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

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

  1. bierot

    bierot Pen Pal - Newbie

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    After reading your posts I'm also considering buying this pen. For this reason I have some questions.

    What about accuracy? Does it keep precision when tilting the pen, appearing the ink just under the contact point of the tip with the screen? Is it consistent across the display?

    Regarding the replacement nibs: are they interchangeable with the Microsoft pen ones?

    How is the hardness of the nib compared to the Microsoft pen HB ones?

    Is there a way of knowing the battery level?

    Which type of charging connector does it have? Do you need to buy an additional cable to charge the pen through a USB-A or a USB-C port?
     
  2. Steve S

    Steve S Pen Pro - Senior Member Super Moderator

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    <<...If you can, try to draw long lines to look for "good/bad" patches...>>

    ...This characteristic was discussed long ago. IIRC, it was when the general topic of "jaggles" first provoked extensive discussions on this and other forums. At that time, the working hypothesis was that the "bad" and "good" patches were associated with the geometry of the (then) N-trig screen sensor grid. Because the sensor lines were invisible, I don't think anyone was able to deduce if the bad patches were associated with being between sensor lines of close to / over sensor line intersections.

    Either way, this is a known issue...
     
  3. Marty

    Marty Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    But since the grid is consistent in size over the entire display, there would still need to be another factor explaining varying patches across the digitizer.

    On my Z Canvas the bad patches increase in density as you move towards the bottom edge (with Windows button) of the display. This is also the area where phantom touches occur most frequently and where the backlight strip is located.

    So my guess is it's related to the underlying signal interference from other components.
     
  4. jedah

    jedah Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I just saw the Youtube video. Very interesting. Any idea if older non-Surface N-Trig devices would benefit from the Raphael 5? I have a 2017 Spectre x360. It's tolerable, but I know there's better out there.
     
  5. Tablet Nostradamus

    Tablet Nostradamus Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Both the black and silver versions of this stylus are 'currently unavailable' on Amazon. Does anybody know where else to purchase in the US? Or have an ETA on when these will be in stock again?

    Dying to try it out for myself on my SP2017.
     
  6. Steve S

    Steve S Pen Pro - Senior Member Super Moderator

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    <<...Both the black and silver versions of this stylus are 'currently unavailable' on Amazon...>>

    ...Interesting, because I just bought one from Amazon.

    <<..Dying to try it out for myself on my SP2017...>>

    ...Temper your expectations. I spent a large part of last night comparing the Raphael 5 with the 2017 Surface pen, the 2019 Ink Plus pen and the 2015-ish Z Canvas pen. Test platforms were my 2017 new Surface Pro (SP5) and my Z Canvas (which, as an aside, still impresses me in terms of raw performance and sharp, saturated display). These comments should only be regarded as preliminary, but I was hard pressed to find the virtues that @sonichedgehog360 has described earlier. On slow diagonal lines, the Raphael pen appeared to be the same as, or only a smidge better than the Surface pen (logic suggest to me that they were actually the same). On light to heavy lines, I actually thought that the Surface pen behaved better, possibly because it felt slightly heavier in my hand. However, I do give credit to the Raphael; it feels well balanced and its pressure curve behavior was nice. On the very lightest lines, I again felt like there was little difference between Raphael and Surface.

    Again, these are preliminary reactions. I still want to compare these pens on the 2018 Studio 2 and its pen (same as 2017?) and I want to compare some of the pens to the 2018 Wacom EMR pen on the ZBook X2. (My sense is that EMR still holds the high ground.)

    Understanding that pen choice is highly subjective, I would nonetheless suggest that you save your money for the time being...
     
  7. sonichedgehog360

    sonichedgehog360 AKA Hifihedgehog Senior Member

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    I concur. Each person is going to have different impressions and takeaways so it is all for the better that we are getting a swath and smattering of opinions now. For now, I am going to hold off in providing more in-depth impressions including the ruler test until I receive my Surface Pro 7 in the mail so I can see if I can observe any further differences between the two.
     
