Active Ink Approved Tablet PCs under $1500:

Recently Active Ink has been inundated with customer inquiries asking the same question, namely "Which inexpensive tablets will work with your software?". Or, "Will my Android, Windows 8 tab or Ipad work with Active Ink?" We can hardly blame you for your confusion, since many manufacturers are pumping out similar-appearing but differently-functioning products as if the were all members of the same family. In order to clear up some of the confusion, we offer the following chart of devices you might be considering. We want to caution you that this list changes CONSTANTLY. Some manufacturers are releasing new Windows 8 tablets on a quarterly schedule. Some will work and some won't. (Last Updated: 3/06/2014)

Your first rule when selecting a tablet: PAY ATTENTION TO THE PEN!

The most critical factor that determines whether a tablet will be a good Active Ink platform is its digital pen. The best machines use a Wacom digital stylus. It is thin, uses a small hard plastic nib and has no batteries. A step below the Wacom is a stylus system made by the N-Trig company. It has a spongy, piston-action nib, and it contains a small battery in the pen itself. It will work for Active Ink purposes, but the precision of the pen is decidedly less than Wacom pens. Finally, there are the tablets with NO Pens. These are usually advertised as "10 finger touch or Capacitive tablets and they will not tout a pen anywhere in the main pages of their product literature. If they talk about a pen at all, it will be as an accessory option and mentioned as a "Targus" pen, costing about $10-$15. These should be avoided. They have rubbery, nub-like tips and are no better than using your finger. They produce very spotty, crude results.

With those general tips in mind, we've divided the available tablets into four categories:

(1) - "Fully Approved",

(2) - "Approved, but with Fussy Pens",

(3) - "Marginally Acceptable",

(4) -"Not Approved"
devices, with brief descriptions of their advantages, limitations or handicaps.

We have not listed the listed machines according to our preferences, we merely state whether they will successfully ink in an Active Ink form with their existing processors and digitizing screens. We hope this list will help you avoid making mistakes as you try to pair up hardware and software in your pursuit of an electronic forms solution.

FULLY APPROVED Tablets with a good stylus Photo Approximate Retail Price Restrictions & Limitations

Asus VivoTab Note 8 & VivoTab 11.6 -
• Asus is arguably the most forward thinking Windows Tablet maker out there right now. They have a host of tablets in various families and they know that the Wacom pen is the best, so they HEAVILY and properly tout it in their literature. Skip the Transformer, MeMO, and Fonepad families (all Android) and focus only on the VivoTab family. With the VivoTab family you have the VivoTab RT (also skip it) and the VivoTab Smart (no pen).

This leaves you with the VivoTab 11.6" Dual digitizing Windows 8 tablet has a great display and the superb Wacom pen. We can think of no defects to this machine, but it will run you upwards of $750. Because of Asus's confusing nomenclature at the retail level, MAKE SURE YOU ARE BUYING A TABLET THAT COMES WITH A PEN IF YOU SHOP AT BEST BUY OR STAPLES.

You also have the brilliant VivoTab Note 8 to choose from. A low priced, smaller 8" tablet that still offers Windows 8.1 AND a good Wacom pen. It runs about $350. Like the Surface, it comes in two versions: the dumber "RT" version without a pen, and this full Windows 8 machine with a pen. Get this one.

$329 to $800

none that we can see.

Asus eeeSlate ep121 and b121 -
• This 12.1" Dual digitizing tablet has the high quality display and the most powerful processor of any tablet under $1500. It comes with the smooth Wacom screen & stylus, Wi-fi, dual cameras, a bluetooth keyboard & a leather folio case standard. Superior in almost all respects to the smaller, cheaper Fujitsu q550 and Motion Cl900 machines, it weighs only 7 ounces more. Enjoys many positive reviews and loyal fans. Its only drawbacks are that its large, bright display and powerful Core i5 processor make for short battery life (4 hrs) and it has no docking station or swappable battery.

$1200 to $1500

4 hr battery life, bluetooth keyboard is fussy.

Dell Latitude 10 -
• Sadly, this tablet has come and gone with Dell. It worked and worked well, but Dell has replaced it with a tablet that uses an INFERIOR N-Trig pen that rates a class below the Latitude 10 (See below). If you can find a Latitude 10 used, you'll do well.

CAUTION: The new Dell Venue series of tablets is NOT as highly recommended by us, due to their use of the inferior N-trig digitizing pens. The Venue line will work with Active Ink, but expect your pen performance to be less than satisfactory.

