The Surface Pro 3 arrived Friday. The stylus is new to me, so I put it through some tests. The stylus is in the shape of a pen. It has two buttons on the side, one on the top, a nub in place of a ball point and a wire clip that holds it in place on the strap next to the keyboard.
The articles I read about the stylus talk about how the top button opens OneNote instead of erasing, how the second button on the pen fills that need and how it’s only got 256 degrees of sensitivity. I tried out the first two points without much hurrah. The third point took a little more research to understand. First I tried testing it in OneNote. I couldn’t really see the effect. Next I tried the free SketchBook Express app. A lot of people like it, but I couldn’t really figure out how to change brushes. I don’t really expect to be able to do what they show in their screenshots in the app page, but I can see in 15 minutes of use, I need some training even to use the app.
Fresh Paint doesn’t get the positive reviews of Sketchbook, but at least I could figure out how to change brushes.
Again, my efforts don’t look like the screenshots, but I can at least finally see the effect of the pressure sensitive pen. It’s going to take me awhile to figure out whether this really justifies the AAAA battery and two pen batteries and the supposed $100 retail value. However, here’s an example of lines of 5 different darkness I was able to draw with varying levels of pressure. I used the pencil tool. Paint brushes didn’t seem to show any difference in pressure to me.
For comparison, below is screen capture of a drawing without the stylus. I drew five lines pressing with my finger on the tablet with varying pressure. As expected, it doesn’t make the lines lighter or darker.
I only use this device to play around with it and Windows 8. Primarily, it’s my wife who uses it for work. I have to say, it’s the best Surface device I’ve used yet. As part of my experiment, I used the Metro or Modern version of Internet Explorer to write this whole post. Even though it felt a little awkward, I think I’d get the hang of it eventually. I could picture myself traveling with this Surface. I know my back would thank me if I replaced my 10 pound laptop with this 3 pound tablet.
If you want to read more about the Surface Pro 3, I recommend the following articles I’ve read by authors I trust:
- Mary Jo Foley’s comparison to her new ultrabook on ZDNet
- Paul Thurrott’s Full Review with lot’s of references
- Cory Roth’s Review
- Marc Anderson’s Review
After figuring out the pencil darkness test in Fresh Paint, I revisited OneNote. I still can’t find a drawing tool in OneNote that draws lighter or darker based on pressure. However, I did find that if I change the pen to thick pen, I can vary the thickness of the pen by using more pressure or less.