  8. Steve S

    Steve S Pen Pro - Senior Member Super Moderator

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    <<...But since the grid is consistent in size over the entire display...>>

    ...The distribution of grid lines may be even, but the grid itself is periodic and consists of voids surrounded by grid lines. The original hypothesis was that the "bad patch" jaggles were occurring as the diagonal lines were crossing a void area (as opposed to being closer to a grid line or grid intersection). The fact that the bad patches looked to be periodic was another factor.

    HOWEVER, no one, to my knowledge, ever explored this in depth, so I can't refute your hypothesis...
     
  9. Steve S

    Steve S Pen Pro - Senior Member Super Moderator

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    For general interest, I thought it would be useful to compare a few pens, but primarily the 2017 Surface Pro pen and the 2019 Raphael 5 pen on a few different platforms. The following examples shouldn't be taken too seriously as I didn't perform the examples as rigorously as I should have; however, I did try to be careful and draw with as steady a hand as I could. Note that both the Pro pen and the Raphael pen had very similar nibs (with the tiny polymer (?) ball on the end). The other pens had various plastic nibs.

    First, to establish a sort of baseline, here is the EMR pen on my ZBook X2. The brown lines (1) sort of illustrate the steadiness of my hand... usually. The green lines (2) were drawn with the pen and a special dielectric straight edge, also called "cardboard!" Note that in all cases, the cardboard was hard to hold steady; it would slip on the glass screens very easily. If a rulered line seems to change angle, that's undoubtedly what happened. Finally, all of these trials were done in Paint 3D. The dark black line is simply a reference so that all the lines were drawn close to 45°.

    ZBook X2 EMR: Still the king of the hill I'm afraid...

    ZBook B - 20Oct19.jpg

    Next, here are several pens, and two rulered examples as they appeared on my wife's Studio 2. Before you freak out about line quality, I had the zoom cranked pretty far up precisely to try to show small differences in each pen's performance. At normal size, these lines look at least a little better (not great, though)...

    Studio 2: The Rapheal 5 looks better than the others, but then looks pretty terrible with the ruler; while I was drawing, I could see the line "squirming" around...
    Studio 2 Pen Trial-A - 20Oct19.png

    I also thought it might be useful to look at the Z Canvas, which VAIO designed and optimized especially for artists / creators. The Z Canvas pen uses N-trig technology circa ~2015.

    Z Canvas: All the pens look about equal. Certainly, the Z Canvas' own pen doesn't look like anything special...
    Z Canvas - 20Oct19.JPG

    Next, the 2017 New Surface Pro (aka SP5). At this point, I decided to just focus on the Surface Pro pen and the Raphael 5.

    New Surface Pro (SP5): Again, both pens look about the same to me. The orange lines (3) are skewed because of slippage of the cardboard. The maroon lines (4) didn't fare much better!
    Surface Pro - 200ct19.png

    Finally, here's the Surface Pro 7. Is it my imagination, or does it look like the lines are noticeably better (less wavy)? Hopefully, other members will weigh in on this. In addition, if my recent experience with the new Slim Pen proves to be valid, we could... maybe... be looking at a significant improvement in Surface pen inking. I guess that time will tell...

    Surface Pro 7: Improved inking? You be the judge!
    Pro 7 A - 22Oct19.png

    These trials alone don't really tell you which pen is the best because hand feel and inking feel aren't considered. Speaking for myself, I find that the Surface Pro pen and the Raphael 5 both feel nice in the hand. However, I like the feel of the Raphael just a little better. In terms of inking, I agree with @JoeS that the Raphael feels smoother and noticeably more effortless than the Surface Pro pen. So, until I can fold in the new Slim Pen, my nod goes to the Raphael 5 (but low speed line quality isn't any better than the Surface Pro pen; it just feels better!).
     
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  10. Marty

    Marty Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    This is the kind of thing I've noticed too, with wide variation in the jitter, irrespective of straight-edge. I think #6 clearly hit a "bad patch".

    So I guess for most 'rigorousness', the testing should be done with long lines, and alternating pens within adjacent lines, instead of separating out the pens into different patches.

    Testing jitter is a science in itself! :)
     
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