Well, that’s it for this experiment. Once the Surface is done resetting itself I’m taking it back to the Microsoft store.
Ultimately, it was not the tendency to occasionally crash upon waking, or to occasionally wake with the Bluetooth drivers in a state that could only be recovered from by a reset, that made me decide I was done.
It was this.
Apparently this is an issue unique to Illustrator; there is some interaction between it and the drivers for the NTrig stylus Microsoft is using that causes the first half-second or so of a pen stroke to be lost. Pretty much every other art program works fine with it. Except for Flash, which I hear is completely unresponsive to the stylus.
Whose fault this is, I honestly don’t care. The whole point of this exercise was to get the art program I’ve been using for the past sixteen years into a package with the convenience of a tablet.
The problems with the Surface’s default power settings making it wake up in my bag and waste half its charge idling, the crash-on-wake and Bluetooth disconnects that appeared after the firmware update, and all the myriad other little issues of just Being Windows? Those were just distractions. I took it out into the park yesterday and really looked critically at what I was doing on it, and these stylus tracking issues were the real deal-breaker. Especially given that this week saw updates for both the Surface firmware and for Illustrator, with no change to this problem. Will the next update fix it? Who knows? I’m not gonna hold my breath.
I’ll probably be trying out another machine in this class sometime soon. I really liked being able to whip it and a keypad out and draw in much smaller spaces than I can with the Air/Wacom combination. Maybe the Surface 5 or 6 when that happens. Maybe the Asus Transformer 3. Maybe a Cintiq Companion 3 if that ever happens. Maybe something else. Maybe Apple will finally deign to stuff a Mac’s guts behind a portable screen, though I feel like that won’t be until sometime in 2017 or 2018, if ever. I would be such an early adopter of that.