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  • nagi603 - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    As someone who is a "copious note taker" (from Uni notes to work and side-projects) for at least 5-6 years and a former IT magazine reviewer... Wacom was still way better for me.

    First and foremost, their pen is passive, which is a very big plus for me. No need to ever bother with supercapacitors, batteries or the quite large weight added by them. Second, precision. At least in the past, N-trig wasn't nearly as precise. I've tried it last with the Lenovo business android tablet, and it wasn't very good. On the other hand, the Galaxy Note's Wacom-based solution didin't have that many issues. (Apart from the size and the zero configurability, which, after using it on a win7 tablet was a big no-go.)
    Reply
  • CrazyElf - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    Yeah same - the Wacom pens worked better for me as well.

    I knew someone who works as a professional illustrator and he seems to swear by them. The Galaxy Note are generally more limited than the Bamboo or Intuos series by Wacom - maybe a reflection of their size. Note 2 saw some pretty big S-Pen upgrades, although not quite on par of course with the full sized tablets by Wacom.
    Reply
  • eallan - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    I owned a dell with an N-Trig digitizer, I'll do my best to avoid buying anything they make again. Terribly unresponsive and not impressive performance. Reply
  • NLPsajeeth - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    There is one other contender, UC Logic. Some artists prefer them over Wacom and they are much cheaper to too. Hopefully once the G4 comes out, Frenden will get and review one like he does for other Wacom and UC Logic tablets:
    http://frenden.com/tagged/review
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    I bought one of those (Monoprice) and am quite pleased with the cost and performance. For mobile solutions I still prefer Wacom due to the no batteries and the ease of mind that brings. Reply
  • cbf - Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - link

    As a Sony Vaio Duo 11 owner, I second nagi603's comments on the superiority of Wacom. I have compared N-trig on the Sony again Wacom digitizers on various machines (Surface Pro, Samsung Viva 700t, some older Lenovo X200t tablets), and Wacom is clearly superior to N-trig, in three major ways:

    1. Wacom is passive vs. Sony's active. Pen is lighter, easier to handle, doesn't have a battery to run out -- and easier to store! (The Vaio Duo 11 has no place to store it's largish pen!) And then of course there's the price difference between the $45 N-trig pen vs. Wacom's piece of plastic.

    2. Pressure sensitivity -- far better on Wacom. It's not just Wacom's 1024 levels vs. N-trig's 246. A light stroke on my N-Trig doesn't register at all, whereas the lightest of strokes (not even touching) registers on Wacom. If the Duo 2 pen improves this on for N-trig, I'll probably buy it, but I find it hard to believe they can achieve real parity with Wacom here.

    3. DRIVERS! N-trig still doesn't support the WinTAB drivers necessary to support pressure sensitivity in Adobe (and some other) applications. Adobe's not going to fix this -- N-trig has to. (And by my reading the patents that might have prevented this in the past should have expired in the last year or two.)

    If you guys want to send me a Duo 2 stylus, I'd be happy to write a review of it, that I think would be more meaningful than this one.
    Reply
  • Jorj_X_McKie - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    cbf, thanks for your accurate criticism / comparison to Wacom. I welcome the changes that N-Trig is rolling out, but without Wintab, it is useless to the artistic community. Would Anandtech get N-Trig to go on the record about Photoshop / Wintab compatibility? N-Trig's tech support has promised me that they are planning on releasing new drivers in '2013' but frankly, I'm skeptical, and with good reason. It's a shame that my otherwise very fine Sony Duo 11 is crippled with a semi-functional stylus. I am currently debating on whether or not to sell it for a Surface Pro or similar upcoming Haswell + Wacom hybrid. Some communication from N-Trig would be very welcome. Also of note, N-Trig no longer has Sony pen drivers on it's website, and neither does Sony. Buy N-Trig at your own risk. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    Regarding Wintab drivers, while I realize the Sony drivers are missing (pulled?), do the older drivers from N-trig work or are there problems? Obviously, that doesn't really apply to Android tablets, but what's the status of Wintab drivers on N-trig Windows laptops? I've emailed N-trig, so we'll see what they have to say. Reply
  • Jorj_X_McKie - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    The current drivers work fine on programs that support the Microsoft Ink API. That means, all of the MS Office & Paint, Artrage, Sketchbook Pro. That's about it. There's a world of awesome s/w that is out of reach if you have a N-Trig digitizer on your rig. Reply
  • Roffles12 - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    Well I'm glad I bumped into this article. I was really close to purchasing the new Sony Duo 13 in an attempt to go completely paperless at work. I work in Engineering and construction so I rigorously markup documents all day using Greenshot for 3D model commenting and Bluebeam Revu for RFI and design doc commenting. It's cumbersome to have to do it with a mouse and keyboard and so I'm foaming at the mouth thinking about my future 12-13" Haswell tablet that I can write on all day. Most of the folks at my office still prefer to print their docs out rather than attempt digital markups. I need passive input from Wacom to make the final transition an easy one. Unfortunately N-trig won't do. Does anyone know what Wacom equipped Haswell tablets are coming out this summer? I'm tired of waiting... Reply
  • Dug - Friday, June 14, 2013 - link

