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Does the Surface Pen Work With A Dell XPS (Explained)

Does the Surface Pen Work With A Dell XPS (Explained)

This FAQ address whether or not the Microsoft Surface pen works with a Dell XPS laptop. Items discussed include what pen works with this form of computer.

Does Surface Pen Work With Dell XPS?

The Microsoft Surface series was introduced in 2012. It was the first computer to be designed in-house at the company.

Additionally, to compete with Apple’s powerful portable devices, Microsoft designed them as a tablet hybrid.

Some models resembled a standard laptop. However, the screen could be flipped over to become a touchscreen tablet.

In later years, Microsoft added Surface tablets to its lineup with portable keyboards. By placing the tablet on its built-in stand, the device became a laptop. 

Another feature common to the Surface is an active stylus/digital pen. It was designed as a showcase for Microsoft’s pen computing power in their Windows 8/10 operating system (OS).

The first generation of the stylus featured a right-click button along with a digital eraser at the end. When it came in contact with the display, this would erase the pen’s virtual ink.

The second generation, introduced in 2014 with the Surface 3, was produced by another company.

The eraser was gone.

Instead, users simply wrote over the places they wanted to remove. The third generation of this peripheral brought back the digital eraser and allowed customization of its single button. 

The initial version of the pen works with the original Surface. The second and third-generation models have the same basic technology.

Thus, they work with current versions of the Microsoft product.

However, does it work with other laptops? For instance, the Dell XPS series of slim, high-performance, portable computers. In short, the answer is no. 

Can I Use A Surface Pen On My Dell XPS?

The current version of the Surface stylus isn’t compatible with a Dell XPS due to technology. The Microsoft-based pen comes from N-Trig. It uses the company’s digitizer driver software to enhance its computing capabilities. 

This wasn’t always the case.

The first-generation pen was produced by Wacom. Ironically, this is the company Dell utilizes to make its digital styluses for the XPS series of touchscreen laptops. 

There’s an additional reason why the Surface pen doesn’t work — protocols. The Microsoft product utilizes its own pen protocol called MPP. Meanwhile, the ones used for the Dell XPS feature an Advanced Encryption System (AES).

This protocol contains a symmetric block cipher that helps protect information. It creates encryption that’s 256-bits long for sensitive data.

Though this doesn’t seem like a lot, AES-256 is incredibly secure. 

What Pen Works With Dell XPS?

The Dell Premium Active Pen is the main choice for the XPS series of laptops. In particular, those from the XPS 15 series.

Though there are other Wacom pens on the market, the Premium Active has the best compatible digitizer. In other words, it’s able to transform what you write or draw into screen images.

This model also works well for older XPS items.

This includes the XPS 13 2-in-1, which converts from a laptop into a tablet. Again, it comes down to proper digitizing of material. 

As mentioned, Wacom makes other AES pens that have the potential to be used on Dell XPS touchscreen models.

However, you won’t know how well it works until it’s used. Should you want one of these models due to its look or cost, then look for reviews by other XPS users to see if they have any problems.

Final Thoughts

The digital stylus sold with the Microsoft Surface series of hybrid tablets was meant to display the pen computing power on Windows 8/10.

Though the original version was created by Wacom, which Dell uses, second and third-generation models are produced by N-Trig. Furthermore, The Surface pen has its own protocol that’s proprietary to Microsoft.

On the other hand, Dell pens utilize an encryption system on their models to protect created data. In turn, the Surface pen doesn’t work with the Dell XPS.

The Premium Active Pen has the best digitizing properties for the XPS 13 2-in-1 laptop and the XPS 15 series. Though the company they use (Wacom) makes other pens, they might not have the same digitizing strength.

Further review is needed.