Read this: Surface team gives awesome (but loquacious) answer about N-trig pen vs. Wacom

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.

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

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Seriously. Someone weigh in this, because I'm too dumb (and don't use these pens often enough) to know the difference. Go!
  • No one is dumb who properly implements the word loquacious, Daniel.
  • Hah, well then I'm dumb on this topic ;)
  • What's a loquacious and where can I purchase one?  Dee Dee Dumb! Dee Dee Dumb!  Dee Dee Dumb!   (heads back to the looney bin) :p
  • That's a word you just don't hear enough of....lugubrious too. I've never heard anyone use loquacious improperly. Maybe the people educated enough to know what it means know how to use it properly. 
  • Bigger numbers are better! I'm an angry consumer! SP3 sucks! Is that what you were looking for? Oh, did it seem faster? Thanks.
  • Than you like fat ppl huh lol. Bigger number of lbs lol.
    You may be pirated sth, do you want to pay 10000 or 10000000000000000000000 lol. Also you totally like old ppl lol. yolo but one is not big lol. Also you like old animals like Tyrasaurus Rex like in your name lol. LoL. LoL. LoL. LoL. No, dota 2 lol! Rofl lol. Actually lol. Im lol. Having lol. A lol. Caffeine lol. Crisis lol. Much coffee lol. I killed English (don't I lol) lol. Bye lol.
  • I think this is exactly the response Daniel was looking for.
  • And by the same logic, 3 is better than 2. Those kinds of people must be very confused about now ...
  • My stereo system goes to volume 11!!!! So much better than the ones that only go to 10.
  • What's a YOLO?
  • Saying "N-trig" just makes me nervous for some reason.
  • Racist?
  • @jason8957, I believe it's pronounced "Intrigue"
  • I never thought of it like that... var mind = blown;
  • Then shouldn't it be N-trigue or N-trige at the very least?
  • Maaahh  N-triggah!  Wacom got nuthin on me!!!
  • Haha
  • Fo shigga my N-trigga we ain't no wacom wigga
  • I think the n-trig is a cromulent alternative for average users like me, but if you're a pro, you probably already have an intuos or even a cintiq. I'm quite interested in how many "pro" users bought the surface pro 2.
  • I actually had to look "cromulent" up. Loquacious and cromulent in one blog....huzzah!
  • I am an artist that uses pen tablets daily for photo editing work and some very light graphic design.  I use the Wacom Intuos series for my desktop machine, use a Lenovo X220T for working on the road (also uses a Wacom digitizer on the screen), occasionally use a Surface Pro 2 (my wife's), so I am very much a Wacom user.   That being said, I use them because of their easy availability in the professional workspace.  Being a computer programmer in a previous life, I can understand what Steven is saying, in that more bits of data doesn't always translate to BETTER data.  That's like saying an 8 cylinder car is always faster than a 4 cylinder car.  How you implement and USE the bits you DO have is more important.  Steven mentioned in his response that we can soon map out our own force curve on the N-Trig pen.  This is amazing, and a great example of being SMARTER in using the bits you have, rather than relying on a bigger number.  I have no doubts whatsoever that a smarter system like this can outdo the current Wacom systems.  Having said that, Wacom hopefully will not sit back and fall behind, but instead get a kick in the ass and make significant steps forward.    The only problem is, most artists are SO used to using Wacom, and people are just plain reluctant to change, even if it's better.  (need I remind everyone about losing the damn start button in windows 8)  So while the N-Trig pen might be better, it will still meet a LOT of resistance.  I just feel like MS is battling TOO MUCH resistance already, so I question whether the move to N-Trig was smart in a marketing and sales sense, regardless if it made engineering sense.  I, for one, am 100% willing to try it out and give it a fair shake.  But many people will hate it the moment they pick up the pen and feel the weight distribution is different to a plastic Wacom.    So as an artist and nerd, I honestly feel no worries knowing it's an N-Trig, and would reserve judgment until AFTER I have used it.  I would definitely not say it is inferior and not worth a good try.  It sounds like MS is going to work really hard to make it right and make it rock, and that goes a LONG way.  Something I never felt with Wacom.    And companies have got to stop using Wintab for goodness sakes!!!