    There will be one soon. End of July if you can wait. Reply
  • Roffles12 - Friday, June 14, 2013 - link

    Speaking with Lenovo support, they are not pinning down a date, but are saying the Lenovo Helix will get a Haswell refresh some time this summer. Unless something stands out as dramatically better, I believe I will be holding out for the Helix. It's almost good enough with the IVB processor, but I can picture myself needing 10-12 hours on a single charge and Haswell is my best chance to make that happen. Reply
  • WiNG_C - Thursday, June 20, 2013 - link

    Any particular thing we can check out about that possible new release on end of July? I can certainly wait till then if the machine is worth the wait. I find myself still drooling at the Vaio 13 (despite the cost) but I admit that, while not an artist of sorts, the possible shortcommings of it's pen implementation could be a severe drawback when finally making my own decision for getting it Reply
  • Jorj_X_McKie - Sunday, July 07, 2013 - link

    Roffles, I suppose by now you have run across some teasers about the upcoming Samsung ATIV Q, right? That thing has me truly drooling. 13" super hi res, Wacom (and Wintab no doubt), full sunlight (supposedly), Haswell for better gfx and battery life. Pretty remarkable looking do-it-all. I really hope they offer a 256GB SSD and more than 4GB RAM.

    Update on my Sony Duo 11 and its lack of Wintab for Photoshop support. This issue has been minimized to a great degree because I found that there is a high-end art program that does support N-Trig.... Manga Studio 5. For artwork, it is equivalent (or better according to some folks) to Photoshop. The N-Trig sytlus works very well with this program. The Sony Duo 13 is a much more viable option knowing that you do have at least one really killer art program available, and it only costs $80 or so. Photopshop is so friggin' expensive you have to sell your car to buy it!
    Reply
  • ZeDestructor - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    Just one thing: Wacom's pen is active, it just uses a patented implementation of Electromagnetic resonance to power the pen from the digitizer itself instead of any form of battery. Reply
  • ZeDestructor - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    Lenovo X240 Tablet would be the one I picked up, and HP may or may not go Wacom again (they did on the last two generations after using the N-Trigs for a while), if they update their convertible lineup (their convertible is still a Sandy-Bridge platform), otherwise there's the inevitable Lenovo Helix, the Fujitsu convertibles, and probably the Haswell Surface Pro variant.

    Dell will likely stick to N-Trig, although they have better docks IMO...
    Reply
  • cbf - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    Lenovo X240? Do you have definite information that there will be one? It seems to me that the Lenovo Helix is the real X230 replacement. Also an X240 won't be very interesting if they don't finally bump the screen resolution (which the Helix does). Reply
  • peterfares - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    There has been no mention of an X240. All we have is the Helix and the Twist. An X240 would be nice. Keep the full voltage processor but swap the 2.5" bay with an mSATA (for a total of two mSATA slots) and drop the expresscard slot. This would allow the base to be thinner, lighter, and have a larger battery that also does not protrude. Then Make the screen higher resolution and thinner. That would make a pretty awesome X240 tablet. Reply
  • Penti - Friday, June 14, 2013 - link

    Frankly the X230t is way better then capacitive only Twist or slate detachable Helix. We need to see a Haswell bump at Dell, Lenovo, Fujitsu and HP though. Reply
  • RollingCamel - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    On the software side of things especially with handwriting recognition Windows 8's experience is really poor. It doesn't feel seamless and the languages are limited. Talk about Samsung and the note taking experience with the Note 2. The handwriting recognition is really good that it even understand my Arabic gibberish.

    Can't believe a software company like Microsoft is beaten by a hardware company or its software provider, especially when the whole point of Windows 8 was the touch experience.
    Reply
  • Jorj_X_McKie - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    > I find little difference in the actual digital inking experience from N-Trig to Wacom

    Agreed. I get very satisfying control and line variation in both Artrage and SBP6. The 256 vs 1024 vs 2048 levels of pressure argument is a non-issue and distraction. There *might* be very slight difference at the lowest levels of pressure if the software is calibrated that finely, and you have very fine motor skills (which most good artists do).

