back to article Intel ignores Steve Jobs, adds touchscreen to Ultrabook

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 …


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  1. Stuart Castle

    Even if he doesn't believe Apple's research, and his own colleagues, the fact that no touch screen PC appears to sell well, and various tablets and phones with touchscreens are selling well should tell him that people don't like using touch screens vertically.

    Assuming I have enough battery life, I can conmfortably use my iphone for 2 hours . I find that after 2 hours of using a PC with a vertical touchscreen, my arms are tired.

    Admittedly, the Ultrabooks Intel are talking about may have a screen that can fold back so it's horizontal, but Intel and Microsoft didn't do a great job of marketing tablets, did they?

    1. Al Black

      Ipad Keyboards

      Then why is a plug-in keyboard and a stand to hold your iPad up such a hot seller? It is a must-have to convert the Ipad toy into a working tool.

      1. Giles Jones Gold badge

        Some people want to use boring office software on them.

      2. scarshapedstar

        To be fair

        I got one of these for my mother, she loves it, I hate it. Keyboard with no mouse drives me crazy.

        The real question is why Apple shoves their inferior soft keyboard down everyone's throat. Swype, Swiftkey... so many better alternatives out there.

        1. Jad

          RE: To be fair ...

          we bought some dell laptops recently and one of them "came of the shelf" with everything on it (silly reseller)

          so it had a touch pad, _and_ "nipple" + keys, plus we always use external USB mice, and then I gesticulated at the screen and it clicked where I touched *shudder*.

          It was a great spec laptop, but there were just _too_ many input devices (and you couldn't turn them off)

        2. oldhead

          old head

          I have a touch screen ,tablet ,in two days I have had it;I hated then loved it and hated it again,

          today I love it ;;at 81 without my sons guidance I am up a gum tree; he is genius

          His fingers are magic wands Amen;

          Ignorance is not bliss,with touch screens ,except on my Kindle

          But on my tablet reading or listening to books,is brilliant ,

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Al Black

        Because when you plug the keyboard in, it makes your use "horizontal", of course. What am I missing?

    2. Giles Jones Gold badge

      It is exactly that reason why it doesn't work. Computers are designed to be used with your arms resting on a desk or other surface.

      While we all want a computer like in Minority Report, the fact is we're all going to need to get a lot fitter before we can use one for 7 hours a day.

      Same goes for a touchscreen mounted high up, plus the fact that is is annoying to have to move from keyboard/mouse to the screen, and you thought moving from keyboard to mouse was hard work.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        "we all want a computer like in Minority Report"

        No we don't. Standing all day long moving my arms every single time I want to interact with a system is not how I prefer to use a computer.

        Sitting in a comfortable chair, with a table set at the right inclination, a good, responsive keyboard and a wireless mouse is how I prefer working on a computer.

        The 200" screen, however, I would like.

      2. oldhead


        Yep Mouses and touch screens are a pain

        My son loves my blackberry he can have it

        I wonder why he suggested I buy it?

        At 81 I ain't stupid,or am I?

    3. Pisnaz

      I used toughbooks with touch screens for ages in work and must say while I did not do away with a mouse or such the touch screen on them was handy and in some cases could speed up my working. Like anything it is all a matter of how you use them. In a laptop, in my case a hardened one I could toss around as needed and was not worried about breaking, it made got used mostly to poke up a file and display it much quicker. I can see it catching on, these systems will be light enough for a person to hold one handed and poke at. It worked for me in the application and times I used it, long term work naturally I used a desk chair and mouse etc but on the go in the field repairing stuff or using it to run media as I repaired stuff it was a blessing.

      My big wish is a reversion towards the original tablet laptops where you can reverse and fold the screen down, then tossing a schematic or diagnostic flow chart on screen is easy and you can scroll and zoom one handed with minimal concentration dedicated away from your work.

  2. Raz

    Hey Intel, welcome to 2011! Cause the hundreds of thousands of Asus Transformer users that have a keyboard can tell you that a keyboard and a touchscreen works. I don't know what tests Apple did, but keyboard and touchscreen together are great.

    I just upgraded from the best overall phone I ever had, a T-Mobile G2 (HTC Desire Z). Having the keyboard was great, I am still thinking if I should sell the HTC Amaze 4G or the G2...

