Touch Screen LaptopToday I am going to be writing about how to make the best decision when shopping for touch screen laptop computers. Chances are that you’re not new to buying computers but this may be the first touch screen computer that you’ve purchased.

By now, most people have owned several computers over the course of their lifetimes. Most of us have a pretty good idea of what we are looking for when it comes time to do some computer shopping. Few, however, have ever purchased a touch screen laptop.

Luckily, there isn’t really that much more to know about purchasing computers that can be controlled by touch and today I hope to answer any questions that you may have about the matter.

The basics are the same but there are some things that are worth knowing beforehand if you want to make the best decision when it comes to choosing your first touch controlled computer.

Navigating This Webpage

Some of you may not feel like reading through this entire webpage so for your convenience, I’ve included several links which are displayed below that will take you directly to a specific section of this article. If you would like to return to this list of section headings, simply click on the link that is labeled “Return to top…” that is displayed after every section.

What Kind Of Screen Finish Should You Get?

One thing you may want to consider when shopping for a touch screen computer is the type of screen finish that the computer is equipped with. It’s easy to find out what your preference is going to be. There are basically two kinds of finishes found on computers with touch screens. They are the matte and shiny finish. Everyone tends to have their own preference but I prefer the matte finish. I think it shows less glare and a bonus is that fingerprints don’t show up quite as easily.

Normally people go to great lengths to keep their fingers away from their computer screens to avoid getting fingerprints on them. Now that the touch screen computer is becoming more and more popular, touching the monitor is an inherent part of the user experience. I personally tend to notice more fingerprints and glare on a glossy screen.

My cell phone has a glossy touch screen and I find that I’m constantly wiping the fingerprints from the screen. Seeing smudges on the screen really annoys me and I’m having a hard time adjusting to this aspect of my cell phone. On the flip side, I have friends who say they don’t even notice the fingerprints on their screens. If you think that seeing fingerprints on the screen is going to bother you, you’ll probably want to shop for models that don’t show as many fingerprints.

Another thing to keep in mind is that fingerprints will usually be more visible when the screen is turned off. It’s not uncommon to see a bunch of fingerprints and smudges on a screen that is turned off but when you turn it on they are often hardly noticeable. I’ve also noticed that working under different lighting conditions can also affect how visible fingerprints on the screen are.

11-29-2011 Update: While it’s true that glossy finished touch screens seem to show more fingerprints than matte finished screens, manufacturers seem to be moving in the direction of the glossy screen almost exclusively. My Nook Simple Touch eBook reader has a matte finish but all of the tablet computers that I’ve tested recently have had shiny screens. Since this seems to be the most common type of screen finish, you won’t have many options if you are bound and determined to find one with a matte finish. I’ve written an article that talks about dealing with the fingerprint issue in regards to these types of devices. Here’s a link to this article in case you might be interested in reading it: 5 Tips To Keep In Mind About Caring For Tablet Computers.

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Should You Buy A Touch Screen Laptop That Requires An Electronic Stylus?

Some computers only recognize input from an “electronic pen” or “digital stylus”. This may not be an issue for you but it is to me. I prefer being able to just reach up and tap the screen with my finger if I choose to do so. An example of this would be when sending an email. After you type an email, it’s really nice to be able to just reach up and tap the “Send” button on the screen with your finger without having to reach for a stylus. If the laptop that you purchase requires an electronic stylus to recognize touch, you may end up finding yourself searching for the stylus every time you want to make a selection on the screen. This can be a bit of a nuisance to some people.

Also, if you want to make use of multi-touch gestures such as those used for manipulating photos on your screen, a computer that only recognizes touch from a digital pen might not be the best choice for you.

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How Responsive Should The Touch Screen Computer Be?

The computer that you decide to purchase should be very responsive to your touch input. If you find yourself having to tap the screen over and over just to get it to recognize your intention, the screen isn’t very responsive and it would be wise to move on to a computer that is more responsive. You’ll find yourself quite annoyed if your fancy new touch screen laptop doesn’t do what you expect it to do when you touch the screen.

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Will You Be Using Handwriting Recognition Software?

Some laptops that are equipped with touch screens are capable of recognizing your handwriting and converting it into typed text. This is a very handy feature to have on this type of a computer. If you anticipate that you will want to do this, I would suggest that you buy one that is capable of running this kind of software quite well. Not all of them are equal in performance; some definitely work better than others.

Keep in mind that the software usually has to “learn” to recognize your handwriting so it may not work perfectly when you first start using it. You generally need to write with an electronic stylus for this feature to work correctly. It’s important to make sure that the stylus that comes with the laptop is comfortable to write with and not just a little tiny thing that barely fits in your hand?

