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Touchscreen Laptops, Whether You Like Them Or Not 398

An anonymous reader writes "With CES all wrapped up, an article at CNET discusses a definite trend in the laptops on display from various manufacturers this year: touchscreens. Intel and Microsoft are leading the way, and attempting to grab the industry's reins as well: '... just to make sure the touch message was crystal clear, Intel issued an edict to PC partners during its CES keynote: all next-generation ultrabooks based on its "Haswell" chip must be touch.' With tablets and detachable/convertible computers coming into the mainstream, it seems the manufacturers have something to gain by condensing their production options. The article says, 'What does that mean to consumers? Your next laptop will likely be touch, whether you like it or not.'"
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Touchscreen Laptops, Whether You Like Them Or Not

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  • by innocence18 ( 897646 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @09:27AM (#42573829)
    It's nice to have there as an option if you want it, if you don't care for it, don't use it.
  • by Nossie ( 753694 ) <(IanHarvie) (at) (4Development.Net)> on Sunday January 13, 2013 @09:30AM (#42573837)

    removing the start menu was an 'option'?

    Not heard that before - I wish Metro was an option, which unfortunately in its current state - it's not.

  • by SimonTheSoundMan ( 1012395 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @09:33AM (#42573841) Homepage

    From experience I haven't found anything worse than a desktop or laptop with a touch screen. They are ergonomically bad, after 10 minutes I get pain in my wrists and elbows. The only place I have found desktop sized touch screens to be useful is when stood up, for example at a point of sale.

    Also, my desktop monitors are too far away to touch when sat down, the screen is a good 6-8 inches further than my reach so they have to be moved uncomfortably too close which doesn't just hurt my neck and eyes, but I have no room to fit my keyboard in front of the screen on my desk when bought closer. When lounging with my laptop the screen is either too close when sat down or when semi lying down too far to touch. Don't get me started on finger smudges.

  • by mupuf ( 2617831 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @09:38AM (#42573857) Homepage

    Oh, it is a big deal.

    There are two technologies for touch screens:
    - Resistive: It means adding an extra layer on top of the screen, reducing the brightness of the screen or increasing the backlight resulting in a lower battery life.
    - Capacitive: As far I know, it is only possible on current screen's surface. It would need some sort of glass like on smartphones. This increases the price of the laptop and makes it more susceptible to breaking if the glass is of poor quality.

    The end result in both cases is a higher price ... for no purpose at all. But I guess the average joe would like to have a detachable keyboard and get a tablet.

  • by innocence18 ( 897646 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @09:40AM (#42573865)
    We're talking hardware here, not software, not Windows. Try to stay on topic....oh...this is /. As you were.
  • From experience I haven't found anything worse than a desktop or laptop with a touch screen.

    From experience I know you are spouting wild hyperbole.

    They are ergonomically bad, after 10 minutes I get pain in my wrists and elbows.

    OK, so use the touchpad. Oh, you're complaining about laptops with only touch for pointing input? Why didn't you say so?

    My lady has a Fujitsu Lifebook T900 with the combo digitizer. When I am demonstrating something to her I can lean over her shoulder and touch the screen, which is fantastic. And the system folds over into a tablet, which is great for art since it has a Wacom/multitouch digitizer.

    Don't make the mistake of thinking that touch is bad, because it isn't. Exclusive touch is bad on a device with room for another input device.

  • by jamesl ( 106902 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @09:47AM (#42573915)

    The anti-touch commenters here echo the comments of anti-mousers decades ago -- "Not for me." We know how that worked out.

    1. Until you work with a touch enabled laptop, you have no basis for comment about touch enabled laptops.
    2. Until you work with a touch enabled desktop, you have no basis for comment about touch enabled laptops.
    3. After experiencing touch enabled laptops and desktops, different people will have different opinions but nobody should feel obligated to force their opinions on others.
    4. I have two months experience using a touch enabled laptop computer and I love it. Your mileage may vary.
    5. I have no experience with using a touch enabled desktop computer so I have no comment.

    People are different and different people use computers in different ways. Some are amenable to touch and some are not.

