UPDATED 11/13/15 with real-time videos. See below.

Thanks to Mashable and Lance Ulanoff's review of the iPad Pro this morning, I discovered this very easy way to capture lag, using my iPhone 6's Slo-Mo feature.

In all four of the applications below, lag is nearly imperceptible in real time. And in each, once captured at 240 fps, the delay is nearly identical while I draw at my typical light pressure. The earlier video I posted showed how bad lag can be in Photoshop if a lot of pressure is applied.

In Ulanoff's test video, the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro delivered slightly less delay, but his Surface Pro 4 strokes were broken up and inconsistent. I have no idea what software he was using on his SP4. To reiterate, in real time at the speed at which I'm drawing these loops, the lag is imperceptible to me.

Thanks to Mashable for posting a slow mo test, it reminded me I could do the same. Lag is nearly imperceptible in real time.

Applying light pressure, this 60 px brush keeps up well on a 3000 x 2000, 300 dpi canvas.

3000 x 2000 canvas at 300 dpi

1368 x 829 canvas at 100 dpi with 14B pencil

I may go back to other devices and see if the lag is better or worse. I'm definitely curious to know how much better or worse the Wacom EMR on my Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 14 performs. What do you think?

UPDATE 11/13/15 Several of you requested real-time videos. The first one below is in Sketchook Pro and the second is in Clip Studio Paint.

No skipped strokes or problems keeping up. Video requested by reader Trista Tos.

"Creamy" results on a 3000 x 2000 canvas at 300 dpi. No dropped strokes, no major lag. Video requested by reader Richard Moreton.

AuthorRick Rodriguez
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The Brad Colbow video review I embedded yesterday freaked me out. Brad's video depicts tremendous, unacceptable lag in Photoshop and worse, he identified a stroke tapering behavior that is impossible not to notice. Could I really have blown my m3 Surface Pro 4 evaluation so badly?

So I overcame my usual aversion to recording my scribbling tests and here's the verdict: guilty. The lag and tapering are definitely there, not only in Photoshop but in Clip Studio Paint as well.

The good news is that I think I can argue for a pardon, because as I demonstrate below, the problems manifest themselves in a drawing style that is foreign to me.

You have to use a lot of pressure to see the tapers. As you'll see in the videos below, I sketch very lightly and even the 60 pixel brushes that I'm using in both applications show up more like 12 px strokes. While the strokes are still tapered at that size, those tapers seem a lot more natural than they do at full size.

You'll note that as I'm scribbling very quickly, both applications have no trouble keeping up. It's only once I try to achieve maximum pressure that there's a discernible delay for Photoshop especially to complete the stroke.

In the first wobbly video (it's hard to draw while trying to frame the shot with the your free hand!), I adjust the pen pressure in the Surface app. Brad's video captured the problem with stroke tapers here as well. Despite my best efforts, I don't see them except for a couple of strokes in the video thumbnail.

This test of the m3 Surface Pro 4 attempts to show the stroke tapering issue identified by Brad Colbow in his video review. But try as I might I can't reproduce the tapering on most strokes. What's up with that?

The next test is in Clip Studio Paint Pro and demonstrates the speed and fluidity of that program on the m3 Surface Pro 4. Tapers are barely perceptible at the ends of thin strokes. It's only when I try to get 100% pen pressure that I get the little pinch at the end of the stroke.

Stroke tapering and lag are a lot less apparent in Clip Studio Paint than in Photoshop. This is a 3000 x 2000 canvas at 300 dpi. The SP4 has no trouble keeping up with my light, fast strokes. It's only when I press very hard that the stroke tapering becomes very apparent.

Hopefully the video below illustrates why I missed the lag in my written review. You hear an audible click every time I force the pen down with maximum pressure. It's a totally unnatural amount of force for me. It's also unclear how much of the lag is being contributed by Photoshop not being optimized for the new sixth generation M3 processor and its Intel HD Graphics 515 GPU.

Why my initial testing failed to spot the stroke tapering and lag: I tend to draw lightly and when I test, I'm seeing whether tablet can keep up with my light strokes. This is a 3000 x 2000 canvas at 300 dpi. The lag is evident when I press much harder than I normally do.