    1. Paul 135

      keyboard phones are superior to touch only, but not the same as laptops

      I have a similar keyboard phone - the Xperia Pro (much better than Desire Z :P) and agree that keyboard phones are vastly superior to touch only phones - so much so that I pity the masses who insist on inferior (and often more expensive) touch-only devices (e.g. GSII is huge and bulky, processor looks better on paper, but Xperia Pro pwns it in real life) - I would never use a touch-only phone ever again!

      However, the same cannot be said for adding touch to laptops. On a phone the touch screen is within easy reach of your fingers/thumbs. A phone screen is also easy to clean with a quick wipe on your clothes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Paul 135 - Patronising? Not much!

        "so much so that I pity the masses who insist on inferior (and often more expensive) touch-only devices"

        Oh thank ye sir, so kind of you. * tug of the forelock*. I feel so lowly and humble in the precence of a true master of the mobile device. *bows down* I must avert my eyes from from your glorious countenance and wisdom.

        Ever thought that, and here's a shock basement-boy, that real-people in the real-world all have different tastes and interests? We all think, work, fart, burp and play in different ways. If we were all the same then there would be one computer, one O/S, one mobile phone, one car, etc....

        My pitiful Galaxy S2 may not be as superior as your stunning gadget but it's a phone that plays music and games as that's all I need from it most of the time.

  3. Paul 135

    hate to say it, but Jobs is right

    As much as I despised Jobs, he is right. Laptops should not have touch-screens - Microsoft is also wasting so much time on this nonsense, that the more I hear about the bungle that will be called Windows 8, the more I want to switch to Linux.

    The exception is for hybrid devices where the keyboard can fold away so that you can use the device in a tablet mode and in a horizontal position.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Flat is definitely better than pushing at a screen resting on your knees.

      Does anyone else hate finger prints and mess on their screen?

      A mobile screen it tablet screen is easy to clean, especially if held, but try it with a laptop.

      One hand to reach behind the screen to hold it before the other presses.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        I also hate fingerprints and mess on my screen. Easy to wipe off a phone, but not a larger screen, unless you're at home with a wipe. It would drive me nuts.

  4. LaeMing

    Touch is so last decade!

    Where is the eye-tracking?!

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    3. mfritz0

      RE: Touch is so last decade!

      that is a pretty neat place to start.

  5. Andrew Tyler 1


    For normal computer (not tablet) stuff, I'd ideally have a mouse. However, I think I'd much rather have a touchscreen than a trackpad or nubby-pointer. So for mobile usage when there's nowhere to use a mouse, a touchscreen is probably the best option.

  6. David Simpson 1

    More balls from the world's greatest snake oil seller.

    Just another example of Steve Jobs being full of $hit, the same man that claimed Apple didn't use focus groups.

    My tablet has a kick stand so I use it at an angle, the same angle a notebook screen is at and the same angle an iPad cover props the screen at.

    He simply never had a properly touch enabled version of OS X because his long term plan was always to faze out OS X while moving everything over to a more sophisticated version of iOS.

    1. OrsonX

      More baloney...

      ...snake oil pedlar?

  7. mafoo


    I think in the Ultrabook market, cost and thickness are going to be 2 very important selling points.

    Including a touchscreen that doesn't really add much often used functionality to the device isnt going to catch on too quickly amongst manufacturers, except maybe as a build to order option. Unless, of course, Intel puts its food down and strictly mandates it 's inclusion - at which point everyone switches to the AMD spec.

    1. mafoo


      I think in the Ultrabook market, cost and thickness are going to be 2 very important selling points, and adding a touch screen will increase both of these.

      and foot, not food. :D

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  9. ratfox Silver badge

    Trackpad for me, thanks

    After using a MacBook for a few years, I find using a mouse a comparative waste of time, going back and forth from the mouse to the keyboard.

    Similarly, I don't believe in touch screens for laptops, because moving the hand across the screen is simply too time-consuming and tiring.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A 360-degree hinge...

    is inevitable and renders all objections moot,

    1. Nigel 11

      No hinge would be even better

      It should be a two-part design. Tablet. Keyboard+mouse. Bluetooth link. Software that adjusts the user interface so that you don't have to touch the vertical screen to accomplish anything when the keyboard/mouse unit is present. In "enjoyment mode" just take the tablet and leave the keyboard behind.

