iPad Pro Finally got to try a Pencil in person...meh

Discussion in 'iPad Accessories' started by fieldsphotos, Jan 17, 2016.

  1. fieldsphotos macrumors 6502

    Aug 15, 2013
    TLDR - I didn't like it.

    I live over an hour from an Apple store, so I don't get there much. But yesterday we were in the neighborhood and I decided to stop in and try one.

    My current stylus is a N-trig based Surface 4 Pen that I am using on a Vaio Canvas Z. N-trig has its issues, so I was very curious to see how well the Apple Pencil stacked up considering how highly everyone has been reviewing it. I also have a Wacom Intuos tablet that I use with my desktop.

    My impression.... meh. It was waaaay heavier than I thought it would be. I am used to using charcoal or graphite pencils or the Wacom and the Surface 4 stylus which are balanced differently or something. Maybe its the extra length, I don't know. I did not like the extra weight. I felt like it would cause me fatigue during long drawing sessions. Maybe folks who regularly use heavier pens find it fine. I also didn't like the texture. It was pretty slippery. Surface pens and wacom pens have a rougher finish on the metal/plastic so they are a bit easier to grip. And the surface pen has a nice flat side for your finger to rest on like a graphite pencil.

    I used it in Adobe Sketch which was installed on the iPad. Noticed lag and a pretty heavy pen smoothing algorithm going on, at least in that app. Also noticed it didn't always register pick ups when drawing fast parallel lines causing tails on the end. No luck trying Procreate on an Apple store iPad, unfortunately - its probably way better. Palm rejection seemed to work well (although in the long run it would be hard to beat the hardware-based palm rejection my Vaio has) But overall the weight and the feel of the pencil itself are a bit of a deal killer for me.

    Just wanted to throw out a contrary view for those still on the fence about the pencil. I was actually very surprised about my reaction to it. I was very excited and thought I was going to be tempted to buy an iPad Pro, or at least get one if they ever include support on the next gen Airs.

    Ah well. Just goes to show everyone is different. No perfect stylus for me yet. Saves me some $$ at least.
  2. februarian macrumors 6502


    Sep 18, 2014
    Your reaction is based on a very limited usage of the pencil. Also you said you "think" it would cause you fatigue, so it's not a valid point to go against the pencil. And you failed to try the best apps to use with the pencil: default Notes app & Procreate. It feels like you were almost looking for points that go against it. There's not a single stylus on the market that has the "basically no lag" advantage that the pencil has with the right apps.
  3. fieldsphotos thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 15, 2013

    I wasn't looking for points against it. I was very surprised I didn't immediately like it. Since I noticed how uncomfortable the weight was immediately, "thinking" it would cause me long term fatigue IS a perfectly valid point. If you try a product in a store, and don't like it, do you then buy the product to give it a longer trial? I don't.

    I had no reason to use the Notes app, I would be buying a Pencil for art purposes. I am not in school, and can't bring an iPad to work, so I don't currently have a need for a handwriting app.

    As far as procreate goes, I am sure it works great with the Pencil. I wasn't able to try it, so I couldn't judge it. i fully understood I wasn't going to be trying the best program with it. I did the same thing when I tried the Surface Pen. I had to test it with Fresh Paint vs Manga Studio since there was no way I could get that program installed on the demo machine. But I saw enough that I did like to convince me to buy it. So the poor (for me) ergonomics combined with a laggy app, just didn't convince me to spend the $$ on the Pencil.

    Maybe I will buy the Pencil 2.
  4. Dark Goob macrumors regular

    Dark Goob

    Jun 6, 2007
    Portland, OR
    I went to the Apple Store in December and tried out Pencil with iOS 9.1, ProCreate, Adobe's thing, and 53 Paper. Maybe one other.

    Like op, esp. with Adobe, I thought it seemed laggy.

    Of course as an iOS developer and musician who uses iPad for live shows, I have learned multiple tricks to improve responsiveness / reduce latency.

    Assuming all other settings are at default values...

