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Would You Use a Touchscreen Notebook?



gorilla-jpeg-image-175x201-pixels.jpgWe’re going to see a lot more emphasis on touch-enabled PCs in the coming weeks and months as a slew of new PCs are launched in conjunction with Windows 7. I’ve heard a couple of rumors of that point to some manufacturers launching traditional notebooks with touch screen displays.

If you use a lot of devices with touchscreen displays you might find yourself tapping at screens that aren’t touch-enabled. I can’t count how many times I’ve mistakingly tapped at my car’s GPS display and waited for something to happen, only to be disappointed when I remember that some screens can’t be touched.

Do you think this makes sense and do you think people would pay extra to have touch capabilities on their notebooks? Keep in mind, we’re not talking slates, convertibles, UMPC, netbook or MID form factors here- just plain old 12″ to 17″ clamshell notebooks.

Reaching out and touching a screen isn’t as natural as touching a slate that you’re holding. Warner Crocker’s pointed out that it can be inaccurate and tiring to manipulate screens that are standing vertically. Some people call the problem “Gorrilla Arm.”

As touchscreens become more and more popular, I think it’s inevitable that PC companies will begin offering them on notebooks. Touch is something that companies like Apple, HP and Research in Motion have built massive marketing campaigns around. Touch is something that marketers can use to differentiate their products from the competition, but is it something that we’d actually want or need on non-covertible notebooks?

There’s a lot of buzz about Windows 7’s multi-touch capabilities and I don’t think Microsoft and the OEMs are promoting all of this for us tablet users.



  1. Paco

    08/25/2009 at 3:19 am

    In my opinion the netbook-tabletPC is really the definitive netbook.
    A “low” price, low weigth (1-1.25kg), a medium screen (10′-12′) that can be used with fingers to read blogs…. (not only with a stylus), and finally with a SO for tabletPC (not a normal WinXP).


  2. GoodThings2Life

    08/25/2009 at 5:06 am

    I think it’s inevitable that they’ll be offered. I think people will want them based purely on hype and a certain cuteness factor, similar to netbooks. But I don’t think it will be useful in that form factor, and I think it will break a lot of laptop display hinges. Ultimately, I think it will be a novelty until people realize they can get convertible models that are much better suited for it.

  3. Clayton

    08/25/2009 at 9:18 am

    I like using touchscreens in normal mode, since I still have access to a keyboard. I realize this is talking about finger touch screens, but I must say that I use my tablet pen (since I don’t have a multitouch display on my thinkpad) way more often in standard mode than tablet mode. Keyboard shortcuts in GIMP are indispensible and having the display oriented vertically puts less strain on my neck. And as weird as it sounds, I can use both the tablet pen for drawing, and the trackpoint for fine control of sliders and scroll bars. (Darn that circle thingamabob that right clicks if you don’t immediately move your cursor 4 miles after touching the screen)

  4. LeeN

    08/25/2009 at 11:00 am

    I definitely would. I have a Fujitsu p1610 tablet, and I found myself less in the slate form and more in the notebook form, and I used the touch screen a lot, I even configured my interface specifically for that (moved everything to the right hand side of the display, the windows task bar, the browser back forward refresh buttons, the browser tabs (using tree style). Eventually I moved on to the Asus N10j and for a while was tapping the screen, and I even realized how convenient it is to have a touch screen then to use the mouse nob or a track pad, and even at my work with my desktop I at times find myself wanting to have a touch screen display.

    The technique I use that is more comfortable for me was to positions most of my buttons on the right hand side of the screen (with least accessed ones on the upper left) and I can then position some of my fingers behind the display for support and my index finger above the display and use my nail to tap the screen, this way to avoid the gorilla arm thing. Even though I don’t use my tablet as much any more (mostly because it isn’t a fast system, why can’t they make a tablet with a decent video card!), I still in my desktop and my n10j position my buttons the same way.

  5. Mike

    08/25/2009 at 11:21 am

    Would I use it? I definitely would, and I have been using a touchscreen laptop for about 6 years. I can relate to your comment about touching non-touch-enabled devices and laptops waiting for a response. I am delighted that more laptops are utilizing touchscreens but I wish more netbooks would offer multi-touch.

  6. SAM

    08/25/2009 at 1:45 pm

    I have both an active and passive laptops.
    After having these touch scrrens, I don’t think I’ll buy another computer that doesn’t have a touch screen.

    It is so handy for “lap browsing” , as you don’t have to set up with a mouse that takes more space.
    Using a touch pad is like wearing handcuffs to work with your computer.

    I’d like to see a small 10″ hi-res tablet for portability.

  7. Ben

    08/25/2009 at 5:26 pm

    i probably wouldn’t use a non-convertible/non-slate touchscreen notebook very much. i might buy a notebook with that feature if it wasn’t a huge premium, though.

  8. Dave

    08/25/2009 at 8:05 pm

    Absolutely I would. I have a Dell Latitude XT, and I can not remember the last time I used it in slate mode, or used the pen, but I use the touch screen *ALL* the time. It is a fantastic time saver, and just gives you another interface option, particularly if you’re not using an external mouse.

  9. Nameless

    08/26/2009 at 11:24 am

    To be frank, I don’t see myself using touch all that much on a standard clamshell notebook WITHOUT a swivel screen. Especially if there’s no Wacom pen.

    What I would like to see, though, is a large mobile workstation notebook with a Wacom-enabled display and a sturdy hinge that won’t have the screen tipping back when pressed near the top (like my TC1100 tends to do). It would be more like having a built-in Wacom Cintiq in this case for serious art work in Photoshop and other such apps.

    If it had touch, that wouldn’t really hurt so long as there’s palm rejection present. The ideal setup would probably be something like the Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds, where the main screen is pen-only and the side screen is touch-driven. The side screen would be used for the tool/brush/layer windows and the like, devoting most or all of the main screen to the canvas itself.

  10. Xavier

    08/26/2009 at 3:26 pm

    I think a lot of the people who commented hear will be very pleased with what’s around the corner!

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