Disappointing N-trig Pen lag and accuracy on the Surface Pro 3...

Discussion in 'Microsoft Surface Pro 3' started by kidpiglet, Mar 23, 2015.

  1. kidpiglet

    kidpiglet New Member

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    After using the SP3 for a couple of weeks I can honestly say for artwork, the N-Trig pen on the Surface Pro 3 is pretty disappointing.

    There are 3 main issues I have with the pen.

    Cursor lag, pointer accuracy and jitter.

    Cursor lag:
    The cursor trails behind the pen slowly unlike my wacom penabled tablets which is very quick and responsive. It feels very unnatural holding the pen because of this, and although actual inking is near instant, the cursor lag throws off your concentration when drawing.

    Pointer Accuracy:
    The pointer always seems to appear 1-2 mm to the right of of the actual position of the pentip when hovering. For those that take notes, this might not be an issue, but for artists/designers, pinpoint pixel accuracy is very important and sadly calibrating the screen did not help. I usually ignore looking at my pen and focus on the pointer when drawing digitally, but in this case, whenever the pointer touches the screen it jumps a couple of millimetres each time to reallign itself with the pentip, which is extremely annoying and hard to compensate for.

    Jitter:
    When drawing a straight line slowy, the result is jittery. I have a pretty steady hand but no matter how careful I draw, lines appear crooked. If I draw a line quickly, then the jitter is gone however.



    Let me say though I love the weight, feel and look of the pen. So physically the pen is amazing. Also, even though the pressure levels are greatly reduced, that doesn't bother me at all. And one great thing I do love about N-Trig pens is that they do not suffer from corner/edge issues that Wacom pens do.


    With that being said, this N-Trig pen on the SP3 is still pretty difficult to use because of the software. Drawing on it won't be easy (definitely not impossible but will require a lot of patience and triple the concentration each time I sketch.)

    Even basic essential features like hover click and the ability to customize the 2 side and purple top buttons aren't available. They are possible (thru custom tweaks and 3rd party software,) but just not available which is pretty thoughtless of MS/N-Trig.


    Anyway, in conclusion I was wondering if anyone knows if there are any remedies to increase accuracy and minimize cursor lag? Any idea if Microsoft is planning on correcting them with a software/firmware update? I will not be happy if I have to purchase an SP4 to have these problems addressed :(
     
  2. bluegrass

    bluegrass Well-Known Member

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    Not sure if you've tried a few different programs that use the pen but a software app can have an effect on the pen. So far, I've read just about the opposite of what is happening for you with the pen. I'm sure not an artist but I haven't encountered any of the problems you have talked about in your post in using it in OneNote.
     
  3. vxm

    vxm Active Member

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    err... I use SP3 for professional work every day and I couldn't disagree with you more. Lag is way lower and accuracy far superior to Wacom devices I've used- Thinkpad Yoga and SP2 (borrowed from friend to test it and opted for TPY). For precise line drawing you will get same shaky lines on both input systems- that's why there are precise tools for the job in most of software- precise/lazy/detail brushes and whatnots. I'm working in Photoshop CC daily and apart from Adobe being pathetic at their attempt on "touch-friendly UI" (this milestone of a feature called 200% ui scaling taking you back to 90's) I don't have any problems with pen. Same goes with ArtRage (full blown version, not windows store app), Sketchbook Pro and Painter 2015. Also Mischief works great, but UI is too small there for me.

    As for button mapping, this actually is an issue, I still don't know what this second side button really does and not being able to configure them is somewhat silly on Microsoft/N-trig part. Top button i dont need at all, or to be more precise I need it for OneNote and OneNote only since it's otherwise impractical to use while drawing.
     
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  4. kidpiglet

    kidpiglet New Member

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    Yup, I've tried quite a few programs and the results are the same.

    Here are some video examples I found on youtube to show what I mean:

    SP3 cursor lag:


    SP3 pen pointer accuracy: (17-21 seconds - watch how the pointer shifts a couple mm to re-position itself under the pen when the pentip finally touches the screen. Not the best example but you might get the idea)


    SP3 line jitter: (notice even with a straight edge ruler, the line jitters. If using brushes this will be even more noticeable. The only way to eliminate this is to draw quickly):
     
  5. JoshB

    JoshB Member

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    I completely agree with everything vxm said.

