In 2019, What is the Best N-Trig/MPP Pen?

Discussion in 'The Tablet PC Life' started by sonichedgehog360, Oct 10, 2019.

  1. sonichedgehog360

    sonichedgehog360 AKA Hifihedgehog Senior Member

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    There are a plethora of threads that opine the virtues and largely vices of N-Trig/MPP. Yet for those of us "brave" (e.g. possessing Tim Cook-esque "courage") souls who have consigned ourselves to a primary residence in N-Trig/MPP purgatory, what is considered the best digital pen today in 2019 for N-Trig/MPP users? I am intrigued to see if the third-party market has made any appreciable progress beyond Microsoft's own meager efforts. For one, @neongolden recently touched on the Raphael 5 when he stated it "is apparently the bee's knees for Ntriggers." The below video seems to overwhelmingly agree with his findings, but I want to hear it from you and get an accurate pulse on the N-Trig/MPP pen market. What is the general consensus?

     
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  2. darkmagistric

    darkmagistric Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Somewhat futile.

    The current Surface Pen (Pro 5 and up) relays directly with the pixel sense accelerator chip in the Pro 5-7. All those 3rd party pens work at the base MPP level (Pro 3-4). To answer the thread question, the Surface Pen is the best N-trig/MPP pen.
     
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  3. sonichedgehog360

    sonichedgehog360 AKA Hifihedgehog Senior Member

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    But is that true about the Raphael 5? It apparently works at 4096 pressure levels and supports tilt as do a few other new MPP pens that recently hit the market. Wouldn’t those features require reliance on the latest iteration of MPP?
     
  4. darkmagistric

    darkmagistric Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Not the latest......the deadest giveaway is the hovering speed. If you carefully look at the hovering speed....the Surface Pen is still the fastest response time. Even the Bamboo Ink Plus which has tilt and everything.....doesn't respond as well to the cursor as the Surface Pen does.
     
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  5. sonichedgehog360

    sonichedgehog360 AKA Hifihedgehog Senior Member

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    Gotcha. That’s rather interesting that the wider pressure range and tilt were backported when I swear the newer MPP version included those advancements. By the way, the Wacom Bamboo Ink he is using is the older one and not the latest with tilt which may account for the hover lag. I’ll agree to disagree here, but from I saw in this and his Surface Pro 7 demo video, the Raphael 5 does not seem to show hover lag like most of the other third-party pens. At any rate, I was able to reach out to Renaisser on Facebook and arrange a free sample so I’ll give it a whirl hopefully tomorrow if Amazon gets it delivered before I head out of town for the weekend.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
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  6. Marty

    Marty Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    No such much back-ported as simply enabled via firmware update for some Surface devices. The pen protocol itself is unchanged, so all that is happening is more interpolation on the pressure side and additional calculation for tilt.

    That said, not all pen transmitters (signal quality which affects jitter) and pressure sensors are created equal.

    I've used the Z Canvas for about 3.5 years with different pens throughout, and here's my general take:

    VAIO Z Canvas Pen:
    • excellent initial activation pressure
    • good pressure linearity (how much control you have along default pressure curve)
    • medium jitter
    • nice metal construction, but pen tail cap prone to breaking
    Surface Pro 4 Pen:
    • ok initial activation
    • excellent pressure linearity
    • medium-high jitter
    • nice metal build, but pen button strip can detach from wear
    Wacom Bamboo Ink Smart:
    • excellent initial activation
    • ok pressure linearity (pressure tends to blow out on the low end like most Wacom pens)
    • very high jitter
    • so-so plastic construction; pen tail button can be twisted off easily
    Surface Pro 5 Pen:
    • good initial activation pressure
    • excellent pressure linearity
    • medium jitter
    • nice metal construction; pen button is solid and durable
    Hover lag was consistent on all the pens, depending more on battery charges and screen position (higher lag at edges of screen).

    So overall, my vote goes to the SP5 pen, which I am currently using. :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2019
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  7. Tablet Nostradamus

    Tablet Nostradamus Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Would love to hear your experiences with the Renaisser/Raphael 5 pen and diagonal line jitter. There's no mention of it in the Amazon reviews, and it's the only thing holding me back from embracing the Surface line for drawing. I own a Surface Pro 2017 that's collecting dust.
     
  8. sonichedgehog360

    sonichedgehog360 AKA Hifihedgehog Senior Member

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    It is very possible that they added these new features to the old Surface display digitizers but not to the old pen transmitters. What could be the case here is they may have added the tilt and pressure sensitivity to the digitizer controllers but they may have kept the tilt and pressure sensitivity (along with the latency) exclusive to the newer pen transmitters. I would also add that these Chinese third-party are possibly using the same pen transmitter as Microsoft but it is the quality of the implementation that results in the varied differences in jitter and pressure curve. I would wager the latest crop of third-party Surface pens with 4096 pressure levels and tilt, excluding the specific accelerometer or whatever similar circuitry required for these pens to support tilt, are using newer and entirely different chip than the older pens use.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2019
  9. Marty

    Marty Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    This could be the case, but restriction would be firmware/driver based, not hardware based.

    The reason why I'm almost certain the actual data transmitted by the newer pens is using the same protocol/data structure as the old pens, is because the Surface Pro 3 was originally slated to include the tilt and pressure upgrades.

    If you recall, the SP3 used an N-Trig digitizer before MS acquired them (and subsequently developed PixelSense/MPP in the SP4 and refined in the SP5). This means those tilt/extra pressure features could have been implemented even older N-Trig boards, like my Z Canvas.

    However, MS later decided to silently pull the update from older Surface models, effectively keeping the tilt/extra pressure exclusive to 'new pens with new Surfaces'.

    Sigh...a return to Wacom-style product segregation.
     
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  10. sonichedgehog360

    sonichedgehog360 AKA Hifihedgehog Senior Member

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    From the perspective of the display digitizer, yes, newer certain new features can be flipped on and off via firmware updates. But from the perspective of the pen, there may be strict hardware features that are not firmware/driver-enabled. That is to say, excluding latency improvements, you can easily enable 4096 pressure levels and tilt with the same digitizer chipset in the Surface Pro 4 and prior. But in the pen which cannot necessarily be flashed with a newer firmware, pens with these new advanced features from the latest version of MPP may require an entirely new pen chipset--internal to the pen, mind you--to be able to transmit 4096 pressure levels and tilt. Therefore, if the latency improvements are tied to a new pen chipset and that chipset is required to in the pen for added pressure levels and tilt, we may see better latency in any third-party pen that advertises 4096 pressure levels and tilt since that improved latency would come part and parcel. I am hoping that this is the case because if Renaisser and others are now starting to advantage of it (the Raphael 5 literally just released in July which could indicate that Microsoft has just started opening the latest MPP to other pen makers). This could force Microsoft to get off their laurels and improve the initial activation force in their Surface Pen thanks to healthy competition and potentially superior offerings from their third-party MPP licensees.
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2019
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