Intel's research department has overruled Steve Jobs: touchscreens have been added to the next generation of Chipzilla's Ultrabook spec. "Touch skipped the notebook, skipped the Ultrabook. It was dedicated to phones, it was dedicated to tablets," Mooly Eden, general manager of Intel's PC Client Group told his audience on Monday …
Never mind Steve Jobs
Has anyone asked HP? They spent a large part of the 1990s trying to convince the world that touchscreen interfaces on PC monitors were the way forward. The world, I recall, quite rightly laughed at them as PCs, as then configured, worked much better with mice and keyboards and this holds true today for the tasks for which typing-oriented PCs are used. Browsing-oriented PCs, such as tablets, do work much better with a touch interface, as do specialised devices such as medical monitoring kit where HP did turn their touchscreens into an advantage, but if you need to type anything of any length then I'd much rather have the appropriate interface. Never mind writing a novel, how about coding a decent sized lump of C++ using a touchscreen? Mouses and keyboards for courses.
It will come.
I had to support machines which worked as smart POS terminals, the screen was in the traditional arms length and there were standard operating system actions where touching the screen (even dragging) was better and felt more natural than using the mouse.
Obviously the POS system has large-ish buttons but even selecting the start button and selecting the prorgrams was easier because there was none of that collapsing when the mouse slipped over another option on its way between menu strips.
It took the best part of a year, because I wasn't working on these systems every day like the front of house staff, but just like everything else, I eventually found myself swapping between the mouse, keyboard and touch screen fluidly, when it suited me.
Which is to come first, the touch screen or the touch-orientated app? Moan all you like, but it will come, and people will moan and bitch about it, but it will become as much a part of life as the keyboard and mouse ... like it ... or not.
This shouldn;t come as a surprise
To anyone who has used a touchscreen phone and then absentmindedly found themselves trying to poke at their laptop screen, the concept of a touchscreen as a secondary input device is great. The point here is that it is secondary. There are certain things a touch-screen is good for, such as pinching and zooming on maps, dragging things about, etc. but the keyboard and mouse are still king and queen for so many proper applications, and I can't foresee a time when people aren't going to want to use them.
It is SO interesting. How huge amounts of effort, commitment, and energy are devoted to the same, trivial, irrelevant things. It has always been thus - viz- in Christian theology - Homoiousia or Homoousia. It really doesn't matter whether we use keyboards, mouse clicks (thank you Doug Engelbart), gestures, voice, or "thought waves" to access information. The special class of people who worry about such things are those who really don't have any information to provide - there are a lot of people who know how write in some language, but most of them, like these people, don't have very much to say. The same is true of "content providers" over the Internet. Their communication is not significant, though it may be topical. Nobody remembers which faction won the chariot races at the last race sponsored by Caligula in Rome.
So, touch screen, mouse, or keyboard, who cares about that, as long as information is accessible? Only the those who really have nothing to say, but are ambitious and greedy, want to make money on the latest gadget.
Quite right. Because there are no other possible form factors.
It would be quite impossible to manufacture a touchscreen half-top - a laptop where the keyboard 'half' is shorter than the screen "half" and that allowed itself to be opened 180 degrees so the whole thing could lie flat on the coffee table. Nope. Can't be done.
It would be quite impossible to manufacture a pad-like thing that had a slide-out keyboard like my phone. Nope. Can't be done.
Yup. We've completely exhausted all possibilities.
Now where's that irony tag?
Touchscreens on an ultrabook? Won't someone please think of the.... hinges?
On most recent craptops with twin hinges, poking the screen constantly is going to strain these cheap plastic mechanisms to breaking point in fairly short order - unless they're redesigned.
But then even if the hinges are strong and stiff enough, and the laptop is a lightweight ultrabook, you're going to gradually end up pushing your machine further and further away from you unless you have a soft touch or the machine has better friction to the desk.
Does anyone still care what Steve Jobs thinks/thought?
... there are new PCs that comprise a slim form with a flat board encased behind a vertical laptop screen; essentially bits of a laptop rearranged. See them from perhaps four suppliers in Staples, none are shown on Staples website.
Half the models have touchscreens. So the experiment is in progress, see what sells.
I bet the answer is that a mouse is easier.
Our marketing dept bought some
When they are used for Flash presentations where customers explore the features of %product%, the touch is great and works brilliantly.
When they are used as actual computers, the touch is never used and we mess about trying to get a mouse and keyboard connected neatly.
Some of that is down to the software - few to no software applications are designed for touch.
The other is exactly what Jobs said - a vertical touchscreen is tiring to use. It is fine as long as you rarely use it - eg only for selecting an individual item of interest, then using alternative input to manipulate it.
The reason is quite simple - you cannot accurately position your hand in mid air for any length of time. That's why mouse and trackball work so well, because you're resting your arm on the desk.
Bring back light pens!
Higher resolution, no fingerprints.
I wonder how I use the touchscreen on my phone - horizontally or vertically? Well I don't look for a surface to put it on, for sure, I hold it up...
OK, so that's not the same form factor, I hear people cry. But the EeePad Transformer with keyboard is, and it's brilliant to be able to integrate touch into how you use a machine, as others have said.
On top of that, I do a lot of photo editing, and I use a graphics tablet to help me. It would be massively easier to be able to use the screen directly, particularly when travelling or editing in the field - exactly where I would want to use an Ultrabook. So although I wouldn't want it to be the only input method, I think it's entirely sensible.
Your graphics tablet
Is it on a desk, or stuck to the wall?
I expect it's on your desk at a slight angle to make it the most comfortable.
So a touch notebook only works for you if you (almost) flatten it out... Kinda like a tablet.