The Ultrabooks are coming, the Ultrabooks are coming! Wait, aren't they already here? Sure they are, but during a recent quarterly earnings call, Intel CEO announced that a flood of new Ivy Bridge-packing ultraportable laptops is heading our way, and a big chunk of them are shipping with touchscreens -- just in time for the release of the touchscreen-friendly Windows 8.
Just in case you didn't get the hint from the tablet-tastic Windows 8 Metro UI and those 900,000 Android devices activated each and every day: the world is turning into an increasingly touch-focused place. Touchscreens are nice and all, but we prefer our QWERTY to be a little more… tactile. Enter the appropriately named Tactus Technology: while most of our attention was focused on E3 and Computex last week, Tactus stole the show at the Society for Information Display's (SID) conference in Boston with new technology that can create dynamic physical buttons over a touchscreen display on-demand.
Microsoft has high hopes for Windows 8, the Metro-sexual operating system slated to ship around six months from now. The elephant in the room is Windows 8's Metro user interface and whether or not consumers are ready for such a drastic change to what's been a mostly familiar layout up to this point, and it could be taken as encouraging signs (for Microsoft) that its Developer Preview, Consumer Preview, and Release Preview builds have all seen a high number of downloads. If that's the case, why are some PC makers freaking out?
We won’t delve too far into it again – why beat a dead horse? – but research has proven that most people’s passwords suck, plain and simple. Sophisticated geeks may shrug their shoulders and simply laugh at the newbs, but it’s in Microsoft’s interest to build a secure operating system – hence the whole Secure Boot thing. The company’s taking an interesting approach to passwords in the upcoming Windows 8, one that mixes personal pictures and touch/mouse gestures to create a log in experience that Microsoft claims is both faster and more secure than traditional alphanumeric passwords.
Maybe you've heard of Mimo Monitors, maybe you haven't. Either way, the company that's taking credit for "ushering USB touchscreen monitors into the U.S. market" has now conjured up the "Magic Touch," a USB-driven capacitive touchscreen mini-monitor the company claims is an industry first. The Mimo Magic Touch sports a 10-inch display and a single USB 2.0 port, or two USB 2.0 ports if you spring for the deluxe model.
Cybernet has been building all-in-one touch-screen PCs for hospital and medical use for years. Given the ambitious specs of the company's new iOne-H5—a 2.93GHz Core i7-870, 8GB of memory, and ATI's Mobility Radeon HD 5730 GPU—we found ourselves wondering if this long-term expertise would translate into an awesome consumer system.
Remember that nifty little “Skinput” interface that researchers at Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon University were working on about a year and a half ago? It registered touches made to your skin, allowing you to use your body as an input device – hence its name. Well, it turns out that’s not all CMU and Microsoft were working on. They’re working on a device called “OmniTouch” that projects interfaces onto any surface – and includes multitouch touchscreen capabilities. That’s right, you can dial home on a loaf of bread.
As often happens, the first product in a new product category is pretty good, but the second and third entries bring the wow. This is certainly the case with the category of keyless deadbolt locks and Yale’s Real Living Touchscreen deadbolt. Schlage has a good lock, Kwikset’s is better, and Yale’s is fantastic.
Where the Kwikset and Schlage locks use rubber keypads, Yale deploys an illuminated capacitive touchscreen (they also have a less-expensive push-button model that we didn’t evaluate). Each lock can operate on its own, but each is also available with either a Z-Wave or ZigBee plug-in radio, so that it can be integrated into a home-control system. We tested Yale’s Z-Wave model in stand-alone mode and tried to integrate it into the Vivint home-control system we’ve been evaluating, without real success (more on that in a moment).
Here's something you probably never came across before. Habey, a company that specializes in embedded computers and digital signange products, announced its new 12-inch 'Touchscreen Intel Dual Core Atom Ion Panel PC,' or PPC-6512 for short. It's basically a nettop with a 12-inch 16:9 touchscreen that can also be hooked up to an external display via VGA or HDMI with a maximum resolution of up to 2560x1600.
One thing all-in-one PCs have over most desktops is that they simply look better. We've seen a lot of ugly tower systems, but relatively few AIOs that we'd qualify as eyesores. From what we can tell by viewing MSI's press photos, the company's new Wind Top AE2070 AIO doesn't buck the trend and is another classy edition to a growing number of AIO PCs. Touching it is optional.