Steve Jobs may have dismissed the stylus as an input device when rolling out Apple's iPad, but the digital pen has survived and even looks like it's beginning to thrive. Microsoft has promoted the stylus included with its Surface Pro tablets as a key differentiator from the iPad, and perhaps in the ultimate sign of the digitizer's continued viability, Apple itself recently patented a motion sensing pen.
Toshiba hopes to capitalize on this trend with its latest portables, a trio of Windows devices that put the digital pen at the center of the user experience. These include the Portege Z20t Ultrabook (pictured above) and a pair of Encore 2 Write tablets, all of which come with a digitizer with 2,048 points of sensitivity. The Z20t includes Toshiba's Digitizer Pen with Eraser, while the tablets feature Toshiba's TruPen that makes use of Wacom's Active Electrostatics pen technology.
The Z20t is based around a detachable 12.5-inch display with 1,920x1,080 (1080p HD) resolution and powered by an Intel Core M-5Y51 processor. Other specs include up to 8GB of RAM, up to 256GB of solid-state storage, spill-resistant keyboard, and either Windows 8.1 (pre-loaded) or Windows 7 Professional (which you can downgrade to). It's clad in black magnesium alloy, and as you would expect from an Ultrabook, weighs just 3.3 pounds with the keyboard attached. The attaching hinge on the dock is reversible, allowing you to place the screen in presentation mode.
Perhaps more notable is the battery life Toshiba claims you get when the Z20t is attached to the keyboard dock: a whopping 17.4 hours. You can order the Z20t from a starting price of $1,399.99 (4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD) from Toshiba's website with a shipping date of February 20.
The Encore 2 Write series comes in 8-inch and 10.1-inch sizes, each with 1,280x800 resolution and featuring an Intel Atom Z3735F processor, 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of solid-state storage. Both ship with Windows 8.1 with Bing, which mean they come with a year's subscription to Office 365. But that doesn't equate with a bargain price, as the 8-inch Encore 2 Write is available for $349.99 and the 10-inch model is priced at $399.99.
You do get a collection of apps from Toshiba for the price, such as TruNote to make use of that TruPen for marking up documents or drawing, TruCapture to scan documents and perform OCR on text, and TruRecorder for audio archiving.