  • by devent ( 1627873 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @10:01AM (#42573983) Homepage

    It's because you are not the targeted consumer.
    I notice now for a while that everyone (Google, Apple, Microsoft, Intel,) is moving to consumption-only PCs. The "app-markets", touch for everything, 16:9 monitors, Secure Boot, DRM schemes for video and audio output.

    Touch is good for video, music, and games. It is horrible for production or creating of content. But neither the big IT companies nor the big publishers want you to create anything on your computer. They want you to be the consumer-only, like TV.

    It's a sad thing, the imprisonment of the PC user. From a business perspective it makes perfect sense. The IT players are now big, they divide the market under them. They do not want a free computing experience. If they would have their way, they would make laptops now without mouse or keyboard.

    It's really ironic. Now that every home have more computing power then anyone needs and Smartphones are moving to have the same computing power then desktop PCs and the individual have more and more information to their fingertips, the user is more and more enslaved. Copyright laws, the direction of the IT and entertainment industry.

    I'm so glad right now for GNU/Linux and the open source community. I think in 10 years it will be the only force to ensure that I can still plug-in my keyboard and mouse to my laptop/desktop and do whatever I want with my devices.

  • by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @10:06AM (#42574037)

    but the OP has it right - I didn't mind at all when flatscreen displays were cheap enough to replace CRTs, and no-one minded when they were replaced throughout the entire portable PC range.

    In this case, touch-screens will simply be a cheaper option than the standard flatscreen, so manufacturers will install them.

    Now... the problem comes when silly old Julie Larson-Green (of Ribbon and Metro infamy) comes along and says "hey, changing all that old working stuff with anything new will make me look good" and puts a table interface on all PCs. Nor if Shuttleworth sees this and thinks that the mobile interface is taking over the world and so all desktops need roughly the same interface too (to be fair to Ubuntu, their desktop interface isn't designed to be touch-only unlike Metro).

    Just don't blame the hardware manufacturers for software 'designers' mistakes.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @10:12AM (#42574063) Journal

    The anti-touch commenters here echo the comments of anti-mousers decades ago -- "Not for me." We know how that worked out.

    CLI is still superior to the GUI from where I sit. How exactly did you think it worked out?

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Sunday January 13, 2013 @10:39AM (#42574193) Homepage Journal

    CLI is still superior to the GUI from where I sit. How exactly did you think it worked out?

    The CLI lets you do more with your computer. The GUI helps many people do more with their computers. For you, the CLI is more powerful. By some measurements, the GUI is more powerful. That's exactly how I think it worked out.

  • by Mister Liberty ( 769145 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @10:50AM (#42574269)

    touchscreens may be literally out of reach.

  • by cynop ( 2023642 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @11:10AM (#42574375)

    ...after CES everyone was saying "Your next TV will likely be 3D, whether you like it or not", but this year everyone is classifying 3D TV as a passing fad, and an unimportand factor when it comes to consumer. I'm pretty sure that unless touchscreens enhance by a signifant degree the user experience, we'll see the same thing happening again.

    Just because manufacturers have found a new gimmick to sell, don't mean that we have to follow them around like sheep

  • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @11:14AM (#42574401)

    If I understand this, at least Intel specified this only for Ultrabooks, not netbooks or laptops or off brand lightweight laptops. This is no different than the Centrino specification that specified the CPU, chipset, and WiFi standard to be met. []
    The standard in Intel's case applies only to Ultrabooks tm. This does not block competitors. You still can get laptops, netbooks, convertibles, and lightweight laptops without the Intel tm branding of Centrino tm or Ultrabook tm.

    This is not an all laptops will be touch screen any more than Centrino made all laptops contain Intel tm processors.

    It means if you want a traditional laptop, it won't be branded as an Ultrabook tm.

  • by macs4all ( 973270 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @11:14AM (#42574403)

    I've had Windows 8 for three months now and I haven't used Metro in two and a half months. Sure, it takes a whole 30 seconds to find a Start menu replacement and another couple of minutes to install and configure it how you like it. Yes, it sucks Windows doesn't have one by default that you can turn on, but it's no big deal to get one yourself. Personally, I like having the choice of numerous Start menu replacements - most of which have an option to boot right to the desktop. And don't start bitching about how you need a third party software... Windows has been the only OS that's built from the ground up by one entity (MS) for at least ten years.

