Surface Pro 3 - NTrig digitizer comments, questions & reviews

Discussion in 'Microsoft' started by mstoller, Jun 6, 2014.

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  1. testplayer

    testplayer Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I accidentally visited a microsoft store today and tried an SP3. The hover lag is ridiculous: if you move the pen, say 3 cm/s initially, then suddenly slow down to 3cm/s and keep that speed, you will see the cursor point moves behind the pen tip with a constant speed same as 3cm/s but the distance between the cursor point and pen tip remains constant (~5cm) during your moving the pen tip at 3cm/s. How ridiculous it is!! It's like a wirelss LT1423p with severe lag. This must be an algorithm bug so that the cursor tries to imitate how the tip moves but completely forgets HOW FAR they are apart from each other. This is just stupid, period.

    But the much worse is the palm rejection: it's not the short hover distance problem. It's just buggy!! Say you write something in onenote by your right hand, now you lift the pen tip a little bit and move your hand since you want to write in the next line, but during this process you keep the pen tip close enough to the screen so that the palm rejection should work, but in this process if you touch the screen by your little finger of your hand holding the pen, and keep hovering the pen and at the same time touch the screen by your little finger many times, your touch will be registered as INK but your never allow the pen tip touching the screen!! That's how the N-trig's palm rejection works!! They can patent this ridiculously buggy technology but only the people who never know the difference between N trig and Wacom will buy those products.

    For nowadays digitizer technologies, I'm sad to say it again, NO WACOM NO BUY.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 5, 2014
  2. Marty

    Marty Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Wow testplayer, your experience seems to be quite a bit worse than when I was testing out the SP3 in store, but it's nice to see some people agree with me on the importance of hover responsiveness and hover distance. Most comments and reviews I read downplay (or neglect entirely) these two important aspects when comparing NTrig to Wacom. However, I feel that they are the primary factors (along with a low initial activation force) that contribute a superior pen experience, in general.

    While I am all for having more options in the niche Tablet PC market, I would like to see more objective analysis of NTrig's capabilities on these finer points. For people the want a numerical comparison of capabilities, please refer to Shogmaster's chart. In my opinion, it gives the best overview of digitizer performance, without resorting to highly subjective descriptions like "just-as-good" or "almost-as-good".

    I personally agree with you that Wacom still has the edge by a fair margin. However, there are promised firmware/driver additions that MS spoke of with PA's Gabe which are supposed to fix the hover latency and add ability to adjust the pressure curve (along with pen button programmability). I guess MS just has its hands full fixing thermal and wifi issues :p. Don't get me wrong though, I feel the pen improvements are as (if not more) important than fixing throttling, etc.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2015
  3. testplayer

    testplayer Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I actually mentioned the hover lag problem months ago here. But most people didn't think it is a problem. However, it is until my today's visit did I notice the ridiculous palm rejection bug. For me, this turns SP3 totally unusable.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2015
  4. Marty

    Marty Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Yeah, many people have varying opinions on the hover lag, which is why I suggested people refer to the numerical value chart. Shogmaster wasn't able to find the exact numbers on the hover latency, but I was hoping future reviewers could fill in this, by to measuring objectively rather than just relying on general descriptions.
     
  5. magicalUnicorns

    magicalUnicorns Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I hate the pen I have to say. Its a tiny metal cylinder. Gonna buy a huion replacement battery pen and mod it to fit the surface pen.
    Needs girth and length.
    The nib is already getting a little raggy.
    The Wacom CC has major power issues, the 13hd is just a screen, the other tablets are 256 pressure, the ipad is too small and does not have clip studio manga studio
    BAH I'm getting another digitizer tablet.
    Oh but the pens and tablets on the latest version of intuos have a history of breaking as well now. FUN....
    And a replacement pen is $70.....

    Back in the day people would whine about their oil paint drying out to fast and the bristols fraying from cheap quality horses....
    And so goes it......
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2014
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  6. michaelws

    michaelws Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Has N-Trig fixed it's problems with Corel Painter? Anyone know?
     
  7. ile

    ile Scribbler - Standard Member

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    So, after playing around with SP3 on IFA 2014, I have to say:

    I am DISAPPOINTED that they switched from Wacom to Ntrig, I think this is a downgrade.

    - The display gets weird colors around the pen while writing when you are not putting very few pressure, this is very annoying

    - the pen feels to heavy in my opinion

    - what did they mean by better precision? The dot is still not where the tip touches the display. Not better than Wacom imho.

    I hope they switch back to Wacom for SP4
     
  8. Lazer

    Lazer Pen Pal - Newbie

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    So, even after all of my complaining about N-trig, I caved and picked up an i7. I couldn't help it! The machine is too beautiful, and is so close to what I've been waiting several years for. I also sorely needed a performance upgrade.

    I will say, that I am getting used to the N-trig. Is Wacom still better? Yes, but I am getting used to the quirks/annoyances of Ntrig. However, I am still very much patiently awaiting a pen update from Microsoft, the fabled one I've read about. The pressure curve, cursor lag and jittery lines when doing slow detailed work, are all still pretty big complaints here - and all sound quite potentially fixable.