      OK, it's probably trivial to make it so that the two parts clip together for transport and for keyboard use on the move - you might call this "netbook mode". But at home there would be a plastic stand for mounting the tablet vertically above the level of one's desk, and put keyboard wherever the user finds most comfortable.

    2. ant_williams

      Such as

  11. scarshapedstar
    Paris Hilton

    Less than 7 inches = epic fail

    Jobs is right... hang your head in shame.

    Wait. We're talking about tablets?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    As previously mentioned - the Asus Transformer already has this form factor/input model

    and after nearly 12 months with it - I love it - it's completely second nature, and doesnt involve any more movement than taking hands from the keyboard to trackpad - and an awful lot more accurate.

    Of course if you want to you can plug in a mouse - and the best bit no trackpad to get in the way of your typing - (it's great to turn it off on the transformer).

    Those who havent tried it - don't knock it - despite having to use a traditional laptop for work I still do find myself subconciously picking up a document from the non touch screen and having to revert back to trackpad/mouse - In the words of Trek's Commander Scott - "How Quaint" ..

  13. Paul E

    as another transformer owner

    I can agree they work fine with touch screen. If anything my main problem is with the normal touchpad which I ended up disabling as it was causing too many misjumps in documents.

  14. Monty Burns

    I love touchscreen

    I currently run two Iiyama gloss touchscreens at home on my main pc and have a HP TX2 and I love touchscreen. I may be in a minority if most of you lot are to be believe bit I completley agree with Intels findings; its great to be able to browse by finger, use local explorer and it comes into its own with document scrolling.

    The trick is not think exclusive touchscreen and think complement. They support a mouse and keybord perfectly and I never expect them to replace a keyboard but, a mouse? Yeah very much so! Windows 8 pre-beta released a few months ago worked great and if you never went techie, you never needed a mouse (the HTML5 front end was perfect for touch).

  15. g e


    Intel will patent something crucial to it and lock Apple out of the ultra-touch-book market without paying a fat tithe to compete, which Apple will ignore reasoning, as usual, that they're Apple so 'fuck off' and then get sued for a billion trillon dollars. And so forth

    What goes around comes around.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Apple already have a patent on a vertical screen that becomes a touch screen just by moving it to the horizontal. (I seem to remember reading on El Reg some time ago.)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Touchscreen needs a different interface

    big icons and buttons etc., and probably indicates different applications. If I'm sitting in bed with a laptop running media streaming software, skype or browsing, touchscreen might be fine, though I suspect a large trackpad would be also work. If I'm working with excel, I'll pass on the touchscreen.

    On a similar topic, I hooked up an apple bluetooth trackpad to windows and found it to be a rather good mouse replacement for across the living room media control. Not as functional as in osx, but accurate, robust and handy when my work laptop was hooked up to the tv and running vlc.

    1. slhilly

      Interesting about Excel...I think there's actually a case for a bit of both worlds here....Excel is quite a non-linear app -- ie I might fiddle with cell A51 and then cell BG204. Moving from one to the other using either keyboard shortcuts or the mouse is definitely suboptimal compared with being able to just touch the cell I'm interested in. Similarly, selecting a range would be much easier and faster with a touch input than it is with a mouse or keyboard shortcuts. And resizing the page through pinching is superhelpful. I speak as a long-term user of Excel on Windows and a newbie with Numbers on iPad.

  17. Sean Baggaley 1

    Jobs was referring to traditional computer form factors, not tablets.

    It helps if you consider the context of that keynote speech he was giving: he was launching some new Macs and discussing the new multi-touch trackpad features they were introducing to OS X.

    Note: "OS X", not "iOS".

    OS X is a desktop computer OS that still sticks pretty closely to the traditional WIMP desktop metaphor, with windows and (relatively) tiny widgets designed for clicking on with a precise pointing device like a mouse or trackpad. Those GUI elements are generally too small for pointing at accurately with a finger. (Yes, there are doubtless some people with very thin, sharp, pointy fingers, but "some" people is not "most" people.)

