Touch-screen technology is everywhere now. Once a novelty, touch is available in everything from cameras and smartphones to GPS navigators and desktop computers. With touch, you’re not just manipulating what’s on your screen with a keyboard and mouse — you’re actually touching it, sliding your finger across the screen to adjust the exposure of a snapshot or flip through the pages of a PDF report. The line between you and your device almost seems to evaporate.
Is this a fad? Not at all. Remember, the computer mouse was once dismissed as an absurd novelty, and it’s now been popular for nearly 30 years. Touch is here to stay, but this technology isn’t static — it’s evolving, and fast.
Now’s the time to learn about the latest trends in touch and how you can make the most of them:
Touch Trend 1: Ready for Business: Early tablet computers were derided as playthings meant for reading, watching movies and gaming. No more. Now you can use many of them for just about any task you want — if, that is, you select the right tablet. Consider the Acer Iconia W3. A Windows 8 tablet, the W3 comes preloaded with with Microsoft’s Office applications. Other tablets also let you access and edit word-processing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Today’s tablets aren’t toys — they’re productivity tools.
Touch Trend 2: Big Screens: Touch computers started out as pocket-sized devices, but they keep getting bigger. Even phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S III, sometimes sport 4.8-inch screens. Tablets, meanwhile, can have screens as big as 27 inches on the diagonal. The upshot? You get to choose the screen size suited for your lifestyle and needs.
Touch Trend 3: Desktop and Laptop Computers: Touch is no longer reserved for mobile devices. Now desktops, such as the Dell Inspiron One 2305, are touch-capable, opening up entirely new possibilities for computing by bringing touch to big, brilliant screens. Even traditional laptops, such as the Acer Aspire V5, are integrating touch-screen capabilities.
Touch Trend 4: Convertibles: You’ve always wanted a convertible, right? Now you can have one in the form of a laptop computer with a screen capable of doing a yoga-like move to flip and turn itself into a tablet computer. With these devices, you get the best of both worlds; one minute it looks like a traditional laptop, and the next it’s a tablet.
Touch Trend 5: Interface Options: With touch-screens, software defines just about everything about the device. When selecting a touch-screen computer, you’ve got a lot of options for your operating system now, including Microsoft’s Windows 8, Google’s Android, Chrome and others.
Technology companies just keep churning out the advances. It’s hard to imagine now, but until a few years ago, many of us hardly ever used touch screens beyond the occasional ATM machine. Apple jump-started the shift toward touch, and now it’s almost impossible to avoid. You visit your kid’s kindergarten class, and there she is, playing a math game with the screen in her lap. You rent a car, and there’s a touch-screen to control the vehicle’s infotainment system.
Because you can use touch technology for so many different tasks, from number-crunching to pure entertainment, you need to consider your priorities before you buy. Pay particular attention to these attributes:
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t be. Once you have your hands on a touch device, you’ll probably start thinking of your traditional computer as a relic. Touch-screen devices have opened up new possibilities with their easy-to-use apps. You’ve never sketched out a diagram and blogged it? Try it now. You’ve always wanted to put together a video for friends? Give that a whirl too. Touch is making tasks like these, and many others, even more accessible and easy to accomplish. That’s the real revolution of touch-screen computing, and you can be part of it.
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