters you tell it to look for, and pretty soon you can isolate the right spot in memory, which can then be selectively changed to whatever you want using an outside command, and you can do it all in real time while the game is running. Keen.)

    Wouldn't it be cool if you could intercept and alter data coming from your stylus? It all seems so tantalizingly within reach. Heck, it IS within reach. All you need to know is which of the million or so memory registers you need to alter...

    Anyway, as I discovered while digging around, there's a bunch of crap buried in the Dell Canvas driver, possibly the accumulated barnacles from iterations of code nobody bothered to erase over the last two decades. -Even though it's all compiled for machine running and impossible for humans to understand, there are these evocative strings which appear, "Toshiba Pen" and "HP Tablet" -along with names of pretty much every manufacturer of tablet gear which has ever bought an OEM license from Wacom, along with something that looks like a Microsoft encryption key system, presumably to make sure people like me can't go around doing crass things like forcing Wacom drivers to work with Wacom hardware.

    But for now, I was just trying to find out where the pen pressure and button settings were so I could fix Dell's crappy implementation. I found a long list of promising entries, such as, "Eraserbutton" and "InitialPressure" But so what? I had no idea what to do with them. They didn't have any obviously helpful numbers appearing after them or any indication of where to look. It's all just a stew of garbled code with a few hints of intelligence floating around in the broth. It could probably be made sense of... with weeks of effort and the learning of a whole new discipline.

    After a quick look through forums where hackers and programmers talk about this kind of thing, (mostly where people are trying to reverse engineer Windows drivers for Linux), it became apparent that the challenge is tricky even for seasoned programmers, quite beyond my limited abilities and resources. I have real work to do that I can actually accomplish.

    Still, it was an interesting side trip. And I could probably now cheat at Space Invaders if I wanted to.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018
    Wierdninja and Marty like this.
  5. Marty

    Marty Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,548
    Likes Received:
    1,880
    Trophy Points:
    181
    Wow, you actually got the balls to attempt to reverse-engineer the driver from scratch. If you come back to this project on-and-off, one thing I'd recommend is registering for a Windows SDK from Wacom (developer documentation here).

    Since you are looking to modify an output behavior (inter-stroke smoothing), which might actually be an interaction of different functions, it'll be quite a bit easier going from the source-code side than pure hex (that's hardcore!).

    Also, just curious how you determined it was a software vs hardware issue? Maybe it's still worth a shot requesting a replacement unit?
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018
  6. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,999
    Likes Received:
    2,024
    Trophy Points:
    181
    Soooo, I decided to keep the darned thing.

    Here's why:

    While mucking around, I managed to fix a secondary driver issue; the same one which my Samsung Notebook 9 Pro suffers from; that issue where WinTab and Windows Ink are both strong in certain areas but not both at the same time. -Since I got the Dell Canvas, it had exhibited the same problem, and was another big reason I was strongly considering sending it back and getting myself a Cintiq which, presumably, wouldn't have the same dumb issue.

    But I fixed it. -Or rather, it became fixed. I don't really know what I did, but my guess is that the Dell pen driver comes equipped with a flavor of WinTab which doesn't stutter on big strokes, and after deleting every instance of every tablet driver on my hard drive and then re-installing just the raw essentials along with the 64 bit Wintab driver, suddenly it worked properly and was drawing clean lines. Cool. (Sadly, this same fix doesn't work on my Samsung's native screen; after retracing my steps, the one thing which wouldn't work is the Dell pen driver would not load up on the Samsung without the Canvas being attached, and that driver appears to be a key ingredient. Oh well.).

    I also spent a few hours really tweaking the pressure curves on various brushes in Clip Studio Paint, and coming up with combinations that feel pretty good, with lines that aren't hard to control. In combination, I feel now in control of the line work and not sort of lost at sea, confident that I can produce with a minimum of effort the lines I want.

    So that's all good.

    The other things sitting in favor of the Dell Canvas are that the touch interface is really nice, and the closest comparable machine on the market in terms of size and quality is the Cintiq QHD, which from all reports has a poor touch interface. Hm.

    Also, looking at the Cintiq Pro 24.., it's kind of small man! Like smaller on the North/South than my old Cintiq 21UX. Size matters. The prospect of that just bummed me out. -Not to mention that it's not even available yet. And would cost more.

    Oh, and let's talk about cost!

    Shipping back and forth and paying re-stocking fees (if I lost that argument), would amount to an unforgivable kick in the wallet for nothing.

    And I love the magnetic pen holder on the Canvas. And that I don't need a new laptop to run it. And that my old Penabled pens work on it. And, and, and...

    There's lots to recommend this machine.

    However, the original problem still exists...
    After much noodling around, I've decided that I can work around the hooking problem; several hours of sketch tests and doing two comic strips start to finish showed me that the performance bug really only affects me when I am lettering, and interestingly, (weirdly even), only when I have to draw the letter "E". (I make an "L" and then add a quick "=". The lower line hooks and makes the letter look wrong, so that I have to undo and try again slower. -Which is the solution, barring an eventual fix from Dell which I don't expect will be forthcoming, I just have to slow down when lettering. For note-takers, this kind of problem I should think would pretty much kill the Dell Canvas as an option, but for drawing and painting.., it just doesn't come up very often; you have to be drawing in a specific direction, in a specific way, and doing so very fast for it to be an issue.)

