Surface Pro pens

N-trig versus Wacom technology. For those who don’t follow the ins and outs of modern smart pens for tablets, Wacom is considered to be the industry standard. N-trig, meanwhile, is the new kid on the block and many professionals are skeptical that it can be as good (or even better) than Wacom. Since the Surface Pro 3 switched from Wacom to N-trig, quite a few artists have already dismissed the device without even trying it.

Over the weekend, Gabe from the web comic Penny Arcade gave his thoughts on the Surface Pro 3 and pen, and comes away impressed (he did have some other non-pen issues though). Now, the Surface team has taken to Reddit to answer some questions about development and choices they made for the new Pro 3, including one from a professional artist asking about N-trig.

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We’re not going do the old ‘copy paste’ trick with this one because the response from Surface team member ‘StevieB’ (aka Steven Bathiche) is a jaw dropping 2,600 words for this one question. But we will give you a sneak peek.  For instance, StevieB takes on the divisive “256 pressure levels vs.1024” difference between N-trig and Wacom, and this snippet from his response may surprise you:

“One can claim absurd amounts of resolution 10,12,14,16 bits.. whatever.. but in the end even though system is spitting out a 10 or 16 bit number does not mean there is a 10 or 16 bits worth of useful information there…”


They say the devil is in the details, so if you’re an N-trig pen skeptic, make sure you go read this masterpiece of a response. It covers everything from the differences between active versus capacitive, accuracy, parallax, and yes, even the big kahuna of “256 pressure levels vs. 1024”, all in glorious engineer-talk.

So doubters: go read the Surface team’s response, come back and share your thoughts. Are they charlatans or have they convinced you? Do you at least have a better understanding of why Microsoft chose N-trig?

Source: Reddit AMA