  • Good points.
  • Thanks for a detailed analysis!
  • I read through the long entry: TLDR: The Pro 3 implemetation is functionally equivalent to most Wacom 1024 pressure level implementations, and far more precise with screen positioning.  The team setup actual tests to verify it all. Do the ruler test (trace a straight line using a ruler or straight-edge).  According to him, the Pro 3 passes this test with flying colors, while most Wacom implemetations do not.  The Wacom tech requires a thin printed circuit board behind the screen, adding thickness and a small bit of weight.  But more importantly, edge precision is hard to get right, and even then the whole setup is susceptible to magnets and/or metal objects.  With N-Trig they can use a metal pen, and the battery in the pen lets them have a top-click feature to open up OneNote from up to 5 feet away even if the tablet is off (connected standby).  The N-Trig tech also makes the bottom magnets a possibility (allowing for the new type-cover snap-to-bottom of screen for better lap usage and a nice keyboard angle for your fingers).
  • Great info, thanks!
  • Not feeling dumb anymore, eh? :)
  • I paint daily with Fresh Paint, and I cannot wait for a Surface Pro 3! The new tech looks a lot better.
  • "That's what the forums are for. Use them." Zing!
  • N-Trig finally reached maturity in the last nine months or due to Sony pushing the technology in their Vaio Duo and later the Vaio Flip line (or, more likely, Microsoft pushing it in the background as they worked on the SP3) and in which we finally saw the release of an N-Trig driver for Photoshop support, which was a major thing holding the technology back (and also makes me think MS had something to do with it now they're such good friends with Adobe again for the SP3). I've been using the latest version of the tech in my Vaio Flip for the past month or so and the difference between this and the Wacom tech found in the Surface Pro (1, I've not played with the SP2) and other Wacom toting devices such as the Samsung Slates/Ativ Smart PCs/Whatever they call them now. Sure, the later models have 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity but in practice this is only noticeable to a very small number of people and they're the type to probably need a Wacom Cintiq with the full range of pen tech (and 2048 levels of sensitivity) that they provide. Essentially, N-Trig is absolutely fine, and now that Microsoft is pushing the technology hard we'll see faster improvement and a lot more apps and programs supporting it (and, I'm assuming, more OEMs supporting the tech too as apparently it's cheaper than Wacom, though I don't know for certain) and we'll potentially see more features too as things advance. Also, as a lot of the technology is in the pen rather than the screen there's potential that new pens could bring new or increased capabilities (again, conjecture on my part, some of this AMA was more technical than I can deal with, lol! It's possible that I may be wrong here and the screen is more important than I've deciphered from the text.). Considering most people are used to using their fingers or generic capacitive styli that pretty much just act as fingers, or from older Wacom-based Tablet PCs (pre Win 8), the SP3 pen will be a huge leap forward. I guess we'll see but it's great to see the Surface team listening to the users and finally taking notice of the creative audience who they could have been going after for years if they'd noticed us. MS really need to push the creative angle hard in their marketing for the SP3. They also need to push for some more modern apps for creatives too. Adobe and Autodesk both have some great apps on iOS and Android and we could really do with them ported over as Universal Apps. iOS is starting to see a lot of bluetooth enabled pens that are enebling a slightly more rudimentary version of palm rejection and pressure sensitivity so MS need to act swiftly and decisively if they're to get their message across to creatives on other platforms.
  • Wow, "loquacious", good vocab usage D. But, I must ask, how long have you been waiting to use that one? LOL.
  • Seriously, it's one of my favorite words.I used it with Kevin Michaluk a few weeks ago, because, well he fits the bill. He liked it too.
