Thoughts on using Windows 7 with a touch screen

Not too long ago, I wrote about the first affordable consumer touch screen monitor that I’ve seen to date, the Acer T230H.  A few days ago, I actually went out and bought one of these for myself.  Computing with a touch screen monitor is quite different than the experience one receives with a mouse and keyboard.  There are many advantages to using a touch interface, but also a few disadvantages.

Surfing the web is more fun

Surfing my favorite sites is much more enjoyable with a complimentary touch screen monitor.  Flicking back/forward, and up/down is more intuitive than scrolling with a mouse wheel and clicking.  I’ve heard some speculate that using a touch screen can make your arm tired, but I have yet to experience that.  I believe that this is partly because there are still some things that need to be done with a mouse, which gives your delicate arms a break.  The newest version of Firefox is multitouch capable, meaning you can pinch to zoom, and twist (whatever that means).  To assign actions to the twist motion, you’ll need to edit the default browser settings by navigating to about:config.

Limited number of touch-friendly applications

While in reality you may use touch with any application, some applications are just not  fit for use with a touch screen… yet.  Using Windows Media Center, and Windows Media Player are two applications that work very well with touch; another is Paint.  One of the first applications I tried out with touch was Google Earth; however, it was not as friendly and required use of a mouse.  Google Earth is has the potential to be a great application for use with a touch screen.  Hopefully, desktop developers will start incorporating this technology into their applications, so we can make full use of the feature.

Microsoft Live Labs Pivot

I foresee huge potential in a Microsoft Live Labs project called Pivot.  The goal of Pivot is to improve our interactions with large amounts of data.  I found the Pivot interface intuitive, and mostly touch-friendly.  Pivot is very much like a mobile app in its behavior.  Pivot uses “Collections” of data formatted in XML, but also doubles as a web browser.  Developers are encouraged to start developing now, and there is a ton of information available within Pivot’s Developers section.  My favorite Pivot Collections are Dog Breeds, and U.S. Presidents.

Keyboard mostly good, but could use improvement

The Tablet PC Input Panel, which includes an on-screen keyboard, and handwriting recognition is a great feature, and mostly easy to use.  The only downside is that the keyboard and handwriting input panel is very sensitive out of the box, but this is easily adjusted.  I would love to see autocomplete available at all times, like we do on mobile devices.


Acer T230H Dell SX2210T
Price $359.99 $419.99
Screen size 23″ 21.5″
Aspect ratio 16:9 16:9
Resolution 1920×1080 1920×1080
Response time 2 ms 2 ms
Contrast ratio 80:000 50:000
Dot pitch 0.265 0.248
Outputs HDMI, DVI-D, D-Sub HDMI, DVI-D, D-Sub
Other goodies Built-in speakers Built-in speakers, and 2MP webcam

I really hope we see more applications that are built to work with Window 7’s Touch technology.  I can foresee a significant change in the way we consume, although the mouse and keyboard will be around for a while longer.  If you can afford it, I would definitely recommend getting a touch screen monitor, especically the Acer T230H.  If you yourself have experience using Windows 7 Touch, please feel free to leave your comments.  We would also like to hear your comments on Linux-based touch technology.

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