TabletPC Compatible Wacom Pens (Work with Surface Pro)

Discussion in 'Microsoft' started by Steve S, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. Steve S

    Steve S Scribbler - Standard Member Super Moderator

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    [Updated 16Jun14]

    In order to help new tablet users, here is an assortment of tablet pens (some old and some new) that work with the Surface Pro (1), Surface Pro 2 and with Wacom tabletPC digitizers in general. Note that these pens are not compatible with Surface Pro 3, which uses an N-trig digitizer & pen.

    Let's begin by briefly discussing pens that don't work, because not all Wacom pens are compatible with the particular digitizer that is used in tabletPCs.

    <> Pens for Wacom Intuos, Graphire and Bamboo graphics tablets will not work with a tabletPC. In addition, some Cintiq pens are also incompatible; to confuse matters, some Cintiq pens work (early versions) and some do not (later versions). The Bamboo graphics tablet pens (Capture, Connect, Splash and Create) are NOT compatible.

    <> Although I hope everyone would know, N-trig (and the now uncommon FinePoint) pens will not work with Wacom digitizers and vice-versa. Also, the new Atmel and Synaptics pens are also incompatible.

    <> Finally, the Bamboo Solo* pen is not compatible in the sense that it does not work with the pen digitizer; however, it will work with tablets that incorporate a touch-sensitive capacitive sensor, so the Solo pen can be useful with TabletPCs that have combined pen and touch (as the Surface Pro does). But because it doesn't work with the pen digitizer, the Bamboo Solo pen cannot produce high-accuracy inking results.


    So what pens will work?

    <> The good news is that there are a large and varied assortment of pens that are compatible. The bad news is that some of the best pens have disappeared from the marketplace and are very hard (to essentially impossible) to find anymore. We'll talk a little more about that in a moment. Unlike some OEMs, Wacom has maintained compatibility of its digitizers and pens over the years. Any pen for any tabletPC (essentially since 2002) with a Wacom digitizer will work with any other tabletPC, including current tabletPCs. Thus, if you liked the pen that came with an HP/Compaq TC1100, you can use that same pen on your Surface Pro! Same for the MotionComputing LE1600 and LE1700 pens. Both pens can still be found for sale on eBay.

    <> Third-party pens made specifically for Wacom-equipped tabletPCs; this includes the new Bamboo Feel IT pen and the legendary, and mostly unobtainable, Cross Executive Pen which came in both a capped and a no-cap version.

    <> At one time, Wacom also sold several models of slender "penabled" replacement pens and these pens can still be found at some reseller sites. Wacom continues to sell a variety of replacement nibs (standard, flex, stroke, hard felt) for their "legacy" pens. Like the pens, the nibs are all interchangeable. The felt nibs are quite popular on glass screens. ( https://store.wacom.com/us/accessories/nibs-and-ink-refills )

    <> An important note on Wacom nibs and interchangeability; a source of continuing confusion involves the interchangeability of nibs between the newer Feel IT pens (Pro pen and Bamboo Feel IT pen in particular) and Wacom's older, or "legacy," tabletPC compatible pens (all the other pens shown below). The nibs for the new Feel IT pens are smaller in diameter than the older pens; this means that the popular replacement nibs mentioned above (standard, flex, stroke, felt) will not fit the Feel IT pens. The nibs are too big in diameter! As of this writing (Mar 2014), it appears that Wacom only offers two nib styles for their Feel IT pens, the original hard plastic nib and a "soft" nib for a less "slick" writing feel. See the last three entries on the following web page, but note that the compatibility needs to be checked with Wacom before purchasing: https://store.wacom.com/us/accessories/nibs-and-ink-refills

    <> Finally, any other Wacom pen with a "UP" model prefix (for example: UP-710E, UP-817E...). Most of the more exotic pens are no longer available, but some, like the UP710E can still be found at Amazon and on eBay. Some of the rare UP prefix pens are shown on the following web page (first section, light blue boxes): Wacom Asia Pacific | Pen Compatibility Every now and again some of these pens will show up on auction sites, but they typically command very high prices.

