Monday, January 9, 2017

Is the HP Envy x360 compatible with an "Active" stylus? (Review)

A good 2-in-1... when it works the way it should.

If you're checking out this post... you're either a regular around here (whats up?!), you're into tech related postings or... you're an owner (or potential owner) trying to get a definitive answer as to what in the heck is compatible with the HP Envy x360 (as far as a stylus is concerned). I shared in that frustration as the owner of one, so I wanted to dig in to try and find information to shed light on potential solutions for both you and I.

If you have yet to get your hands on one of these 2-in-1 laptops, don't make the quick decision to jump into the purchase because you've seen a stylus listed on the product page (no no).
Image result for hp envy x360 m6 amdIt may not seem like a big deal (to some), but making a purchase under the impression that something has the capability to do something that you're investing in for the purpose of utilizing that feature often... can be highly annoying. The annoyance would probably higher for artists who may have purchased this 2-in-1 under the assumption that it may allow for an on-screen drawing experience... beyond that of digital finger painting (or an attachable drawing tablet).

So will this thing work with a digital stylus or not?


There are HP stylus options with one particular pen product shown to be compatible on the official website (seen here) with certain HP Envy x360 models (... I count 2). That's cool... but shouldn't that be on the product page for the stylus products also? It would be a bonus to the customer to see that listed on the 2-in-1 product page also. Just saying, but the link for compatibility should point you in the right direction for which can or can't work with the digital pens. Look for those particular models, because models like the M6 are... not compatible with a digital pen. You can use a plain stylus or a fine point stylus, but they don't exactly work that well (which can vary when it comes to the software you use). I've done some doodling with a standard stylus below to show a quick example (and based on my experience... you can get some decent lines as long as you press on the screen firm enough w/ constant contact).

The dots in the doodle were actually starting points, and I didn't remove the stylus from the screen... it just did that (which can be annoying if you're seeking to draw in depth). You can imagine a constant need to erase dots being a pain in the... you know what, so I had to put it out there. I used a few art programs and the result was similar, but I will say that I was surprised by a particular sketch app (for what its worth). I won't say that it performed as well as using a Wacom or even a Surface tablet (which have digital pen capabilities)... but its okay.

I hope this helps you with your purchase decision, especially if you're an artist in pursuit of a laptop that gives you the freedom to draw on screen. Excuse the handwriting on the drawing, but that's part of the example (which reads "Drawn with basic stylus"). Beyond drawing, its not a horrible 2 in 1, but they do need to get all the ducks in a row as far as functionality is concerned:

- The bluetooth doesn't hold the connection with devices like bluetooth headphones (based on my personal experience). It will disconnect during use and will reconnect at times, but that gets annoying... so using it seriously isn't really an option (right now).

- The mouse pointer will vanish after waking the laptop up at times, requiring you to use the touch screen or restart to get it back (unless you luck up and get it back after placing it back to sleep... and then waking it back up again). Yay! #Sarcasm

- The pop up notifications will remain on the screen (and won't go away until the laptop has been restarted at times). It remains on top also, no level of refreshing will take it away either.

- Online videos won't play (at times) requiring a restart. Super annoying.

- Unplugging a USB device can cause a blue screen (watch dog) error that restarts the PC after a scan.

- If you happen to get an Envy x360 that's compatible with a stylus, you can fold it back to enter tablet mode... but drawing on the go with this thing in your hand will be a challenge for a long period of time (its nearly 5 pounds). Place it on something that will give you comfort if this is the laptop for you. I haven't used it in tablet mode or tent mode since I haven't had much of a reason to without digital stylus compatibility, but I may dabble with it before attaching a drawing tablet.

But... yeah, there are various things that need to be corrected with this system (running Windows 10), but when i'm not facing these wtf situations, its pretty good. This laptop delivers a higher end appearance and feel at a good price and beyond productivity... you also have the option to game. I've played Rocket League, Ori & The Blind Forest D.E., Alien Rage Unlimited, Shadowrun Chronicles - Boston Lockdown, etc.

So the ability to game is a plus beyond browser games, because this isn't what i'd list as a gaming laptop... but I can still make it do what it do when I want to get in some game time (and it out performs my old gaming laptop for sure). That said, with the ups and downs of this system... I give it a 2.5 out of 5. If it were compatible with a stylus, it would receive a 3.5... which would go higher with the necessary fixes in place.

There are other options out there though, so do your research, find out what you want and don't skip out on the reviews (ever). Until next time, this is Blu... signing out (game on)!

Here are the specs:

HP Envy x360 M6 Convertible
AMD FX-9800P Radeon R7 (12 Compute Cores 4C+8G)
15.6" Screen
2.7GHz | 8 GB RAM
Windows 10 (64-Bit)
1TB Hard Drive