    Apple's iDevices proved popular because iOS' GUI was designed *from the ground up* for touch-based interaction. OS X, Windows, KDE and GNOME were not. Any attempts to nail touchscreen features onto those will inevitably result in a compromise.

    Yes, Intel, I see your hand raised: what is it?

    "Please, sir! OS X might not be designed for touchscreen use, but Windows 8 has that new 'Metro' touch-based UI!"

    Bingo! And THAT is what Intel will have been running on their prototype touch-screen "ultrabooks" for their focus groups to play with.

    Jobs was right in October 2010. Nobody anyone cared about was offering a touch-screen desktop OS back then, and the MacBook Air line was still in its infancy. Times change. Technologies change. OS X has gone for multi-touch touch pads, rather than touch screens; Windows 8 is going for an untried chimeric approach: part WIMP, part touch-screen. Whether that will actually prove successful is anybody's guess, but I suspect Windows 8's touch screen features may take a while to catch on with the laptop and desktop set.


      Jobsian nonsense

      You don't have to throw out everything every time you take a different turn with technology. All of the different seemingly diametrically opposed input methods can all live in harmony together as can the applications that access them. It's only this "one true vision" approach that has problems.

      Keyboard. Mouse. IR remote. Touchscreen.

      Different interfaces can be used in different contexts as appropriate.

      Apple-TV:~ root# uname -a

      Darwin Apple-TV 11.0.0 Darwin Kernel Version 11.0.0: Tue Nov 1 20:33:58 PDT 2011; root:xnu-1878.4.46~1/RELEASE_ARM_S5L8930X AppleTV2,1 arm K66AP Darwin

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  19. Andy Christ

    Not going to happen

    Um... Apple is Intel's best customer.

  20. Absent

    Whilst I wouldn't want to have only touch, I could see it being quite useful whilst typing. Moving your fingers up and selecting something on the laptop screen mid-type would be quicker than moving down to the trackpad and moving the pointer. Defiantly quicker than moving your whole arm over to separate mouse.

  21. the-it-slayer

    Okay, now develop an OS which works with it...

    There's all this "yes this upright touchscreen will work on an ultrabook", but develop a god damn OS which will work in this situation! Windows 7 is still well off the mark. And we will never see Mac OS X installed on an iMac with a touchscreen surface. So where do we go? Intel needs to get out of dreamland and get some distortion reality field to tell us why it will work. Not tell us why Apple/Steve were wrong.

    I'd rather see a touch-screen keyboard which changes dependant on application and offers more than a base of solid keys. Anything that tries to be hybrid (ie Windows 8), is bound to be trouble for users.

  22. Gobhicks



    Clearly inhabitated by illiterates.

  23. A knight who until recently said "Ni!"

    I have an ASUS Transformer, if I use it for any length of time on the keyboard dock and then work at one of my desktop machines I usually catch myself about to touch or drag one of the screen icons. OK, it's muscle memory - but it's muscle memory because touchscreen on a computer with muse and keyboard can be useful.

    Now, not everybody is going to like it - the solution is hardware and software that accept, and function, with a variety of input methods. Forget the 'right' or 'wrong' way, the productive way wins out every time.

  24. Bill B

    Can I have..

    ... a big touch sensitive screen (say 2ft x 3ft) that can be laid flat (or angled slightly). Happy to have a soft keyboard on it. Must have ledges on side to put coffee cup, chocolate bars and screen wipes.

    Get the best of both worlds then. Space to layout my work any way I want (I use two screens at the moment) coupled with friendliness of touch and support for hands, fingers (and a nice warm surface when i sleep on it).

    Thinking about it, a touch stylus would be a useful accessory when fingers aren't accurate enough.

  25. Drew V.

    If you give the ultrabook a swivel-attached screen so you can turn it into a tablet - just like many Fujitsu notebooks have always had for a very long time already - then yes. Otherwise fuggedaboutit.

  26. B4PJS
    Thumb Up

    Inspiron DUO

    I love the touchscreen on my DUO runing W8. I even use it when in laptop mode, not just tablet (okay, paving slab, it is a wee bit heavy to use whilst standing on the train) mode. So useful for scrolling and file managing :)


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