Last year’s Windows 10 Anniversary Update added a new functionality to Microsoft’s OS, including a revamped Start Menu, improved Action Center and extra Cortana cleverness. But arguably the most interesting new feature is one you might have missed.
It’s called Windows Ink and you can find it on selected 2 in 1 PCs, like the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Lenovo YOGA 900S, Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 and the new HP Spectre 13 x360.
HP’s acrobatic portable is ideal for Microsoft’s enhanced pen computing support, as its 360-degree hinge allows the screen to fold back on itself, turning the Spectre into a Windows 10 tablet. In this mode, the 13.3-inch display can become a digital writing pad, perfect for note-taking, sketching and making onscreen annotations or edits.
Using HP’s Active Pen stylus, one tap opens the Windows Ink Workspace, which gives you access to several scribble-friendly Windows apps. SketchPad is a blank canvas upon which you can draw anything you like. Upgrade the x360 to a model with a 4K/Ultra HD (3840 x 2160 pixel) screen and you’ve got 8 million pixels to swoosh and cross hatch with.
Easy sketching and drawing
A second app, dubbed Screen Sketch, enables you to annotate/mark up documents, web pages, photos or apps, then share them with one click. With the ability to switch between Pen, Pencil and Highlighter modes (plus pick a variety of colours and virtual nib sizes), commenting on design projects, presentations or reports has never been easier.
So there’s no need to export a file, save it to Dropbox, then switch to an iPad to edit it.
The Windows Ink Workspace also includes a smart Sticky Notes app for you to quickly jot down ideas without having to bash them out on a virtual keyboard. Usefully, by using a combination of Windows Ink, handwriting recognition technology and Cortana insights, any actionable notes you make can be automatically converted into tasks.
For example, pen a note that says ‘Meet Steve tomorrow at 8pm’ and Cortana can add it as a reminder or calendar event. Take down an address and Bing Maps will automatically compute the best route to get there.
The power of pen computing
The history of pen computing is long, one that winds back through Windows XP Tablet PC Edition and various PDA/Pocket PC devices, like the HP iPAQ, Palm Pilot, Amstrad PenPad and Apple Newton.
Of course, with today’s accurate 10-point touchscreens, a stylus might seem unnecessary for day-to-day computing. But Windows Ink neatly integrates with Microsoft Word (to allow smart editing, text highlighting and drawing) and OneNote (write a maths problem on your touchscreen PC and OneNote and Windows 10 solves it). Other pen-enabled apps include Autodesk: Sketchbook, CollaBoard and PicsArt – Photostudio.
A 2 in 1 with Windows Ink finally gets us to a point where going paperless is a viable option. After all, who needs physical Post-its when you have virtual Sticky Notes? Who needs a notepad when you have an infinite number of digital pages that you can scribble on? All you need is a smart 2 in 1, an Active Stylus and the willingness to upgrade the way you work.
The acrobatic HP Spectre 13 x360 is a 2 in 1 that can flip into to four different configurations — laptop, tablet, tent and stand — to suit the way you want to work. It features a 13.3-inch display with an eye-catching narrow bezel, a 7th generation Intel Core processor and a battery that will last 15 hours, all wrapped up in a solid aluminium chassis.
Find out more about this versatile Windows 10-powered 2 in 1 here.