    In Settings:

    Airplane Mode: On
    Control Center > Off within apps
    Do Not Disturb >On, Silence: Always
    General > Siri > Off
    General > Spotlight Search > All Off
    General > Handoff & Suggested Apps > Both Off
    General > Multitasking > All Off
    General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion > On
    General > Accessibility > Shake to Undo > Off
    General > Background App Refresh > Off
    General > Keyboard > All Off
    General > Keyboard > Keyboards > Delete all but English (or whatever yr language be)
    General > Keyboard > Text Replacement > Delete all entries here

    Privacy > Motion & Fitness > Fitness Tracking Off
    iTunes & App Store > Automatic Downloads > All Off
    Photos & Camera > My Photo Stream, iCloud Photo Sharing Off

    Plus I like to set both lock screens to a super small, 18% gray PNG.

    Then quit all apps, and then open just Settings. Then quit Settings, open the app you want to use and create a new document. Now hard reboot the iPad just holding power and home for a few seconds.

    Did that, then re-enabled Bluetooth for the Pencil to work. Noticed a significant improvement in lag with the Pencil.

    Still, Adobe's app was the worst. Procreate was much better now... pretty usable... but not what I'd call lag-free entirely. Very usable tho.

    Have to say, I do not like not having the ability to flip it over for an eraser. Bluetooth seemed like a poor choice; I have just never experienced a form of Bluetooth that dis not have a degree of noticeable latency.

    I'm not sure why Apple does not buy Nintendo's tech that allows the Wii U controller to display latency-free video over even a relatively mediocre WiFi connection. That same tech could provide amazing performance for something like this. I'm sure there are many patents to navigate, but why Bluetooth instead of a proprietary, zero-lag wireless tech? <Shrugs> Is the new version amazingly better or something?

    I suspect the apps and OS will both get better over time, and probably already are. Apple OS releases tend to be optimized best for last year's hardware, so I'd expect iOS 10 to be where it really gets good. It's not like iPad 1 or iPhone 1 or the first MacBook Air or Apple Watch 1 were the pinnacle. Early adoption always carries with any company always implies some issues. Pencil is no exception, but still, very good for a first try, I'd say.

    Note: I am sensitive to lag that most people would never notice. That is *why* I use iOS (based on C) over Android (based on Java, an inherently laggier proposition).
  5. cyclingplatypus macrumors 65816


    Mar 15, 2007
    I was kind of bummed after trying it out that it wasn't available for anything other than the pro - I use a stylus daily though (adonit or 53) and liked the feel of it...I did notice some lag but it wasn't much more different than the others that I use (both bluetooth).
  6. FuzzMunky macrumors regular

    Jul 7, 2007
    I think you have the wrong idea about the Notes app. If you click on the squiggle it opens a drawing pencil and pen set. It has extremely low lag and has a very realistic pencil effect. You should have tried it. Some of my favorite drawings have been in Notes, over and above other apps. It is a very clean interface and less pretentious so less daunting when you start doodling.
  7. Dark Goob macrumors regular

    Dark Goob

    Jun 6, 2007
    Portland, OR
    Well I just bought a 128GB Black Pro with Pencil, it was in stock believe it or not, in Downtown Portland. I did what I said, turned off all that background crap, and man it is ZERO lag in Notes app. Gonna try Procreate next. I just have to say... ZERO LAG.
  8. AbSoluTc macrumors 601


    Sep 21, 2008
    It's ZERO lag out of the box. :rolleyes:
  9. marmiteturkey macrumors 6502a


    Aug 27, 2005
    Agree - with the exception of the Notes app which is experiencing a few dropped strokes in the current 9.3b2 beta (only - not in iOS 9.2) the pencil is amazingly responsive.
  10. Beavix macrumors 6502a


    Dec 1, 2010
    I don't know what you saw on that iPad but on mine the pencil has no lag, or at least there is no lag that could be bothersome in any way. Yes, I saw people torturing the screens doing very very fast strokes, just to prove there is a 5 milliseconds lag or whatever, but that's not how me or any other normal user is writing/sketching/painting with the Pencil.

