Surface pen tip pro tip

July 09, 2017

So the pen provided with my review Surface book has been acting weirdly ever since I got it. Encouraged by Microsoft, I ran various calibrations and diagnostics, all of which confirmed things were mostly working but that the pen itself seemed a little wonky. The tip of the pen bent quite a lot when being used, and input was extremely glitchy, to the point of producing - at best - something like dotted lines instead of whole ones. Writing and drawing was basically impossible.

It was not hard to find similar problems online. It seems to be easy to damage the pen tip by dropping it, and the results will be something like what I was experiencing. I also discovered that if I press really hard, so hard that the tip bends and much more than maximum pressure is produced, input tracking is suddenly solid. I went and tried a different pen with a different Surface book in a store just to confirm my own expectations were not the problem. Sure enough, that one worked really well. I headed for lunch and decided to pick up some tip replacements afterward. I had also noticed the rubber part of the tip seemed much shorter on the working pen than on mine, and so was toying with the idea of attempting to cut off some of the rubber. Anyway, on my way to lunch I stumbled across a really neat trick:

The trick

Pull the tip out and insert it the other way round - rubber tip inside, black plastic (I assume) sticking out.

Surface pen with black tip Surface pen with black tip

Would you look at that, suddenly the pen is producing solid lines, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. What an awesome hack, especially for me who was not any particular fan of the rubbery feeling anyway.

I still went and got a pack of replacement tips, as they were cheap and more options to try for drawing are always fun.

A pack of Surface pen 4 tip replacements A pack of Surface pen 4 tip replacements

The tips come in a nice little box, complete with a tweezer-like bottom edge for easily gripping and pulling the tip being replaced.

On the right side inside the box is my replaced tip. Compared to the others, it seems to have rather a lot of rubber tip. My guess is that the wole problem was caused by it dropping so that some of the black plastic broke off, which somehow upsat the detection balance.

What that image may not provide is a sense of scale.

The tip pack next to my hand The tip pack next to my hand

I was almost afraid I would lose it inside my backpack on the way home from the store.

Now: on to actually using the pen as much as I can. Good times!