  • Bravo Daniel. Love the word. Some guys I know that work customer sales used to have a list of words that they would sneak in to conversations. Many taken from a Blackadder episode about dictionaries. Nice to see, and infinitely more readable than Will Self. He is a superb writer, but seldom shy's away from obfuscation ( Will not Daniel).
  • I like to use these words in flame wars: curmudgeonly recalcitrant pusillanimous  
  • Don't forget truculent.
  • And loquacious
  • unfortunately, just the fact they have had to defend this decision, means it was probably the wrong decision. nobody really argrued when they picked wacom. Everybody just said: "off course you did". As with the xbox, having to defend and explain your choices, even if justified and better, may in fact lead to a worse outcome than just keeping your good decisions intact. Although the artist market is small, you just can't negotiate with these folks. Heck some of them are still using macs as if an overpriced underpowered and software lacking computer makes graphics work easier today because it did in the 90s  
  • I see your point, but at the same time, if they believe N-trig is the better technology for their goals, then at some point, you have to be brave enough to take a stand. Remember when Apple shunned Adobe and Flash? That was bold, but in the end it worked. I think the Surface team believes once people use N-trig on the SP3, they will go out and proselytize.
  • Did they just discover N-trig earlier this year? Why the change of heart all of a sudden. 
  • Not really. Here's a list of 8.1 devices with N-trig. But yeah, alleged pressure from Wacom on usage of the tech, etc. has supposedly forced their hand here.
  • That was explained before, the Wacom layer is simply not thin enought to fit the design. Also I figure that Wacom asking MSFT to not advertise using their tech as it eats into their own products would be a flag..
  • Ahhh, now that makes sense. It was a design issue. 
  • nTrig pens have been slowly improving.  I've owned the following - listed below, and while the earlier nTrig pens gave me issues, the last two (Duo 11 and Tap 11) have been amazing.  In fact I prefer the Tap 11's nTrig pen to the Wacom on my Surface Pro 2. HTC Flyer HP Slate 500 Vaio Duo 11 Vaio Tap 11
  • For anyone else who didn't know what proselytize meant:
    "1. try to convert somebody: to try to convert somebody to a religious faith or political doctrine"
  • LOL SO true! I have stopped hiring Consultants who use Macs simply because their combination of computer ignorance and gullibility is deadly when you try to get their work product to be useful in a PC business environment. They'll spout nonsense of how they can only understand Macs, and they use Office for Mac so everything is compatible till the cows come home bit it never really works.
  • I dunno about wrong, but it definitely makes it an uphill battle for them, hence why putting the device in the hands of people like Mike to testify that the pressure senstivity is fine matters more than an engineer posting anything. I'd say his approval of the previous devices have really helped sell a lot of people in the webcomic community on using the Surface where they might not have otherwise.    Really the dealbreaker will come down to that start button placement, for much of the same reasons. 
  • Problem with these arguments is haters are going to hate no matter how much solid and perfectly valid arguments there will be. It's like the 'I can hear the difference between any MP3 file and the source material' argument. Eventhough several blind tests have proven it's not true people will still stick with it. Sure, if you compare the raw data you will see the difference but in real life and as it is actually applied you really won't.   Also people tend to stick with whatever whomever is closest to them as being right. Nokia has been promoting and showing practical application of several technologies (including imaging) and only if (and when) Apple starts talking about it will the (mainstream) press start paying attention. If Apple were to release a similar product to Surface Pro 3 and somehow manage to engineer the wacom tecnology into their 'ever smaller/thinner/lighter' mantra they will splah the numers across there presentation and eventhough in real life it does not make a difference people (and the press en large) will fall for it.   The answer on the AMA you refer to really nails the argument shut in a magnificent way for anyone who is both listening to it, understands it and is not h*llbound on not accepting it. That means (again) haters are gonna hate.
