It’s really hard to predict how PCs and laptops will evolve over the coming years but with the success of the iPad and the forthcoming launch of a number of tablets including a possible PalmPad from HP, it seems certain that tablets and touchscreen enabled devices are going to play an increasingly important role in our digital lives.
For years now, we’ve had touchpads on laptops and netbooks and most of us have become quite adept at using them. I personally still prefer to plug in a mouse as I find it easier to use. One of the problems with the touchpad is that it’s possible to lightly brush over it when typing and inadvertently move the insertion point in your document. There’s a good recent article on Digital Inspiration about disabling the touchpad when you don’t need it.
But when you think about it, touching a metal pad to move a cursor on a screen is perhaps slightly removed from what we really want to do. How much better to be able to touch a screen and say drag files and folders round. Touchscreens have obviously been around for quite some time now, but the impetus from touchscreen smartphones like the iPhone and now the iPad tablet seems to be pushing us increasingly towards touchscreen devices. I still think the mouse will be with us for some time to come on the desktop PC. Ergonomically, it’s not quite so comfortable to touch a monitor screen on a desk at eye level directly in front of you over long periods but certainly for laptops and netbooks where the screen is much lower, a touchscreen plus keyboard or a full tablet device seem to be the obvious evolution of the interface.
So over the coming years, I think we’re going to see more tablet PCs, touchscreen laptops and touchscreen netbooks. Or perhaps I’m just stating the obvious here. How do you think the user interface will evolve? Would you want a touchscreen on your netbook? Or are you going to move completely to a tablet?
Update (9th Sept 2010): Here’s an interesting video on the future of touch screen technology.
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