No longer new

No longer available new.

Fujitsu Lifebook family of Convertible Tablets -
• Fujitsu has been in the tablet business as long as anyone, but lately they seem attached to N-Trig stylus with their slate style "Stylistic" family of tablets. The Lifebook family of convertible tablets (which are more like laptops) continue to be viable, however. Many models are available under $1500.

$1100 and up


Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet 2 -
• This 10.1" dual-digitizing tablet weights only 1.25 lbs with a 10 hour battery life. It is designed as a competitor to the Microsoft Surface Pro, and like the Dell, it seems to be a rock solid machine at a low price. Its starting price is only $649, $250 LESS than the Surface Pro. One area of concern is the digitizing pen. Lenovo's website says very little about it, besides saying it is optional. It says the pen has "on-board storage" and we don't know what this means. The pen looks similar to the inferior N-Trig technology, but we'll reserve judgement until we actually test one.

starting at $539

We're not sure what kind of pen it uses.

Lenovo Thinkpad Helix -
• This 11.6" detachable Ultrabook style laptop-tablet promises more powerful processors with a 10 hour battery life. It is scheduled for an April 2013 release and will probably come in at $1200 to $1500, replacing Lenovo's X220. One area of concern is the digitizing pen. Lenovo's website says very little about it, other than saying it is a Thinkpad 2 pen, but their X220 uses our preferred Wacom pen, so we're hoping the Helix will too. You can try asking their sales reps for more information, but they almost never know enough to give you a straight answer on this subject.


We're not sure what kind of pen it uses.

Lenovo x201/x220 Convertible tablets -
• 12" Windows 7 capacitive touchscreen convertible, uses the preferred Wacom digitizer. Powerful and well reviewed "laptop" style convertible tablet.


Laptop in size and weight.

Motion Computing C5/F5/F5v -
• These sibling 10.6" Windows 7 active digitizing tablets are very tough and they used to be very expensive. Now extremely fine off-lease units can be found for a bargain! They all use the superior Wacom digitizer and most have built-in RFID & bar-code scanners. They are rugged, hermetically sealed machines which boast anti-bacterial surfaces, swappable batteries, Wi-fi, and good processors, used C5/F5 machines make superb Active Ink platforms priced at $500 to $1000. In many cases they are better than the hamstrung N-trig machines that you can buy new and will regret, making them the best bargain tablets on the market right now. Docking stations are recommended as most have no external usb ports (except for the F5v).

$499 to $999

No external usb ports in the older C5 except when mated to a docking station.

Motion Computing LS800 -
• 8.9" Windows 7 active digitizing tablet, with the tried and true Wacom stylus. Wi-fi, no touch, also available with "mobility package" including bump case, docking station, & battery charger included.

$349 and up

Older machine, slower processor, shorter battery life, tendency to run hot.

Motion Computing LE1600 & LE1700 -
• 12" Windows 7 or XP active digitizing tablet with Wacom stylus. Wi-fi, no touch. Flexdock and large display make this device ideal for reception desk signing stations or users who want a large screen.

$349 and up

Older heavier machine, slower processors, shorter battery life.

Motion Computing j3400 -
• 12" dual digitizing Windows 7 tablet, with magnetically-mated folding keyboard and Wacom stylus. The j3400 is last year's model and the j3500 is Motion's current "Cadillac" of tablets. Both use the smooth Wacom digitizing stylus

$850 and up

Not new, relatively heavy.

Samsung Xe700 Series 7 Slate -
• This 11.6" Dual digitizing tablet is very similar to the Asus ep121 (see below) in most of its spec's, but it is significantly lighter, thinner, and possessing of a much longer battery life than the Asus. It also uses the superior Wacom digitizing pen, making it a much better platform for Active Ink than the Motion CL900, Fujitsu q550 or the Dell Latitude ST, which are all hamstrung by the inferior N-Trig pen. The Samsung may have a slightly smaller screen than the Asus, but it has a swappable battery and you can mate it to a docking station. Unlike the Asus, the Samsung's carrying case and bluetooth keyboard are sold separately, but in our opinion, it is still the best new tablet under $1500 on the market right now. Sadly, the folks at Samsung seem to have gotten wise to this fact because the price for the XE700 is actually going UP, not down. This tablet used to be available for around $900 new, now you can expect to pay at least $1200.