  • You should take a gander at an article published recently on The Register, regarding Apple buying Beats. Made for some excellent reading for audiophiles and even those with just a passing interest. Does support your point, and then goes in to the science.
  • Beats and audiophiles do not go together lol. Apple can have beats as I will own neither personally.
  • Funnily enough, the article arrives at a very similar conclusion.
  • But the numbers on Wacom are bigger, so it must be better. I'll never even look at a SP3, much less buy one /s
    Also, Daniel, I also enjoyed that link of Wacom vs. N-trig that you posted to twitter. Also made for an interesting read.
  • Why didn't they got with N-trig to begin with. If it's just as good or even better, yet cheaper. I looked at some of the wacom vs N-trig post on google, and more professionals buy a large amount perfer wacom.   
  • Maybe because N-trig wasn't good enough before? One of the reasons that artists were hesitant is because N-trig doesn't have an established track record of good performance.  It's good to see that they have apparently caught up to (and in some ways surpassed) Wacom.
  • Professionals?  Professional what?  Artists? Engineers?  Artists are irrational and can't be taken seriously.  Engineers on the other hand...
  • lol
  • Or maybe they've actually used both and found N-Trig to be terrible. It's possible that Microsoft finally has a good implementation of N-Trig (POSSIBLE) but every other N-Trig device I've used has been crap compared to the Wacom devices. 
  • From what I hear, more recent N-trig devices have been decent. It's just that if you used it a few years ago you're not likely to try again this soon. This seems like a very quick jump in quality. It's perfectly reasonable for artists to be wary. Engineers on the other hand believe anything they see on paper...  lol
  • I tried the Tapp 11 and some other N-Trig devices. Those are the latest devices to use N-Trig before the SP3. They were usable for note taking but the lines just weren't as smooth. You can see the pen is lower resolution. Also the hovering lag is really really bad. I assume it is to save the pen's battery. It would be nicer if they kept the refresh rate high and made the pen rechargeable.    And Engineers don't instantly believe anything they see on marketing papers. Of course Microsoft is going to say the pen is at least as good as the SP2 and SP pens. It would be very bad marketing to say "yeah well this new pen is overall worse than the old one but it's cheaper and lets us make the device 1mm thinner so that's why we went with N-Trig."
  • I think recent n-trig debate in the forums have proven the exact opposite ;-)
  • A much appreciated answer. Kinda shines light on why some Wacom devices perform worse than others.
  • I learned a new vocabulary word today (loquacious). Thanks WPCentral ;)
  • I'm just trying to get my head around hearing from StevieB!
  • I actually purchased the Wacom Cintiq Companion tablet so I won't be looking at the Surface Pro.  Let me just say that the pen wasn't the only reason for my decision -- the Cintiq has 4 programmable hardware buttons and a programmable rocker switch on the tablet's face that mimic the Wacom tablets we've been using for years and I find them to be invaluable (along with the extra 3" of screen space that it had over previous Surface Pro models). I would be curious to play with the N-Trig, but without those buttons it's rather moot to me.
  • The N-trig does require a battery, which is its biggest problem. Will it warn you when the battery is low?
  • The battery typically lasts 6 months with heavy usage.  You get a battery warning in the sense that the stylus starts to act up.
  • I dunno, people are having anxiety largely over a change in the name from Wacom to N-Trig IMO. I use the pen input in my Pro 2 regularly, and I had the chance to use the Pro 3 at the meetup in NYC (thanks to Marey Jo Foley). I immediatley noticed a huge improvement from the Pro 2 to the Pro 3, it is that obvious IMO.  Nearly all the innaccuracy issues stemming from the Wacom tech on the Pro 2 (hello inaccurate corners!) are fixed. With the updated bersion of Photoshop coming as well, I think this switch will actually be a positive thing for a lot of people.
