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Jul 29 2013

Consider a Touch Screen in Your Next Laptop

Just putting something out there for people to consider when it comes to their next laptop purchase.

Touch screens are becoming more popular these days in computing with smartphones now having touch-enabled hardware as a staple but laptop and desktop computing hasn’t really bought into touch in a big way until the last year or two. Even then, the graphical user interfaces haven’t been conducive to touch in the many years leading up to now although that has begun to change.

Certainly, as far as laptops go, the form factor is perhaps closer to that of a smartphone compared to a desktop and a lot of people seem to be repulsed by the opportunity to use touch on their desktop screens. However, touch isn’t an “all or nothing” concept particularly in the context of laptop and desktop computing – it is merely an additional way in which you can interact with the hardware alongside the traditional keyboard and mouse.

So, why should you consider touch in your next laptop?

Certainly from a personal perspective, the portability of laptops can end up impacting the usability of its input device (i.e. the keyboard and mouse). My Panasonic Toughbook AX2 does well to come in at 1.16kg but the keyboard is a little small but the trackpad is generous enough in size to get the job done. Of course, other ultrabooks will vary in their mileage in both hardware build and the accessibility and usability of that hardware for its users. If you had the option to use touch instead of a trackpad which was way too small (I’m thinking of the very old Sony Vaio 9.7″ laptop from last decade) then touch might help make that form factor more usable and accessible to you.

It’s a lot easier to tap something on the screen compared to finding the cursor and using a tiny trackpad to guide it where you want to go then execute a click. Plus, if the text is to small you can just use “pinch to zoom” in most instances which is something a mouse or trackpad won’t let you do by themselves.

Furthermore, we are seeing a lot more touch-enabled software being released across dedicated touch-enabled platforms as well as to platforms that have only recently acquired these capabilities in the mainstream. That said, you may actually find that laptops (and ultrabooks in particular) are increasingly coming with touch screens as standard anyway.

Ultimately, computing is about choice – hardware, software, interface, etc. There are many ways to skin a cat but it’s about finding out what works for you and having the ability to use one or more input options to achieve what you’re after. Whilst touch may not be the primary method of computer interaction at the moment I believe it presents a useful and meaningful alternative particularly for younger generations who are now growing up with it.

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