Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 vs HP Envy x360 2-in-1. Which Active Pen is best for writing and drawing?

If you are a student or a working professional who is looking for a laptop and an active stylus pen for taking notes and drawing sketches, you found the right place! I am going to compare the HP Envy x360 Active Pen with the Lenovo Flex 5 Active pen. BTW both HP Envy x360 and Lenovo Flex 5 are excellent 2-in-1 convertible laptops and they include an active stylus pen for free. I have already reviewed Lenovo Flex 5 here and my full review of HP Envy x360 laptop is coming soon

While using the active stylus pen on HP Envy x360 and Lenovo Flex 5, the first thing that jumps out is the size of the screen. HPs 15.6” screen provides a lot more real-estate for taking notes and making sketches than Lenovo Flex 5’s 14” display. While some may prefer this large writing surface, I personally prefer the smaller 14” display on Lenovo Flex 5. It's more convenient to hold this laptop in my hands and take down notes with the active pen. Both these laptops come with Windows Ink Workspace and Microsoft Onenote software for jotting down notes and making sketches. Even though both these laptops are running an identical version of windows 10 operating system, the screen digitizer technology used is very different. 

HP Envy x360’s screen digitizer is built on “N-trig” technology. This is the same tech that Microsoft uses in their latest Surface Pro devices. Lenovo Flex 5 on the other hand is using something called Wacom AES which is an active electrostatic digitizer technology from Wacom, a japanese company that specializes in graphics tablets. Unfortunately these 2 technologies are incompatible with each other. So that means the HP pen will not work with Lenovo Flex 5 laptop and the Lenovo pen will not work with HP envy x360 laptop. I wish these windows laptop makers could come up with a unified pen technology, so that we can use one pen for all laptops. But as of now, the only universal pen that supports both N-trig and AES digitizer is made by Wacom and it goes by the name  . But for the purpose of this review, I will use the Lenovo Pen on Flex 5 laptop, and HP pen on Envy x360 laptop. If you interested in checking out the Wacom Bamboo ink pen, I have linked it in the video description below

OK, so I have been using both Lenovo Active and HP Envy x360 pens for the last few months. I have mostly used them for note taking and sketching. Now I am no artist, so my sketches are mostly just diagrams, flow-charts and occasionally mindless doodling. But after using these pens for couple of months, I am very impressed with their performance. Both these pens offer good accuracy, latency and palm-rejection. Both pens offer various levels of pressure sensitivity which coupled with low screen latency results in a great note taking experience. Since you are writing on a glass surface, the tip of the pen needs to provide adequate resistance to simulate a paper & pencil experience. 

Both HP and Lenovo do a good job in this respect. Personally, I prefer Lenovo’s note taking experience over HP, largely because of its 14” screen size which is more manageable. Both these laptop screens offer just the right amount of friction between their pen tips and glass surface to create a great writing experience. Now latency is very important when writing on any digital surface be it a windows laptop, an iPad Pro or a Samsung Galaxy Note phone. Poor latency creates a delay between pen movement and what you see on the screen. This results in a very jarring experience because we are used to writing on paper where we don't see this kind of behavior. Both Lenovo Flex 5 and HP Envy x360’s screen digitizer works really well with their respective active pens providing low enough latency to create a natural writing experience.

Let's quickly talk about palm rejection which is also very important in creating a good writing experience. Both HP Envy x360 and Lenovo Flex 5 offer very good palm rejection but you need to tweak some options in the pen software. I had to go inside pen settings and select an option to disable touch inputs while using the pen. Without selecting this option, the screen would register double taps from my palm and behave erratically. But once I figured out this fix, it was smooth sailing from there on. During long writing sessions on both these laptops, I didn't encounter any accidental palm induced disruptions. Both laptops automatically recognized and differentiated between the tip of the active pen and my palm. So I could comfortably rest my palm on the screen surface while using these pens for long hours. Both Microsoft OneNote and Windows Ink Workspace performed without issues while I took notes, wrote equations and made diagrams and sketches

Let's talk about the design of HP and Lenovo pens. Both these pens have two physical buttons which can be programmed to perform any desired task. By default one of the buttons is programmed to act like an eraser, which is very handy. Both these pens are powered by a single quadruple-A battery which is included with the pen. This battery is supposed to last for a year, so you don't have to worry about frequent charging. Lenovo’s pen comes with a USB pen holder for storage which can be installed in one of the unused USB ports in your laptop. This is really convenient because you won't have to worry about misplacing or losing your pen. Unfortunately there is no place on HP envy x360 laptop to hold its pen, which sucks. 

Both these pens weigh about the same and feel good in hands while writing. I personally prefer the matte black color of Lenovo Active pen, but I am sure a lot of you folks would appreciate the silver grey look of HP pen. So overall, I think both Lenovo Flex 5 and HP Envy x360 are compelling laptops for students and working professionals. The main difference between them when it comes to writing experience is the screen size. The writing experience on both these laptops is comparable to Microsoft Surface Pro which is a much more expensive device. Obviously there are more expensive devices like the latest iPad Pro and Samsung Galaxy Tab s7 which offer lower latency and better writing and sketching experience. But I think both Lenovo Flex 5 and HP Envy x360 are perfectly fine laptops for taking notes and drawing sketches. And remember, these pens come free with the laptop, unlike iPad Pro which does not even include a pen. It costs an extra $120 which is highway robbery in my opinion.

So what do you guys think of active pens and styluses? Do you use them often with your laptops? Do you prefer an iPad Pro to a 2-in-1 convertible windows laptop for taking digital notes? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Purchase Links

👉 Buy Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14

👉 Buy HP Envy x360
👉 Buy recommended PCIe NVMe SSD upgrades
👉 Buy 1080p webcam
👉 Buy Active Stylus Pen
👉 Buy M.2 NVME SSD Enclosure Adapter
👉 Macrium reflect free for SSD cloning

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