So I’ve had the Vye S37 review unit from Dynamism about a week now. Steve has his full review of the 1 GB unit up (he too, tested with 1 GB and 2 GB) that’s a great read and it reminded me to follow up on the inking experience, hence the “inker or stinker” title. While not everyone feels the need to ink on UMPCs (I suspect most don’t, which is a shame), part of the equation is the Tablet experience on a small touch-screen device. I’ve been inking for over three years, so it’s a big part of decision-making process for me. The question is then: how is the inking experience on the Vye?
To level-set everyone, I should remind you that I use the Samsung Q1P for my everyday UMPC. Many people are less than satisfied with the inking experience on that device and for good reason. Like most other touchscreens, it doesn’t offer any palm rejection technology like some Fujitsu devices do, so it’s very easy to have screen vectoring interfere with your inking.I quickly grew accustomed to the Q1P for inking but in fairness, it’s because I’ve taken steps to adjust for the issues. Right off the bat, I find I’m constantly pulling the floating TIP down to the bottom half of the screen. This reduces the possibility of my hand resting on the screen, which brings me to point number two. I’m very conscious of resting my hand on the large bezel of the Samsung Q1P. As a result, my inking experience is positive even though the device isn’t what I’d consider a good inking device. Make sense?So with that information in mind, let’s get back to the Vye. As I mentioned in my first impressions the screen is wonderful and is the same size as the Q1P’s that I use. Of course, the Vye offers a much more usable 1024 x 600 resolution and that difference has an impact on the inking quality. I’ve found that with the higher resolution, the ink is more jagged, i.e.: less smooth to the eye. You can certainly change pen settings to compensate for this and make the ink a little thicker and easier to view as a result, but it doesn’t come close to the smooth quality that an active digitizer brings. The Q1P doesn’t either, but with the proper HID drivers, the ink looks about the same on both devices: you be the judge with the pics. The top one is a before and after ink on the Q1P with the HID drivers. Following that is the same sentence I wrote on the Vye yesterday.Due to the higher resolution screen, I found that I had to change the pen settings in every ink-enabled application. The fine points are way to fine for my taste, so I moved to medium points all across the board. Not an issue, but definitely a possible adjustment you might want to consider.Let’s talk about the touch sensitivity of the Vye. I suspect it’s one of the lightest touch UMPCs out on the market, if not the lightest touch. From a true touch perspective when using your fingers, that’s not a bad thing. For inking however, it’s a challenge. I found myself having to use the same “hand on bezel” technique for any real inking activities. While that works well for me on the Q1P, it’s not working so well for my on the Vye S37. It could be that I’m still not quite used to the different form factor, but I think that’s only part of the issue.The other part of the issue is the design of the form factor itself. Remember that the Vye is a small convertible device while the Q1P is a slate design. However, I’m used to convertible Tablets as well; my first was a Toshiba M205. The difference between that and the Vye, other than the size, is how much of the Vye’s base is exposed when in convertible mode. You can see by the shot below that there’s a good two-inches of the base past the screen, mainly due to the battery.At first glance, I thought this would be a good thing: simply rest your hand on the base when inking. After trying that method, I found it didn’t work for me: since my “wrist wrest” is lower than the screen, I found it uncomfortable. Others might make it work.I also attempted to rotate the screen 180-degrees to use in portrait mode with the battery on the other side, but this also presented me with challenges. First off: it changes the weight distribution of the whole device, making it difficult to hold, balance and ink. Again, that’s how I found it; folks with bigger hands might do better with it. The other downside to this method was that the thinnest bezel around the screen was now where I’d be resting my hand. No good for me.The many hardware buttons on the Vye are really nice to have when compared to my Q1P and while they really never interfered with my inking, I was always concerned that they would. They take up a good portion of both the left and right bezel. Again, they never interfered, but I think I was always extra cautious. A longer review period might put this out of my mind.Back to the original “inker or stinker” question then. Here’s my conclusion: the inking experience for most people will be sub-par at best. Does that mean the Vye should be crossed off of your UMPC wish list? Absolutely not unless you’re a heavy duty inker, in which case you’d be better suited with a Fujitsu U810 or P1610, both of which should be better for inking. If you’re an occasional inker or are looking for a sub-notebook device, the marginal inking experience shouldn’t be too high on your list of cons. It all comes down to finding the device that meets your needs best. True, all-day inkers won’t be happy, while folks that rely on a keyboard and occasional touch won’t be disappointed.Oh, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention something about the stylus. Like every other UMPC I’ve personally looked at, the stylus is short and thin. Is it usable? Yes, but only in a pinch. Even for my Q1P I use a full-sized stylus most of the time. The included stylus is nice to have to when you need one, but I hardly use it on the Q1P and I’d hardly use the one with the Vye.