$1200 to $1500

Probably the best small Windows tablet on the market, but the price is rising

Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro convertibles, ATIV Tab 3 -
• After dropping its ATIV Tab running Windows RT, saying it was a "confusing" product, Samsung seems to be concentrating on its new Windows 8 convertible tablets released under the Smart PC banner. The 500 series uses the N2670 chip, while the 800 series uses full Core i3 and i5 chips. All seem to offer the Galaxy S Pen, which in our testing performed very well because it is basically a Wacom pen. Like the previous 7 series, these tablets look like winners. Look for anything that advertises their "S" Pen in a Windows tablet PC and you can't go wrong.

starting under $500

No defects spotted so far

Windows Surface PRO -
• This 10.6" dual-digitizing tablet is the latest thing, but it should NOT be confused by its cheaper and weaker sibling, the Surface RT, which is rated as only "Marginally Acceptable" by Active Ink. The Surface PRO is recommend by us and at $899 it is a pretty good choice. It comes WITH a digitizing stylus, hand-writing recognition, and full Windows 8 -- all essentials for running Active Ink. We like how MS has integrated a real keyboard into their covers and all of the spec's look good on paper.

starting at $899

Somewhat pricey.

Active Ink PenPad -
• 10.1" Windows 7 Home Premium slate-style tablet using an Intel Atom processor, wi-fi, uses the superior Wacom digitizer, capacitive multi-touch screen, innovative external slide bars and buttons cause less confusion when operating common controls and save battery life, Swappable batterys, pre-loaded with Active Ink software.

$899 with Form Filler, stylus & travel case.

not ruggedized.

Active Ink Scribe -
• 10.1" Windows 7 Home Premium convertible tablet using an Intelฎ Atom N2600 Dual Core 1.6Ghz processor, wi-fi, attached keyboard, ruggedized construction, built-in handle, protective rubber shell, resistive touchscreen & stylus, adjustable webcam, loaded with Office Starter. This tough little machine gets up to 10 hrs of battery life and can be warrantied up to 3 yrs. Designed by Intel, its form factor is still improving and going strong after 4 years since no one else has designed a better machine. The latest version has added the thrifty N2600 processor and an HDMI port. Processing speeds and battery life have both improved dramatically, but the price has stayed the same.

No longer available new

Somewhat heavier, but more durable than most slate-style tablets.

Approved Tablets with a FUSSY stylus! Photo Approximate Retail Price Restrictions & Limitations
Asus Taichi 21 & 31 -
• These unique 11.6 and 13.3 touch screen tablets have TWO screens, one facing the user and one facing out that enables them to be used as a tablet when the lids are closed. The second screen has the ability to use an N-trig stylus, which Asus doesn't talk about much and buries in the Taichi's accessories.

$1200 and up

Powerful, but not cheap. N-Trig stylus

Motion Computing cl900 & CL910 -
• Motion's latest and hottest 10" slate-style, dual digitizing touchscreen tablet. Very well built with a hi-resolution screen and the longest battery life in its class (6-8 hours), both Wi-fi & 3g models available. They have also released another version with the SLATEMATE attachment that allows quick scanning of barcodes, RFID codes and which has a built in mag stripe reader. Still, the CL900 and CL910 devices are hindered somewhat by the quirky N-Trig digitizing stylus. Nevertheless, is still a robust and beautifully built machine.

$1100 w/stylus

Undesirable N-trig stylus

Fujitsu Stylistic Tablets and convertibles -
• 10" slate-style tablets which aredirect competitor to the Dell Latitude and Motion CL-900 respectively. The Fujitsu q550 uses the same inferior N-Trig dual digitizing screen & stylus that its two competitors use. Unlike the CL-900, the q550 has a swappable battery and a price that starts about $300 less. In spite of these differences, most reviewers have preferred the Motion machine, but in our opinion, the N-trig digitizer is best avoided no matter what machine it is mated with, especially at the Fujitsu's steeper prices.

$729 and up

Undesirable N-trig stylus

Dell Latitude ST, Dell Venue Series -
• These multi-touch slate-style tablets are very similar to the Fujitsu and Motion slates in almost all respects -- including their use of the quirky, and (in our opinion) less-desirable N-trig digitizer. But they start with very low pricing at only $299 for the 8" tabs. In our opinion, that price is so low that it makes tolerating the N-trig pen almost worth it. Dell briefly offered a tablet (the Latitude 10) with the good Wacom digitizing pen, but they have since abandoned it. They seem to be an all N-Trig company now. Too bad.