So from what you see here, is the tapering a deal breaker? It's definitely not ideal and may be something that can be corrected in a future update. I certainly can live with it and compensate for it. Let me know if you could do the same in the comments section below.

As for the Photoshop lag, it's harder to say whether this is a hardware, driver or software issue. The lag is present whether I turn gpu acceleration on or off. Once again, I can work around it. I don't use Photoshop for drawing anyway. But can you?

AuthorRick Rodriguez
Categoriesnews, reviews
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Illustrator Brad Colbow's video reviews are always good for their mix of information, insight and humor. He just posted his review of the m3 Surface Pro 4 and has scenes of it running Photoshop, Illustrator and Clip Studio Paint.

This is the same model that I glowingly reviewed yesterday and his results are radically different than mine. Although he is surprisingly positive on the product, I could never recommend the entry level SP4 if it was as laggy as he demonstrates here. Even stalwart CSP looks like it's having trouble keeping up.

I've asked Brad to share his exact settings so that I can try to reproduce his configuration (and the troubling strokes that he illustrates at about the 6:30 mark). I'll update my review or this post once I determine whether they are reproducible. 

Now that I've had more time with the Surface Pro 4 I've put together a more comprehensive review.

If any of you have seen similar behavior, please let me know in the comments section below.

AuthorRick Rodriguez
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As I first loaded up Adobe Photoshop CC 2014 on the Surface Pro 3, I was disappointed to see that the UI is still tiny by default.

No problem, I thought to myself, there must be a setting in interface preferences. Sure enough, under Text, you can change UI font size from Tiny, Small, Medium to Large.

I set it to Large. Shut down the software and restarted. No change.

Looking in Preferences again, I spotted a new category called Experimental Features.

This is the Edit>>Preferences>>Experimental features window after the changes have been applied. Note the bigger icons.

This is the Edit>>Preferences>>Experimental features window after the changes have been applied. Note the bigger icons.

I ticked the Scale UI and Use Touch Gestures boxes, shut down and restarted the software and voila! the UI is now much better suited to tablet use.

The UI is scaled a little too big for my taste; rather than settle for one size, hopefully Adobe will offer a couple of options. Multitouch works ok, though also not as smoothly as in Manga Studio. I do like the new double finger double tap to reset the zoom and orientation.

On the Surface Pro 2, the new version complains about the Intel HD display driver I have installed ( The display driver crashes and the software will also complain about a lack of VRAM.

Display driver issues hamper Photoshop CC 2014 on the Surface Pro 2.

Display driver issues hamper Photoshop CC 2014 on the Surface Pro 2.

Worse, with the system's default scaling set to 125%, a new drawing comes up with two parallel lines that don't disappear as I zoom in.  Resetting the Windows UI scaling to 100%, the lines disappear but reappear when I zoom in.

Multitouch is also not working properly on the Surface Pro 2.

These issues are likely all display driver related and should be fixed, but it's disappointing that SP2 users won't be able to benefit from the PS CC 2014 update right away.

UPDATE: The new features seem to be working on my Surface Pro 1, so it's definitely a display driver issue. My SP1's drivers are dated July, 2013 (

UPDATE 2: As I reported with Mudbox a few weeks ago, updating my Surface Pro 2's display driver to the May 17 version ( located on the Intel download site corrects the issues cited above.

This is a very difficult driver to install on the Surface Pro 2 without tricking Windows and once it's installed, the operating system will continually prompt you to reinstall the March Windows update which overwrite them, so all we can hope is that Microsoft publishes a driver update soon.

UPDATE 3: Reader Mike Moreu is reporting that his Surface Pro 2 didn't have any of the issues mine did and he's running display driver Curiouser and curiouser. Please leave your experiences in the comments section below.

UPDATE 4: Interesting reaction from a mainstream tech blogger: Paul Thurrott reviews the Photoshop CC 2014 experience on the Surface Pro 3. http://winsupersite.com/mobile-devices/surface-pro-3-adobe-cs-2014


AuthorRick Rodriguez
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