UPDATE 5/28/14: Some users (myself included) have experienced issues with the official driver. It will periodically turn itself off, disabling the pen. The fix has been to either turn the pen service back on or restart the Surface Pro. Wacom engineering has corrected the issue and the new version is now available for download here:  http://www.wacomeng.com/component/get.php?dlid=1507741624 

The next driver update is expected at the end of June and will feature multi-point calibration and the ability to right click by tapping in the middle of the radial menu. Can't wait!

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ORIGINAL POST

Wacom has just released its new Enhanced Tablet PC driver (also known as Feel IT) for penabled devices like the Surface Pro. The company last updated the driver (version 7.1.2-9) in October. That version had some calibration issues for existing hardware and was incompatible with the Asus Vivotab Note 8 released earlier this year.

The new driver, labeled 7.2.0-4 fixes the AVTN8 issue, and offers some significant additions: a new combined control panel for pen and touch sensors, a single level Radial Menu, an option in the control panel to remove the ripple effect for the pen and a couple of other enhanced features and stability improvements.

The Radial Menu is especially noteworthy as it can be customized with often-used commands and reduce the need for a keyboard with many graphics applications.

Unfortunately, calibration is still limited to four points, but in my tests on a Surface Pro, AVTN8 and Thinkpad Yoga, the calibration seems much more accurate and spots that were previously not accessible by pen (especially along the bottom of the screen where it was difficult to access the hidden taskbar) can now be reached easily.

This is especially good news for AVTN8 users who could not use their pens with software that required Wintab support because the old version inverted x, y values.

The driver's Control Panel item has been relabeled as Wacom Pen. It consists of two tabs, Pen and Radial Menu.

On the Pen tab, you can now configure a second pen button if you have it. There are new Tip Options: Click Sound, Hard Press to Double-Click, Hover Click and Show Ripple Effect. You can also oppen the system's Pen and Touch Control Panel directly from this tab. 

Besides keystroke combinations, Open/Run, Settings and Switch Application may be useful to tablet pc artists.

Besides keystroke combinations, Open/Run, Settings and Switch Application may be useful to tablet pc artists.

I'll show you mine if you show me yours. The radial menu is a new toy for me. Here's my first attempt at customization. Are these the same keystrokes you would map to your pen button? Did I miss something?

I'll show you mine if you show me yours. The radial menu is a new toy for me. Here's my first attempt at customization. Are these the same keystrokes you would map to your pen button? Did I miss something?

I'm excited to play with the new Radial Menu, a feature I've always envied Cintiq users. There are eight slots available, currently populated with six music functions (play/pause, previous track and next track, volume up, volume down and mute) and web browser and email launchers. I'm sure all of you will find much better uses for those eight buttons!

UPDATE 2 (4/22/14): Several of you have already pointed out that assigning the radial menu to a single pen button means you will be giving up a right click button. For the OS and most applications, this is easily remedied by tapping and holding the pen or finger to the item, which will call up the desired context menu. Although this method works with the pen on the Windows 8 Start screen, tapping and holding the stylus doesn't work with Modern apps. For those, you'll have to use your finger. If you'd like to map the right click onto your radial menu, you can use the keyboard shortcut {{Shift} {F10}} to call up the context menu on the currently selected item. Unfortunately, in my brief tests this doesn't seem to work reliably.

UPDATE (4/21/14): The driver is now available for download from the US link. According to the readme, "If you are upgrading from a previous Wacom driver version, uninstall that driver first for best results. Restart the system prior to installing the new driver."

Visit http://us.wacom.com/en/feeldriver/ in the U.S. and http://www.wacom.eu/index4.asp?pid=9281 in Europe.


Posted
AuthorRick Rodriguez
Categoriesnews
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I won't waste too much virtual ink on this review because it's very likely you won't be able to get your hands on this device.  But in the event you ever come across someone selling an Axiotron Studio Pen, my advice is simple: buy it! 

Axiotron was the company that first brought the Modbook to market in 2007. Modbooks are Apple MacBooks modified with Wacom touch screens. They're wonderful devices but very expensive.

Axiotron closed up shop shortly after the release of Apple's iPad. One of its founders Andreas Haas revived the concept and now markets the devices as Modbook, Inc. Unfortunately, the new Modbooks use a very basic tablet pc stylus I reviewed here.

The original Axiotron Studio Pen was much closer to the high end pens Wacom produces for its Cintiqs.

Plain Jane wrapping is nothing to write home about, but I include it here to show the model number of the pen I am writing about. Hopefully it will aid in your future online treasure hunts.

The Studio Pen is signficantly longer (6.2 inches) than other tablet pc pens. The Modbook Pro Digitizer Pen is 5.6 inches, the Motion Computing pen is 5.8 inches and the capped Wacom Bamboo Sylus Feel is 5.95 inches.

The Studio Pen is also flared, so it's approximately .10 inch wider than all the other pens I've tested at its thickest point. It has a dual button rocker with a large, comfortable rubber grip that's at least .25 inch longer than the grip on the Motion Computing pen.  And last but not least, the Studio Pen features nice big eraser tip.

The Axiotron Studio Pen (center) is the largest tablet pc stylus I've tested. Its replacement, the white Modbook tablet pc pen is extremely generic and too light and small for my tastes. The closest pen still in production is the Motion Computing stylus (second from bottom), but its grip and single button are much smaller. The Wacom Bamboo Stylus Feel Carbon is pictured at the top and the standard Surface Pro pen is at the bottom.

I found this pen used, so I'm not sure if the nib assortment was standard, but my pen came with a large array of hard, soft and flex nibs and even a replacement button and grip.

The Studio Pen package I bought used included a large assortment of replacment nibs, two extraction rings, a replacement button and a replacement grip. 

The pen is slightly lighter than the Wacom Feel, but its heft feels almost perfect to me. 

I can't find a reason to complain about the Axiotron. I'm just happy that I get to use it on the Surface Pro and my other Windows 8 tablets. Let's hope Wacom or Modbook see fit to offer something similar in the near future.

UPDATE: Reader Pat pointed out in the comments section below that the Axiotron is slightly less accurate than the Wacom Bamboo Stylus. I hadn't noticed this to be the case until I ran a side-by-side test. The slight offset of the cursor to the nib isn't terribly distracting and I quickly forgot about it as I began to draw. The only time where the accuracy becomes an issue is in targeting very fine points in the UI. As I mentioned in my response below, hitting the ultra-narrow scroll bars in Manga Studio is difficult with any pen, but nearly impossible with Axiotron.