1. rocketboy's Avatar
    Ok today I decided to take the plunge and take home a Surface Pro 4. Yay! I wary of the issues reported here and through my own testing 2 weeks ago. I'm now on my 4th hour of set up and use and so far things are going really well. Like my SP2, the intended use of my Surface is as a secondary computer with the emphasis on reading things and doing design/art. I like to run Corel Painter 2015 and Autodesk SketchBook Pro. Once in a while I'll actually try and code on this thing, but that happened infrequently on my SP2 since the screen was on the small side.

    Here's my at home evaluation so far:

    Pros
    • Oh dear god the screen. The SP2 screen was very nice, but this one is outstanding. Combined with the size and aspect ratio, it has made reading PDFs much more comfortable.
    • Compared to the gen 1 type cover the SP4 type cover is stiffer with more effort per keystroke. The trackpad feels better than on the Lenovo T540p that I have from work. Much MUCH improved over the tiny gen 1 trackpad.
    • The pen works with Corel Painter 2015 and Sketchbook Pro. I was most worried about this since I couldn't test install desktop apps at the MS Store and my initial trials at a MS Store with Corel Painter 2016 was an abysmal disaster. Not sure what happened there. Maybe 2016 is bugged. Maybe I got unlucky?
    • The weight is definitely down from the SP2 and having the SP3 variable hinge is really nice.
    • I've been tasking this with my regular work load and so far I haven't had the excessive heat that new installs of Win10 on my SP2 produced that I've complained endlessly about here. Haven't heard the fan yet.
    • The magnetic pen "storage" is so much more convenient than the power port magnet in the SP2.
    • Speaking of the power port, the SP3/4 versions of it are much less fidgety and much appreciated. It was the worst part of my experience with the SP2 series trying to plug in my power cord.
    • Beautiful fit/finish on the product overall.
    • The pen's eraser feel is the best eraser experience ever.
    • The pen tip's tracking to the edges is much better than on the SP2.


    Cons
    • I've experienced one driver reset and a total disabling of the touch screen. Both times were related to Edge usage. Use Edge on these forums and pinch zoom a bunch of times and you can probably cause the driver crash/recovery. The time the touchscreen failed happened to be during browsing an article on MSN itself! MS need to fix Edge on this. For now I'm on Firefox.
    • The speaker pop is definitely there. Given that I usually don't have much volume on it's not very noticeable. Still...
    • The Pen for Drawing is Close But Not Wacom. I'm an artist and this has always been a big deal for me since the days of TabletPCs running XP. It's always been wacom for me. I have a Wacom Cintiq on my main workstation. I've put in thousands of hours on this tech. It's always annoying to read a review of Surfaces (or anything with a pen really) that has the sentence "I'm not an artist, but..." My greatest lament when the SP3 came out was the switch to N-Trig. It's why I skipped the SP3, but it's hard to see MS going back to wacom since they own the N-Trig tech now... sigh.... Anyway, the SP4 pen has a great feel if you're looking for something less glassy. But it's a noticeable smidge slower than the Wacom digitizer and it's going to force me to adjust my drawing speed. It's not insurmountable for a secondary computer. The biggest issue I think is that the wacom tech detects the pen just a bit longer when the tip is off the screen such that very quick sketch strokes register as marks on the screen. On the SP4 pen the line just stops instead of registering as very light pressure. So instead of getting smooth faint trailing lines the line just stops. Ironically, the whole pen tip-to-screen directness angle that is great for simulating ink going down on paper may be what is annoying me.


    Overall I'm at 4.5/5 right now. Admittedly, my pen gripes are very specific and most people without long long exposure to Wacom will probably not notice. But fix Edge and/or give us new display drivers please!

    BTW, the MS store was packed today. Lots of people trying out the SP4s and Surface Book. The public's attention has been captured. I just hope MS doesn't screw them (and us) with long delays in fixes.
    11-22-2015 09:27 PM
  2. tonysonic's Avatar
    Thank you so much for this review ...

    I am also an Artist (If I can say so ...) and I was looking for a Tablet to draw on Sketchbook and/or manga studio and more...

    I did not want a WACOM CINTIQ because I need to have a Computer and a cintiq...

    I wanted to draw when I am on vacation, on the beach or surronded by beautiful mountains ... etc.

    So surfcae Pro was like a dream come true for me but I read quite a lot of review with no artistics review of the PEN STYLUS.

