Do Desktop Touch Screens Work?

touchsmartI have had my HP TouchSmart for just about a year now. I’ll never forget the day it arrived at my house. You’ve never seen a more excited Geek! From the day I won it in a contest until the UPS driver showed up on my doorstep, I read everything I could find about how best to use my new machine. After I unboxed it and set it all up, I “trained” myself to properly use all of the various features, and even steeled myself to having to use Vista instead of XP.

I admit to being enamored with the Touch capabilities. I used the Touch features whenever possible… for a few days. It became apparent very quickly that I wasn’t going to be able to type that way. Think about it – this is a desktop. It sits on my desk. I have to hold my arms up and out in front of me in order to type. Who the heck can do that for long, and why would you want to? I began wondering why the heck HP (and others) have even bothered to put touch-type functionality in a desktop, anyway. Yes, it’s “cool”. Yes, it’s fun. But it is in no way practical.

Even TechCrunch agrees with me. However, they are only partly correct in saying that Anyone who has used one for a long time will tell you that they quickly revert to using the keyboard and mouse.. I do use the Touch features to open and close programs, and to bring windows to the front. I may move things around or select them by touching them. That part is honestly easier and faster for me now than reaching for the mouse and clicking on them. The correct part of their statement is that I rely on my good old HP keyboard to do my typing with.

So… what is the answer here? Arrington’s article suggests using something like an architect’s desk. I’m here to tell you that won’t work, either. I don’t know about you… but there’s just no way I’m going to be able to sit with my head pointing down (and my neck getting kinks in it) to stare at my screen for several hours per day. Michael states: The desk should also be somewhat shorter than a normal desk – the bottom of the screen should basically be on your lap, and you would be mostly looking down on the machine.. Eh – no thanks to that. The whole “mostly looking down” part is what I don’t see as being much help in my quest to remain ergonomic.

I’m honestly not sure what the answer is at this point. I love the Touch features. I love the idea behind it, and the way they work. I don’t love having to hold my arms out in front of me to type, and I don’t love the thought of having to look down to see my screen. Trust me… if I could come up with the best solution, I’d likely be rich at this point.

What are your thoughts or ideas? Have you (or do you) used a Touch Screen computer? Do you find yourself reverting back to mouse and keyboard?

Better yet – have you come up with a viable solution? If so, I know a few people who would be very interested in hearing it.

  • Have you seen graphic designer desks? They have a big inclination and their top (the side that's away and opposite from you) is arround your neck, whereas the close side is a bit above your lap. Of course you can't put things on that desk, but it's useful for designing stuff. Also they have special chairs, some with a front instead of a back that hold your chest as you work inclined a bit to the front.

    My idea is that you could use a webcam and software like the opensource SwisTrack (can connect to it using TCP and get NMEA GPS text formatted coordinates from multiple moving items [it's for tracking cuckroaches and robot, but could also track fingers or whatever quickly moving thing]) to do multitouch and still have a screen in front of you that shows the items on the desk (and your hands) augmented with metainformation layers

  • Have you seen graphic designer desks? They have a big inclination and their top (the side that's away and opposite from you) is arround your neck, whereas the close side is a bit above your lap. Of course you can't put things on that desk, but it's useful for designing stuff. Also they have special chairs, some with a front instead of a back that hold your chest as you work inclined a bit to the front.

    My idea is that you could use a webcam and software like the opensource SwisTrack (can connect to it using TCP and get NMEA GPS text formatted coordinates from multiple moving items [it's for tracking cuckroaches and robot, but could also track fingers or whatever quickly moving thing]) to do multitouch and still have a screen in front of you that shows the items on the desk (and your hands) augmented with metainformation layers

  • happyrock

    I wonder if you could use Dragon Naturally Speaking to do any typing in conjunction with a touch screen

  • happyrock

    I wonder if you could use Dragon Naturally Speaking to do any typing in conjunction with a touch screen