    The issue is that the cursor is the system is just trying to give a representation of about where the pen is going to touch. It jumps to the actual tip of the pen when the pen makes contact. If you touch the screen before the cursor is near the pen point, it does not think you touched the screen where the cursor is, it is clicked where the pen touched the screen. So if you use the point of the the actual pen as your reference, there shouldn't be an issue.

    The only real concern I see is the slow line jitter. Though I also experience that on my Wacom Intuos 4 as well if I draw or paint slowly.

    The lack of tilt sort of sucks, but I never really used it in the first place with my Wacom's.
     
  6. kidpiglet

    kidpiglet New Member

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    See above video examples.

    That's fine to disagree because I understand everybody's experience comes from a different background. I've been drawing on wacom penabled screen tablets for about 10 years and the lag on my SP3 looks as it does in the first video. If you use the SP3 every day then perhaps you've adjusted to it and find it acceptable, but from my experience the lag is there and worse then my previous tablets.

    I'm not saying it's impossible to work with - just more difficult to work with compared to what I've previously been accustomed to (and my previous equipments were nothing special).

    Does your SP3 exhibit that kind of lag in the first video? I notice you are on an i7. I'm on an i3 so not sure if that would make a difference but even my old centrino wacom pen cursor performed better.


    Yup, I understand the tech behind the N-Trig cursor, and in this case I try to use the pentip rather than the pointer as a reference, but you mentioned it well, and that is 'the tilt sort of sucks'. No matter how accurately I lay my pen onto the screen, the pointer won't always appear in the exact same position. If I hover my wacom pen over my screen, it's going to remain at the same spot even when I touch down.

    Btw, regarding jitter, this type of behaviour is more common on usb tablets I've previously owned, but for screen tablets, it's not like it is on the SP3.
     
  7. vxm

    vxm Active Member

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    As a matter of fact I was suspecting you shifted from graphics tablet + lcd combo, as was the case with me few years back- lag was making me crazy initially. As I've mentioned, I previously used TPY as my main drawing tool and lag compared to that of SP3 was way bigger. I do not believe lag or calibration has something to do with your machine being SP3, digitzier isn't resource hungry tech. It can be linked with overall performance when using cpu/ram intensive software but from what I've noticed my pointer works without lag presented in the video- brush can lag, but it's not stylus fault as it keeps working even if some especially large brush stutters a bit.

    Now, n-trig comes precalibrated with SP3, in my case no additional calibration was needed, but some people calibrate their screens. Also, have you considered reinstalling driver/installing wintab driver or trying to see if the problem is present on other SP3's? Just to rule out hardware failure.

    Tracking accuracy is pretty good actually on your second video, it's just lag that messes it up IMO- I couldn't get that sort of calibration on my TPY, even when using higher calibration point values. When I first tried drawing on my SP3 I was surprised on how smoothly it works.

    As for jitter I can't really tell- it looks pretty smooth in OneNote, but OneNote has "precision"/anti jitter implemented, same as most software I use for precise and slow lines- TBH I never even tried drawing so slowly without some kind of smoothing on the software side, because it was never good- no matter if I worked on Intuos Pro or TPY.

    If jitter and lag is making it impossible or hard to work for you and you feel like they're much worse than on Wacom devices, I would seriously consider it being faulty device/stylus and try to check it ASAP. My collegues from studio fell in love with TPY when I showed them how it performs but recently when I switched to SP3 (and they got their TPY's) they were really angry their stuff is so clumsy compared to my new toy.
     
  8. sdreamer

    sdreamer Member

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    In Windows 10 I turn off the cursor so the cursor lag doesn't distract me. This allows me to focus on the tip instead of the pointer on the screen, because as you mentioned as soon as it hits the screen its pretty accurate; if anything the cursor is a distraction and I'm glad they included an option in Windows 10 to turn it off. In Windows 7 I know the cursor is stored in a dll file but in Windows 8 no clue where they moved it. In 7 I made my own custom cursor because I felt the default took up too many pixels. If it can be found in 8, then it would be possible to just replace it with a totally transparent cursor instead virtually turning it off.
     
  9. Liam2349

    Liam2349 Active Member

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    Your problem is that you're using an N-trig device with a Wacom mentality.

    With Wacom, you watch the cursor. With N-trig, you watch the pen. Don't worry about the hover cursor, just draw.

    I also used to think there was a jitter issue. I then drew a line using a ruler and it was perfectly straight.
     
  10. bluegrass

    bluegrass Well-Known Member

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    If I was an artist, this sounds like excellent advice.
     

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