It’s been a few years since touchscreen laptops began to trickle onto the market. Hardware manufacturers pushed innovative designs such as ones that detached or folded backwards, and Microsoft tried very hard to make them catch on with Windows 8. Still, a touchscreen on a laptop is seen as optional by many.
That’s not to say they don’t have a place, though. There are several areas that touchscreen laptops excel in. The usefulness of a touchscreen on a laptop just depends on the user. With that, let’s take a look at some of the advantages.
Most obviously, touchscreen laptops open themselves up to a broader number of use cases. For professionals working in graphic design, having a touchscreen laptop can make it easier to digitize an idea. They’re also more friendly to other professional uses, such as notetaking and collecting document signatures.
They’re also more convenient in some entertainment uses. Watching Netflix on a traditional laptop can be an awkward experience. With a touchscreen, the experience becomes much more reminiscent of an iPad. The laptop can be folded backward or detached to give it a tablet form factor. It’s possible to curl up on the couch with a touchscreen laptop, while doing so with a non-touch laptop is usually more cumbersome.
In a more forward-thinking sense, touchscreen laptops are also much more accessible. There’s an entire generation growing up right now that is accustomed to the touch displays on smartphones and tablets. It’s not uncommon for children to play with these devices, and it’s likely to be years before they have a need to use a laptop. If a gadget has a screen on it, this generation will expect it to be touch-sensitive. They’re similarly accessible to older users that may find traditional computing too intimidating, and for any other casual user. In short, a touchscreen is easier for someone who isn’t already accustomed to using a standard laptop.
Of course, the presence of a touchscreen isn’t without some downsides. Most obviously, touchscreen laptops carry a higher price tag or inferior specs compared to their non-touch counterparts. For a user who is already accustomed to a traditional laptop experience, it probably doesn’t make much sense to fork over the extra couple hundred for a feature they won’t utilize as often.
Ironically, too, the touchscreen aspect of a laptop that opens it up to a broader array of uses can also hinder traditional users. Such was the case with Windows 8 – Microsoft’s attempt to steer computing towards touch displays resulted in the traditional Windows experience being worsened. Even with Windows 10 offering a more balanced experience, there are areas where the UI was built for a touchscreen and the traditional experience suffers.
Ultimately, the upside or downside in having a touchscreen laptop is up to how a person utilizes it. If it’s being used in a professional or casual setting, and not by a power-user, then it can be a nice perk to have. A more resource-intensive user – a developer or dedicated gamer – likely would see it as a pesky gimmick or an unneeded feature. Although touchscreens might never become a standard feature, they’ve proven that they have their place in the market.