The future looks bright for touchscreen computing, which will get a boost from Windows 7's built-in support for multitouch technology. And in case you haven't noticed, touchscreen PCs are beginning to gain steam. But is the world ready for touch computing in its current form?
"The question is, can we rethink the touch interface as a first-class citizen and provide a fresh approach to the desktop?," says Anand Agarawala, founder and CEO of Toronto's Bumptop. "Not only is touch a more natural way to interact with your desktop, but it also adds to your productivity."
Up to now, there hasn't been much motivation to focus on touch. According to Display Search, only about 3 percent of desktops and notebooks currently come with a touchscreen. Touch technology is much more prominent in the smartphone market, so the first step is getting the hardware out there. Then there's the task of making touchscreens easier to use and functionally relevant.
"PCs with touchscreens look cool, but what do you do with them?," says Jennifer Colegrove, a director at Display Search. "When it comes to the iPhone there are 50,000 applications that use touch -- but what do you do on a PC with touch?"
That question might be answered sooner than you think.
In preparation for the launch of Windows 7 and its multitouch capabilities, Gateway has announced two touchscreen all-in-one PCs built specifically for the upcoming OS.
On the higher end, the Gateway One ZX6810-01 will come with a 23-inch touchscreen display, an Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200S, a heaping 8GB of DDR3-1333 memory, a 64GB solid state drive for the OS and 1TB hard drive for storage duties, and ATI Radeon Mobility HD 4670 graphics with 1GB of memory. Cnet, who managed to get its hands on one already, praised the PC for its speed, while noting that the "touch input could be frustratingly unresponsive" at times.
Lower on the all-in-one totem pole sits the Gateway One ZX4800-02. At half the price of its bigger brother, this model boasts a 20-inch touchscreen display, an Intel Pentium dual-core T4300 processor, 4GB of DDR2-800 memory, a 750GB hard drive, and Intel's GMA X4500HD graphics. both PCs ship with 64-bit flavors of Windows 7 Home Premium.
Gateway says the ZX4800 will be available in late October or early November for $750, while the FX6810 will debut sometime in Q4 for $1,400.
If there's one thing most touchscreen tablets all have in common, it seems to be the overall sex appeal, and Toshiba's new JournE touch multimedia tablet is no exception.
While the 7-inch touchscreen steals the show, beneath the surface Toshiba's sleek JournE suports a number of codecs, including H.264, DivX, and WMV. It also adds 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi support, multimedia and social app integration (YouTube, Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, and more), and IE running on Windows CE 6.0 Pro.
It also comes with an HDMI port in the unit's dock and can output HD video.
As this is a prototype, final specifications are likely to change, and there's no word yet on price or availability. In the meantime, you can catch a video of Engadget getting touchy-feely with the JournE here.
However, the word from the horse’s mouth is that Pine Trail will be shipped to customers before the sun sets on 2009. The U150 will feature a 10-inch touchscreen and run Windows 7. Pine Trail is the codename for the next generation of the Intel Atom.
While the concept of a touchscreen netbook mod isn’t entirely new, it didn’t stop somebody from adding one to an HP Mini 1000. A modder named only as timm.mccoy (but vocally self-referred to as Brian Tim in his video) of the MyHPMini forums added a 10.2-inch resistive touchscreen to his machine, turning it into a pint-sized tablet.
As with most touchscreen mods, the touchscreen panel itself has been put between the LCD and the display bezel, and outputs to a USB connection. That connection is then plugged into an internal USB port (usually the one occupied by the machine’s webcam), and boom – a touchscreen netbook is born.
If you’re interested in seeing more, be sure to check out a video of the machine here.
Creative has filed a patent that could change the way we operate touchscreen devices. Filed back in January under the 3DLabs brand, the patent describes a drag and drop user interface with "action tabs."