    Shown below are some of the compatible pens discussed above. From top to bottom, they are: 1) HP/Compaq TC1100 pen, 2) Cross (no cap) Executive pen, 3) MotionComputing LE1600 / LE1700 pen, 4) Axiotron Studio pen, 5) Axiotron 2-Button pen, 6) Samsung Series 7 pen and 7) Wacom Bamboo Feel IT pen


    [​IMG]

    Finally, here is the Wacom Bamboo Solo pen that works only on capacitive sensing screens

    [​IMG]


    * Note that in their corporate wisdom, Wacom decided to name three different products "Bamboo"! The Bamboo graphics tablet pens (Capture, Connect, Splash and Create) are NOT compatible. Bamboo Solo is only compatible with touch screens. Bamboo Feel IT is compatible with tabletPCs.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2014
    Unlogic, tabletpcrev and jaekqubp like this.
  2. Supagoat

    Supagoat Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Thank you for this! I found this forum post from a google search that also turned up this wacom list of pen compatibility which probably doesn't help us surface users at all, but might be helpful to someone:

    Wacom Asia Pacific | Pen Compatibility
     
  3. Greg_E

    Greg_E Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I have that Axiotron silver with silicone pen that is kind of in the middle (largest diameter) for my Fujitsu ST5112 tablet and love this pen, the most comfortable pen I've ever used. Nice to know it works with the Surface.
     
  4. r11

    r11 Scribbler - Standard Member

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    +1 on Axiotron. I only wish the second button was recognized in OneNote 2013 .
    On my older than dirt M200, with the same pen, second button turns the tip into eraser - real handy as you
    don't have to flip the pen to get eraser going.
     
  5. bjornb

    bjornb Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Any good alternatives with switch and eraser that works with the pro?
    UP710E perhaps?
     
  6. derek1816

    derek1816 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Related query -- I've done extensive google searching and can't find out about the nibs on the SPro stylus. Any ideas about compatibility of the nibs? Perhaps swapping out the stock one with a hard felt nib or the like?
     
  7. Steve S

    Steve S Scribbler - Standard Member Super Moderator

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    <<...can't find out about the nibs on the SPro stylus. Any ideas about compatibility of the nibs?..>>

    derek: Join the club. I've stared at the nib on the Pro pen and I can't decide if it's replaceable, or not. I find it... interesting... that the presumed to be Wacom pen did not come with the usual nib puller and spare plastic nibs. I had decided that I would ignore this situation until I needed to do something about the nib, but maybe I'll try to pull the nib out after all...

    In the meantime, you might contact the Answer Desk and simply ask them if the nibs are replaceable. If you do, report back and tell us what they said!
     
  8. derek1816

    derek1816 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Good call. I'll give them a call and post a follow up when I get some more info.
     
  9. derek1816

    derek1816 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Well, that answered it: not possible to replace nibs. Looks like finding an alternative to the stock stylus is the only way. Hopefully the Bamboo Feel is available in Canada in the future.

    Steve S comments: See Post #14 The nibs are replaceable.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 22, 2013
  10. dstrauss

    dstrauss Comic Relief Senior Member

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    Anyone find a was to reassign the pen button?
     
  11. Steve S

    Steve S Scribbler - Standard Member Super Moderator

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    <<...not possible to replace nibs...>>

    ...Interesting. Maybe it's just me, but I still think that the Pro is not using a stock Wacom system. A derivative, to be sure; but this incongruity, along with the driver issue, keep suggesting to me that Microsoft has brewed up something different here...
     
  12. jhoff80

    jhoff80 Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    There's teardowns that would disagree with you on that point. ;)

    [​IMG]
    Microsoft Surface Pro Teardown - iFixit
     
  13. Steve S

    Steve S Scribbler - Standard Member Super Moderator

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    <<...There's teardowns that would disagree with you on that point...>>

    ...Nice try, but no prize. Under cross-license with Wacom, Microsoft could have their own IC manufactured for them by Wacom and because of licensing, Wacom might still get to stamp their name on it. Equally possible, they could use an existing Wacom IC but load their own proprietary software or firmware on it. The image from the teardown doesn't disprove either possibility. Even if the W9002 IC is described in the literature, it could still carry custom firmware.

