May 6, 2015

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 15 - The Story of the Pen Digitizer

Which digitizer works with the ThinkPad Yoga 15?  

In the beginning, Lenovo introduced the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 12.  Some of the models have touch-only screens and others have touch+digitizer options.  This can be frustrating to people who have ordered the system as they don't always know if they will have the digitizer support.  If the unit did have digitizer support then it would be Wacom pens.

Now, Lenovo has introduced a 15-inch version of the ThinkPad Yoga.  This tablet has some wonderful features that make it a neat option to get.  Regarding the digitizer, there have been conflicting information.  The product page does not mention digitizer, but the specification does.

The Lenovo Product Specification Reference, January 15,  ( http://www.lenovo.com/psref/pdf/ttcbook.pdf ) states that some configurations have support for "Wacom Active pen, batteries required"--the latter part is very unusual.  It is very unusual because Wacom tends to have battery-less digitizers on tablets.  For example, the X230T and many Lenovo systems, have used Wacom penabled technology (no batteries required).  Another Wacom pen technology is that found in their Cintiq series, such as the Wacom Cintiq Companion 1 and 2 tablets, and the technology uses a "Pro pen" -- which does not use batteries either.  The battery operated digitizers are often either N-Trig or a lesser digitizer-related known companies, or a form of digitizer that interacts with touch-only tablets (like some iPad related stylus/digitizer hybrids).  So we have conflicting information.

On the previous post, the box contents & images one, I showed that the model that I received  (Type-Model: 20DQ001LUS) does NOT include a digitizer in the package.  On most of the previous digitizer-enabled devices that I have bought the pen has been included.  In my mind, it could be possible for a company to NOT include a digitizer so that they can further make more money by selling it as an additional accessory.  If I recall, buying the digitizer separately only occurred to me when I bought an HTC Flyer (the pen was at the time an additional $80).

So, this is what I can say from testing.  The Thinkpad Yoga 15 model that I have does NOT use Wacom Penabled (such as the classic ThinkPad 24N2630 pen), does NOT use Wacom Pro Pen, does NOT use N-Trig 1 or 2.  No, the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga digitizer (4X80F22110), the one that is compatible with the Thinkpad Yoga 12, does not work either, it is another penabled device.

A Lenovo's support team member gave me this information:
"One thing I did want to mention, if you're looking to order again: The Thinkpad Yoga is compatible with Wacom in some configurations, but it will very specifically say 'Pen support' or 'digitizer support' in the specifications if it contains the hardware needed to support the pen. This is an extra option, and currently it doesn't appear as if the ready to ship models for sale have it available. (Hopefully the configurable option will be making a reappearance soon, as its the surest way to get what you want!)"
The Yoga 15 model that I bought was one of Lenovo's "ready to ship" models and it seems that I did not get a unit with pen support.  It is possible that in the future this will change.

One more piece of information that is absolutely crucial is that of specific digitizer drivers. In the case of many systems we can check the support drivers pages to verify their technology.  In the case of the ThinkPad Yoga 12's support page we can find the "WinTab" drivers easily, and then we check the readme.txt where we find "Wacom" mentioned.  In the case of the ThinkPad Yoga 15's support page I could not find any information about the digitizer.

Based on what I have found so far I am becoming certain that the ThinkPad Yoga 15 does not have a digitizer. But I could be wrong.

Also, version 472, May 2015, product specification.


  1. I bought the Thinkpad Yoga 15 in february, when they use to say it had pen support. I recently bought the actual active pen that will be shipped in the future with these laptops. (http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/itemdetails/4X80H34887/460/41E9A3C3FB5A45A9AC47C56812E4188C). But, it is not working at all. Im trying to see if there is any driver available before returning it. It has been really frustrating. Speaks badly about Lenovo.

    1. A pen with a AAAA battery is usually N-Trig based technology, or similar. However, some companies do make "capacitive" digitizers. Those pens just emulate a finger touch at the tip, however, the digitizer portion of them measures the pressure and sends that information via Bluetooth or some other wireless technology. Now, this means that if the Yoga 15 has support for such capacitive digitizer then there would be some software for such a feature. I didn't see anything that would explicitly or implicitly indicate such software.

      I might order the pen you indicated and check it with a MS Surface Pro 3 to determine if it's N-Trig or not. Thanks for the tip!

      Yes, false or erroneous advertising is a very bad thing for a company.

    2. The Synaptics digitizer pens also use a AAAA battery. These are the pens used for the Dell Venue 11 Pro and the HP Spectre x360. They are not compatible with the N-Trig pens that are used on the Surface Pro 3.

  2. Thanks for the info. It helps when trying to decise between HP x360(penable) and the thinkpad. No penable is a deal breaker for me.