    Fin Edu, The rest of your post looked so much like one of my countless rants on the topic that I had to look carefully to see if I had written it myself! LOL!
    Reply
  • Jorj_X_McKie - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    Now that Sony is releasing a very expensive new machine, the time is right to pester them with questions like 'why can't I use Photoshop with the Duo 11 and 13?'. Look what happened when Microsoft released the Surface Pro without Wintab support... .a chorus of 'WTF?' led to a rather quick collaboration with Wacom and 3 months later Pro uses have their drivers, and just as importantly, they work really well. Sony & N-Trig will ignore this lesson in customer support at their own peril. Reply
  • cbf - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    Yes, this is rather inexcusable. One has to wonder what's going on at N-trig. It's not that complicated an API.

    I've briefly looked at what it would take to do a Wintab wrapper on top of the Microsoft Inking API, and I believe I could do this in two months. If I were confident that N-trig or Sony would pay me for this, I probably would do it.
    Reply
  • TerdFerguson - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    This review is of poor quality. If a company sends you an old platform that doesn't work well for review, then blast them. Stop pussyfooting around, giving them the benefit of the doubt. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    If HTC had sent the Flyer for review this late in the game, that would be different. N-trig was touting their new pen and I did my best to say something about it, but it is clearly limited by the platform choice (and perhaps drivers as well). So, I spent some time discussing the potential benefits of a stylus in general, and those benefits apply to Wacom and N-trig equally.

    Interestingly, N-trig is now talking with me about the potential to send the new Sony VAIO Duo 13 over for review, which would be great. If that happens, you can bet I'll try out more than the base set of software, including Photoshop. I don't have any awesome art skills, but I can certainly evaluate how the stylus works (or doesn't)!
    Reply
  • cbf - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    Guys -- I'm not a graphic artist, but I've compared Wacam and N-trig side by side. To me it's all about what a light touch produces, and my results were that N-trig produces nothing and Wacom produces a nice think line. This was mostly in Windows 8 Fresh Paint. I agree that 256 vs 1024 levels probably isn't very significant.

    I have only very briefly played with Samsung's implementation of Wacom on Android (and that was Galaxy Note phone, not tablet), but I could well believe that it's not as well calibrated as Windows.

    It would be useful if someone did a comprehensive review of various inking technologies on a variety of platforms. I wonder if there's a more graphics arts specialized website that might have done this. Otherwise, are the listening Jarred? (If you want to outsource this, let me know!)
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    A light touch on a pressure sensitive stylus shouldn't produce a thick line -- that's what a heavier touch should produce. Of course, that's dependent on application, so I suppose in some cases ignoring the pressure might be desirable? Anyway, we'll see how much interest there is in this subject. I mostly took a look at it because I think there's a solid use case for including a stylus, even if it's not something "everyone" needs. If you can add stylus support to a touchscreen for a few extra dollars, that would be totally worthwhile to me, if only for my children. So think of this post/article more from that perspective -- N-trig sent me hardware, but I'm using it as a platform to talk about the benefits of *any* stylus, not just N-trig. Reply
  • ssiu - Sunday, June 16, 2013 - link

    "a nice think line" is probably typo for "a nice thin line" not "a nice thick line" :-) Reply
  • cbf - Tuesday, June 18, 2013 - link

    What Ssui said -- I meant nice "thin" line.

    I agree with what you said about the utility of the stylus, although I think it's a little more than a few extra $. It would be interesting to know how much it cost OEMs to get put a dual-mode (stylus + touch) Wacom or N-trig on their screens.

    But once you put the toy on the tablet, people will want to know which one does a better job.
    Reply
  • liquidcool4 - Sunday, June 16, 2013 - link

    You can usually find Gateway M285's and Fujitsu Lifebook T4220's on ebay for around $150. I have an M285 and absolutely love it for SketchBook Pro and Photoshop. Reply
  • searchub - Monday, June 17, 2013 - link

    That's a great pen, I would love to have one. I'm buying it soon. Reply
  • Nitecaller - Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - link

    Been using N-Trig Tablets since the Latitude XT and currently the Latitude XT2.

    Unfortunately the pen and touch accuracy is always off even after recalibrating multiple times, I'm still having the random rapid select when waking the tablet from sleep.

    Performance and accuracy are on par with cheaper entry software/hardware which is frustrating when considering these Tablets are not cheap at all!

    My 2nd tablet years back was a Gateway M-285E, the pen interface and performance was flawless and about the same as writing on paper! The only issue was the pens usually didn't last through the first drop and were expensive to replace.

    Unless N-Trig makes some drastic changes, our next Tablets will come from a manufacturer that uses a Wacom setup! My Note 2 is more accurate than the XT2 but it can be a pain to jot down large notes on a phone!
    Reply

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