    So.., in all other regards, the Dell Canvas is very close to perfect. Except for when you have to draw the letter "E". Dell has a broken "E".

    Aside from generally keeping me employed in the cartooning biz, the sideways connection part of my brain offers the following observation:

    768px-Dell_logo_2016.svg[1].png

    Their logo should have been a dead giveaway.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2018
    David B and Steve S like this.
  7. Seel

    Seel Pen Pal - Newbie

    Messages:
    92
    Likes Received:
    35
    Trophy Points:
    26
    I just got mine!

    So far I'm very impressed with this thing. It's got a wider color gamut than any other display I've owned so far so it looks really vivid to me almost to the point of being over-saturated.

    I connected it to my laptop with Windows 10, but not the newest update, and I didn't install any drivers yet. Nor did I do firmware updates or anything. Everything works as expected right out of the box, without Wintab support of course.

    After that I plugged it into my desktop running Windows 8 and it works exactly the same. Not sure if the Dell driver would complain if I tried to install it on the Windows 8 machine...
    First thing I tested was obviously the line hooking thing, and while it's there it doesn't seem that bad to me? It doesn't seem much different from what I'm getting on the Toshiba Tecra DIY Cintiq, but I've yet to test them side by side.

    So far so good.
     
    thatcomicsguy likes this.
  8. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,999
    Likes Received:
    2,024
    Trophy Points:
    181
    I've gone through a couple of rounds of Canvas Tweaks & Refinements. (T&R?) -With positive results.

    From 1st day unboxing to now, the list of things I've discovered and smoothed out which have improved my experience with the device include...

    -WinTab is better than Windows Ink on the Canvas.

    -IF you figure out
    how to get it to work properly. (Driver massaging.)

    -WHICH for best results requires my trusty old (Toshiba) Penabled Stylus instead of the Dell stylus. (My Dell Stylus, I think, might have an actual defect; on very light strokes of the same weight, it would simply fail to register at random moments. It was driving me crazy and because it was random and infrequent (like every 10th stroke) and there were enough other issues with the whole system going on at the same time, it took me a long while before I finally isolated it. I didn't think to look at the pen as the source of the problem. Switching styluses resolved it.)

    -THOUGH, for some bizarre reason, the old Penabled stylus only works properly when the Dell Pressure Sensitivity bar (in the Dell pen driver) is set one notch up toward "Firm" from the center. -Otherwise, there is a performance lag bug which renders the pen almost unusable. This was my last big watershed moment and it took a day of noodling to finally work out.

    -BUT this also means I don't get the feather-light IAF I've become accustomed to on my Samsung and which is sort of available with the Dell Stylus, if it were working properly. However, since Penabled's higher IAF is what I've been working with almost exclusively for a few years now, I don't have any trouble with it; it's like going back to 2H pencils instead of a new pack of HBs. And within that range, once the stroke is "initially activated", the pressure curve and sensitivity allow for very subtle and excellent level of line control. My personal drawing style is well-suited for it; I just have to press a bit harder. The only place where I find it slightly annoying is when I want to tap control points, (buttons and drop downs and such). -I need to be a bit heavier with those than I've recently become accustomed. My Samsung Notebook 9 Pro has spoiled me. :)

    Also.., I spent a morning pulling apart and installing a rare earth magnet in the eraser section of an old Penabled stylus. -Which was a surprisingly easy thing to do. The Eraser button just pops right out when you pull it with a pair of pliers and the circuitry freely slides into your hand leaving a big space inside to work with. -A space which is also physically sealed off from the nib circuitry, so there's no danger of messing up the pen's critical function. With some fiddling, I managed to stuff a magnet into that slot and close it all back up. -Now the pen grabs magnetically to the upper Right corner of the Canvas. The magnetic pen holder feature is probably one of my favorite new things about the Canvas and was remiss about not having when I switched back to my old pen; amusing since it's such a low tech innovation. But now I have it, and damn, it's cool! I always know where my pen is.

    All of this is interesting in that different pens offer noticeably different experiences on the Canvas. If the main stylus wasn't buggy, then it would be a very nice pen to use. I am thinking of getting another one to try again, but I haven't worked up the energy to fight with Dell for a return on that item. But it's cool to think that there are plenty of options to explore out there on eBay.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2018
  9. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,999
    Likes Received:
    2,024
    Trophy Points:
    181
    Hey guys!

    Having decided to stick with the Dell, and after tweaking it to a rather nice state of working order, I'm now really enjoying the 27" Canvas. Hoo-RAY.

    I also went ahead and ordered a bunch of home video studio YouTube equipment. I figure, if I just talk while doing my regular work, it might make for some interesting content. This video was just a test; it needs better lighting, so I've already ordered another high lux LED unit, but I'm encouraged by the results.

    Check out the Dell Canvas 27" under authentic work conditions before I release this vid for general public viewing. I think it performs admirably:

     
    Marty, Cuberdon75, artistebot and 2 others like this.
  10. surfaceproartist

    surfaceproartist Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,985
    Likes Received:
    1,903
    Trophy Points:
    181
    Great stuff! But looking through your hair is kind of freaky. :)
     
    thatcomicsguy likes this.
Loading...

Share This Page