Touch Screen Computers: Productive Tool or Gimmick?

With the introduction of Microsoft’s newest operating system, Windows 8 has brought an onslaught of touch devices. But are these devices productive or is the touch feature just a gimmick?

Smartphones, tablet PCs, iPods, navigation systems; touch devices are everywhere and more abundant than ever. And Microsoft noticed.

With the release of Windows 8 last fall, more and more PC manufacturers are releasing touch-screen desktops and laptops. But are they even useful?

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Windows 8 Start Screen

Microsoft claims Windows 8 was built for touch. While that statement is true, only one part of it was optimized for touch – the Start Screen.

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Charlene Formica

Charlene Formica, a medical assistant at a local women’s health center, uses touch-screen laptops daily at her job. Even though the devices at her office transform into tablets, Formica claims the interface is “clunky.”

“You have five minutes to interview your patient, take vitals, and enter the data,” says Formica. Her office uses an electronic medical records program. Formica and her coworkers do not use the touch screen at all. She says, “The on-screen keyboard just gets in the way.”

When asked if handwriting recognition software would be useful, she contended it still would not be quick enough.

The fact is, most productivity applications (such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, and QuickBooks) are built for traditional keyboards and mice. Inputting data is quicker using a keyboard than an on-screen keyboard.

Touch-screen laptops might be appealing for a casual user just wants to browse the Web, but tablet-PCs seem more appealing solutions. Tablets are thinner, lighter, cost less, and have an outstanding battery life. Laptops simply cannot compete: they are bigger, heavier, costly, and the battery life is much shorter.

Computers are still integral to our modern lives, but touch-screen computers just feel out of place.

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