HP’s latest Chromebooks, the x360 12b and 14b, are the company’s first to support the Universal Stylus Initiative (USI), the new standard that lets compatible styluses work seamlessly across a range of different devices. The Chromebooks have been released as part of a first wave of USI 1.0 devices, meaning they should be compatible with any of the USI styluses that have been released, in addition to HP’s own $70 stylus due for release in November.
The launch of the first USI devices has been a long time coming. The initiative kicked off back in 2015, but it wasn’t until early last year that Google signed on to support the standard. Yesterday, the Universal Standards Initiative announced that 12 companies were releasing their first USI-enabled devices, which include styluses from Hanvon, Maxeye and Sunwoda, as well as these Chromebooks from HP. Sadly there’s no mention of a stylus from Wacom, a prominent stylus manufacturer, but the company is listed as a member of the USI along with Samsung, maker of the stylus-equipped Note devices.
A promotional video released back in 2017 lists many advantages of USI. Not only are you able to use the same stylus across multiple devices, a USI stylus will also be able to carry your preferences between them, like brush stroke and color settings. Up to six styluses can draw on one display at a time, and communication is two-way, which the USI organization claims allows it to offer more consistent performance in areas with a lot of radio interference.
Outside of their support for USI 1.0, HP’s Chromebooks are a more typical budget affair. Both models feature 360-degree hinges to allow them to flip their displays around and let you use them like a tablet (which is helpful considering the stylus support), 4GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, and dual core Intel Celeron N4000 1.1GHz processors. The most significant difference between the two are their displays. The x360 12b model has a 12-inch 1366 x 912 resolution display, and the 14b has a 14-inch 1366 x 768 resolution panel.
The HP Chromebook x360 12b starts at $359, while the 14-inch x360 14b is $20 more at $379. Both go on sale in the US later this month.