doing the Active ES pen and device compatibility testing so you won't have to.

[UPDATE 8/17/16: Reformatted chart to improve legibility.]

Be careful what you wish for.

It wasn't that long ago that we were lamenting the tiny number of pen-abled Windows tablets and laptops on the market. But since the release of the first Wacom Active ES (electrostatic) tablet in January 2015, there has been a dramatic uptick in the number of devices for artists to consider.

However, as we've documented again and again, device manufacturers usually do a terrible job documenting their pen compatibility. And in order to cut costs, most active pens are sold separately, leaving it to consumers to figure out which pen works best with what device.

To make matters even worse, some manufacturers (Lenovo, Dell) use the same name for two different, often incompatible models of pens.

I've personally tested nine Active ES devices with ten different pens. That's 90(!) possible combinations that can yield dramatically variable results.

Pen interoperability should improve by 2017 when Wacom releases its dual protocol pen and the USI (Universal Stylus Initiative) consortium brings its products to market. But in the meantime, if you're in the market for a pen-abled Active ES device or are looking for a replacement pen for one you already own, I offer this chart of my test results.

It's not entirely exhaustive, as there are various products I haven't tested personally. However, the newer a device is, the greater likelihood it will work with a pen like the Bamboo Smart.

To download a PDF version of this chart, visit

How I tested

Using a pre-release version of the latest Wacom Feel driver (Build 7.3.4-6), I tested inking in the Windows Ink Workspace Sketchpad and in Clip Studio Paint.

For those pens that were recognized by the Feel driver, I tested Wintab compatibility in Clip Studio Paint.

Incompatible pens were not recognized by the device and laid down no ink. Pens that yielded intermittent results either had trouble being recognized by the device or displayed flow errors in Sketchpad.


Toshiba's Encore 2 Write is the least compatible Wacom Active ES tablet on the market. It can only use the TruPen model designed for it. The pre-release Feel driver also disagreed with the E2W and I had to uninstall it in order for the tablet to function.

The most compatible tablet I tested was also from Toshiba. The dynaPad worked with every pen I had available.

The recently released Huawei Matebook will only work with its tailor-made MatePen and the Wacom Bamboo Smart for Select Tablets and 2-in-1s.

The MatePen itself was more compatible. It requires the new Feel driver for button configuration and worked with every tablet but the E2W and the HP Spectre x2 and Lenovo Miix 700.

While testing the new Feel driver, I stumbled upon the reason that the Spectre and Miix are not supported. Looking at the pen ID numbers for the two devices reveals that they are not actually Wacom tablets at all. Both the Spectre x2 and Miix 700 use touch panels manufactured by Elan. Those panels are built to Wacom's specs so they recognize most pens, but they are not necessarily 100% compatible.

For future Feel driver builds to recognize Elan devices, the tablet manufacturers would have to request support from Wacom.

Further Steps

I will continue to update the online version of this chart as I test new pens or devices. I'll also begin to add those tablets like the Lenovo X1 and Yoga 900s that I know are pen-abled but haven't tested personally.

HP is releasing a new pen with Bluetooth pen cap button next month. While it's targeted at the Elite x2, it should work with other devices on this list.

If you know or have tested any other AES devices or pens that I've left off the list, please let me know in the comments section below. 

AuthorRick Rodriguez