Surface pro pen vs apple pencil

rowspaxe

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Original poster
Jan 29, 2010
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I went downtown today to audition the new 10.5" ipad pro and the new Surface Pro. Basicially I found new iterations did not move needle in either direction.
The apple pencil tip feels too hard and "plasticy" to me. It seemed tiring in oneNote. The massively overhyped "zero latency" seemed somewhat improved--but I thought the 2015 version was fine. Otherwise the 10.5" pro is a thing of wonder and I am still planning on buying it.

On to the MS store. The new Surface seems slightly more refined, but generally the same as the 4th generation. Minority report: I hate alcontara. Who wants a fuzzy keyboard? The keystand is slightly improved and is awesome for drawing, The pen feels amazing. It feels like they have found the perfect combination of tip hardness and spring dampng.

I arrived ready to confirm my decision to buy an ipad and left feeling unsure of my plans. Device vs device is another issue--I just wanted to discuss the pens.
 
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PhoneI

macrumors 68000
Mar 7, 2008
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I use Apple Pencil all the time with OneNote on my iPad and I think its tremendously improved on the new iPad. Just the feel of writing on the new iPad feels so much more like writing on paper.
 
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Badrottie

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May 8, 2011
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I went downtown today to audition the new 10.5" ipad pro and the new Surface Pro. Basicially I found new iterations did not move needle in either direction.
The apple pencil tip feels too hard and "plasticy" to me. It seemed tiring in oneNote. The massively overhyped "zero latency" seemed somewhat improved--but I thought the 2015 version was fine. Otherwise the 10.5" pro is a thing of wonder and I am still planning on buying it.

On to the MS store. The new Surface seems slightly more refined, but generally the same as the 4th generation. Minority report: I hate alcontara. Who wants a fuzzy keyboard? The keystand is slightly improved and is awesome for drawing, The pen feels amazing. It feels like they have found the perfect combination of tip hardness and spring dampng.

I arrived ready to confirm my decision to buy an ipad and left feeling unsure of my plans. Device vs device is another issue--I just wanted to discuss the pens.
I think Surface Pro suits you perfectly.
 

Relentless Power

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Jul 12, 2016
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I use Apple Pencil all the time with OneNote on my iPad and I think its tremendously improved on the new iPad. Just the feel of writing on the new iPad feels so much more like writing on paper.
Agreed. The reduced latency to 20ms was really beneficial. Mainly because it refined the speed and efficiency at which the Pencil has contact with the display. It was good before, but now it's great with the Promotion display.
 
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silverblack

macrumors 68030
Nov 27, 2007
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I have both. I love the Apple Pencil (smooth and sensitive), and hate the Surface Pen (too much friction).

It is a matter of personal preference. Buy whatever you want.
 

Doomoo

macrumors newbie
May 10, 2017
17
9
Australia
Probably the wrong forum to ask for a fair and balanced opinion on Surface vs iPad products.

A lot of people here take any criticism of Apple products personally. Only you know what is best for you.
 

rowspaxe

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Original poster
Jan 29, 2010
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I think people just get tired of the "convince me to buy......" posts.
You sound like the type of person who mostly complains about most things. Nobody here is going to be able to help you decide.
I am sorry--did I ask for buying advice in my post? No. I specifically limited the issue to a comparison of the pen technologies, not a device comparison. Can you read?
 
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Steve686

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Nov 13, 2007
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I am sorry--did I ask for buying advice in my post? No. I specifically limited the issue to a comparison of the pen technologies, not a device comparison. Can you read?
Which device you buy is dependent on the pens.

You want to discuss the pens.


You want to, in the end, discuss which device to buy. Based on pens. Either way, the answer is buy one. Don't like it after 13 days, return it. Buy the other one. It's ad nauseum how many posts bring this up.

Not trying to be rude but telling someone, "Try reading next time" is somewhat ironic when there is so much to read on your very subject all across the boards.
 

rowspaxe

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Original poster
Jan 29, 2010
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Which device you buy is dependent on the pens.
I may buy the ipad despite liking the surface pen better; I wanted to initiate a discussion of the relative merits of the pen technologies with people who have used both. I specifically said I was not interested is a device comparison. Oh, there's that reading issue again.

Also, I never "try to buy". The practice is inherently wasteful.