  • The N-Trig isn't actually new technology, it has been around for a while and has had the benefit of being improved over the years. Many who have used their pens in the past will testament to the fact that a bad experience in the start had become a rather good experience now. The Synaptic pen (Dell DV8 Pro) on the other hand is new tech, and had seen a bevy of problems and growing pains.
    Wacom does have a vastly larger use base than N-Trig, however. This is both because of build quality, and a longer, more available product base. It is great to look at the facts before dismissing a lesser known technology. The same arguments people are using against N-Trig, are the same arguments that many of its use to defend the upstart Windows Phone against iPhones.
  • One of the best things he mentioned: "We are going to make that easier for you by later giving you a piece of software that allows you to map your own force curve!"
  • The battery is one of the biggest problems with n-trig over wacom. As the battery depletes the accuracy lessons and the responsiveness lessons. That and the decreased levels of pressure sensitivity make the SP3 for me who will use it for PS and Zbrush a no go. I'll wait for reviews after it's been out several months to get the real answers than from people using it for a week.
  • If you're a professional using it and it provides improved results, would you not use good lithium batteries and just set a reminder to change them in 3-4 months rather than 6?  I can't imagine letting a battery keep me from using better tech (if indeed it is).
  • This was classic Stevie Bathiche. I met him at the event Microsoft did at their stores with release of the Surface 2. He was at the Seattle store event with Panos. After the event while everyone was mingling about I asked him a single question about the differences in the Touch Covers from version 1 to 2 and he talked a very long time and gave me a great deal of detail. The man is passionate about his engineering. Thanks for sharing his full answer.
  • Hah, I noticed that a lot about a few of the Surface engineers. When you talk to them, you realize that they considered everything and have very logical (and detailed) reasons for their choices. Fascinating stuff and great folks to chat with.
  • *Drops the mic and walks away*
  • I don't care about pressure levels or function buttons but I care about whether the pen works at all and with the previous generation N-Trig gadget I had, they didn't. I lost count on how many replacement pens I had to get when they just died (and no, weisenheimers, it wasn't the battery). Has anyone addressed whether that situation with them has improved?
  • N-Trig pens have improved significantly with every generation.  I've owned the following nTrig devices, and I prefer the Tap 11's nTrig stylus to my Surface Pro2's Wacom stylus: HTC Flyer HP Slate 500 Vaio Duo 11 Vaio Tap 11
  • I've tried both the Tap 11 and Surface Pro pens. The Tap 11 has better tracking at the screen edges but that's pretty much it. The resolution of the lines being drawn with the N-Trig pen was just poor. 
  • They confirmed that the pen has lag when hovering which is one of the things about N-Trig that I found extremely annoying. Everything else they said sounded great so I'll just have to try one out before I can say whether the pen is an upgrade or a downgrade. 
  • I read the article completely.  It seems this is the best implimentation of a digital pen in existence, especially for the application and purposes on the SP3. It also seems to me that anyone claiming product x has a better look/feel/response etc.. simply is either used to something different, hasn't tried both in the same application/product/situation, or just wants to find fault regardless if there is any.
  • For the everyday user it won't make a difference, but apparently for the artists community it does.   I have a legitimate question since I'm not an artist: do you really notice the difference? I could understand if it was 1 vs 1024. But 256 vs 1024 seems like it wouldn't make a difference. To me it's similar to the resolution debate. After a certian level you're eyes really don't see the benefits of higher resolution, especially on smaller screens(I can't understand the argument for larger screens).   So, to the artists out there: do you really notice the difference? Or has Wacom been the defacto so long that anything different requires some evaluation?
  • Take into consideration that nobody else for a long time has really done anything good with pen technology.  N-trig has caught up recently. But before then, they weren't very good.  
