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My first impressions with the sp3 i7, i'm an illustrator.

OP
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romrod

New Member
Thank you all for your responses and for pointing out the HTC Scribe Pen. I'll order that pen and will try working with it. It will take me until the end of the coming week though before i can say anything about the drawing experience with the HTC Scribe Pen on the Surface Pro 3.
I'm also thinking about videorecording my attempts to draw on the SP3, though i have to investigate how to do that best with the recording capable devices that i have, in order to visualize how the lack of pen accuracy hinders my workflow.

I cannot and will not say that the sp3 is a bad device in general, it's just not what i need for what i want to do with it.

Through the magic of the internet i managed to meet up with a friend traveling through town who happened to have a MiniDisplayport to DVI-Adapter with her. With a mDP to DVI-D adapter and a DVI-D to DVI-I adapter i connected my old Cintiq 21 UX and it works.
So i'll be able to leave at least my old laptop at home when travelling to the clients offices tomorrow and use the SP3 with my 21UX.
 

Geek.Verve

Member
I want to thank the OP for offering his experience to this forum. It is indeed very helpful to hear from people who have specific uses for new technology.
I conclude from his statements that the SP3 will not replace a full-sized Wacom tablet for his needs.

I think this is fair, and we shouldn't feel threatened by this at all. It is like a NASCAR driver saying that your Ford hybrid will not win him any races.

By hearing from tech uses with specific needs, the designers of these devices will be able to determine which improvements to make; we will all benefit from this in the long run
What?! No pitchforks and butt-hurt?? [Looking around to see if I'm still on the internet.]

Seriously though, I couldn't agree more. It was a nice focused review.
 

Moonsurface

Super Moderator
Staff member
Thanks for taking the time to report your feed back, you're what I would call a high-end user of the pen technology. I have found it plenty sufficient for my needs in photoshop and lightroom for photoediting but I need no where near the sensitivity that you would.

Having said that I do prefer the surface to using my wacom bamboo pen and touch on my desktop PC> the wacom is an old and basic model, and the surface pen feels so much more accurate (pen pressure aside as I'm not as convinced by the pressure curves when I do try to draw with it), plus the pen itself is so much nicer to hold than the low end wacom pen.... so I think the Surface is going to cost me more money upgrading my wacom!!
 

Moonsurface

Super Moderator
Staff member
Well, that's a good news the fact that for have found workarounds.
For me it's not a work around, it's the way I always worked on my Desktop - the Surface hasn't replaced my desktop - but it has proved to be brilliant when on the road... and I do miss the pen and the "drawing directly on the screen" feeling when I'm back at my desktop editing in PS.
 

ctitanic

Well-Known Member
For me it's not a work around, it's the way I always worked on my Desktop - the Surface hasn't replaced my desktop - but it has proved to be brilliant when on the road... and I do miss the pen and the "drawing directly on the screen" feeling when I'm back at my desktop editing in PS.
The fact that you found a way to use your SP3 is to me a workaround. I understand that for you is business as usual.:)
 

Moonsurface

Super Moderator
Staff member
Must say it IS tempting to connect my surface to my monitors and try it out when at home for editing on the surface's screen. Haven't done it yet though - mainly because of the spaghetti hassle... (Wiring lol).
 

ctitanic

Well-Known Member
Through the magic of the internet i managed to meet up with a friend traveling through town who happened to have a MiniDisplayport to DVI-Adapter with her. With a mDP to DVI-D adapter and a DVI-D to DVI-I adapter i connected my old Cintiq 21 UX and it works.
So i'll be able to leave at least my old laptop at home when travelling to the clients offices tomorrow and use the SP3 with my 21UX.
Well, that's a good news the fact that for have found workarounds. I ended posting this reply in the wrong post.
 
OP
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romrod

New Member
Hey guys, I've returned from my work-trip and here's my report on how the SP3 performed for ~40h of Photoshop/Manga Studio duty. Please understand that i was unable to investigate crashes when they appeared because i was working for a client at the time. I can only retell what happened, not offer insights as to why things happened the way they did.

As mentioned before i used a Cintiq 21UX with the SP3, connected via mDP to DVI-D to DVI-I adapters.
I only used the SP3 as the pc, not as a tablet/pen input device.
Besides the Cintiq i connected a 3-Port USB 3.0 bub with external power. To the USB hub i connected the cintiq as well as a usb-stick and the transmitter for my ms arc touch mouse.
I did not use my bluetooth wedge keyboard but instead left the touch cover keyboard connected and used that for all my keyboard shortcuts.
As far as software goes i used Photoshop CC and Manga Studio 5.04 EX.
Documentsize varied but was at max. 5000x8000px, filesize went up to ~470mbyte.

The SP3 performed excellent for the most part.
Without problems i was able to work with and in my files. Saving if noticeable at all and after hours long worksessions took up to 4sec though, probably because of the encryption.
I was able to open and use multiple files parallel, it was also possible to have Photoshop CC and Manga Studio side by side without performance issues.
Almost all the time Metro-IE was open in the background as well as image viewer, Metro Skype and Metro-Facebook were occasionally open in the background as well.
I lost about 15min total to driver crashes. I'll say more about those later.

