Wacom EMR vs. N-Trig vs. Wacom AES

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Kumabjorn, Feb 22, 2015.

  1. Kumabjorn

    Kumabjorn ***** is back Senior Member

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    Since I use all three of these technologies I thought I'd list what I think are their advantages and disadvantages and do a little comparison. I'm sure I'll forget something, so please add on your own thought and correct my omissions.

    Wacom EMR is the oldest and hence most reliable of the different technologies. EMR stands for electromagnetic resonance and is essentially the technology used in the Intuos line of products but placed together with an LCD screen. I use this technology in my ASUS Vivo Tab Note 8 (MT 80-A), Samsung Galaxy Note 3, 8, and 10.1 as well as my Microsoft Surface Pro 2.
    Advantages are reliability, stylus that doesn't require a power source, long hover distance so that pen/stylus will control the screen before your hand get in contact with it. Advanced pressure sensitivity, software that lets you fine tune and calibrate your screen, and a cornucopia of third party pens are other advantages. There is clearly a difference in the implementation between the Windows and Android devices, the latter having less problems with parallax and lag.
    Disadvantage of the EMR technology is that it has stagnated, Wacom holds a de facto world monopoly with some 80% of all devices coming from this company. They have been slow in adapting their production lines to larger screen sizes and have done little to correct the main problem with EMR technology, edge accuracy. Closing in on the right edge, strokes tend do diminish and glide downwards on the screen.

    N-Trig, an Israeli company just recently bought by Microsoft is Wacom's main contender. Their technology is based on an active pen and a passive digitizer that I use in my Microsoft Surface Pro 3. Advantages are better accuracy between cursor and pen, less parallax, lower production cost and edge accuracy. Disadvantages are a pen that requires a battery, making it to big to be housed in a silo inside today's thin tablets. Unless you want to be caught in a situation where the pen suddenly won't work you'll need to carry a reserve battery. Having power in the stylus opens it up to future enhancements, but this is a field that is still lacking.

    Wacom has responded to the N-Trig challenge by releasing AES, or Active Electrostatic Solution, a similar technology with a powered stylus and a passive digitizer. The definition, Active Electrostatic Solution is a prime example of Japlish or the Japanese proclivity for manhandling English, most people will think of it as only Active ElectroStatic. Advantages are no parallax, perfect edge accuracy, lower production cost and longer battery life in the tablet. This technology I use is in my 10 inch Toshiba Dynabook Tab, better known as Encore Write 2 outside Japan. The problem with not being able to store the stylus in a silo, Toshiba solved by storing the clip of the stylus inside the tablet, it clips on and is not able to shake, rattle or roll. This immediately creates the disadvantage of existing cases for 8 and 10 inch slates being pretty useless, this should however solve itself over time. At the moment there are no third party pens available and Toshiba, as of this writing, is not offering any replacement pens.

    Having used all three technologies I will say that Wacom EMR is the most comfortable, but this is partly due to long exposure. Having used it over several years the technology becomes second nature and I have adapted myself to its shortcomings. For someone starting out today looking for a pen abled device, this is not really of any concern. The high degree of pressure sensitivity is however something to consider for those looking for a device that will be used for graphic artistry. For those interested primarily in taking notes, it might be worthwhile to do some comparison shopping, the implementation in Samsung's Galaxy Note devices provides a very smooth writing experience.

    In a comparison between N-Trig and Wacom AES I will say that AES comes out ahead, but just barely. The Surface Pro 3 pen with its clickable top makes it very easy to add a note in OneNote, on the Toshiba you need to hold the eraser button pressed as you double tap the screen, so this doesn't work in Connected Standby. So for those taking notes at the spur of the moment the N-Trig solution in Surface Pro 3 is preferable, but this is more a question of Microsoft's implementation rather than the N-Trig technology. However, the Wacom AES has unparalleled edge accuracy as well as hover to pixel accuracy. Hover distance is a smidge longer than N-Trig's but is so insignificant to be a non-issue. The Toshiba TruPen does have a better nib than the N-Trig stylus, it gives a better "pen to paper" feeling, but I'm sure there will be a more varied selection of nibs available for the N-Trig in due time.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2015
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  2. JoeS

    JoeS I'm all ears Senior Member

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    To clarify for new users, Windows turns off the touch screen when the pen is within hover range. This means that with a l0ng hover distance you're less likely to accidentally move the page when you lay your hand down.

    Another aspect is the initial activation force (IAF): how hard to you need to press the pen down to get any line at all. I think most users agree that a lower IAF is better, and I think there too Wacom wins, but I don't know how big the difference is with the other technologies.
     