$299 and up

Undesirable N-trig stylus

Hewlett-Packard Slate 500 -
• 8.9" Windows 7 dual digitizing capacitive touchscreen tablet with N-trig stylus, labcoat pocket sized. Active Ink compatible, but just barely. It will work with our software, but we cannot give this device a hearty endorsement due to well known problems with its glitchy N-trig stylus and other ergonomic issues.

no longer for sale new

Undesirable N-trig stylus, HP revamped the device less than a year after its introduction, but they kept the same stylus.

SONY VAIO Flip PC, Duo 13, Tap 11 -
• Sony has several new Windows 8 tablet offerings with digital pens. All seem to use the inferior N-Trig pen. They will work, but expect glitchy handwriting results.

around $1000

Undesirable N-trig stylus.

Marginally Acceptable Tablets with NO stylus or other drawbacks Photo Approximate Retail Price Restrictions & Limitations

Lenovo Ideapad Lynx, Thinkpad Twist, Ideapad Yoga 11 & 13; Acer Iconia W700 & W500 series, Gigabyte S & T series -
• On the surface, these sleek, powerful and flashy Windows 8 machines all look like they should be great Active Ink platforms. And they would be -- if they offered PENS! But none of them do. Since they run full Windows 8, Active Ink can run on them and you can use their built-in handwriting recognition to input cursive writing into their secondary input window using your finger as a pen, but that two step operation is clunky. If your forms require little handwriting and just signatures, however, you might be able to use these devices with little frustration.

$700 - $1200

NO stylus offered!

Windows Surface RT, Asus VivoTab RT -
• These two RT powered machines are pretty nifty and they can do an awful lot, but both have bigger brothers empowered with Pens and full Windows 8, which we recommend. They have great keyboards, handwriting recognition, and easy-to-use interfaces, but Active Ink does not yet run on Windows RT. You can use these devices to capture signatures using your fingertip on our Web-Enabled forms, but you won't be able to run full Active Ink on it, so we say, "Why not just pay a little more and step up to their bigger, better sibling machines?"

$499 and up

NO stylus offered! Active Ink does not run on Windows RT yet.

Hewlett-Packard Elitepad 900, Omni 10, Spectre x2, Pavilion x2, Split x2 -
• Hp seems to have abandoned interest in digitizing stylus tablets after their lack of success with early models. Neither the Elitepad (now itself obsolete) nor the Omni 10, nor any of the "X2" units offer a digitizing stylus. They are touch only machines.

$399 and up

ElitePad 900 obsolete, No digitizing stylus on either

Hewlett-Packard Touchsmart; Asus, Fujitsu, Dell, and other Touchscreen all-in-one desktops -
• These desktops are not really tablets, but they are powerful Windows machines most of which utilizing NextWindows optical touchscreen technology that works very well with Active Ink for handwriting or drawing purposes. While all these all-in-ones look very similar, we've found that the HP machines's sensors consistently have the best handwriting recognition. Many Active Ink users choose them as platforms to design forms using our Form Designer software. NOTE: HP's latest generation of Touchsmarts have ABANDONED the optical system that we thought worked well with a fingertip or a dummy stylus, in favor of a capacitive screen that only works with the fingertip. In our opinion, all capacitive touchscreens work less well than the old optical system for handwriting purposes.

$699 and up

Not tablets, no pens offered with any device. Some machines (namely HP's) work better than others at reproducing natural handwriting.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10 -
• Yes, we know that this is an ANDROID device and that in the category below we tell you that ALL Android Tablets are unacceptable platforms for Active Ink. Yes, Active Ink does NOT run on Android, nor do we have any intentions of creating a version for Android since most Android tab's lack handwriting recognition or even pens. But if we did, this tablet would work! And it will fill out our web-enabled forms quite nicely. It has a wonderfully precise Wacom pen that produces fine handwritten input. The pen can also be used as a pointer/mouse. Finally, it also has it's own handwriting recognition engine, much like Microsoft's, so you can write words or url's in a separate input window and have them converted into text. It is easily the best Android tablet on the market and if all Android tab's were so outfitted we probably would author an Android version of Active Ink.

$699 and up

Great machine for an Android tablet.

SONY VAIO Tap 20 and Lenovo Horizon "Coffeetable" MEGA-tablets -
• Two manufacturers have announced or released a curious new Windows 8 hybrid device -- the Mega-Tablet. The both have giant displays on huge all-in-one machines which sport internal batteries so they can be carried around and run disconnected to wall power for an hour or two. Sony's VAIO Tap 20 has a 20" capacitive display with NO PEN. It has a stand and can run like a desktop with a bluetooth keyboard and mouse, or it can sit flat like a tablet. Lenovo's "Coffeetable" is not released yet, but it promises to allow workspace for up to four simultaneous users working in four independent orientations. No word if it will be stylus compatible. But since both machines run Windows 8 Pro and have handwriting recognition, they promise to be Active Ink compatible, but just barely.

