Students talk touchscreen technology takeover
Published: Monday, March 11, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 11, 2013 21:03
While exploring the vast jungles of Costa Rica during her study abroad trip this past winter, junior Marissa Hart says she appreciated being able to carry her iPad with her on her adventures, she says.
“I really liked it because it was convenient and a lot lighter, especially for traveling purposes,” Hart says.
With the limited technological capabilities of tablets, touch-screen laptops are becoming options for users who want a device with a touch-screen component along with the regular functions that most laptops provide.
While some students opt to take advantage of tablets and the sleek and portable features the devices offer, Mathieu Plourde, IT project leader I and LMS/Educational Technologist at the university IT Academic Technology services, says touch-screen laptops offer the best of both worlds between tablets and PC.
Although tablets have their advantages, they do not possess all of the capabilities of a computer, he says. People are getting used to the form factor of a tablet, Plourde says.
“So I think people are getting used to the idea of touch-screen laptops. It is just an alternative to using a mouse and many people like the feel better,” Plourde says.
According to Plourde, purchasing an attachable keyboard for an iPad has many benefits. If one happens to spill coffee or damage the keyboard, the iPad will be unaffected, making it less expensive to replace than a damaged laptop keyboard, which is connected to the entire device, he says.
Plourde says he owns a Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T, a laptop that includes a touch screen and pen input and the Windows 8 program, which is created for such computers.
The Windows 8 program provides users with a start screen instead of a traditional menu, which allows users to touch the screen and install applications. However, it is very user-friendly and is one of the best aspects of touch-screen laptop. He says if a user does not like the new menu, they can still use a traditional Windows menu featured on regular laptops, Plourde says.
Kwang Choi, a second-year master’s student in software engineering, says he recently helped a friend pick out a touch-screen laptop made by Hewlett-Packard Co. He says he is also considering buying one for his parents to use in their kitchen at home so that they can easily use the touch- screen component when looking up recipes. Windows 8 may be the best aspect of a touch-screen laptop, he says, and the program enhances the experience.
If Windows 8 is a hit among customers, then the program could attract a larger crowd into purchasing touch-screen laptops, Choi says.
“If Windows 8 is a huge success I think we will see more of that,” Choi says. “If not,it depends on what other companies start doing,” Choi says. “As of right now I think the success of touch-screen laptops depends on Windows 8.”
Although touch-screen laptops provide users with extra components, freshman Allison Hellman says she would be apprehensive to purchase a touch-screen laptop due to her fear it would be more likely to break.
“I feel like they would have more problems because of the touch-screen aspect,” Hellman says. “I have an iPhone and sometimes the touch won’t work, and I’ll freak out.”
The machines are made with sufficient durability, Plourde says. In his experience, he has seen no difference in quality between his touch-screen laptop and regular PC, he says. Despite this, he says that like regular laptops, some computer companies will likely produce stronger models than others.
While Plourde says he is confident in the performance of his touch-screen laptop, he says students should look into whether the laptop they are purchasing has an active or passive stylist. Active stylists allow users to more precisely touch the area they are trying to use, while passive stylists are not as accurate, he says.
Engineering students, or individuals who are want to use their touch-screen laptop for design projects, may not be satisfied with a passive stylist and will need a better touch interface, he says.
“In the past I’ve used machines with touch interface that weren’t super helpful,” Plourde says. “I would feel like the touch might not be calibrated well enough, that it was not tapping on the right things, but that’s really not the case with a Windows 8 machine.”
A concern for some individuals is that Apple has yet to release its own touch-screen laptop product. Plourde says this could be due to the 1987 Apple Newton, which he says has been deemed one of the company’s biggest failures. The product was designed to be a touch screen with a stylist, a similar idea to the current touch-screen laptops being produced by other companies. Choi says he thinks Apple could be secretly working on a similar device, but he believes the reason the company has yet to release a touch-screen laptop is because of the focus they put on marketing iPads. If Apple creates a touch-screen laptop, it may see a decrease in the sales of current touch-screen products, he says.
Hart says she has been very satisfied with her Apple products and cannot see herself straying from the brand, despite the lack of touch-screen laptops being made by the company.
“Other companies follow the lead of Apple,” Hart says. “I don’t think Apple would want to be doing what other companies are doing. That’s why Apple has been successful. Maybe they will come up with their own version, but it would probably be different and not anytime soon.”
Plourde says he believes touch-screen laptops will continue to be made and improved upon, since such devices have become popular in every facet of technology.
“I don’t think it’s a fad, I think having thoe touch-screens is something we have been used to with phones and tablets,” Plourde says. “It’s natural for those features to migrate to general full- sized computing devices.”