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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  • JimmiG - Friday, February 8, 2013 - link

    "Do you actually think people will sit with a mouse and keyboard in 20 years to the same extent they do today?"

    No, but I don't think we'll be leaning over our desks, arms stretched forward in order to use oversized touch-displays, nor will we be waving our arms in front of motion sensing devices all day either.

    Voice control is another technology that was thought to replace the keyboard ("Keyboard. How quaint."), and the technology exists today. Yet it's rarely used because it's impractical in an office environment.

    When realtime 3D graphics became possible, there were a lot of experimental 3D UI's being designed. It was also thought that the whole web would eventually become fully 3D. While we have 3D MMORPG's etc., the web and user interfaces are still 2D because it's the most convenient way to present information. In fact, Windows 8 is even going back to a more "flat" UI than what we've had since the late 1980's.

    Just a few examples of how new technology isn't "better" just because it seems exciting and forward thinking at the time. All these technologies have their applications and uses (easily control mixer faders and pan pots in a DAW, for example), but there's a temptation to shoehorn new tech into everything just because it's the current buzzword.
  • Beaver M. - Friday, February 8, 2013 - link

    Why should one think that? But 20 years ago they already hinted that thought-control would be the next big thing. Instead you now see crap like touch-control, which SIMPLY doesnt work well on desktop computers. Touch-control was invented for simple input and mobile input, where you cant have complex inputs.

    It would be like controlling a kitchen with a steering wheel. It simply isnt effective!

    Seriously, it bothers me a lot that even on a site like this, that such simple things isnt grasped by many people.
  • Patanjali - Friday, April 5, 2013 - link

    Touch doesn't have to REPLACE everything else, but it is nice to have as one of many altenate interaction methods. With Windows, you never use ONLY a mouse OR a keyboard, so why should having the availability of touch suddenly preclude those other methods?

    I find which I use depoends on what I am mainly using at the time. If typing a lot, I tend to use keyboard shortcuts more. If shifting things around a lot, the mouse gets used. Now with touch, I can opt to just reach out and touch a link or swipe to scroll a web page. Horses for couses!
  • Icehawk - Friday, February 8, 2013 - link

    Just saw my friend's Dell version of this (basically) and I don't get it - first off with the screen where it normally goes, and his was, you can't reach the screen without leaning all the way forward and/or hitching yourself forward on the seat. Then you get to leave nice fingerprints everywhere. In that time I could have used the mouse like six times over to do the same thing.

    And Win 8 looks TERRIBLE. Both the "Metro" skin - too much going on, ugly, ugly, too much clutter - and the old desktop, 'cause no one wants the Start button /sarcasm.

    Last thing - while one of my Samsung monitors is going on 7+ years I've had other LCDs last just 2. Would kinda suck if the monitor on one of these goes out since you are pretty much out the whole PC.
  • ryanbrancel - Friday, February 8, 2013 - link

    Do you need to use HDMI for the touchscreen to communicate with the PC? Or does all that transport over the video signal, even for CRT?
  • Lonyo - Saturday, February 9, 2013 - link

    USB connection for the touch data.
    HDMI/VGA/DVI for video.
    3.5mm cable for sound when using VGA/DVI (I assume sound can go over HDMI but I haven't tried yet on mine).
  • Magnus101 - Friday, February 8, 2013 - link

    I use a Nexus 7 with TouchDAW installed as a remote control for Cubase.
    I can move mixer sliders, pots and a lot of things with the tablet, at the same time looking att he big monitors.

    I think they have gotten this totally the wrong way around.

    It would be awkward to have to have your arms raised so high all the time.
    It will also obscure parts of the screen when you point with your hand.
  • Patanjali - Friday, April 5, 2013 - link

    Touchscreen monitors with Windows means that ANY window or dialog can be touch WITHOUT anf setup.

    Try setting up TouchDAW to control only the Control Room as quickly as just moving the dialog to a touchscreen.

    I have Cubase setup with two touchscreens at low angles with the mixers, control room and other dialogs spread across them. And I wish the LG 2560x1080 monitors were touchscreen as they would be perfect for such use.
  • Patanjali - Friday, April 5, 2013 - link

    If you duplicate a local and remote monitor, you can control the dialogs from both.

    It is a pity the remote display software people that produce MaxiVista and Air Display, which allow using another computer's display, haven't got their Win8 act together.
  • JKflipflop98 - Saturday, February 9, 2013 - link

    LeapMotion is leagues better than this.

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