This article compares the pens https://www.thurrott.com/mobile/microsoft-surface/118382/first-impressions-apple-pencil-new-surface-pen-compared
 
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Steve686

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Nov 13, 2007
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I may buy the ipad despite liking the surface pen better; I wanted to initiate a discussion of the relative merits of the pen technologies with people who have used both. Put the rabid fanboyism away. Also, I never "try to buy". The practice is inherently wasteful.

This article compares the pens https://www.thurrott.com/mobile/microsoft-surface/118382/first-impressions-apple-pencil-new-surface-pen-compared
For one, it is "buy to try". I never try to buy something. I do it, or don't.
 

rowspaxe

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Original poster
Jan 29, 2010
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Either way, the answer is buy one. Don't like it after 13 days, return it. Buy the other one. .
"Try to buy" generally. People who buy the device to try it out before making a final decision. I can see your interpretation.
 

Atomic Walrus

macrumors 6502a
Sep 24, 2012
878
425
Just to throw in an opinion having used, if not owned, every generation if both of these devices:

The 2017 SP, with the new pen, does address many of the shortcomings of previously generations:
-IAF is much better.
-Latency is significantly improved and competitive with the 2017 iPP.
-Jitter is slightly decreased, but still more pronounced than the iPP.
-Accuracy to tip is improved, still not as good as iPP, better than Wacom Penabled (Wacom EMR tech for 3rd party devices).
-Pressure response is very good, into the diminishing returns territory. Hard to pick a winner on this now.
-exchangeable tips, buttons, eraser are still an advantage over iPP for productivity.

This is the first generation of N-trig pen tech that I would be happy using day to day, and the gap between the two is now very small.

Apple’s primary advantage is in its tracking accuracy: the drawing point on screen still more closely tracks to the actual Pencil tip, even when the pen is tilted.

Similarly, while the iPP does show the same diagonal slow-stroke jitter of other active capacitive digitizer devices, it is much less pronounced than on the 2017 Surface Pro. I’m not sure if this is a hardware advantage (denser grid) or software filtering, but it works without introducing extra latency.

Summary:

If I were buying a device today strictly on pen performance, and I were happy with the software options on both platforms (Procreate vs PS, etc.), I would call the iPP the winner by a narrow margin due to its impressive pen to screen tracking accuracy.

Either device would make an excellent portable sketchbook at this point, there’s really no loser in this competition.

While it’s my opinion that Wacom’s Cintiq line still has the best overall pen performance, the latency in the iPP and SP now completely out classes Wacom’s own $1500+ MobileStudio devices, and this does have a huge impact on how real the drawing and writing experience feels. This is especially important when writing because latency can result in an involuntary start/stop writing cadence.
 

rowspaxe

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Jan 29, 2010
2,083
877
Just to throw in an opinion having used, if not owned, every generation if both of these devices:

The 2017 SP, with the new pen, does address many of the shortcomings of previously generations:
-IAF is much better.
-Latency is significantly improved and competitive with the 2017 iPP.
-Jitter is slightly decreased, but still more pronounced than the iPP.
-Accuracy to tip is improved, still not as good as iPP, better than Wacom Penabled (Wacom EMR tech for 3rd party devices).
-Pressure response is very good, into the diminishing returns territory. Hard to pick a winner on this now.
-exchangeable tips, buttons, eraser are still an advantage over iPP for productivity.

This is the first generation of N-trig pen tech that I would be happy using day to day, and the gap between the two is now very small.

Apple’s primary advantage is in its tracking accuracy: the drawing point on screen still more closely tracks to the actual Pencil tip, even when the pen is tilted.

Similarly, while the iPP does show the same diagonal slow-stroke jitter of other active capacitive digitizer devices, it is much less pronounced than on the 2017 Surface Pro. I’m not sure if this is a hardware advantage (denser grid) or software filtering, but it works without introducing extra latency.

Summary:

If I were buying a device today strictly on pen performance, and I were happy with the software options on both platforms (Procreate vs PS, etc.), I would call the iPP the winner by a narrow margin due to its impressive pen to screen tracking accuracy.

Either device would make an excellent portable sketchbook at this point, there’s really no loser in this competition.