    I did recently pick up an accessory that I am really enjoying: Surface Pro 3 Ghost Glass Screen Protector | MIME
    I have to say, this thing is pretty awesome. The glass is just a bit on the thick side, but it made my SP3 more enjoyable overall for me. I felt from the get-go, that the glass on the SP3 was too thin. It's especially apparent with the screen puddling that can happen, given the fact that the pressure curve is a bit off. This screen protector seems to minimize the puddling for me, and it's been giving me a more enjoyable stylus experience, due to an overall thicker glass. One thing I am very curious about though, is if they could make a slightly textured version, not unlike what the Cintiq Companion utilizes. I got one for my phone too, it's fantastic.

    I'm still getting used the slipperiness of the nib/glass combo. I would be super excited about nib options, they should really do that! I have multiple Wacom styli, each with different tips installed - MS would likely sell more styli by doing this. I have to say also, that I personally do enjoy the stylus. It took a little getting used to, but I like the weight, size and feel of holding it. I have tried to erase with the the "eraser" end multiple times out of habit - so that's a bit of a learning curve. Being able to remap it as an eraser (though surely impossible) would have been nice.

    Anyway, I'm on board, I couldn't wait, I was seduced. Dock and all, I am a fanboy I suppose. My wishes are: 1) Fix up the stylus issues ASAP; 2) Make a Surface Pro Mini w/ same stylus so I don't have to switch back & forth :cool:
     
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  9. Marty

    Marty Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    You know what Lazer? I just caved too and bought an SP3 i3 version to try out. We now have pretty much the exact same tablets: EP121, VTN8, SP3 :).

    So here is my overall impression of the digitizer.

    For a Wacom user, the hardest thing to get used to is the hover latency on between the pen tip and cursor. It's almost like the cursor is attached by a loose elastic to the pen tip. However, when you actually touch down, the cursor will jump immediately to the pen tip location.

    What this means is 3 things:

    1) It takes about 1-2 seconds after stopping from a rapid movement for the cursor to settle back to pen tip.
    2) Occasionally, if you make a very fine movements (especially near the digitizer edges) the cursor doesn't shift at all.
    3) Where you touch down is almost always slightly shifted from where the cursor is right before you touch down.

    Some people suggested (earlier in this thread) that this is no problem, as you can just use the pen tip as the cursor's "true position" and ignore hover location entirely. However, hover location accuracy is critical when used to adjust fine object handles. Let me give a couple of examples:

    1) Adjustment of the column sizes under List View in Explorer.

    With a Wacom pen, you can carefully hover the pen over a column divider until the cursor changes to the Left/Right Arrow icon. When you push down, you will grab the divider and can adjust as necessary, just like a mouse.

    With the N-Trig pen, even if you carefully position the cursor to get the Left/Right drag icon, when you actually touch down to grab the handle, the cursor will shift slightly towards the pen tip and often move off the handle. You will then grab a column instead, and unexpectedly begin reordering the column rather than resizing its boundary. This is very jarring and annoying from a UI perspective.

    Ok, you say, well how often are you going to be adjusting column sizes, anyways? But the above example is just to provide a very easy test any person can try out to experience my point. Now let me give a work-crucial example:

    2) Adjustment of vertex and object handles in Illustrator

    Many graphic designers, such as myself use a tablet for creating vector logos, layouts and illustrations. This often involves fine adjustments using the vertex handles, as Brad Colbow mentions in his SP3 review. This relies on the accurate hover position of the cursor to know exactly what operation you will be performing.

    If the cursor shifts slightly when touching down, then the cursor may move off the handle, and you end up either perform an unintended operation (like scaling when you mean to move) or you end up pressing empty space which deselects the focused object entirely. This can become extremely frustrating (as noted by Brad Colbow).

    In my opinion this is the fundamental weakness of the N-Trig pen—unreliable hover feedback. And it makes a difference for any application that relies on hover cues over small UI elements. Unfortunately, this includes a lot of desktop productivity software.

    Most people only pay attention to things stroke delay and stroke vectoring, which the SP3 actually performs very well at. I would say N-Trig's DuoSense G4 is pretty much equivalent to Wacom UD in these 2 respects, so props to N-Trig for these improvements.

    This means for people who only do sketching, the Surface Pro 3 is actually a solid device, the only disadvantage being the high initial activation force, which makes it more difficult to produce soft, delicate lines.

    However, imo, this one disadvantage is more than outweighed by the Surface Pro 3's trump card, and that is the screen. The 3:2 aspect ratio at 2160x1440 resolution is simply wonderful to work on and the added horizontal working space in portrait has made drawing much more functional and pleasurable.

    The high resolution of the screen also has another major advantage in that also makes sketching at zoomed out percentages much less blurry. So ironically, the SP3 gives a better visual representation of my artwork at low zoom levels than even my Cintiq 22HD.

    Quite simply there is no other tablet pc on the market with the screen characteristics of the SP3 (barring the uber expensive UT-MA6 and Modbook Pro X). So despite the hover inaccuracy being Achilles heel of N-Trig, I find myself really wanting to keep the SP3, even though I was almost sure I would return it.

    The screen made all the difference.
     
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  10. whazzup

    whazzup Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Hi Marty, agree with you on the problems still plaguing SP3, namely N-Trig.

    Hover lag in action (Acer R7, but applies equally to SP3):


    And the slow tracking problem.

    And also agree that the screen is preeeetttyyyy.....

    By all accounts SP3 sales is moving at a healthy pace. Please N-trig/Microsoft, plow more earnings back into research/engineering and come up with a better solution. How can you even allow a product that's SUPPOSED to replace pen/paper, but the stroke actually 'wavers' when you draw?

    Trust me, Huion and Bosto are already coming out with improved products that are better than this.
     
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