    HOWEVER, just for clarity, I'm not saying that the Pro uses a hybrid Microsoft-Wacom design; I'm just saying that it's still a possibility.

    Having said that, read the next post...
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2013
  14. Steve S

    Steve S Scribbler - Standard Member Super Moderator

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    <<...Well, that answered it: not possible to replace nibs...>>

    ...Fortunately for us, that turns out to be inaccurate. After reading your comment, I drove over to our local Microsoft store and asked one of the sales reps about it. He grabbed a pen and pulled the nib out, then re-inserted it. The pen continued to work normally.

    I'm going to try a Hard Felt nib tonight...
     
  15. derek1816

    derek1816 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Fantastic! No Microsoft Store where I am so I had to rely on what the tech said at the Answer Desk. I wasn't willing to pull the nib out on my own stylus as an experiment. I'll give the feedback when I get the inevitable customer service survey.

    Looking forward to seeing what you learn with the hard felt tip. If it works, going to put my order in tonight.
     
  16. Steve S

    Steve S Scribbler - Standard Member Super Moderator

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    <<...I'm going to try a Hard Felt nib tonight...>>

    Well, guess what? The Wacom replacement nibs that I have on hand don't fit the Pro pen! The blue Pro nib is significantly smaller in diameter than the standard Wacom nibs!

    More to follow.
     
  17. Loranys

    Loranys Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Yeah I tried that the first day I got my surface pro, since I hate the feeling of plastic on glass. What I'm wondering is if the bamboo stylus feel pens can fit the standard felt nib since they aren't listed as pens compatible with the nibs and Wacom offers completely different nibs for those pens. I wonder if the bamboo feel stylus nibs will fit the surface pen if the standard felt nib types don't... since it seems you have both do you think you can try that out? :D

    Also I'm wondering if the whole microsoft-wacom hybrid might also tie in with the whole glass fused digitizer thing they were so excited about.
     
  18. plebianJay

    plebianJay animation monkey

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    The bamboo feel nibs are thinner than the old ones as well. They are the same diameter as the ones used in the Note 10.1 stylus, but a bit longer.
    I made the mistake of putting a shorter Note nib into my Feel pen, and it almost went all the way inside the pen! I had to use a razor blade to grab the tiny little bit that was sticking out and gently ease it out without slicing it off.

    I wonder if the thinner nibs belong to a newer generation of wacom pens, and are more compatible with the latest digitizers in devices. The new pens don't seem nearly as sensitive to tilt drift compared to the older ones, and the older pens have much more drift on the newer digitizers. The old pens drift like crazy on the Note 10.1, a bit less so than the surface pro.
     
  19. Steve S

    Steve S Scribbler - Standard Member Super Moderator

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    <<...I wonder if the thinner nibs belong to a newer generation of wacom pens, and are more compatible with the latest digitizers in devices...>>

    I also suspect that may be the case. Got the trusty micrometer out this afternoon and made a few measurements:

    <> Bamboo Feel white Hard Plastic nib: 0.0632"
    <> Bamboo Feel black Rubber-Tip (?) nib: 0.0625"
    <> Surface Pro blue Hard Plastic nib: 0.0625"

    <> Wacom black Hard Felt nib: 0.0690"
    <> Wacom gray Stroke (spring) nib: 0.0675"
    <> Wacom white Hard Plastic nib: 0.0690"

    So the older, "traditional" Wacom nibs are significantly larger in diameter than the newer, "Feel" style nibs; this means that the traditional nibs will not fit the new Feel pens (also the Surface Pro pen). The good news here is that the Bamboo Feel nibs fit the Surface Pro pen and so in addition to replacement hard plastic nibs, you also have the alternate choice of the rubber-tipped Feel nibs. I'm test driving one now in my Pro pen, and on the Incipio Screen Protector, the feel is pretty nice...
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2013
  20. Loranys

    Loranys Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Perfect :D thanks for the info, I had suspected that the thinner nibs were probably being applied to all the new wacom things coming out. How do you feel using of the wacom "feel" pen with the surface? I think you mentioned at one point that you were checking to see if it was slightly more accurate? Do you use the surface pen over the feel because of the eraser/ability to clip it on the side of the pro?
     
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