$1100 to $2000

NO stylus offered with either machine.

The following tablets are INCOMPATIBLE with Active Ink Photo Approximate Retail Price
Ipad/Ipad2 -
• The Ipad's lack of handwriting recognition software, the Apple OS, and an imprecise capacitive touchscreen all hinder this device as an Active Ink platform. No Ipad stylus currently on the market can render natural handwriting in a normal font size.

$300 to $900

ALL ANDROID TABLETS, including: Acer Iconia A500/Archos tablets/Asus Transformer, Memopad, PhonePad & Slider/Blackberry Playbook/Cisco Cius/Dell Streak/Lenovo Ideapad/LG G-slate/Motorola Xoom/Samsung Galaxy/Sony SGPT/Toshiba Thrive/Viewsonic & Vizio tablets/ -
• Active Ink does not run on any of the versions of the Android operating system and even if it did, none of these devices have handwriting recognition or active digitizing screens & stylus. All use crude capacitive touchscreens which do not render handwriting well.

$400 and up

Panasonic Toughpad -
• Panasonic's rugged, but pricey Toughbooks have always made good Active Ink platforms, but their new Toughpad has a capacitive touchscreen only and it runs Android, so in spite of its Toughbook heritage and great build quality, it can't run Active Ink. It also has no digitizing stylus.

$999 and up

HP Touchpad -
• The Touchpad has a capacitive touchscreen only and it runs WebOS, HP's now obsolete operating system.

$99 and up

Dell Duo -
• This convertible, netbook style device runs Windows 7, but it is armed with only a capacitive touchscreen and it does not ship with a stylus. Aftermarket styluses for the Duo's capacitive touchscreen cannot generate accurate handwriting, making this device an unsatisfactory platform for Active Ink even though it possesses the requisite Windows software to work. Unfortunately, the Duo's hardware shortcomings are its downfall.

$699 and up

Acer Iconia W500/501 -
• This Windows 7 OS tablet is a twin to Acer's Android powered A500, but like the Dell Duo, it is hampered by the same imprecise capacitive touchscreen that cannot generate the type of smooth handwriting that Windows's tablet software can recognize.

$500 and up

Acer Iconia Dual Screen -
• This unique dual screen Windows tablet possess two capacitive touchsceens but no stylus. It will load Active Ink and recognize handwriting, but if you use your finger or an aftermarket capacitive stylus your handwritten input is so poor that Windows will struggle to recognize what you've written and you'll give up in frustration.


HTC EVO & FLYER/Lenovo THINKPAD/Samsung One Note -
• These Android 3.1 tablets incorporate the N-trig digitizing stylus to perform some limited pen functions, but they give the deceptive appearance (especially in TV ads) of being able to function like a Windows Tablet PC. Do not be fooled. They do not use their pens as substitute mice, all they can do is doodle on top of jpg screenshots or interact with a few specially-created drawing and note taking apps. They cannot run Active Ink's software, and they can only perform a few more signing and annotating functions on Active Ink's web-enabled forms than their pen-less Android counterparts can manage.

$550 and up w/stylus

ExoPC Slate/M&A ePad/RM Slate/Equus Nobi Slate/ & Clones -
• Like the Acer W500, these 10" slate-style tablets runs Windows 7 and the Windows handwriting recognition engine, that means they will load Active Ink. But they possess only capacitive touchscreens and ship with no included stylus, rendering most of Active Ink's features useless.

$650 and up

Wacom Bamboo (all models) -
• Since we love the Wacom active digitizing technology when mated to a tablet, many folks have asked us why Wacom's peripheral tablets are not recommended when mated to a regular PC or laptop. The reason is because these peripheral devices don't allow you to write directly on the screen, so it becomes very tough to align your handwriting to the lines on an e-form. They also work more like a mouse. 1" of hand movement is not 1" of screen/cursor movement (unless you change the settings). The end result is a very frustrating and tedious experience if you try to write with these drawing devices. Try it yourself if you don't believe us.

$129 and up

Amazon Kindle (all models) -
• These book readers are getting more sophisticated, but none come close to running Active Ink.

$50 to $199