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Mobile phone companies may have helped bring back the stylus, but it’s not exactly replacing pencils or pens for digital note-taking. HP, however, has a different take. Will it work?

Despite how many of us are using both virtual and physical keyboards on a regular basis, one question we get asked regularly without fail is how can you make a pen digital.

Yes, the pen is still important, and while a screen can make it possible to synchronise our documents with ease in the cloud, making them available to all sorts of devices, it seems there’s nothing quite like the frantically scribbled scrawlings of someone taking notes or drawing.

We’ve seen a few different solutions over the years, from Livescribe’s digital reincarnation of the pen that read carbon indents on special dot paper, to Samsung’s take whereby you could replace the pad with a phone and the pen with its own S-Pen, a smartphone and stylus combination that offered digital notes to go.

But both solutions bring in some degree of compromise, between the necessary dot paper of the Livescribe to the fact that no matter how you fancy it up, writing on a screen just isn’t like writing on paper, an issue that affects Samsung’s Galaxy Note phones, tablets, and pretty much anyone using a stylus on a digital device.

Microsoft and Lenovo have both also managed to get in there, bringing stylus-based concepts to screens and asking you to write on the screen, with Windows computers taking your scribbled and turning it into something it can work with.


HP’s take, however, is different, bringing pen, paper, and a tablet to the table in a neat little folio, with the technologies working to make handwritten notes digital.

To do this, HP has produced an 8 inch tablet for the concept called the HP Pro Slate 8, though there is a 12 inch version available with the apt name “HP Pro Slate 12” just in case you need something bigger.


The tablet reminds us of the HTC One series of devices, is made from metal, features a speedy Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor with 2GB RAM and 16GB storage, a 7.9 inch 2048×1536 display that is every so slightly higher than Full HD, runs Android, and generally feels like a decent little machine, and a real improvement to the sort of Android tablets HP has been throwing out of late.

That’s part one of the package, because the digital age demands something digital, and so there it is.


Connecting to this is a wireless Bluetooth pen, in that it is both a pen and a Bluetooth transmitter, allowing you to write conventionally on a piece of paper and have those gestures translate to the screen.

You don’t need special paper to make this happen, though it helps to have paper made for the size of HP’s Slate portfolio, since the app is designed to work across from it, essentially mapping out the space for you to write in and translating your pen movements in that space.