Windows 8 laptops – do you use touch much?

by , Technology Researcher Technology 26 May 2013
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I’ll happily prod my phone’s screen to use the web and email, but when it comes to a touchscreen laptop, my fingers stay firmly on the keyboard. Do you use touch much beyond tablets and phones?

A touchscreen laptop

Have you taken to using touch on your laptop or PC? I’ve had my hands on a few touchscreen laptops, but I haven’t yet reached the point where I reach for the screen, rather than pointing with a mouse or using the trackpad.

Windows 8 brought with it the launch of touchscreen laptops, but many of the cheaper laptops don’t have touch and you can still navigate the tiled Windows 8 layout without it. And invariably, when faced with a touchscreen laptop, I don’t touch.

It’s not just Windows 8 laptops. The Google Chromebook Pixel has a touchscreen, but I’m not inclined to poke that either. The high resolution screen on the Pixel is amazing – I’m just not inclined to put finger marks across that great-looking screen.

Does using a touchscreen become a habit?

Maybe working on non-touch PCs and laptops for so long has conditioned me to use keys, mouse and trackpad. Or maybe it’s because I mostly use these devices for typing and work.

If I played more games, maybe I’d be more hands-on. Even faced with a Google search result or the Windows 8 tiled interface where no typing’s required, I’ll use the trackpad or mouse. I’m more likely to use the swipe on the trackpad to scroll than reach forward to the screen.

Perhaps it’s laziness on my part. Moving from the relative comfort of my typing position to poking the screen feels like an effort, and of course it takes a few moments to find my original ‘comfy’ spot again afterwards. Or maybe I need to spend more than a few weeks living with a touchscreen laptop to really get on with multi-touch.

Apple has steered clear of touch on laptops and PCs, although there are rumours of a patent suggesting touch on future laptops. We’ll have to wait and see.

Will hybrids make a difference?

Fingermarks on screen are annoying, but smaller phone and tablet screens are easier to clean quickly with your shirt or sleeve – we all do it, don’t we?

A 10-inch tablet screen isn’t particularly small. Smaller laptops have 11-inch screens and the UK arrival of the Microsoft Surface Pro could be a turning point. It’s a tablet with a keyboard you can buy separately, like the Surface RT, but the Intel Core processor and Windows 8 operating system give it the potential to be used for work, more like a laptop.

For all you Windows 8 converts out there, whether you like the tiled layout or were just forced to use it out of the need for a new laptop or PC, have you got into using your touchscreen? Or regardless of the program, do you always reach for the trackpad or mouse?

11 comments

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Figgerty

We need long arms to use touchscreen easily on a laptop as we tend to have laptops further from us than smartphones or tablets.

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Vynor Hill

I’ve invested in a wireless keyboard and mouse and don’t miss the lack of a touch screen. Like you, the screen is some distance away and it’s vertical, so prodding would be more difficult anyway. Some may need this facility; I don’t.

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Royk

I have a Sony Vaio touchscreen all-in-one that I bought used from a friend who couldn’t get on with it. In two years I have used the touchscreen capability about twice, and only to try it. It’s just about the most useless technology imaginable for a desktop PC.

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yorkrose26

Yes whilst Microsoft gave us ‘Metro’ and we were all going to move away from using ‘traditional’ keyboard and mouse, it still going to be the way for me for a long time, I have tried using a touchscreen monitor that is connected to a PC at a class I attend and it is the most unnatural thing ever. I think it is because it is not ‘intimate’ in the way a phone or tablet is, there are personal, (yes I know PC is Personal Computer), but it doesn’t have the same intimacy, you can’t really take your PC to bed with you, a laptop yes people do, but they are bulkier, and usually have to father away any for typing purposes. Hybrids are all well and good but when people are using at as a touchscreen they will more than likely be using to app, surf or send quick tweets, mails etc any thing that can be done without the need for the mechanics of a keyboard.

So no I can’t see how touch screen will ever take off, I think Google or someone will invent something silly so that we can have eye/mind control!

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wavechange

I can see the reason for using a touch-screen on a phone or tablet. A touch-screen is ideal where no data input is needed. The touch-screens that have been used for years to provide information in tourist information centres and museums are good examples.

I am less convinced that we need touch-screens as standard on laptop or desktop computers. I would like to see further development of trackpads on laptop computers and as accessories for desktop machines. I make full use of the trackpad on my recent MacBook Pro, which is convenient for zoom in/out, rotation and does different things depending on the number of fingers used, and brings up a context-sensitive menu when clicked in one corner. I rarely use a mouse these days.

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Mike Hitchcock

I have tried touch on a Windows 8 in a store and think it is not at all appropriate for normal everyday work all that leaning forward to select items and screen typing almost impossible. Touch is ok on handheld devices like phones and tablets(I have both) but for any serious work I need the precision and ease of use of a mouse and keyboard(and voice recognition with Dragon Naturally Speaking). I cannot understand how a such a large company like Microsoft with such huge resources could have missed the fact that a touch interface is only appropriate for only a few specialist applications and not at all useful for general use on desktops and laptops. No wonder that Windows 8 is not selling well, such a disappointment after the really good Windows 7. However I have for the first time tried Linux Mint on my laptop, easy to install and am finding it superb in use.

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wavechange

Mike – You don’t have to use a touch-screen with Windows 8. I don’t know one user who has one. It’s an option, like you opting to use voice-recognition software. Most of us have no need of that.

There are plenty of uses for a touch screen even if neither of us wants one.

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RICHARD GRODZIK

I have been using a PC since 1981 and would not dream of using a ‘touch screen’.The problem is that most people do not know how to use a keyboard properly and use the 2-fingered’ method. I taught myself to type by correctly positioning all 10 fingers on the QUERTY keyboard,and then typing ‘thequickbrownfoxjumpsoverthe lazydog’ (contains every letter of the keyboard)a couple of thousand times a day until I got up to speed.Not touch typing but greatly more productive than using 2 fingers.
It’s a pity that most schools do not teach children how to use a keyboard properly because I suspect that most teachers can’t type properly either.

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wavechange

I don’t think anyone is suggesting use of a touch screen to input a lot of text on a laptop or desktop computer, Richard.

I agree that touch-typing is well worth learning and taught myself to do this on an electric portable typewriter in the 70s. Having said that, young people can often type very quickly through practice without knowing anything about touch typing. I have watched may students using keyboards and the number of fingers they use does vary, but very few use two fingers these days. It’s many years since I last expounded the virtues of touch typing.

If you were designing a multiple choice test for educational purposes or a quiz for entertainment, would it be better to use a touch-screen or move a pointer round the screen with a mouse or trackpad? I would go for the touch-screen.

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dieseltaylor

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/07/30/microsoft_surface_sales_disaster/

Make a better mousetrap and people will flock to your door. Astonishing vindication of the people vs. Microsoft.

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acbeaton

I am always interested in new technology (monitoring new developments in IT for practical application used to be part of my job before I retired) so I bought, at some considerable expense, a beautiful 23″ touch-screen monitor for my desktop PC to go with Windows 8 when it was first launched. The monitor is still beautiful, but the touch facility was a waste of money and I continue to use a wireless mouse and keyboard – and Classic Shell to bypass the Metro screen.
To give touch another chance I recently bought a Logitech wireless touchpad to use with my Windows 8 laptop, but that is not the same as a touch screen. It works like the laptop’s built-in touchpad, but with enhanced Windows 8 gestures.
I have a touch screen tablet and smartphone. These are OK, but their reaction to the accidental touch regularly infuriates me.

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