  3. bloodycape

    bloodycape confused Senior Member

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    Samsung devices do not have the edge accuracy issue, or am I wrong here?
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2015
  4. darkmagistric

    darkmagistric Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Their earlier ones like the Original note, and the 10 inch models did, but their newer ones like the Note 12.2 & Note 4, have this streamlined. The consensus is that because of Wacom & Samsungs Partnership, Wacom developed new EMR sensor boards exclusively for Sasmungs Note line that are thinner, have better edge accuracy, and require less power then normal EMR boards they produce.

    A few more things to add

    Wacom EMR requires a sensor board beneath the screen, where as N-trig & Wacom EMS don't. It is for that reason the Parallax/pen tip accuracy is superior with N-Trig and Wacom EMS since the pen tip just needs to connect with the screen, comparably the EMR pen, although needing to connect with the screen, is really connecting with the board beneath it, which is why there is the slight inaccuracy depending on how you hold your pen.(or how thick the glass is, how the EMR Board is bonded to the glass, etc)

    On the downside for EMR boards, because the board is emitting an electro magnetic field at all times....EMR tablets will have a greater drain on the battery of the Tablet its used in. N-trig and Wacom EMS don't have the same battery drain since they are powered by the battery in the pen.

    But on the upside of the EMR Board, since the EM field is emitted constantly, overall pen performance is superior.

    For that reason the Hovering Distance is not only longer, but Faster. With Wacom EMS & N-trig the hovering cursor will lag behind your pens actions. EMR pens will hover track much faster with pixel accurately, and since the pens is polled at a higher frequency, it tracks and presents pressure more smoothly and overall is much more fluid. Particularly when it comes to doing small quick brush strokes....EMR will capture the stroke perfectly, but with N-trig and EMS I have observed an unnatural curve in the pressure. slight vectoring that occurs at the beginning of the brush stroke, making the stroke look bent or misshaped. Its admittedly a small thing, but for Art needs, its enough to make me steady camp with Wacom EMR.

    another drawback for EMR....requiring an EMR board adds thickness to the Tablet. I do believable that was one of the chief reasons why Microsoft went with N-trig instead on Wacom for the Pro3. This has been an area of debate lately, but my take is that devices with core i5/i7s that require a Fan/cooling system built in, making room for the EMR board is more problematic.

    Android Tablets, Clovertrail/Baytrail Atoms, and Core M Tablets, because they don't have the same cooling needs, can use EMR boards without adding significant thickness, since the lack of a fan cuts down the size enough.
     
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  5. darkmagistric

    darkmagistric Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Oh and how could I forget

    Wacom EMR acts much more like a traditional pencil because the end of the pen can be outfitted with an eraser.

    N-trig and Wacom EMS......although capable of engineering a button in lieu of the eraser (Pro 3 Pen), I have yet to see any N-trig Pen ever fashion an eraser similar to Wacom's EMR pens. N-trig you need to hold down one of the side barrel buttons. Some are ok with this, but I'm accustomed to flipping the pen for the eraser.
     
  6. Marty

    Marty Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    I posted this question in another thread, but I'll just re-post, as it's more relevant here:

    Was the precision better than this video of the R7?



    (This is demonstrating the difficulty in resizing columns where the divider "grab zone" is small, as per our discussion on N-Trig performance on the SP3)

    I typically think of precision in terms of how responsive the digitizer is to extremely fine movements. Since from what I understand, the Wacom EAS still suffers from hover lag, that totally kills precision for me, but what are your thoughts on this?
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2015
  7. Kumabjorn

    Kumabjorn ***** is back Senior Member

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    I can resize excel columns and do the same in Windows Explorer. It just isn't very intuitive, it might help that the Toshiba has a 1200x800 screen so these UI objects appear somewhat larger than on the Surface Pro 3. But I'm with Bronsky all the way here, pens aren't made to replace a mouse nor are mice able to replace a pen as a writing instrument for the screen.
     
  8. Marty

    Marty Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Well if you can resize Explorer columns easily that's a good sign.

    How is the hover lag compared to the SP3? I found the cursor was simply too loose on the SP3; I always found myself "waiting for it to catch up" after a large shift in pen position. Of course, for small movements (as shown in the video), the cursor might not even respond, so it was like the worst of both worlds in terms of hover.
     
  9. Kumabjorn

    Kumabjorn ***** is back Senior Member

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    I find it responsive, but I find the Surface sufficiently responsive as well. The hover cursor don't appear until you are some 6 or 7 mm from the screen and from there it will follow your pen, but I suppose in both cases as the battery wears down this will become an issue.
     
  10. ron2k_1

    ron2k_1 calibuchi Senior Member

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    Not sure if this is what you understood from the question but he meant the lag that the SP3 has when dragging the pen across the screen (without touching it) when cursor is visible; that is, place pen 5mm away from screen and swipe across without touching the screen. There is some serious lag there. Moving at around 2" per second, the cursor will trail at least 1" behind the pen. It's that the case with AES?

    Swiped from my Galaxy Note 4 using Tapatalk
     
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