Wacom vs. Surface Pro, Surface Book, VAIO Z pens for handwriting

Discussion in 'Professions' started by stevem64, Nov 29, 2015.

  1. stevem64

    stevem64 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    The Microsoft Store is a great place to test products in a “hands on” manner. It is difficult to find many of the Windows Pen enabled tablets to test elsewhere.

    The VAIO Z Canvas Signature Edition 2 is a sleek pen enabled machine which most resembles the Surface Pro 3 and 4 with its design. I was able to test the pen using Windows Journal.

    Why Windows Journal? It is available on every machine. I have used it heavily for many years as a note-taking tool. I know how it behaves. It is a remarkably capable program.

    Here are my thoughts on the writing experience:

    The VAIO Z appears to be similar to N-trig as far as technology. Great edge accuracy. Reasonably decent drawing ability. One of the problems of the N-trig devices has been when making rapid drawing lines or rapid handwriting, the quality of the handwriting will deteriorate rapidly. Sometimes it starts off badly and stays bad. Other times, it starts off acceptably, but after about five seconds of rapid handwriting, the quality of the penmanship declines quickly. On the VAIO Z, the penmanship begins reasonably, but after five seconds seems to have trouble with accuracy and becomes less legible.

    The VAIO Z in the store behaves very similarly to the Surface Pro 3 I own which has all of the latest drivers. The VAIO Z has an added problem of an extremely slick screen which makes the experience less optimal.

    This note-taking experience with rapid handwriting is important because these devices are being sold as note taking tools to replace pen and paper for students. In this regard, the Surface Pro 3 and VAIO Z fail.

    On the other hand, the Surface Pro 3 and the VAIO Z are vastly superior to the very cool Surface Book. I was initially impressed with the Surface Book. It really is a technology marvel. Then…. I tried handwriting. It was terrible. There is no way, in its current form as available in the Microsoft Store I could advise using this device as any sort of note taking or drawing tool. It was awful! Horrible!

    It resembled a bad pen which had been in a drawer unused for many years. The ink skipped. The lines slurred. It was inexcusable bad.

    It is possible firmware upgrades could improve the device. Certainly, the Surface Pro 3 had significant improvement over the year as firmware updates arrived.

    Bottom line: I am sticking with Wacom and my Fujitsu Lifebook T935. Wacom has its own issues, particularly with screen accuracy on high resolution screens. Edge accuracy is a problem as well. Overall, though, nothing compares to the continued drawing and handwriting accuracy of the Wacom. The pen and paper experience still favors the Wacom.

    Yes, there are trade-offs and frustrations with the Wacom. With Wacom, however, I am able to adapt and adjust. With the N-trig type pens, however, the failure tends to occur when I am moving fast and I want the machine to behave.

    All of these machines are extremely expensive. The ability to test them in a hands on manner is critical. Unfortunately, Fujitsu is not in the Microsoft Store. I had to travel to Virginia Tech to do a hands on before I purchased the device.

    These tests were done at the Microsoft Store in Pentagon City, Virginia. Caveats: The machines appeared to be straight out of the box without the latest driver updates. Windows Journal had never been used on any of the machines, based on the menu that starts when entering Windows Journal for the first time. Thus, all of this post could be rendered obsolete with a couple of updates.
     
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  2. ATIVQ

    ATIVQ V⅁O⅄ Senior Member

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    Here I was thinking I made the wrong choice buying the T904 nineteen months ago, as I use the Wacom pen only for note-taking, and everyone keeps praising N-trig pens as note-taking devices, especially the edge accuracy which is admittedly very bad on Wacom EMR. Before your post I had never heard of this quality-deterioration when writing. The failure to register strokes etc is always talked about, but I never heard of the report rate suffering, except under fluorescent lights.

    By the way, Windows Journal is my primary notetaking tool too.
     
  3. TruenoGT

    TruenoGT Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I'd like to second these observations. I have found the writing experience and behavior quite similar across the several generation of N-trig (including the SP4 and SB), in that writing quickly really exposes the limitations of the tech. I've posted elsewhere and I'll add that my experiences with the newer Wacom AES as well as iPad Pro pencil show similar deficiencies in writing performance. For all it's well documented challenges, Wacom EMR, particularly Tablet PC class (as opposed to a Cintiq for example), is unmatched for writing/note taking (IMO).
     
  4. stevem64

    stevem64 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Thank you for differentiating between the Wacom EMR (older) vs Wacom AES (newer). I keep forgetting which is which.

    The vision is these devices will replace paper as a note-taking device. For me, the Wacom EMR devices have done a darned good job of this.

    On the other hand, when I have my Surface Pro 3 with it's N-trig pen, I start off optimistically and then things quickly deteriorate. My notes turn to illegible mush and they do so unpredictably. It seems so little real world testing is being done here.

    I have tried... really, really tried to get the SP3 to behave with all sorts of driver combinations and settings. In the end, I gave up and invested in the Fujitsu T935, which is basically the same as the T904, and I am pleased.

    It is also becoming incredibly difficult to know which pen-tablet combination is using which technology. I used to be a huge Lenovo fan, but now I do not dare because I don't know which uses which.

    The Virginia Tech Bookstore has one of the largest selection of pen - tablet PC's on display that I have ever seen. When I visit, I literally bring a spare Wacom pen to see which screen responds.
     
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  5. neongolden

    neongolden Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Can't blame it on the device, though. They all have slick screen without screen protectors :) Also the jump from 256 to 1024 levels is noticeable, but 2013 Ntrig on my Duo 13 was still perfectly serviceable in Clip Studio Paint.

    Basically it just would have been great for these devices to have CSP in the stores lol... or even Sketchbook. Seems like endless stories of people leaving unimpressed because their first impression is testing it on that out of date default writing program in Windows whose name eludes me because I've never used it.
     
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