Windows 8 and a Touch Screen in Daily Use

More than anything, how the Acer performs is also going to be driven by how well a touchscreen works with Windows 8, and for that I had to build a whole new testing PC with Windows 8 on it. Coming into this I had zero experience with Windows 8, none with a Windows tablet, and none with a Windows Phone. I’ve been using Windows since 3.0 was released but hadn’t branched out into those newer areas yet. I found the experience a bit strange and even often, and I imagine many people moving onto Windows 8 may have a similar initial reaction.

Typically any monitor I have in for review is assigned as my main display. I want to use it as much as I can, do all of my work on it, and focus on it directly. Flanking the monitor in for review are a 27” LCD and a 24” CRT to serve as secondary displays, with the 27” filling in as my primary display when there is nothing here for review. Usually this is fine, but when using a touchscreen with Windows 8 as my main screen in a multi-screen environment I found this to not work as well.

Putting the touchscreen with the start menu seems good, and it seems you would want that in the center of your desk, but you quickly run into issues with Metro applications. As they are all now going to open on the monitor with the Start screen on it, that means secondary apps like the integrated Calendar or Mail are now filling your main display instead of being flanked to the side on a secondary display. You can move them to the side, but that moves the Start menu over there as well, which takes it off the touchscreen.

With a single display, this isn’t an issue. Everything stays on the touchscreen and you view what you are working on. With multiple monitors, touch is best relegated to a secondary display. You can keep your start menu there and your Metro applications, but you can have your real work on our other displays. It seems silly that Windows 8 has been designed without taking multiple monitors into account, but it almost feels that way to me. Trying to make the user experience the same across all the platforms seems to have focused on the average user and not the power user.

Now none of this is Acer’s fault, as they aren’t designing Windows, but it means that you’re possibly paying $500 for a monitor that is best as a secondary display, or it has to be your only displays, to get the full value out of it.

When using the touch features, the Acer was very responsive and accurate with my input. Moving around the Start screen, selecting applications, and moving them around was very easy to do with the display. I worried a lot about fingerprints and smudges with the glossy finish, but I didn’t find myself having to clean it that often, and typically they were hidden away well. Entering data with the on-screen keyboard worked, but I would never pick it over a regular keyboard for entering more than a couple of words. It did lead me to wanting to find a way to build my own Sooloos-style media server for my music room, but not as much for regular work.

So much for the Windows 8 side of the experience. Let's get to the display characteristics and see how the Acer stands up to other displays we've reviewed.

Introduction, Design and Specs Brightness and Contrast
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  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - link

    When you grow up and have kids, you'll realize that ANY and ALL touchscreens will get filthy if you let your kids use them. Matte screens will be just as bad -- says the guy with three kids (10, 3, 1) who have already left more than their fair share of fingerprints on my matte displays.
  • zero2dash - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - link

    It's a lot less noticeable on matte displays though, which is why I'm surprised anyone would release a touchscreen with a glossy coating.

    It's bad enough that every smartphone and tablet is inherently glossy, but a monitor is even worse.
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - link

    Lenovo had a matte finish on a touchscreen at CES that I liked, but I'm still curious how such a finish will hold up over the long term. I look at my keyboards and the smooth, glossy appearance on the well-used keys, or the glossed out spots on laptop palm rests that have been around the block for a year or two, and I can't help but think the same thing will happen to an LCD with a matte finish -- and it won't wear evenly, so you'll get glossy sections where people have used the screen more. Ever notice that no one does matte smartphones or tablets?
  • Sabresiberian - Thursday, February 7, 2013 - link

    I disagree entirely with this.

    I have 2 27" monitors, a Dell U2711 and a Overlord X270OC. The first comes with a fairly heavy anti-reflective screen, the second is glossy. While the Dell is better in every other way (and cost a lot more money) except the fact I can't overclock it to 120Hz, the anti-glare is awful.

    The least amount of dirt on it makes the screen look, well, dirty. And, it's a pain in the butt to clean becasue it takes getting every little bit of dirt and grease off it to make it look clean again. The Overlord though is super easy to clean; a little spot doesn't turn into a smear of yuck, it just comes off.

    Now, the industry seems to have gotten the message here, and even Dell's replacement of the U2711 has a much lighter anti-glare. I really think this is the right way to go. (I don't understand why they had to figure it out again when people got the idea back in the days of the CRT. My Sony GDM FW900 has a coating which in my opinion is perfect, easy to clean and cuts down on the worst of the reflections without being too heavy.)

    Now, I don't use my monitors as touch screens, obviously, and what looks worse to one person will be different than another, but the decision between the 2 for me (a really anti-glare screen or a glossy one) would be hands down glossy for touch use. They are both going to get dirty, but the glossy will be far easier to clean - and, in my opinion the anti-glare looks worse when clean, and looks much worse when dirty.

    As far as kids - well, most of them don't care one way or the other, and they will NOT be using my screens, they will be using their own, so it's not an issue in my house.
  • theduckofdeath - Saturday, April 13, 2013 - link

    If you touch anything with greasy fingers, it will get dirty. Doesn't matter whether it's a matte or glossy display. Monitor or smartphone.
  • designerfx - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - link

    maybe you don't understand what happens to a glossy finish. the fact that he had to clean it at all simply tells you that it is an actual problem.
  • lexluthermiester - Friday, February 8, 2013 - link

    I'm with you on that one. I can't stand it when people touch my screen. where it comes to my PC, NOTHING annoys me more than fingerprints on my screen! And while I acknowledge that I may be an extreme, I'm far from alone. And some people really think touch screens will become? Good grief I hope not!
  • lexluthermiester - Friday, February 8, 2013 - link

    will become the norm?*
  • SNORK - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - link

    I have never been able to tolerate it when my wife, my kids or now my grandkids have to touch the monitor to point at something. Let's now view everything with 4k monitors through finger prints and jelly smudges.

    "The radar's jammed sir".
  • DanNeely - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - link

    I've occasionally wondered if it would be possible to charge up the front of a monitor with a Tesla coil without interfering with its use as a display.

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