  • Look, there are people who definitely can tell Pepsi from Coke 100% of the time, and there are people who listen to 128kb/s sampled music and can tell the difference from 512kb/s sampled music... actually, there are probably a LOT of people who can tell the difference between 128 and 512... the same thing applies to screen resolution and fidelity of pen input. First of all, "StevieB" doesn't tell us exactly which 1024-level pen was tested and which device it was tested on. This makes his argument completely unreliable and it can only be taken seriously if we have an independent party do the test across a range of pens and use tablets that have identical performance characteristics. I don't think he's being dishonest, but without that vital bit of comparison data, we have no way of knowing what he was testing. For all we know it could have been an old first-gen Huion or Yiynova running a bunch of different applications at the same time. Secondly, it's not established if "3 times the standard deviation" is better than, equivalent to, or worse than a 4 x increase in resolution. For the same reasons given above, that deviation should also be taken with a grain of salt. As with any digital version of an analog technology, engineers seek to increase the capture bit depth in order to both emulate the natural feel of the analog tool as well as increase and decrease the maximum and minimum sampling cutoff/threshhold in order to reduce clipping. He's already indicated that the 1024 pen has an additional 100g of pressure over the N-trig (which is a huge advantage when you're counting in increments of ~0.4 to even 1.8), what else is he discounting? Yes, for the average note-taking user, it will be likley unnoticeable (and aren't they the 99% user anyway?), but an artist - a DEDICATED ARTIST - someone who has been drawing hours a day for their whole lives has the muscle memory and the dexterity to FEEL THE DIFFERENCE will... um, feel the difference. Ken Block can drive his rally car with incredible precision, but to those of us not accustomed to the throttle travel, torque curve, and clutch feel (when he's driving manual), that car will be ridiculously difficult to drive. It takes time and mileage to be comfortable drawing, and you learn to handle the tools much more precisely than the average person or engineer. I've used three different SONY tablets with pens that apparently use the N-trig technology and aside from just one of those tablets, the experience was way less than satisfactory to me. In addition, the Wacom technology allows you to swap out the nibs with different material qualities to emulate more natural feel and - at least in the higher end units - also supports tilt, which presumably one day the N-trig may have, but currently does not provide.
  • Ok, I'll put myself out there:   lo·qua·cious lōˈkwāSHəs/ adjective   tending to talk a great deal; talkative.
  • Having used both the old wacom tablets with 256 or 512 pressure levels and the newer ones with 1024.  I must say that when I upgraded I was dissapointed to not really see any difference between the lower pressure levels and the 1024 levels.   1024 pressure levels is mostly a marketing gimmick.  The negative about a wacom tablet is that it constantly sends wireless power out of the device to power the pen.  Probably bad for battery life. 
  • It very much depends on whether you use it with a 64 bit or a 65 bit computer.
  • Hi Guys, I've been a lurker for a while, but I just needed to chime in regarding the wacom vs N-trig debate.  I'm an designer and I use my Cintiq 24HD daily.  Its my pride and joy, one of the best purchases I've ever made.  I'm a sketcher so pressure sensitivity and line weight is huge for me.   The reason why artist and designers have been so up and arms regarding Ntrig is because every single implematation of the N-trig tech has been vastly inferior to Wacom, every one of them.  And I've tried a ton, hoping to find one that matches the Wacom tech.  That's the real reality: N-trig tech up to this point has been inferior. Thats why designers are upset.  When I heard the tech was switched out to Ntrig, I nearly had a tantrum.  All my designer friends felt the same way. The SP3 was suppose to be the device our dreams, its what we've been waiting for: light, thin, powerful, larger screen.  But man, that N-trig doesn't have a good track record.  Designers and artist have every right to be worried about the SP3 and Ntrig.  I know I am.   But reading the review from penny arcade and statements from the surface team give me hope.  I'm hopeful that MS didn't drop the ball with the SP3.  If they want it to be a hit with creatives, they need to make sure the N-trig is as good or better than the wacom.  Bottom line, designers are super picky about their tools.  They only want the best.  If the N-trig in the SP3 isn't as good, oh man........all that street cred that original SP1 & SP2 had with artist will be gone. As soon as the SP3 is availeble to check out at my MS store, I'll be there ready to test out the pen.  Maybe I'll report back to you guys when I check it out myself.    