I was only able to use the Cintiq as the sole desktop monitor or with mirrored desktop, whenever i tried a shared/enhanced desktop view the SP3 insta-crashed and restarted. Interestingly though the enhanced desktop view worked without a crash when i was testing the setup at home.
Even with the Cintiq as the sole desktop screen it was possible to use the touchscreen of the SP3 to navigate through the OS or other programs.
I was unable to connect to the hidden company's w-lan despite multiple attempts of entering the SSID and password.
I was able to connect to the internet via smartphone provided tethering.
I was also able to connect without a problem to a "private" password protected w-lan hub.
On monday i was encountering networking issues that could only be resolved through restarting the network-drivers. (Connection to the w-lan hub worked, but no traffic was going in or out).
Those issues though disappeared after an windows update later that day - i can't say for sure if the update fixed the problem or if it was mere coincidence.
When opening Photoshop CC after working in Manga Studio for multiple hours the graphics card driver always crashed. I was able to work with Photoshop CC despite that but all GPU and VRAM-dependant functions were unavailable. It did not make a difference if Manga Studio stayed open or was closed before opening Photoshop CC. Only a system restart made GPU-based functions available again. I never ran into a graphicscard driver crash when i opened Photoshop CC before Manga Studio.
At day 4 in the last hours of the job Photoshop CC crashed while running. It didn't really crash as in it stopped working but after saving the progress once more Photoshop displayed only parts of the file i was working on. Huge junks of the image were missing and Photoshops transparent tile bg was visible. Closing and reopening the file didn't change the look of the image. Fearing that the save file had been corrupted i opened previous states of the file that i was working on and all of them seemed to be corrupted. I closed photoshop, opened the files again and everything was fine. No file corruption!

The cooling system was running at max. capacity as soon as i opened a file in either Manga Studio or Photoshop. It was working at max capacity throughout my work sessions.
The fan was hardly audible when i had my in-ear-headphones on and listening to audiobooks. But employees sitting approx 1-2m from me did hear it and were irritated by the sound at first.
While the SP3 got very warm it never got hot. Between finishing my workday and putting the SP3 into my bag only a few minutes passed and not once was i afraid to damage the SP3 or my bag. It cooled down quite rapidly.

I did not use the SP3's pen while working and only used it once when showing the device off to interested employees.
Switching to the SP3's pen after working multiple hours even on a first gen Cintiq 21UX still made the SP3s pen input feel inferior.

In the evenings i used skype to talk to my partner. Within a 1h skype video session the video on my side froze multiple times. Both the video i received as well as that which i transmitted, even though both streams did not freeze on my partners side.
Multiple times audio and video of the incoming stream went out of sync.
In most cases it was sufficient to restart the video stream, twice though i had to restart the SP3 because even restarting the skype-process didn't fix things.

That's all that i can recall about how the SP3 performed and where i encountered issues. While there were a few shock moments like when the SP3 crashed after trying to enhance the desktop towards the Cintiq 21UX or when my photoshop documents appeared to be corrupted, in all the SP3 performed very well.

I will try to find the time to go through the event log to see if i can find out more about the crashes though i can't promise anything because of my work schedule. If you have any suggestions what the cause could be and how it could be fixed i would of course be interested to hear about that.
 

bluegrass

Well-Known Member
Thanks romrod. It's valuable information to know how it is where the rubber meets the road for a professional illustrator working with an SP3. Maybe in a few more years they will have the technology you need in an SPx.

Frankly, I was surprised that you would have even considered the SP3. I would think to have the accuracy you're looking for in illustrating you would need to be working on a much larger screen.

I wonder if you could use an SP3 in the field with clients to show your illustrations and some other things and than in your office you slip the SP3 into it's dock connected to about a 24" hi definition touch screen you could get the accuracy you need.

I imagine you have been doing your work with a Wacom and an Apple computer, haven't you?

Sorry, I missed that you wrote you were using a Cintiq 24. I guess is a touch screen and not a computer. You're only $10 away from connecting it and trying it out on the SP3.
 
OP
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romrod

New Member
Since Microsoft advertised the SP3's pen experience to be equal or even superior than the pen experience of the previous surface models and considering that artists like frenden, Penny Arcade's Gabe or Rick from the surfaceproartist's blog did not outright dismiss the SP3, as well as overall positive feedback from early adopters (factoring in driver kinks upon release) i thought a purchase and personal hands on would be justified.

Personally i would prefer a device larger than 13" but it is possible to work on the Surface Pro 3's screen. Not ideal to my personal preferences, but possible. I have worked successfully on a Wacom Cintiq 12WX as well as on a Cintiq 13HD and done some sketches/drawings on a Asus EP121 that were technically on level with what i can do on my desktop-setup.
The problem - which i name inaccuracy - is that it is not possible to correctly assume the starting point and trajectory of the line one is drawing in relation to the actual position of the physical pentip on the screen. Where a line starts and goes depends very much on pen-angle towards the screen, direction of the hand movement and pen pressure. Even using a physical ruler on the screen does not always result in the exact same line.

My desktop setup consists of a personalized pc built (6x3,2Ghz, 16gbyte Ram, GTX 770) and a Wacom Cintiq 24 hd Touch.
I certainly could find uses for the SP3 like you described, but showing off artwork to clients doesn't require a SP3 (i could do that with a cheaper tablet, or my old Asus ep121) and i have a very powerful desktop rig that's futureproof for at least another year or two. The one thing for which i considered and bought the SP3 is being able to draw, paint & generally create illustrations while being "on the road". And that's where the SP3 unfortunately does not deliver a convincing experience.
It's just not there yet... like you said, maybe in a couple of years.
 
OP
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romrod

New Member
To conclude this thread i want to let you know that after trying to work with the SP3 for another week i packed it up and shipped it back. Neither me or my partner (she's used to be working on a Cintiq 24hd) were able to achieve a satisfactory drawing experience on the SP3 for the previously described reasons.
 

malberttoo

Super Moderator
Staff member
Thanks for the detailed report. I understand your reasons for sending it back. Surely your feedback will be helpful to improve things down the line.
 
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