    So, in order to make Windows 8 USABLE, you have to run around and find third party apps and haxies to turn in back into Windows 7?

    Lovely. That's fine for you; but what about the OTHER 95% of Windows 8 purchasers that DON'T know how to do all that? (And yes, there are plenty of people that couldn't find and/or install the proper apps and find and/or change the proper settings).

  • by pepty ( 1976012 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @11:47AM (#42574633)
    Could we get Intel to issue an edict to PC partners that they quit using crap trackpads on their laptops, ultra or not?
  • by ranulf ( 182665 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @11:50AM (#42574659)

    When I am demonstrating something to her I can lean over her shoulder and touch the screen, which is fantastic.

    Personally, I hate it when someone touches my screen and leaving behind smeary fingerprints when they're trying to point to something. It can only get worse If they actually get to control my system by doing that...

    That said, there are occasions when it'd be handy, but it's not something I'd want the majority of the time.

  • by EdZ ( 755139 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @12:24PM (#42574877)

    That's fine for you; but what about the OTHER 95% of Windows 8 purchasers that DON'T know how to do all that?

    They take 5, maybe 10 minutes to learn how to use the start screen, then carry on? It's not exactly complex: it's a start menu that stretches over all of you screen, rather than just the left 1/5. Don't want to navigate tiles (or navigate nested submenus)? Press start, type in the first few characters of the program you want, hit enter, and voila! Same as 7 and Vista.

  • by WaywardGeek ( 1480513 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @12:26PM (#42574889) Journal

    Seriously, what's with all the crapy trackpads? It sounds like decent trackpads for Windows are just now making it into the market, but why did HP, Dell, and others burden us with such horrible interfaces for so long?

    Anyway, my 2 cents about TFA: we all need to go back and rework our software to take advantage of touch screens. I work mostly in the EDA space. Zoom and pan have been a pain in every schematic and layout editor in history. With a mouse in the right hand for drawing lines and rectangles, left hand can flick and pinch the screen to move and zoom at the same time we're drawing or resizing shapes. Even web browsing is better with a touch screen laptop, and it's going to be awesome for gaming. Metro, Gnome 3 Shell, and Ubuntu Unity will all seem a little less stupid in a touch environment. The interface with the computer remains a weak point for computing. We keep getting stuck in a mode where we just decide we're happy with the status quo, and continue for years without innovation on the interface side. We just get used to what we know... how many of us old geezers like me still use vi (ok, vim... and it's waaay better than vi)?!?

    I applaud Microsoft and Intel for their decision to finally lead. Someone has to. Here's a quote from a marketing guy at a major PC manufacturer to me: "We don't innovate. Instead, we wait for others to prove that a market is big enough to be interesting, and then crush them with our manufacturing prowess." Well, someone has to innovate, and for a decade, it's been Apple. With Intel finally growing a pair, maybe we can look forward to more great things down the road. I still have linen paper in my wallet, and type on a keyboard designed before computers existed. Someday, maybe we'll enter the information age and start using new technology.

  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @01:28PM (#42575381)

    There was a recent article about this: Gorilla Glass is made by Corning, in the USA, and is then shipped to China/Taiwan to be used in cellphones and other devices. For some reason, they don't make it themselves over there. Corning probably has patents and/or trade secrets related to the manufacture of the glass. The formula of the glass may be public domain (though they may have kept it as a trade secret), but having the formula to something is different from knowint the best way to manufacture it in huge quantities.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 13, 2013 @01:29PM (#42575393)

    It's a little disturbing how the "techie" crowd of Slashdot apparently can't grasp the Windows 8 start screen. My mom figured it out in just a couple minutes, and she can't even attach a document to an email without help.

  • by rtfa-troll ( 1340807 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @01:32PM (#42575413)

    I like the form factor and the fact that the touchscreen eliminates the need for a touchpad

    This is the fundamental design mistake that Microsoft has made which is what went wrong with Windows 8. A touchscreen and a touchpad are quite different and incompatible and one does not replace the other. One is suitable for tablet mode where you are interacting with the whole screen and picking it up, moving it into the correct ergonomic position for direct control. The other, which allows relative motion, is suitable for office / desk working situations where you want to manipulate a screen that should be some distance from you.