    I tried the Surface pro 4 pen in a shop and I found it at the same time the most precise and accurate I have ever tested on a tablet and yet, there is a little lag and It does not allow me to draw as precisely as with a classic pen and sheet...

    I see that Wacom has a better pen technology but the Stylus pen is so convenient and it works directly on the surface pro screen...

    I hope you can tell us that the Surface pro 4 is not so buggy and that you can still draw well enough to consider surface pro as a professional tool ?
    11-23-2015 04:03 AM
  3. unni_kmr's Avatar
    The biggest issue I think is that the wacom tech detects the pen just a bit longer when the tip is off the screen such that very quick sketch strokes register as marks on the screen. On the SP4 pen the line just stops instead of registering as very light pressure.
    The Surface app has an option to adjust the pen pressure sensitivity. Would it help?
    11-23-2015 06:29 AM
  4. WildKarrde's Avatar
    I have virtually no issues with my SP4. I've learned how to fit everything I don't like about it. I just wish I could find a stylus with right click and middle mouse button capabilities.
    11-23-2015 09:51 AM
  5. rocketboy's Avatar
    I have virtually no issues with my SP4. I've learned how to fit everything I don't like about it. I just wish I could find a stylus with right click and middle mouse button capabilities.
    I just learned about a tool called Radial Menu today that lets you program the SP4 stylus button. I've always been amazed that MS has never provided for a way to program the stylus button. This was a problem even in the SP2 pen but there at least Wacom had drivers that allowed this. I usually have the button mapped to UNDO and this is a big part of my work flow.
    11-23-2015 11:35 AM
  6. rocketboy's Avatar
    The Surface app has an option to adjust the pen pressure sensitivity. Would it help?
    Pressure sensitivity isn't the issue. The amount of pressure sensitivity is enough for my needs. It's more of a straight up digitizer performance issue... MAYBE.... I noticed a few things about this.

    1. OneNote seems to perform faster, BUT OneNote inking doesn't involve variable opacity and line widths unlike most art programs.
    2. I removed the calibration data for the pen via Control Panel and found at least with Sketchbook Pro that performance was a tiny bit better/different. Weird. OTOH the pen tracks really nice even without the calibration. I was constantly calibrating on SP2.
    11-23-2015 11:40 AM
  7. rocketboy's Avatar
    Thank you so much for this review ...
    You are welcome.

    A couple things:


    1. Even Wacom's technology has a lag. Some people just notice it more than others. Some of my peers find any stylus to be unbearably laggy relative to "real" media so they shun any type of stylus of any tech. If you or your working methods fall into this category then you're not going to be happy as an all digital artist.
    2. Some people can make "professional" work using an iPad and their finger. I cannot. I do not work that way. All artists' work flows and methods eventually become highly personal. I'm sure that the SP4 can be used to make professional art work. My comparison of N-Trig/Wacom comes from a long standing use of Wacom coupled to my working method. As sketching is the foundation of many forms of visual art I think my critique of the N-Trig tech is going to be applicable to many, but that doesn't mean others won't find it fine.


    The Cintiq Companion is probably the best tablet/computer mobile drawing from the perspective of art stylus tools. However, I prefer Microsoft's hardware expertise, affordability, and support as I also have a love/hate relationship with Wacom.

    YMMV.
    11-23-2015 11:55 AM
  8. WildKarrde's Avatar
    I just learned about a tool called Radial Menu today that lets you program the SP4 stylus button. I've always been amazed that MS has never provided for a way to program the stylus button. This was a problem even in the SP2 pen but there at least Wacom had drivers that allowed this. I usually have the button mapped to UNDO and this is a big part of my work flow.
    That's cool! But the problem I'm having right now is that I need two buttons on the side of my mouse. One for right click, and one for middle click. The eraser button wouldn't work, as it would be unweildy for my use. The SP4 pen is so good otherwise though... I might just get used to not having a middle mouse mutton.
    11-23-2015 01:01 PM
  9. rocketboy's Avatar
    Update: I picked up some alternate pen nibs this morning for the SP4 pen and I'm really loving the harder tips (the 2H is probably going to be my daily driver). They bring the feel much closer to the tips that I like to use on my Cintiq. It also feels faster because the hard tips glide over the glass. I know some people don't like that slippery feel because they think the resistance adds to the feeling of paper. Well, all I know is that if you're used to drawing on the SP1, SP2, or a Cintiq and want a similar feel then you owe it to yourself to try some of the extra nibs. For $10 it's a great investment.
    12-05-2015 01:56 PM

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