HP recently released a new active pen onto the increasingly crowded market: the HP Active Pen with App Launch. The pen's product number is T4Z24UT#ABA and sells for $39 at HP.com http://store.hp.com/us/en/pdp/hp-active-pen-with-app-launch?jumpid=reg_r1002_usen_c-001_title_r0001
The company's website states that the new pen is only compatible with the HP Elite x2 1012 G1, but as is often the case when it comes to the intriguing world of ActiveES, that isn't entirely accurate.
The new pen inks perfectly on the HP Spectre x2 which I reviewed earlier this year, but I was not able to take advantage of its Bluetooth syncing capability. Despite my best efforts, the pen refused to pair with the tablet.
I thought the problem might have to do with weak batteries in the pen cap, but I was able to pair it without a problem to my Thinkpad Yoga 14.
I recently discovered that neither HP's Spectre x2 nor Lenovo's Miix 700 tablets are officially Wacom devices, despite having somewhat compatible pens. The HID compliant pens report themselves as Elan products. I thought this might have to do with the inability to pair, but I didn't have any issue pairing the pen to the Miix, so I can only conclude that the problem is specific to my Spectre or a choice made by HP.
If any of you have the opportunity to test the HP Active Pen with App Launch on a Spectre x2, please let me know if you're able to make it work.
So is the pen worth checking out even if its Bluetooth app launching feature is not available? Absolutely.
It ships with three replacement tips, an extractor ring and two adhesive pen loops to attach to your keyboard cover.
The tips are a bit harder than I prefer, but work very nicely for writing. As with all Wacom ActiveES pens I've tested, the tips are interchangeable with those found on other pens like the Toshiba dynaPad's TruPen.
Most importantly, the new pen is full-sized, rather than the crayon length of the original HP Active Pen. It's still a little slimmer than I would like but overall provides a much more comfortable experience.
If you own an Elite x2 1012 G1, the pen is a no-brainer. But owners of Lenovo's Thinkpad Pen Pro or Wacom Bamboo Smart who want app launching capability may want to give the pen a try as well.