  • Nice, rationale response! Thanks for sharing your perspective, interesting stuff.
  • Wow. The Cinteq 24HD is a 21" x 13" graphic monitor without a computer inside, it needs to plug into a computer and also be tethered to electric power and sells for $2,350 at Amazon. That is serious. I can certainly understand that people who spend that kind of money for a digitizer monitor in a tablet form factor would have high expectations and I would too.
    Is it reasonable to expect the digitizer monitor and pen portions of the Surface Pro 3 to be better than a $2,350 Wacom Cinteq, or even just as good? I don't think so, but I'm hoping. (The 12" Wacom Cintiq digitizer monitor with pen is $800.00 at Amazon.)
  • Define 'better'. No, I'm not trying to be a smartass.. I'm quite serious. This is one of the problems with discussions like this - everyone has different ideas of what constitutes better. For example, I think that Cintiq can detect pen twist and tilt. Those are fairly rare features - but they can be pretty awesome to use and makes using the pen a lot more natural. Does that make it better? Well - yeah. But is it a better you'd ever use? Hard to say. Very few digital artists can afford a Cintiq at that level... so I'd have to day 'yeah, no - most artists don't need this'.
  • Maybe its me, but is anyone else getting tired of surface news. 1 or 2 articles is ok, but for the past week every other article is about the surface. Please stick to phones or start a windows surface central forum.
  • Nope, sorry. But we will re-brand the site.
  • Ha ha, good call. I personally like this site for phone news and use CNET & Engadget to quench my thirst for other Greek news. But I'm obsessed with organization...personal flaw
  • Right answer.  Microsoft are converging the user experience across all their devices.  It doesn't make sense  for you to have different information silos for different devices when they have so much in common and will have more in common as time goes on.
  • Keep the surface news coming!
  • Next time add this word, Antidisestablishmentarianism, to the collection of your words Dan. I first heard it 26years ago in English Literature Class in my High School and I thought it was a fake word but I recently looked it up and surprisingly it came up as a real word. Probably the Longest word in the English dictionary
  • Good grief!  An adult discussion about the pros and cons of using a stylus on a tablet computer that actually contains great advice from people in the trenches who use this stuff daily.  And here I was thinking Apple got it right and pens were naff - that's what I was told.  Whatdyaknow? If Steve Jobs was alive today he'd be turning in his grave.
  • If Steve Jobs were alive today, Apple would have already purchased N-Trig and re-branded its product as the iPen and the world would have hailed his new invention as the greatest thing since the iPad.
  • Folks, here's what I care about... I am not an artist, but I am a serious note-taker. Ive been using OneNote since it was Microsoft's red-headed step-child and a variety of predecessors as well (can you say Motion?). I don't care about the specs, I care about the experience. I also have seriously bad handwriting - doctor bad :-). The key for me is that the right digitizer helps me write legible notes. It gives my handwriting better clarity than a paper experience. And as bad as it is OneNote recognizes it! Wacom has usually been my choice. No jaggies. A pen-like experience. A good feel in my hand.  I haven't gotten a hold of an SP3 yet but since I'm a frequent visitor in the Bellevue Microsoft store I'm sure I'll get my hands on one soon and I'll evaluate it... Three suggestions for everyone: - Forget the specs - go by the experience. Go by your preferences. You will either like it or not. - Not knocking artists, but there's a heck of a lot more note-takers out here - don't forget us! - Be open to N-trig. I know that they've had some bumps, but considering all the quality and effort that has gone Iinto the Surface family, do you really think Microsoft would forget to make this critical feature work properly? Now Apple will have to implement a pen. I think it's only a matter of time. Will they really have a choice? Talk about a catch 22. ;-)
  • I am an artist and I've been using the SP3 for months and love it. However, it should be known that there are 'artists' and then there are 'artistes'. The latter tend to be a bit full of themselves and rather inflexible forgetting the adage 'it's a poor artist who blames his tools'. Yeah, they do tend to be Apple fans... :)
  • Just a quick point for those looking to try the SP3 in store. The demo units may have batteries that are low and may impact the results. Plus they will take a bit of abuse being on show.. Again take that into account.