While it’s my opinion that Wacom’s Cintiq line still has the best overall pen performance, the latency in the iPP and SP now completely out classes Wacom’s own $1500+ MobileStudio devices, and this does have a huge impact on how real the drawing and writing experience feels. This is especially important when writing because latency can result in an involuntary start/stop writing cadence.
Good post. I feel the latency issue is so software related that it is hard to assess. The apple pen is very fast in apple notes, but-imo--shows some latency in procreate even with simple brushes (fast with the pencil, however). SP shows some latency in Photoshop, but very little is Sketchbook Pro. I don't know if I agree on the tracking issue--I'll have to focus on that more closely.
 

IowaLynn

macrumors 65816
Feb 22, 2015
1,306
288
I would add the Samsung Note 9 stylus to see what's out there and consider Samsung Tab S4. There are others, but I havent used those 2 in 1 tablets.

I do have IPP 10.5, Surface Go and I prefer my Sammy Tab and Note.
 

Newtons Apple

Suspended
Mar 12, 2014
22,764
14,918
Jacksonville, Florida
I went downtown today to audition the new 10.5" ipad pro and the new Surface Pro. Basicially I found new iterations did not move needle in either direction.
The apple pencil tip feels too hard and "plasticy" to me. It seemed tiring in oneNote. The massively overhyped "zero latency" seemed somewhat improved--but I thought the 2015 version was fine. Otherwise the 10.5" pro is a thing of wonder and I am still planning on buying it.

On to the MS store. The new Surface seems slightly more refined, but generally the same as the 4th generation. Minority report: I hate alcontara. Who wants a fuzzy keyboard? The keystand is slightly improved and is awesome for drawing, The pen feels amazing. It feels like they have found the perfect combination of tip hardness and spring dampng.

I arrived ready to confirm my decision to buy an ipad and left feeling unsure of my plans. Device vs device is another issue--I just wanted to discuss the pens.
I agree with you on the fuzzy keyboard, makes you wonder about MS marketing!

I have owned both and the pencil is just not natural to me.
 

spiderman0616

macrumors 68040
Aug 1, 2010
3,451
3,688
You are probably right. I guess I have not used it enough. Bought one with my 10.5 over a year ago and hardly used it. Did not even buy one for my 11".
I had the gen 1 Pencil for my 9.7" and 10.5" Pro and used it all the time for note taking and art. Bought the 2nd gen for my 11" Pro and have been very impressed with it for note taking for work stuff, but have had NO time to use it for drawing since launch. I will eventually, but I just think it's funny that they finally make one that sticks to the iPad so I always have it with me and charged up, and I've barely used it yet. Some day work will calm down and my head will be clear enough to make art again.
 

tromboneaholic

Suspended
Jun 9, 2004
3,710
2,925
Clearwater, FL
I went downtown today to audition the new 10.5" ipad pro and the new Surface Pro. Basicially I found new iterations did not move needle in either direction.
The apple pencil tip feels too hard and "plasticy" to me. It seemed tiring in oneNote. The massively overhyped "zero latency" seemed somewhat improved--but I thought the 2015 version was fine. Otherwise the 10.5" pro is a thing of wonder and I am still planning on buying it.

On to the MS store. The new Surface seems slightly more refined, but generally the same as the 4th generation. Minority report: I hate alcontara. Who wants a fuzzy keyboard? The keystand is slightly improved and is awesome for drawing, The pen feels amazing. It feels like they have found the perfect combination of tip hardness and spring dampng.

I arrived ready to confirm my decision to buy an ipad and left feeling unsure of my plans. Device vs device is another issue--I just wanted to discuss the pens.
If you use the Notes app, the speed from a locked tablet to the Notes app instantly launching just by tapping the screen with the Pencil is a major plus for the Pencil.

Even if you use another app for notes, you can share the Note to it...
 

Newtons Apple

Suspended
Mar 12, 2014
22,764
14,918
Jacksonville, Florida
I had the gen 1 Pencil for my 9.7" and 10.5" Pro and used it all the time for note taking and art. Bought the 2nd gen for my 11" Pro and have been very impressed with it for note taking for work stuff, but have had NO time to use it for drawing since launch. I will eventually, but I just think it's funny that they finally make one that sticks to the iPad so I always have it with me and charged up, and I've barely used it yet. Some day work will calm down and my head will be clear enough to make art again.
I remember long ago getting a drawing program for my first computer and then realizing that I have no artistic talent and struggle with stick figures. So note taking would be the best use for me. Maybe one day I will give it a shot but right now pen and paper rule here.
 
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