In a nutshell, users would be able to manipulate "action" areas of the screen and drag objects (like a music title or video, for example) onto an action tab. Or as Creative describes the technology in its filing:
"A system and methods for a novel user interface of a touch sensitive screen for pocket device. The user interface contains display items and action tabs. Display items are configured to be draggable if being dragged at substantially horizontal direction; display items are configured to be scrollable if being dragged at substantially vertical direction. Dragging and releasing a draggable item to an action tab causes a specified action or a sequence of actions being applied to the item."
Because Creative filed the patent under its 3DLabs brand, now known as ZiiLabs, we wouldn't be surprised to see this technology show up on the Zii EGG.
Sony today released a pair of new e-book readers the company hopes will help put it in a better position to do battle with Amazon's popular Kindle. As such, Sony also plans to reduce all new releases and best sellers at its e-book store from $11.99 down to $9.99 each.
On the hardware front, Sony's new Reader Pocket Edition weighs 7.76 ounces and sports a 5-inch display. There's enough memory to store 350 standard e-books, but no expansion slot for memory cards. Users can expect about two weeks of use before having to recharge the battery. The pocket-sized reader is available in navy blue, rose, and silver with an MSRP of $200.
As the name implies, Sony's new Reader Touch Edition ups the ante with a touchscreen display, which supports finger or stylus enabled note taking with the virtual keyboard. It comes with five adjustable font size and expansion slots for both Memory Stick PRO Duo and SD cards. This one comes in red, black, or silver with an MSRP set at $300.
Rumors of an Apple tablet have been swirling since at least mid-2001 when Kevin Fox, a user experience designer for Google, posted a blog predicting the release of the iPad. That never came to fruition, but it wouldn't be the last time 'Apple' and 'tablet' would be muttered in the same breath (see Mac Life's The History of the Apple Tablet Rumor for a detailed timeline).
Fast forward 8 years and it appears the Apple tablet may finally be on the verge of release. An anonymous source (not ours) claims to have held a prototype and says Apple will have a final design ready in the next six weeks, which could be announced in September for release in November, just in time for the holiday rush. Or so says Barron's, part of The Wall Street Journal.
Barron's speculates the device could retail for $700 to $800, which sounds about right for an Apple-branded tablet. And according to Jon Peddie, head of Jon Peddie Research, look for gaming functionality to be a "big part of what this is about." Maybe it'll play Duke Nukem: Forever.
Anyone think we'll see this thing in the next several months? Hit the jump and post your predictions.
Synaptics hopes to take mobile touchscreen technology to a whole new level with the company's recently announced ClearPad 3000 Series. Unlike two-finger capable touchscreens, the ClearPad 3000's capacitive touch pad can track up to 10 simultaneous finger touches.
"By enabling more devices to have multi-finger gesture capabilities, our premium ClearPad 3000 Series opens the door for innovative software developers to push the edges of the user interface envelope by creating exciting new classes of applications -- such as multi-user gaming -- not possible before, giving OEMs greater flexibility to differentiate their products," said Tom Tiernan, Synaptics president and COO.
Synaptics says the ClearPad 3000 is based on new, proprietary technology featuring 48 sensing channels and advanced power management. The end result is support for larger screen sizes up to 8 inches diagonally in a thin, low-profile design. Synaptics also boasts a high level of accuracy.
The company plans to ship engineering samples for general release starting in November 2009, which means you may see some snazzy new multi-finger touchscreen devices just in time for the holidays.
Already announced in Europe last month, Archos is bringing its new Archos 9 PC Tablet to the U.S. market. The ultraportable tablet weighs less than 22.29 ounces and measures just 0.63-inches thick.
On the hardware front, the Archos 9 boasts a full touch-sensitive 9-inch screen, an Intel Atom Z515 processor (1.2GHz, 512KB cache, 400MHz frontside bus), 1GB of RAM, up to 120GB of storage, 1.3MP webcam, and an optical track-point mouse.
On the software side of things, the new tablet will come pre-loaded with Microsoft's upcoming Windows 7 OS. It will also include Microsoft Office and a host of other apps, such as "Web TV & Radio, video conference, antivirus, parental control, photos and movies edition applications, and more."
The Archos 9 PC Tablet will go on sale sometime this fall for an as yet undetermined price.