You’ll enjoy writing with a stylus that has the feel of a regular pen or pencil. If the stylus that comes with your computer is cheap and uncomfortable to write with, can you buy a different stylus for it? What if you lose the stylus? How much will it cost to replace it? These are things worth asking the sales person before you hand over your hard earned cash.

It’s worth noting that some of these digital pens will actually function like a regular pencil eraser when you turn them over. You simply turn them over and erase what you have written just like you would if you were using a rubber pencil eraser. If you buy a computer with the intention of utilizing handwriting recognition software, I would suggest getting one that has this digital eraser feature.

Some digital pens even have the capability of distinguishing between light pressure and heavy pressure. Some will draw a thin line on the screen when you apply very light pressure and a thicker line on the screen when you apply more pressure. If you are interested in creating digital art work with your touch screen computer, this may be a feature that is worth looking for while you are shopping.

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Will You Want to Use Multi-Touch Gestures?

Next comes the subject of multi-touch. More and more devices support multi-touch gestures these days. Multi-touch means that you can touch the screen with two or more fingers at more than one location simultaneously and the computer will recognize each location of the screen that you are touching. The HP Touchsmart is an example of a computer that supports this feature. The Apple iPad also supports it. The iPad has revolutionized these kinds of computers. When Apple first introduced the iPad, it was an instant hit with consumers and one of the reasons was because of it’s multi-touch gesture functionality.

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What Are The Specs You Should Be Looking For?

Now it’s time to have a look inside the laptop. I’m not suggesting that you break out your tools and take the computer apart. What I mean is you should have a look at the specifications. Here are some basic recommendations about choosing the hardware for this kind of computer.

Specifications to look for:

  • Buy the fastest processor that you can afford. No one ever complains about their computer being too fast but you hear a lot of people who complain about it being too slow.
  • A dedicated video card with it’s own RAM is also a nice feature.
  • Buy a computer with as much RAM as you can afford. I wouldn’t settle for anything less than 2 GB of RAM and I would recommend 4 GB. RAM is really cheap these days and the more you have, the better your computer will tend to run. This is especially important if you are the type of person who likes to run several programs at once like me.
  • Card reader slots are also very handy to have. With a card reader, you can simply insert the memory card from your digital camera, cell phone, or other devices into a slot on the computer and it will instantly download your photos from the memory card so that you can store them on your computer. If the computer that you decide to purchase doesn’t have this feature, you can always buy external card readers that plug into a USB port but it’s much more convenient for laptops to have these slots built into them. If you’re traveling with your laptop, the last thing you’ll want to be doing is packing a bunch of peripherals along with you. Laptops are all about portability which is why I suggest buying one with built in card reader slots.
  • Large hard drives are king! Get one with a huge hard drive. I have a 500GB hard drive on my personal laptop and guess what, it’s just about full. Most people wouldn’t believe that they could actually fill up a 100 GB hard drive but with digital cameras coming with more and more megapixel’s these days, the file size for just one photo can easily be 5 MB or more. It’s easy to fill your hard drive to capacity with nothing more than pictures if you aren’t careful. Many portable video cameras of today store the video footage that they take on an integrated hard drive. People have come to expect their video cameras to record in ultra high definition mode. This means that the picture quality is going to be much better but the increased quality comes at a price. That price is in the amount of space that each video will take up on your computer’s hard drive after you download the footage. When it comes to selecting the size of the hard drive for your new laptop, it really is best to spend a little more money and get the the largest hard drive that you can afford. Trust me when I say you’ll be glad that you did.
  • A DVD reader/writer should come standard on all laptops these days. If the model that you are looking at doesn’t have this, I would move on to one that does. Optical drive technology has made amazing advancements in recent years. A few years ago, having a CD burner on a laptop was considered a luxury. Fast forward to today and they are standard equipment. Many laptops even come equipped with Blue-ray players these days. If you find that you are the kind of person who likes to watch a lot of movies in the Blue-ray format, I suggest that you purchase a laptop that is equipped with a Blue-ray drive.
  • Battery life is always an important consideration when buying a computer that is equipped with a touch screen. Buy one with the longest battery life you can find. Nothing is more annoying than discovering that you have a dead battery after only an hour of working on the computer. In most cases you can purchase a larger battery when you buy your computer. The last laptop I purchased came stock with a 6 cell battery but I purchased the laptop with the optional 9 cell battery and I’m really glad that I did.
  • Look for a laptop with a large touchpad. Larger touchpads seem to be easier to work with in my opinion. Additionally, I prefer laptops that are equipped with a touchpad instead of a little “eraser like” pointing devices that are crammed between the keys on the keyboard.
  • Of course, the computer should come with several USB ports. You’ll likely be disappointed if the laptop you buy only has one USB port. You’ll want to make sure that at least one of the ports is a powered USB port. Without a powered USB port, you can’t plug electronic devices like your cell phone, digital camera, or PDA into your computer to charge.
  • Lastly, I would suggest that you buy a computer that supports Bluetooth. My laptop doesn’t have this feature but I wish it did. With Bluetooth, you can easily transfer files between your computer and your other electronic devices like cell phones and some digital cameras. You can also use wireless headphones and other wireless Bluetooth peripherals which can come in very handy.