  • Hey I think the app name has a typo. It should be 'Windows Tablet central' :P
  • Loquacious. Checked the meaning in the dictionary, but still can't pronounce it. Lol
  • low - kway - shush 
  • Im sorry,  im still not buying.    Not so long ago,  microsoft gave a long winded response on how the Xbox one was really more powerful than the PS4.    I have an Xbox one,  and i can tell you,  that it has no magical powers.   Now they are trying there hardest to convince everyone why Ntrig is magically more powerful than it really is.   Just tell the truth and face the facts.   Its like putting whip cream on shit, its still going to taste like shit.    Ill wait for actual artists to review it for me,  not some dude from microsoft selling whip cream.   
  • I own a microsoft pro 2 and just compared it side by side with a pro 3. If you are an artist there is no comparison. Pro 3 had a lot of dead areas where no ink appeared, had to press hard to get it to respond. For that reason alone I won't buy it. The digitizer has 2 buttons on the shaft of the pen that get in the way and can easily be accidently pressed which is annoying. When using it as a pen to write with I had to press hard. Terrible feel to it.  Pro 2 with wacom digitizer has a great feel and works smoothly whether you are using it as a pen to take notes or to do art work with. Microsoft uses N trig because it is cheaper ( in price and quality) and takes up less space inside than wacom so the pro 3 can be thinner and lighter. I don't mind lighter devices but the quality is wayyyy more important to me. Microsoft made a bad mistake by using N Pro 3.  But if your not an artist and you don't take a lot of notes than who cares? And if you do neither then why bother wasting your money on this device? I just hope that the Pro 3 doesn't get hot to the touch the way Pro 2 does.   
  • Uhm.. artist here - do all my work on the SP3 now - both sketching and full ink/colouring. I've never had a dead space on mine.The two buttons are awkward until you get used to them. I thought I'd miss not being able to flip over the pen to erase, but having a button on the side makes it faster and easier. The 'select' button though - that one I could live without. But then again, most Wacom pens also come with two buttons on the side - so I'm a little confused as to why it's ok on the Wacom, but not on the nTrig. The initial pressure used to be too high - but there's been an update that corrects that and now offers you the ability to design your own pressure curves.
  • "this lag one cannot do on a stylus.. so you are stuck with a nosier signal comparatively in a stylus. With any new stylus there is a difference in the force curve that you have to get used to… and that is likely what people will notice.. not the difference in bit resolution." This has been my experience. Once I got the hang of the pressure curve, it's basically felt exactly like using a Wacom. And there's definitely less lag while drawing. I've used many Wacom digitisers as well as tablets with Wacom built in so I have a pretty good sense of what that feels like. I've used one other nTrig (the unfortunate HP Slate 500) which was awful and the Dell Venue Pro 8 which uses a Synaptics pen similar to the SP3's pen. The SP3's pen is much better than the original nTrig, somewhat better than the Synaptics and about the same as the Wacom - except less lag and more accuracy... which are both important when drawing - giving the edge to the SP3. "WinTab: yes we have wintab driver support. See the link below to download and install it for pro3. In the future I hope apps start using the more modern APIs.. Wintab is old and outdated.. adds latency, and inserts itself in the pen path." Dear God yes - I had a major fight in the Adobe forums with their engineers about this very subject. They claimed that Windows Ink couldn't do what WinTab does and I carefully compared the API and proved them wrong. Really, it's time for WinTab to die. Biggest surprise? N-Trig is active capacitive. I though it was an EM system like Wacom's - but with a battery rather than relying on the tablet to emit charging pulses.