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
Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • pandemonium - Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - link

    The only way I can use a touchscreen for a desktop computer will be with a drawing table layout with the screen actually in the desk. *patent!!*
  • Operandi - Thursday, February 7, 2013 - link

    Bring on 4K IPS/VA panels and stop making worthless crap.
  • Dribble - Thursday, February 7, 2013 - link

    It just doesn't work. You want your arms relaxed in front of you - hence the design for mice + keyboards.

    Where touch screens work you tend to be looking down at them and have them close to your body so you arms stay relaxed. This is not the case for a desktop monitor - you cannot keep your arms vertically out in front of you for any length of time - it's very tiring.

    Hence the whole concept is flawed which anyone with half a brain could have told MS/Acer.
  • Beaver M. - Thursday, February 7, 2013 - link

    Exactly. Though I can imagine, that a hype would press it anyway. Doesnt matter that spine and arm problems will skyrocket after that.
  • TheGreenFoX - Thursday, February 7, 2013 - link

    If you have a primary gaming screen with a fullscreen game on, and a touch screen with the metro interface as 2. screen - will the game minimize if you make a touch input on the touchscreen, or can you use the metro apps without minimizing the game?
  • chaoticlusts - Thursday, February 7, 2013 - link

    Will be interesting too see how the interface devices due out this year compare with touch screen desktop monitors for convenience.

    I don't really see touch on a desktop screen being very convenient for most people unless you rearrange your setup around it... and even then it would hard not to be awkward. Touch works great on laptops and smaller devices but I really think if people want the 'hands on' approach with desktops things like Leap Motion or the Kinect 2 will take off rather than products like this. even more so when it means adding a $100 device rather than paying hundreds extra for a touch monitor.
  • beck2050 - Thursday, February 7, 2013 - link

    Touch my screen on a desktop is uncomfortable and unacceptable for me.
    I would never want a touchscreen there.
  • ypsylon - Friday, February 8, 2013 - link

    It is really one environment where touch screen is nothing more than a nuisance. Imagine situation like this.

    You have a desk, on a desk is LCD 27"-30". LCD is standing as it should ~50-60 cm from user so his/her eyes won't bleed after 10 seconds. How the hell somebody thinks (Microsoft for that matter) that user will sit even closer, virtually next to a big LCD pushing buttons on the screen. Really laughable idea. Imagine writing something in the office or doing really complicated spreadsheet just with virtual keyboard stretching you arms across the desk. And if user must keep his/her beloved keyboard and mouse because nobody else on the market cares about touch screen software then idea of a touch screen for desktop is as dead as ISA slot on motherboards.

    There are environment where touch screen is used for ages: manufacturing, finances (stock exchange), military, engineering and so on. For now home-desktop area is a no-go zone. We haven't exactly reached Star Trek level of computerization where with few taps on a pad you can run a starship. :D
  • JimmiG - Friday, February 8, 2013 - link

    The whole reason Apple went with touch on the first iPhone was to get the most effective use of the limited screen real estate and surface area of a phone.
    It is *not* the best interface for large screens or desktop computers where a mouse and keyboard is available. This silliness needs to go away.
  • DagB - Friday, February 8, 2013 - link

    Comments like this really bugs me, especially on a site like this... Where is the forward thinking? Do you actually think people will sit with a mouse and keyboard in 20 years to the same extent they do today? There are lots of interesting things happening; touch, motion sensors, haptic technologies and so on. I agree that this is probably not an optimal interface if you mainly type or do normal "office" work. But there are people doing other stuff as well on there desktops. For example all types of "creative" activities (film editing, photo editing, music producing etc).

    For me as a music producer this is something really interesting, that has the potential to totally change the way we produce, mix, create and edit music. Ipad is way to small/limited for more advanced work, but is still very interesting. If you put a large desktop screen (more) horizontally, you will not get tired after hours of work and would have all the real estate you need. Also, that is the work position producers and sound engineers have worked for decades. I hope this is just the beginning of a change to a more intuitive and "direct" way of interacting with our digital tools. We should embrace it!

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now