As a general rule, you’re probably going to have to pay a bit more for a quality touch screen computer. Unfortunately touch input is still a relatively new technology for laptop computers. As with most electronic devices, the cost will come down dramatically in the future but for now you’ll have to hand over a bit more cash if you want to own and use the latest and greatest. As far as I’m concerned, I wouldn’t buy a car that didn’t have power steering and I won’t buy a computer that doesn’t have a touch screen. They really are so much nicer to work on and use on a day to day basis.

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What If You Want To Upgrade Your New Laptop Someday?

One thing that I almost forgot to mention is on the subject of upgrading your touch controlled computer. This issue is often overlooked when people are purchasing a new laptop, or desktop for that matter. It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of owning a computer that you can control via touch and the next thing you know, you’ve purchased a computer that will be difficult to upgrade in the months or years to come. I always recommend that you buy a computer that you can “grow into” and upgrade if you so desire. This is much better than the alternative which is buying one that you’ll quickly out grow in terms of the capabilities that it offers.

Let me share an example of what I’m talking about here. The types of computer software that people use typically advances at a surprisingly fast rate. I’m sure you all remember when having 1GB of RAM in a computer was almost unheard of. As a matter of fact, that was the case just a few short years ago. Today, a system with only 1GB of RAM is going to be a bit sluggish and in some cases, it won’t even run your operating system. It’s not uncommon to see basic, low end computers that come equipped with 4GB’s of RAM these days. Well guess what? In a year or two from now, 4GB’s probably won’t be enough. The reason for this is that as programmers make advancements in software, the software almost always needs more resources like RAM and processor power to run properly.

If you purchase a laptop that has 2GB of RAM in it today but it’s not designed to allow you to upgrade to 4, 6, or even 8 gigabytes in the future, you’ll have to purchase an entirely new system if you want to upgrade your computer to run this much RAM. If, however, you take just a minute and check to see how much RAM the computer that you’re thinking about buying can be upgraded to, you’ll know that you can always add more RAM if the need should come up in the future.

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What’s The Difference Between A Tablet Computer and Touch Screen Laptops?

Some of you will prefer a “slate computer” or “tablet computer” over a traditional laptop that is equipped with a touch screen. If you choose to buy an Apple iPad, you’ll be one of the millions who are enjoying this new type of touch screen computer. Apple sold over two million iPads before the iPad had been on the market for even 60 days. I think the overwhelming success of the iPad is an indication of how popular touch screen computing devices will be in the very near future. More and more slate computers are hitting the market everyday which is an indication that touch technology is a big winner with consumers. I should point out that devices like the iPad were initially referred to as “slate computers” but that phrase never really caught on. Most people these days simply refer to them as “tablet computers”. As a matter of fact, I would be willing to bet that if you were to walk into a computer store and ask the sales clerk to show you their selection of slate computers, they probably wouldn’t even know what you were talking about.

Owning touch screen computers is a bit of a novelty right now but I believe that someday everyone will enjoy the luxury of owning a laptop with touchscreen functionality. The number of manufacturers who have a laptop with touch screen functionality in their lineup is growing every day. I believe that someday the touchscreen interface will replace buttons on all electronic devices. Devices with buttons are limited in their ability to be adapted to specific applications. Devices with touch screens have applications that are able to be reprogrammed to perform in many different configurations.

A touchscreen is just so much easier to use than buttons and switches are. It’s also a lot more fun to use! That’s one of the reasons the iPad and other tablet computers are so popular. People really seem to enjoy playing with them. Although the novelty factor hasn’t worn off just yet. People will someday not even think that a touchscreen laptop is anything special. Right now, they are fairly new and exciting. If you buy a touchscreen laptop, you’ll be one of the kids with the “cool toy” and everyone will envy you.

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What Can You Expect To See Next On This Website?

I’d like to let you know that I’m currently focusing on writing a series of posts designed to help people solve common computer problems. Some examples of these types of posts are How To Delete Your History On Your Computer, Free Computer Scan And Virus Removal, and How To Clean My Computer To Make It Run Faster.

You’ll notice that I’ll usually include a link to some of these tips at the end of many of my articles. You can also find the full list of these tips at the top of any page on my site by clicking on the navigational tab that is labeled “Solutions to Computer Problems”.
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