Pen and stylus-enabled tablets allow accurate and comfortable input via active or passive stylus. Styli can have buttons and can pair with specific devices to offer features such as pressure sensitivity, hover detection, angle and rotation detection. Windows 10 has improved the latency over Windows 8.1 and included ‘ink’ APIs for Universal Applications.
The Surface Pro range is one of the most popular pen-focused tablet PCs but Samsung, with their S-Pen technology and Apple, with the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil are also well-advanced solutions.
How much does a digitizer cost?
Over the years we’ve seen the street prices of a digitizer-enabled tablet drop but it still costs more than your average capacative touch tablet. You’ll be paying for an active pen ($70 for the latest surface pens) and the cost of the device will be more. That’s not just because of the hardware required, it’s also about the target audience for such devices. A great starting point, however, is a second-hand Surface Pro 3. These can be bought relatively cheap online and have proven to be a solid tablet over the years. Read our updated Surface Pro 3 review.
Are Digitizer pens all compatible?
No. Although there have been attempts to introduce a standard for digitizers the technology is advancing too quickly to use a standard. Manufactures introduce new features such as angle-detection or pairing methods (Bluetooth for buttons, for example.)
Windows 10 pen and natural input support continues to expand. Even the good old snipping tool is getting a makeover with a pen-enabled app
Further reading: Useful pen and digitizer articles on UMPCPortal.
The list below (updated regularly) includes all products that we have listed with digitizer technology. Some products include a keyboard dock. In some cases the pen must be bought as a separate accessory. We only track Tablet PCs with a weight of under 1.3 KG / 2.8 pounds and we include some Android OS products that are professionally targeted.
Apple iPad Pro 11 inch, 468gm Leading edge tablet. We were bowled-over with the launch. Processing power, pen capability and design is stunning in both 11 and 12.9-inch versions.
Samsung Galaxy Book 12, 754gm The Samsung Galaxy Book 12 is a quality, productive 12-inch Windows tablet option which comes in at about 1.2 KG with the keyboard. We haven't fully tested this but remain in close contact with Notebookcheck for information. Their tests have been very positive.
Google Pixel Slate, 725gm The first of the Google tablet-focused ChromeOS PCs aiming at entry-level computing to high-level processing, all on the Chrome operating system with Android app capability and Chrome OS optimisations for the tablet. It competes with many mobile PCs and yet doesn't use a classic desktop operating system. We've always liked the simplicity, security and stability of Chrome OS and the breadth of Android apps within it so if you're not focused on video editing, this could be an efficient choice of PC. We like the fact that there's a 48Wh battery in this, and it weighs just 725 gramms. This is one of the lightest 12.3-inch tablets you can buy with that sort of battery capacity.
Microsoft Surface Book 2, 1530gm Solid, well-supported convertible. This dual-core 2-in-1 has been a solid performer in our experience. The pen works flawlessly and there's great battery life. It's not ultra, ultra mobile when docked as it has the bulk and feel of a standard laptop but in the Intel-only version (no discreet graphics) the tablet can work on its own as a powerful touch-enabled tablet PC.
Lenovo ThinkPad P40 The system can be configured with up to 16GB RAM, a 512 solid state drive for storage and Nvidia Quadro M500M graphics with 2GB VRAM.
HP Pro Slate 8, 350gm The HP Pro Slate 8 is a full HD (2048x1536) business oriented tablet which runs Android Lollipop with native Work Profiles, a feature of Android for work, and has hardware-enabled security, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 series processor, 2GB RAM and an HP Duet Pen.
HP Spectre x2, 830gm The fabulous looking HP Spectre x2 is another Surface-like tablet (but cheaper) with a cpu choice of Core m3, m5 and m7 processors. It will be competing with, among others, the recently launched Surface Pro 4 - the x2 can be configured with either 4GB or 8GB of RAM, and a solid-state drive with 128GB, 256GB or 512GB of SSD storage albeit the Full HD display is less than the Surface Pro 4's 2,763 x 1,824. There is a firm looking metal kick stand. Reports suggest the sound is very good partly due to the Bang & Olufsen 4 speakers and their positioning.
