Do You Wanna Touch

Traditional laptops may have reached an evolutionary dead-end (or, more charitably, a plateau), but it is an amazing time for things that … aren't quite traditional laptops.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

I’ve had a full HD touch screen for about a year now at home. I keep catching myself trying to touch links on my office pc because I’m so used to touch on my desktop from home.

And it’s way more intuitive than with a mouse.

I did find that this only works well with consuming content rather than creating it. But I guess the track-pad has the same issue, so no surprise there.

About 2002 I was developing a touch enabled application. The touch screen mimicked a mouse left click or left click and drag if I remembered correctly. However every time I got back to my dev machine after testing the touch interface I touched the screen instead of using the mouse and mouse button. Ever since I wanted to obtain a touch screen for my normal desktop and now also laptop.
Touch interaction is so natural. Notebooks should’ve had it Years ago.

So… all you really want is a cloth cover keyboard for an iPad Mini?

Your comment about the Mail client, I felt exactly the same when I fired it up on Windows 8 PRO (desktop) this weekend, it is so bad I don’t want to use it.

I’m surprised to hear the Surface keyboard is this good, I was not sure about it.

Anyway… I’ll not buy any Windows RT products. I prefer to pay more but to have a very good tablet AND desktop experience.

what about this?
It appears that microsoft is 2 generations behind

“…a vision of the future of computing that doesn’t sacrifice either keyboard or touch”

The Asus Transformer family is the progenitor of that vision. This is just another aspect of that vision; one that runs Windows.

I love having two (three if I plug in a USB mouse, four if I also use Bluetooth) ways of navigating around the screen.

I have a Toshiba Thrive Android tablet (10"). It has a full USB port so keyboards work as well as mice. Of course there’s always bluetooth keyboards, so the “surface” is at best evolutionary. Logitech has had iPad and Android bluetooth cover-keyboards for a while.

The mouse is the bigger thing if you are doing drawing. Touch isn’t precise enough, and it can’t tell which finger and you don’t have a scroll wheel.

But what allowed me to leave my netbook at home was Hacker’s keyboard. (and when I learn morse code better, they have several so I won’t have to look). I can adjust the key size and various options and voice works fairly well. Because it is a full qwerty with 4th row, with a shift to get all the function keys, I can almost touch type, it is easy for complex passwords, and I can do ssh.

I don’t do long documents where I’m doing a lot of editorial changes (I should try the mouse again, select-cut-paste is awful in touch), but it is good for 3-4 paragraphs. Something like the length of this comment. There’s also Thumb Keyboard and many others on Android. The iOS soft keyboards are awful and immutable.

I also have the Galaxy Player 5.0 which I use on my motorcycle for GPS maps, weather, and HarleyDroid since I have a mobile hotspot. But that is for media, mainly audio. It fits in my pocket.

I’m looking at the galaxy note 2 - I still have my Nokia n800 and n810 (x2, I have a wimax). The stylus allows for precision, and they have the “second mouse button”.

For my desktop I want to see something about the size of my webcam on my monitor that does, in a more finely grained fashion, what the Kinect does…hmmm, ALSO by Microsoft.

That HAS to be in the works. They can’t be missing this, can they?

I’ve had the same experience of a great interface that I wanted to carry over to a different device when I tried to remote click back up my car radio one day after a long weekend with my Tivo.

I can see having the Surface for when I’m wandering around, and then being able to use the same gestures without actually having to reach up to touch the screen (cue Minority Report reference) and having it be seamless.

Please, tell me they’re going to get this done soon.

Sounds like you need the LG ET83 Touch, which will be out in a couple of weeks… in South Korea. It’s a 23" IPS multitouch monitor. Can there be a better fit?

Whilst the future of mobile computing may revolve around touch-devices it will be a sad day if ultimately desktops and laptops are replaced entirely, touch-devices are expensive and completely proprietry hardware that cannot be upgraded with ease like desktops and laptops.

Touch-devices will never be your one and only device, they are outside of a lot of peoples budget and need replacing by newer and more expensive models each year, whilst I’m happy to use such devices for mobile computing, I don’t get excited over the fact that these devices could be the future of computing in general, mobile-computing yes, at least not until hardware stops evolving and raw processing power hits a ceiling, not happening any time soon.

For now these devices are for tech-chasing geeks with more money than sense IMO, playing into large companies hands by essentially subscribing to expensive hardware refreshes each year.

Jeff, I totally agree with you about the keyboard, it’s amazing. The only downside is I had to train myself to type with the pads of my fingertips, since striking a hard surface hurts after a short while. If I knew I was going to do a lot of typing on the Surface I would go buy a portable keyboard and plug it into the Surface’s full size USB port.

Many of the native applications currently available run poorly on Surface RT due to lack of optimization and testing for the ARM platform versus x86. Probably not terribly different from the iPad 1 on launch day

That’s not how I remember the iPad 1 on launch day. Its hardware is underpowered by today’s standards, but in 2010 it was as responsive as an iPhone.

Why buy one, Microsoft will kill it off in a year or two anyway. It will never get the chance to mature. Not an indictment of the Surface but a comment on how Microsoft develops products.

I really want a WindowsRT device with a stylus as I want to take it to meetings and draw. Unfortunately seems like all Windows tablets with a stylus are Intel ones.

As for legacy apps it doesn’t bother me really, WinRT has a remote desktop app which is excellent especially if logging into a Windows 8 machine (then you get remotefx connection). I will just use that for legacy apps.

Has anyone been able to try a RemoteApp file rather than a full remote desktop? Not usr eif it works, but would be great if you could use remote apps on the WinRt desktop.

My youngest child turned one in September. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching him learn how to use the iPad and particularly the discovery that his finger works better than his fist.

Touch is the future, always has been.

And so what if Surface isn’t perfect. Microsoft has said over and over that they looked around and nobody else was doing it the way they thought it should be done, so they stepped up and filled the gap. Even if they kill off the product line in a few years, every OEM is now scrambling to make devices that can match the Surface in build quality and functionality. The Surface is a much needed course correction.

Anyway, thanks for all the great blog posts over the years Jeff. I enjoy your writing and perspective.

While I agree that text input is a major problem with current touch interfaces, do you really think keyboards are the be-all/end-all of text input? Yes, they are fast, but they are also big, difficult to learn, and have poor ergonomics. Writing has existed for ages, but typewriters were only invented around 300 years ago. With current technology, don’t you think we can do better than a big array of buttons?

do you really think keyboards are the be-all/end-all of text input?

I have yet to see something better. Writing with the iPad and a bluetooth keyboard are the most fulfilling experience I’ve had with a computer so far.

  • Handwriting recognition: sucks, because my handwriting is way slower than my typing
  • Speech recognition: still makes too many mistakes and fails totally under some conditions (on the train, in the park…)

the natural next step is probably speech recognition, but it isn’t there yet.

I’ve been using an hp touchsmart for years. It’s a touchscreen laptop - just like the surface, except the weight is in the keyboard side so it doesn’t need a kickstand to hold it up. You’re right about the combination of touch and keyboard. It’s fantastic. But it isn’t a new idea.

@Omnisu - What is a new idea? I’ve come to the realization that it’s pointless to try and sort ideas in “new”, “old”, “original”, “stolen”, etc. Every idea out there is just a mix of old ideas. There hasn’t been a new idea in the world since the invention of the wheel, and I strongly suspect that they copied that one too.

Instead I think that we should rather focus on classifying ideas in “works” and “don’t works” categories, and to hell who came up with it first.

(P.S. I’d love to see an article by Jeff about this)