The Universal Stylus Initiative is still in its infancy but Chromebooks are seeing wide-spread adoption of the new digital pen standard. Devices from HP, ASUS, Acer and Lenovo have already implemented the universal pen standard in a handful of Chromebooks but we have yet to see very many actual pens from any of the OEMs other than Hewlett-Packard. ASUS told us back at CES they had their own USI stylus on the way and Lenovo’s self-branded pen has just recently surfaced via an FCC listing. Today, we have our first sighting of USI pens from not one but both of these companies. I received an email from Mike who had done some pretty impressive investigative work on ASUS’ storefront and in his digging, he found a model number for ASUS’ unannounced USI stylus. After some more digging, he was able to find a listing for the pen as well as another from Lenovo.
Before you get too excited, neither one of these pens appears to be available but the listings are from reputable sites and that’s a good indicator that they will be made available in the very near future. Listings include CDW, Provantage and PC Canada along with a few other lesser-known resellers. Pricing is a bit of a grab bag at the moment with the Lenovo coming in at $47 on CDW and $58.99 CAD on PC Canada. Lenovo’s stylus looks much like many of the company’s other pens with a utilitarian black finish and not much else to speak of in the way of aesthetics.
The ASUS, on the other hand, looks to have the fit and finish to match the company’s recently launched Chromebook C436. If you take a look at the landing page for the C436, you will get a pretty good look at the new pen. At the base of the barrel, you can see a gunmetal gray that is labeled with the words “asus COLLECTIONS.” The pen is sleek looking for sure and I would presume that the base slides up or off to expose the charging port. The stylus is the right size, too. I’m all for garaged pens for those who don’t use a stylus that often but for creators, a pen that actually feels like a pen is the way to go. This stylus should be a comfortable fit for artists and those who frequently write on their Chromebooks.
CDW is listing the stylus for $65.99 which feels a bit pricey in my opinion. I understand that these are OEM-branded pens but USI tech is meant to make it easier to buy and use a stylus across all of your compatible devices. Sure, the Pixelbook Pen was $100 when it came out but that’s a totally different conversation. I suppose that as USI pens become more prevalent, third-party makers will begin offering cost-effective solutions for schools and institutions that want to purchase them in bulk. It’s great to see Chrome OS pushing forward in this space but USI pens still feel a bit unfinished and for the time being, lack of availability will make it tough to use USI as a selling point for Chromebooks. We’ll keep an eye on these and hit up our contacts to see when the new USI pens will start shipping. You can find the listings for both pens at CDW below.