When the USI stylus movement first hit the Chrome OS scene, it was unclear as to whether or not the innovative new technology would take hold. Nearly two years later and USI pens have become the de facto writing tool for Chrome OS devices. Google has gone so far in backing the Universal Stylus Initiative that new, stylus-enabled devices must support the USI protocol and that is a very good thing for the end-user.
USI pens are still evolving and eventually, we will see a wide variety of universal styluses that feature barrel buttons capable of doing all sorts of customized options. One really great example is the Ufro color-matching USI stylus that Robby recently tested out. This pen is capable of instantly capturing the color of real-world objects and transferring them into compatible web apps on your Chromebook. The technology is mind-blowing and it is thanks, in part, to the flexible tech behind USI.
For daily use, any USI stylus will work on your USI-compatible Chromebook, and the one you buy really boils down to personal preference. Some pens, like Lenovo’s USI stylus, are battery-powered with no frills but are very cost-effective at a retail price of under $40. Other models like the Broonel USI pen are rechargeable via USB-C and feature barrel buttons that can interact in various ways depending on the app that you are using. These pens run anywhere from $50-$70 on shops such as Amazon. Again, it’s really dealer’s choice here but a lot of buyers would like to get a pen from the same OEM that makes their Chromebook. For you, the options are expanding.
The first in-house USI pen to market was HP’s rechargeable pen. That was followed by Lenovo and ASUS but we’ve yet to see a universal stylus from the king of Chromebooks, Acer. That was, until yesterday. Honestly, Acer hasn’t even hinted at making its own USI stylus but the fact that the company sells tons of Chromebooks in the consumer, education, and enterprise markets make it a no-brainer. We discovered a new USI pen from Acer when a reader tweeted at us about finding a review of the unannounced stylus. Apparently, the battery-powered USI pen is available in a handful of European markets via Acer’s own website. The pen features a single barrel button that Acer is calling the “wake up button.” It’s plausible that future updates could see this button adding some more functionality but for now, it simply wakes the pen.
The UK site has the USI pen listed for £49.99 and the Acer Ireland site is selling it for €49.90. This feels a bit pricey for a non-rechargeable model but that price could drop a bit when it lands on Acer’s US store. We’ll reach out to Acer and see if we can get our hands on the new USI pen to give you our thoughts. If you are across the pond and you’ve ordered the new Acer USI stylus, drop a comment and let us know what you think.