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Touchscreen PCs: 3 Things to Change

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 33 comments

Two-point multi-touch? Check. Responsiveness for all? Well...

As we finally tried out the MSI Wind Top AE2280 (available at the company's COMPUTEX 2010 booth), three badly needed changes to Windows touchscreen PCs came to mind.

Always provide enough resources for responsiveness

MSI's offering was powerful enough to respond immediately to user touch-input. Why shouldn't it be, with at least a Core i3 530 and 4 GB of DDR3 memory? However, not all tablet PCs however are that responsive. The Lenovo ST10-3t we tried out was a very compact 10" swivel tablet PC, but with only 1GB of RAM onboard, many touch commands suffered from interface lag.

For a touch interface to be truly useful, it has to react immediately. Once the user taps, something should instantly happen. Companies shouldn't release tablet PCs that don't have the hardware required for a responsive user experience.

Build more fuzzy logic into the system

Users are notoriously imprecise and inconsistent, which is why interface systems shouldn't be too obsessive-compulsive. The Wind Top's touch controls are similar to Apple's "original" system, but some gestures need a relatively inconvenient degree of precision before working properly. In other words, we sometimes had to do our gestures "properly" to get the Wind Top to recognize them. That took us longer that we liked, so we unconsciously reached for a mouse and keyboard once again.

While randomly moving your fingers around a touchscreen shouldn't result in anything, perhaps the detection system should be a little more forgiving?

Get rid of those damn raised bevels!

True tablet PCs, the ones that are basically digitized slates, get it right: make the display flush with the supporting frame so that people have more space to tap their fingers on. At the same time, this makes it much easier to tap items on the corners of the display. The user doesn't have to take care to keep their finger away from the bezeling as much as possible in this configuration.

So why do PC manufacturers like MSI and Lenovo insist on the classic monitor configuration, with the surrounding raised slightly relative to the actual screen? Make everything one flat plane, and tapping everywhere becomes much easier.

What about you?

How has your experience with Windows touchscreen PCs been? Whether or not you think it needs improving, feel free to share your comment below.

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  • 20 Hide
    ricardok , June 4, 2010 7:19 PM
    To me, touch PCs aren't really attractive. I still love my mouse/keyboard combo. I do own an iPod Touch and a Motorola Milestone, but I can't live without a keyboard.
Other Comments
  • 8 Hide
    cekasone , June 4, 2010 7:05 PM
    totally agree!
  • 20 Hide
    ricardok , June 4, 2010 7:19 PM
    To me, touch PCs aren't really attractive. I still love my mouse/keyboard combo. I do own an iPod Touch and a Motorola Milestone, but I can't live without a keyboard.
  • 1 Hide
    insider3 , June 4, 2010 7:20 PM
    Quote:
    Make everything one flat plane, and tapping everywhere becomes much easier.


    Once this happens, Touch Porn will be the new thing.
  • 3 Hide
    neodawg , June 4, 2010 7:22 PM
    feel better Rico?, seemed like you were ranting a little bit here... lol. However I do agree with you.
  • 0 Hide
    Snipergod87 , June 4, 2010 7:30 PM
    One flat plane would work great for touch screens, however my "almost" one flat surface touchpad/keyboard wrist rest on my laptop makes it so my hand is sending the mouse flying when i type. I miss a good bezel
  • 2 Hide
    coldmast , June 4, 2010 7:30 PM
    Wacom should handle touch screens, along withe the option to switch to stylus at the press of a button (or gesture)?
  • 4 Hide
    tokenz , June 4, 2010 7:46 PM
    I agree. Especially about the raised bezel
  • 2 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , June 4, 2010 7:48 PM
    agree with the article.

    Just for the heck of it I tried an iPad while at a Best Buy store. Typing seemed awkward.
  • 0 Hide
    jenesuispasbavard , June 4, 2010 8:09 PM
    coldmastWacom should handle touch screens, along withe the option to switch to stylus at the press of a button (or gesture)?
    Unfortunately, styluses are a thing of the past when multitouch capacitive touchscreens are all the rage these days. I for one prefer my single touch resistive touchscreen on my Nokia that works with a stylus (for handwriting recognition) or my fingers.
  • 3 Hide
    ravewulf , June 4, 2010 8:11 PM
    Totally agree. My hp tx2500 is powerful enough, but the raised bevel gets in the way of closing windows all the time. It could also use more "fuzzy" detection logic. More often than not I'll reach for the Wacom pen if I'm using it in slate mode. I primarily use touch just for switching windows by taping on the taskbar.
  • 1 Hide
    ravewulf , June 4, 2010 8:16 PM
    coldmastWacom should handle touch screens, along withe the option to switch to stylus at the press of a button (or gesture)?

    Button to switch to stylus? That statement is confusing to me. They are recognized as two separate devices for me. You use the pen or the touch screen and they just work. It's like asking for a button to switch between using a keyboard or a mouse. They simply both work, all you need to do is actually use the one you want.
  • 0 Hide
    chickenhoagie , June 4, 2010 8:20 PM
    i think touch PC's are awesome and i'd love to have one. However I still love the use of keyboards..so even though i can type well on my iphone, a keyboard with a touch PC would be great
  • 0 Hide
    zorky9 , June 4, 2010 8:31 PM
    Totally agree with you.

    About the raised bezels - they should come up with very durable screens should it be a flat faced device.
  • 0 Hide
    DaddyW123 , June 4, 2010 8:45 PM
    Evolution needs to give the human race a fully functional third arm. That way you can hold your iPad (or other tablet) while still being able to utilize two handed computing. But that's neither here nor there.
  • 0 Hide
    pharge , June 4, 2010 8:53 PM
    ravewulfButton to switch to stylus? That statement is confusing to me. They are recognized as two separate devices for me. You use the pen or the touch screen and they just work. It's like asking for a button to switch between using a keyboard or a mouse. They simply both work, all you need to do is actually use the one you want.

    Yes and no...

    Using stylus while having touch screen on may have problem when you rest your hand/wrist on the screen while writing.

    This can be solved at the OS or software level but I am not sure have they solved this problem or not.
  • 0 Hide
    gti88 , June 4, 2010 9:01 PM
    You can't use a touch screen, which stands vertically, for more than 10 minutes.
    What's that for?
  • 1 Hide
    ravewulf , June 4, 2010 9:26 PM
    phargeYes and no...Using stylus while having touch screen on may have problem when you rest your hand/wrist on the screen while writing.This can be solved at the OS or software level but I am not sure have they solved this problem or not.

    I know that at least Windows Vista and Windows 7 have "palm detection." It works pretty well for me, I can write normally with my hand resting on the screen without activating the touch screen.

    They've had similar "palm detection" for laptop track pads for while you are typing on the keyboard and your palm may rest on the track pad.
  • 0 Hide
    ravewulf , June 4, 2010 9:29 PM
    gti88You can't use a touch screen, which stands vertically, for more than 10 minutes. What's that for?

    True. I find the convertible notebook/slates makes a lot more sense than these upright desktop all-in-ones.
  • 0 Hide
    pinkfloydminnesota , June 4, 2010 9:37 PM
    yes, and ... they should allow people to install (or have the salesperson install) and play with their program of choice in store ... I won't buy one until I can try out the poker programs I favor.

    Or maybe I'll buy it and if it doesn't work to my satisfaction, just return it
  • 3 Hide
    snotling , June 4, 2010 9:48 PM
    "Companies shouldn't release tablet PCs that don't have the hardware required for a responsive user experience."

    Or PCs for that matter.
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