    All touchscreen computers should have a second input device such as a mouse. In a laptop that means a touchpad equivalent.

  • by GrantRobertson ( 973370 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @03:04PM (#42576037) Homepage Journal

    OK I guess it wouldn't be /. if it weren't for all the false dichotomies and people talking out their ass. But this just gets tiresome.

    I have had a Tablet PC since about 2003 or 2004. Maybe longer, I can't remember. I will NEVER go back to a regular laptop. Never once have I gotten the dreaded "Gorilla Arm Syndrome." Why? Because no one in their right mind would actually use a touch screen in an entirely vertical mode and throw out their mouse, forcing them to do everything with the touch screen. That nonsense is just the ghost of Steve Jobs talking, in an attempt to discredit anything Apple hasn't (yet) been able to capitalize on.

    Most of the time, when I use my Tablet PC, I tilt the screen way back like a drafter's table. I can then comfortably read the screen, type, use my finger to do quick, less-precise things (like scroll or hit a button), use the active-stylus for more-precise things (like selecting text or drop down menus or drawing curves in Illustrator or handwriting), and even occasionally use the mouse for even-more-precise things (like drafting or adjusting those curves in Illustrator). Sometimes, I will even use the track-pad, though I often turn it off. I move back and forth between all the tools at my disposal just like any other craftsman who actually has the wherewithal to learn how to use more than one tool at a time. I have watched people use the extra large track pad on Mac laptops, with all those handy finger gestures and I wouldn't mind adding that to the mix as well. Especially for times when I am trying to do a lot on a laptop-sized screen.

    The point is that more options are better. Anyone who says otherwise is full of shit.

    So, if all laptops will soon have touch-screens, then the price of those touch screens will come way down. Everyone will get used to using them however they work best for them and then it won't be new any more. GAWWD, I'm old enough to remember the frikkin mouse-vs-keyboard wars. Oh wait a minute... there are still some morons who keep claiming that they are the macho stud coder because they never touch a mouse. When you listen to them type it sounds as if they are typing a million characters a minute ... each key pounded like the fate of the world depends on it ... until you take a look and see that almost half of all those keystrokes are the freaking backspace key.

    Holy crap people! Get over yourselves! You you are all computer nerds. You will never be macho except by comparison with some other computer nerd who is slightly less macho. Stop posturing over which tool or product is the absolute best, denigrating all the others lest someone see your preferred tool as less cool. Just use what works for you, give the others a try once in a while, and get the hell on with your lives. All this touch-screen vs mouse nonsense is like a bunch of carpenters arguing over which is better: a saw or a hammer.

  • by rtfa-troll ( 1340807 ) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @04:52PM (#42576743)

    The Microsoft Surface RT comes with a cover/keypad that includes a touchpad; they offer both inputs. And with the USB port, I use a mouse all the time.

    I really don't see anything wrong with that. The normal keyboard is crap but you could leave it at home so it doesn't take anything away. There have been Android tablets that come with keyboards for ages and they are perfect for certain strange niche markets. The difference here is that, 99.5% of the time you use the surface without its keyboard and so direct pointing works fine. On the 0.5% of the time when you a) want to use a keyboard b) have it with you and c) aren't sitting next to a PC anyway the inconvenience of getting gorilla arm [] from using direct touch on a device which is far from you is probably worth it to avoid having to carry a separate mouse with you.

    The problem with touch comes only when you have a fixed screen separated from you by a keyboard such as a laptop or desktop monitor. You either mount the screen in a position which causes neck strain or you mount it in a position which causes ergonomic problems. Either way people are going to hate it. When this was tried last time, the solution developed was to separate the screen from the tablet interface (look up Wacom Bamboo). Those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it, it seems.

    As far as using a mouse with a surface RT, seems a bit perverse, but each to their own. How long did it take you to learn to avoid all the various gestures whilst dragging items around the screen?

Mr. Cole's Axiom: The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing.