Tuesday, November 7, 2017

‘Active’ stylus means it needs a battery

When your car won’t start the first thing you think about is if the battery is dead. But when the stylus on your tablet computer won’t work, opaque jargon means you might not realize there even is a battery inside.

At Computerworld on November 1, 2017 there was a Shark Tank article titled The question isn’t WHETHER to replace – it’s WHAT. It described what happened to the local tech guy at a satellite office of his state's environmental agency. Last year they got new HP tablet computers to replace their Microsoft Surface Pro 2s. A few months later a user was complaining about the stylus not working on his tablet.

The tech guy tried it, and found the little AAAA battery inside was run down. He bought a pack with a couple replacement batteries and put one in. Problem solved. But:

“ ‘Thanks,’ user says. Then he drops a bombshell: ‘Gee, the other IT guys said they were throwing away the styluses that stopped working, and getting new ones.’ "

A new HP Active Stylus costs about $60, while a battery costs about $2. If you look up support topics, you will find an article titled HP PCs Touch Screen Stylus Pen is Inaccurate or Stops Working which describes two types of styluses or pens:   

“Active stylus – requires power source (usually batteries)

Passive stylus – Does not require power”

The local tech guy emailed the agency’s help desk with a reminder about the two different types.

Perhaps those active styluses should be labeled with a generic Battery Inside sticker, like the Intel Inside trademark campaign which began a couple decades ago. Or they could team up with a manufacturer and, as shown above, put Duracell Inside.

The image of batteries was adapted from one at Wikimedia Commons.   

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