    Also the Adobe Sketch app works very well. I actually like it better than Procreate for sketching.
  11. DaniJoy macrumors 6502

    Nov 19, 2015
    yes i would agree. not much lag on my ipad pro, at least not a discernible amount. of course now that i think about it none of my tablets lag while painting/drawing/taking notes. well, except in photoshop when i use like a 1000pixel brush on my workstation and cintiq 27, that lags a bit. but its not even possible to do this on an ipad , the brushes are tiny and limited so no one can get lag, so its hard to actually compare anything.
  12. LiveM macrumors 6502a


    Oct 30, 2015
    I still have the original Surface Pro and whether with the stock stylus or my Wacom Bamboo Feel, there is no lag. It's just a shame that Microsoft did not continue with Wacom (or improve the OS tablet experience more).
  13. The Game 161 macrumors P6

    The Game 161

    Dec 15, 2010
    What you mean turned off background crap?
  14. fieldsphotos thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 15, 2013
    Maybe the store iPad had too many apps open, it's hard to say. What I noticed most was the really heavy smoothing algorithm in Sketch. You would draw a stroke then you could see it redraw it smoother for you after you picked up the pencil. I didn't dive into the settings to see if that could be reduced, but it contributed to my feeling of lag (visibly watching the strokes catch up with you). Also I was getting pen pick up errors - if I drew hatching lines, they all ended up with tails on the ends

    Eh, next time I am in an Apple Store I will try it again. Maybe that particular iPad was bad.
  15. Dark Goob macrumors regular

    Dark Goob

    Jun 6, 2007
    Portland, OR
    Read my other post in this thread... from January 21. It's like Post #3 in this thread.
    --- Post Merged, Feb 4, 2016 ---
    Well, Apple Notes and Procreate are lag free if you have all the background crap off (see my first post at the top of this thread). Haven't tried much else.

    But I mean, you need to have a really good reason to need to draw on your iPad like that. That's why it's called "pro." Because if you're not a professional artist, then why would you want an iPad that much bigger and heavier with lower DPI that costs more?

    The Air 2 is very fast and is a much easier to handle device. It has higher screen DPI too. I'm used to my 6S Plus's 420dpi and really anything less now kinda bugs me.

    Most apps look kind of bad on the Pro because they are blown up, and even the ones that run at its native DPI seem lower DPI than what I would like. The screen viewing angle is such that due to its size it is hard to get a really perfect angle. It's too big to be useful for reading books or anything; photos maybe.

    But the way I see it, unless you have a very compelling reason why you NEED the iPad Pro for professional reasons (I'm a developer and got mine as a test device), then I would honestly prefer the iPad Air 2 (or 3 when it comes out).

    That said the Pro's sound IS AMAZING. I do use it for music apps (synthesizers) where the extra horsepower, better sound, and screen area really is nice.

    But all the cases for it suck. The Apple cases are ridiculously overpriced ($60 for the flimsy magnetic cover and $80 for a crappy silicone back). The smart cover only has three segments, so you can't fold it in half like the original smart covers. It also lacks a metal hinge and instead has a crappy plastic flap that keeps it attached (Jobs never would have signed off on this).

    If you want to prop it up you either expose the microfiber to whatever dirty surface you place it on (bad!!) or you rely on a weak magnet to keep it standing up. So lame!! Plus it's made of a crappy silicone material.

    Where is a nice black leather, 4-segment smart cover with a metal hinge like my iPad 3rd-gen had?

    They also made the sides too narrow; there is nowhere to put your thumb when you're holding it. I much prefer the original iPad's appx. 1" border on all sides.

    Worst ergonomic downgrade though, is the lack of a "split keyboard" mode. What were they thinking?

    So much about this product, from its poor release with low quantities, to its bad smart cover design, to its too-thin edges, makes me feel like Apple didn't even really want to make it, but some big companies begged them to make a bigger one for their artists. Like I bet Disney begged them or something.

    So they figured between companies and gadget nerds they could sell enough to not lose money.. but it wasn't worth paying to actually design a good smart cover or make a black pencil or anything. So you get a prototype-ish product. Wonderful.

    But the pencil does work very well as advertised, although I was skeptical. And the display is very nice despite being lower DPI than I'd like (I want 450 DPI damnit!). It is very lightweight and the battery life is pretty good. Speakers again are amazing.

    But I don't know if I can keep it, knowing a 4K-resolution iPad Air 3 is prolly just around the corner.

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