Microsoft Surface Book, 725gm The Microsoft Surface Book offers a premium 2-in-1 experience all the way up to graphically intensive scenarios. An optional Nvidia discreet GPU pairs with Skylake processors and there's a 16 GB RAM option too. A Surface docking port is provided for the external Surface Dock. Pricing starts at $1499.
Microsoft Surface Pro 4, 766gm The Surface Pro 4 has launched with a bigger screen in the same sizing as the Surface Pro 3. Entry level $899 model will be a Core M based device with Intel HD 515 graphics but a Core i7 version with Intel Iris graphics will be available. A new mechanical Touch-Type keyboard will also work with the Surface Pro 3. Resolution is 2736 x 1824
Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2, 749gm This particular variant of Samsung's Galaxy Note Pro 12.2, an Android tablet with stylus pen, has an Exynos 5 octa core processor (model 5420) at 1.9GHz and a Mali T628 graphics coprocessor (@ 533MHz). To remind you the device has an enhanced Android UI with multi window interface where you can multi task in each.
There's a nice looking keyboard/cover as an accessory option.
Apple iPad Pro, 713gm Apple have launched the iPad Pro a monster 12.9 inch tablet with 2,732x2,048 resolution screen powered by an A9X processor they claim is 80% more powerful than existing laptops - we don't know how they calculated this! Clearly influenced by Microsofts Surface line and pricing starts at $799.
Teclast x2 pro, 844gm So following on from their 8 and 9.7 inch dual boot devices Teclast have introduced a large tablet - the X2 Pro - which has a full HD 11.6 inch screen which is also able to boot Windows 10 or Android 4.4 (5.1 expected) and has a generous 4GB RAM and 64GB or 128GB storage options.
Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 260, 1300gm The Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 260 is an update of last years versatile model and has a 12.5-inch display where you can choose either 1366x768 or 1920x1080 resolutions as well as up to 16GB RAM and up to 512GB storage. It still has its 360 degree hinge and trackpad (as well as the red trackpoint cap) of the originals of course. The cpu options start at a Intel Core i3-6100U Skylake with choices up to the i7-6600U available.
HP Pro Slate 12, 850gm The HP Pro Slate 12 is a 12.3 inch Android Lollipop tablet with an unusual screen resolution of 1600x1200 and a 4:3 ratio screen, good for full page reading, powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad core CPU. An HP Duet Pen is included to work with the HP suite of productivity apps as well as those yo can get from the Google store.
HP Pro Tablet 608 G1, 420gm The HP Pro tablet 608 G1 is an 8 inch hi-res (2048x1536/QXGA 4:3 ratio) Windows device in a thin case with a quad core Atom processor. It has the connectivity options for mobility - AC dual band wifi and optional 4G/LTE WWAN and travel keyboard but it is expensive and the Chinese among others will be challenging. If this is in your sights make sure you get the required RAM and storage options for the future (probably 4G and 64GB) as these are not user upgradable.
Lenovo Thinkpad 10, 617gm Announced near the end of May, the headline for the Lenovo Thinkpad 10 is it's the first identified with Windows 10. Promoted as a business ready 10.1" tablet with full PC experience with the latest Atom Cherry Trail CPU it's very light at 617 grams and also versatile in that it adapts for work, home, or mobile use, by having usage modes such as laptop, desktop, tablet, or in a stand mode. Notable optional extras are a digitizer pen and a 4G LTE module. The inference from the TechRadar.com hands-on is that it is not fanless - in comparing with a competitor the Dell 11 Pro 7000 series (7140 I guess)
Fujitsu Arrows Tab Q665, 795gm Fujitsu's first Core M device is the Arrows Tab Q665 Windows tablet targeted at the enterprise market - solid in construction (also waterproof and dustproof to IP58 standard) and security. You can get it with a choice of Core M-5Y10C or M-5Y31 CPUs, 128 or 256GB SSD and 4 or 8GB RAM. As usual with enterprise divices from Fujitsu it will be expensive if it comes to Europe - upwards of 1200 euros but it does have top notch components.
Toshiba Portege Z20t, 1510gm The Toshiba Protege Z20t seems a well designed machine with various modes of operation. Its a reasonably powerful ultrabook with spill resistant backlit keyboard and active stylus, though the RAM is not upgradeable. There are currently two variants B2111 (5Y71, 8GB RAM, 128GB) and B2112 (5Y71,8GB,256GB)
Fujitsu Stylistic Q335 Mini Tablet, 399gm The Fujitsu Stylistic Q335 8inch Mini Tablet has been designed for convenient ultra-mobility with Windows 8 productivity. The Atom processor gives it solid performance and a long battery life in mainstream computer usage. There are accessories such as the Folio Cover or TPU Case (with choice of hand or shoulder strap), also there is the ability to enhance device protection and productivity.
Conversion cables are optional. Fujitsu are expecting usage to include tasks from the retail floor, to the classroom or corporate environment.
Acer Aspire Switch 11 V, 21828gm Acer's Switch 11 V could be a hit! A Core M processor and full HD display along with a stylish 2 in 1 design at a good price slots in under the Surface Pro 4 although more competition is appearing in the market. Also available without the keyboard-located hard drive. (SSD-only)
Acer Aspire Switch 10 2015, 595gm The Acer Switch 10 (SW5-015) is refreshed for 2015 but not by much. There's a new Gorilla Glass rear on the screen, an improved hinge mechanism. Acer haven't yet revealed the processor so we're expecting an update to Atom X5 or X7 there.
Dell Venue 10 Pro, 656gm Now a 10.1 inch Windows 8.1 tablet from Dell using an Atom processor this one is light, has 2 screen options as well as an optional mobile keyboard with battery.
Microsoft Surface 3, 622gm The Microsoft Surface Pro is the first device to be launched on Intel's 14nm 'Cherry Trail' Atom platform. The X7-8700 is a quad-core CPU with Turbo Boost to 2.4Ghz. Improvements in the GPU will also be noticable over Baytrail (2013) Atom devices. With a digitizer and a range of accessories, 4G options and a starting price of $499 this should be a successful ultra-mobile PC.
HP Pro Tablet 610 G1 , 652gm The HP Pro Tablet 610 G1 with Windows 8.1 Pro (64 bit), an Intel Atom processor Z3795,long battery life, and is compatible with legacy applications.
HP Elite x2 1011 G1, 780gm The HP Elite x2 1011 is a dockable Windows 8 (64 bit) tablet based on the Intel Core-M processors with optional vPro. Manufacturer claims 10.5 hours of battery life. Keyboard options include the Power Keyboard a full sized backlit island keyboard with battery - this has Forcepad with image sensor and multi-touch gestures enabled. Power keyboard is 780g. Travel keyboard option.
WiGIG is included. WiGIG dock and 4g are options.
Lenovo Thinkpad Helix 2, 794gm The 2nd-generation Lenovo Helix 2 is much lighter thanks to the Intel Core M CPU. The docking keyboard includes a 26Wh battery (total over 60Wh in under 1.4KG of convertible tablet is impressive) and includes a digitizer. The 11.6-inch screen comes in a useful Full HD resolution and the pricing isn't as high as you might expect for such a flexible 2-in-1.
Dell Venue 11 Pro 7140, 770gm The Dell Venue 11 Pro is a 10.8" Windows 8.1 Tablet running on Intels Core-M 5Y10 SoC platform. The 10.8" display features a Full HD (1920x1080 pixels) resolution and offers good viewing angles due to the IPS screen. It has a 10 finger multitouch screen and comes with an additional digitizer. Bluetooth 4.0, WiFi a/b/g/n and NFC make for some good wireless connectivity. In terms of ports it offers 1x USB 3.0, 1x microUSB 2.0, a microSDHC port and an miniHDMI port. We like the fact that the battery is user replaceable. A frontfacing 1.3MP as well as a backfacing 8MP camera should be enough for all your tablet needs. Note that there are multiple options like LTE available.
HP Envy 13 X2 2015, 1270gm With an integrated stand this 1.27KG tablet has many similarities with the Surface Pro 3 although this one is fanless. It's much bigger and heavier than the Pro 3 but that might be an advantage to some due to the better working space. This is almost a mini all-in-one and quite unique in the market. The Bluetooth keyboard is large and detachable, which can also be an advantage.
Toshiba Encore 2 Write 10, 550gm The Encore 2 Write tablets are a step up from the low-cost Toshiba Encore 2 tablets and come with 2GB RAM and 64GB SSD. Stereo speakers, micro USB, microSD and headset ports are included and on the 10-inch version you'll find an micro HDMI port. The Encore 2 Write tablets come with an 8MP camera which, if it's as good as the cam on the original Toshiba Encore, should be enough for some good snaps, business cards, whitebooards and the like. Toshiba are including their TruCapture software to help clean-up some of those captures. There's a GPS included in the package which is going to help put location tags on your notes and images and the sensor pack also includes a digital compass.
A 22.5Wh battery is included in the 10-inch tablet. Included in the deal is 1 year of Office 365 with 1TB storage.
Toshiba Encore 2 Write 8, 380gm The Encore 2 Write tablets are a step up from the low-cost Toshiba Encore 2 tablets and come with 2GB RAM and 64GB SSD. Stereo speakers, micro USB, microSD and headset ports are included and on the 10-inch version you?ll find an HDMI port. The Encore 2 Write tablets come with an 8MP camera which, if it?s as good as the cam on the original Toshiba Encore, should be enough for some good snaps, business cards, whitebooards and the like. Toshiba are including their TruCapture software to help clean-up some of those captures. There?s a GPS included in the package which is going to help put location tags on your notes and images and the sensor pack also includes a digital compass.
A 15Wh battery is included in the 8-inch tablet. Included in the deal is 1 year of Office 365 with 1TB storage.
Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 Series (7140), 733gm The Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 is a dockable tablet designed around Intels latest Core-M platform. It features a whole range of connection options such as WiFi ac, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, an LTE option as well as Miracast and Intel WiDi support. As usual with Dell machines there are parts you can pick and choose from the store such as more RAM (8GB max) more SSD Storage (128 or 256GB options available) as well as the aforementioned LTE module. The 10.8" Full HD screen has a 10 point multi touch sensor as well as support for the optional Dell Active Stylus. Having an IPS display the device comes with a wide viewing angle. There is also an optional keyboard dock available.
Acer Aspire Switch 12, 1200gm The Acer Aspire Switch 12 runs on Intel's Core-M platform with the HD 5300 GPU. This hybrid device has a detachable keyboard and can be used as a tablet or as a laptop. It has 4GB of RAM and 60GB/128GB of SSD storage. Note that the detachable keyboard does not feature a touchpad but offers a trackpoint and can operate remotely via RF. A total weight of 1.4KG is not the best in class but pricing looks attractive so this may be an option for those looking for a low-cost hot-desking solution.
The Acer Aspire 12 is slightly heavier than some of the other 12.5-inch 2in1 devices but starts at a slightly lower price. Good SSD speeds. A large range of usage scenarios are enabled by the design.
Dell Latitude 13 7000, 920gm The Dell Latitude 13 7000 is a 2-in-1 dockable tablet powered by Intels Core M-5Y10a processor. The processor has a base-clock pf 800MHz with turbo-boost of up to 2GHz. The IPS Full HD 13.3" touchscreen has a digitizer interface as well as the finger touch layer. It supports almost all wireless standards with Bluetooth 4.0 WiFi a/b/g/n/ac and Miracast. The keyboard dock comes with 2 USB 3.0 ports and a mini displayport.
Odys WinTab 10, 655gm The Odys WinTab 10 is a 10.1" Windows 8.1 Tablet at a very low pricepoint. Powered by the Intel Atom Z3735G quadcore processor clocked at 1.33GHz in conjunction with 2GB of RAM it should be sufficient for everyday usage scenarios. MicroHDMI, microSDHC card slot, audio jack and a microUSB host (OTG) port is all there is around the device. This device comes with a copy of Office Personal 365 preinstalled. Note that the 10.1" display features an IPS panel.
Microsoft Surface Pro 3, 800gm Microsoft have taken the Surface 2, increased the screen size an reduced the weight making it a leading example of tablet engineering. The 12-inch, 800 gram tablet won't be aimed at casual users but with the included digitizer it will appeal to creative types. Pricing matches its pro-level specifications. Starting at $799 it's 'accessible' but if you're looking at 8GB RAM, Core i5 and 128GB of SSD you'll be forced to take the 256GB model at $1299. Great engineering and a perfect device for a lot of creatives but not exactly your mainstream laptop-replacement, especially as similar performance can be had in an Ultrabook for a much lower price.
Lenovo Thinkpad 10, 595gm Aimed at professional users and built to be a very lightweight 'tablet-first' 2-in-1 the Lenovo Thinkpad 10 offers a high level of specification for a Baytrail-T tablet. 64-bit OS, 4GB RAM and 128GB SSD along with a range of accessories and optional digitizer layer. The Lenovo Thinkpad 10 isn't a low-cost tablet but it's a flexible and high-quality choice among 10-inch mobile Windows tablets.
Sony Vaio Fit 11A Flip, 1279gm Sony have an impressive set of specifications here. FullHD screen, back-lit keyboard, NFC, 128GBSSD and a CPU that should satisfy most home and small business needs. To top it off Sony have added a digitizer pen and are offering Photoshop Elements 12 in some packages.
ASUS Vivotab Note 8, 380gm With the Wacom digitizer this is going to appeal to a lot of people. The price is good and the specs match many of the other 8-inch Windows tablets so the only thing left is to read through the reviews to make your choice!
Fujitsu Stylistic Q584, 640gm Clearly aimed at business markets but offering some ofthe best specifications we've seen on the first wave of Baytrail tablets. 4G, 640gm, IGZO 2650x1600 screen, Digitizer and a built-in 38Wh battery are all high-end.
Dell XPS 11, 1134gm The Dell XPS 11 is a foldable Windows 8 laptop-hybrid like the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11. With a 360 degree foldable screen it can be used either in laptop or tablet mode. At just around 1,1 kg it is pretty light to carry around in a bag. Something we like to mention is the 2560x1440 pixels resolution display Dell packed in there. With an not Intel Core i5 Haswell processor it should be capable of handling all office cases one could imagine, plus some basic level gaming.
Kupa UltraNote X15, 760gm The Kupa UltraNote X15 is a dockable Tablet system built upon Intel's Ivy Bridge platform. It consists of the Tablet itself and a dock with several ports, like an Ethernet port VGA and an SD Card Reader. The dock houses an additional battery for up to 12 hours of work.
Microsoft Surface Pro, 907gm Microsoft's Surface Pro is likely to give the tablet category a good boost through the marketing and branding and this version of the Surface will be a true desktop-capable device. At 900gm it's one of the lightest Core-based tablets and the 10.1" screen also makes it highly portable. A digitiser layer, FULLHD resolution and keyboard accessories only make it more interesting. We'd have preferred to see a full size SD card slot although the SDXC slot will be useful in expanding storage space.
Lenovo Thinkpad Helix, 785gm The Lenovo Thinkpad Helix offers an advanced tablet/laptop configuration with battery capacity up to an impressive 70Wh with the clamshell dock. The weight, however, is high at 1.7KG, much more than other 11.6" ultrabooks that go down to 1KG. SSD options, CPU options (including VPro support) and memory up to 8GB give the business user and consumer a wide choice of configurations. We think the Lenovo Helix is going to be very popular here on Ultrabooknews but pricing will be high. Starting price: around $1500.