Hard to believe that it has been more than two years since we uncovered the first signs of the Universal Stylus Initiative in the Chromium repositories. Since that time, Google has gone all-in on USI pen technology and presented Chrome OS as a massive springboard for the universal protocol that allows Chromebook owners to use the pen of their choice instead of a proprietary model that’s made for a specific device. USI pens lend themselves very well to the cloud-based nature of Chrome OS and the tech is evolving nicely but there’s still some work to be done before the USI stylus becomes a true staple in the Chromebook ecosystem. We’ve seen some really cool implementations of the USI protocol but we’ve barely scratched the surface of what the pens could do in the future. When we get there, USI will hopefully become a household name.
Evolution aside, the biggest issue consumers have face when it comes to USI pens is where to find them and how to identify one. There are countless Amazon listings for styluses that are “universal” but these are nothing more than capacitive pens that work on most touch screens. Problem is, they don’t work well. Using one isn’t that much different than using your fingertip. For creatives or just note-takers, that’s not a fun experience at all. For quite some time, your only options for a USI pen were to get one from an OEM or one of the two or three on Amazon like Penoval or iPlume.
Somewhere along the way, that all changed. If you hop on Amazon at the moment, you’ll find a slew of new USI pens with various features from a wide range of makers. Many of these look very similar to the Penoval or the iPlume as they are probably manufactured in the same factory and given a new branding for whatever company has licenced the pen. Others, however, are unique and stand out from the crowd with sleek designs and custom functions on the barrel buttons. One, in particular, the MoKo in the featured image at the top, has almost an Apple Pencil feel to it. This is the beauty of USI pens. Makers can take the basic protocols and design whatever they want so long as the core features are there.
This is all great news for you, the consumer as it means you can easily get your hands on a USI pen that perfectly fits your needs and style. The wider availability also means more competitive pricing. For example, you can pick up Lenovo’s USI stylus on Amazon at the moment for only $29. That’s cheap for just about any digital pen. At the end of the day, the one you choose is entirely up to you. I just wanted to point out how quickly the USI platform has expanded and that your selection is better than ever. If you are buying from Amazon, make sure you’re buying from a reputable seller that has a good rating and a buyer-friendly return policy. Check out more USI styluses over on the Chrome Shop at the link below.