10 things wrong with touchscreens

10 things wrong with touchscreens

Summary: While we're on the topic of lists, another list that caught my eye recently was Nigel Powell's 10 serious problems with touchscreens that you should know before 29th June (via TUAW). While Nigel doesn't claim to have ever held an iPhone, he brings up some good points about the downside of using a touchscreen interface (ala iPhone.

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TOPICS: Hardware
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iPhone touchscreenWhile we're on the topic of lists, another list that caught my eye recently was Nigel Powell's 10 serious problems with touchscreens that you should know before 29th June (via TUAW). While Nigel doesn't claim to have ever held an iPhone, he brings up some good points about the downside of using a touchscreen interface (ala iPhone.)

Some of his problems with touchscreens include: sun glare (MacBook users are already intimate with this one), grease, lack of one-handed operation and the potential for trapped dirt.

As an avowed QWERTY guy I seriously dig the hardware keyboard on my palmOne Treo 700p. Granted, it took some getting used to, but I can practically touch type on my Treo these days. My wife uses a Sidekick 3 and I swear that she can type on it as fast as a regular keyboard.

I have to admit to having some serious trepidations about the iPhone's upcoming all-touchscreen interface and Powell's piece isn't helping!

Topic: Hardware

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11 comments
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  • Two handed operation?

    I guess the touch screen critic has never heard of the opposable thumb.

    But, then again, he did sound like a monkey.
    frgough
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    • Only one hand needed...

      ...for the most common activity men do when looking at websites.
      tic swayback
  • Seriously weak list

    A lot of those don't make sense, or are issues I already have with my current non-touchscreen phone. To wit:
    1. Sunshine is not your friend.
    I can't see my Sony Ericsson screen at all in daylight, and I could barely see the Nokia I used to use outdoors without shading it with a hand.

    2. Grease is your enemy.
    Every phone I've owned ends up pretty greasy looking. I guess a bigger screen will get greasier though, but not a big leap.

    3. Fat fingers fumble.
    This one is flat out wrong. So fat fingers will have a hard time using a huge touchscreen with adjustable button sizes, but they work just fine on microscopic QWERTY keyboards available on current devices? I can barely dial my phone without hitting 2 numbers at once as is. The bigger real estate of the iPhone would solve this problem, not cause it.

    4. Pockets get picky.
    Again, already a problem with my current phone. Who wants a scratched up Nokia? Not me, so it rides alone.

    5. Resolution, what resolution?
    The 8 and the 0 keys on my Nokia worked poorly from the get-go, then stopped working altogether. On my current Sony phone, I often have to hit a key twice for it to register.

    6. Forget about one hand SMS texting.
    Doesn't thumb typing require 2 hands? A problem for some, I guess...

    7. Screen protectors have a price.
    Same with a regular phone.


    10. The eyes have it.
    Given how poorly the keys work on my current phones, I have to do this anyway. No change there.

    Then there are a couple where he makes assumptions about the phone without having used it, like these:
    9. It?s complex baby.
    Speedy it ain?t.

    Both idle speculation, unknown until in actual use.

    The only one that holds up then would be:
    8. Trapped dirt hurts.
    And that assumes the seal will be bad on the screen.

    Overall, not much of an article.
    tic swayback
    • Trapped dirt?

      [i]The only one that holds up then would be:
      8. Trapped dirt hurts.
      And that assumes the seal will be bad on the screen.[/i]

      As an engineer, I'd much rather try to seal around a touchscreen than try to keep gunk out of a micro-QWERTY keyboard.

      There are hazardous-environment versions of the old Palm touchscreen PDAs that are totally sealed (you can use them underwater, for instance.) Try that with a Treo.
      Yagotta B. Kidding
      • One handed?

        A touchscreen may be only usable for coarse-button applications (dialing, for instance) with one hand, but a micro-QWERTY is completely unusable since you can't hold the stylus in the same hand as the phone.

        I suppose if you were to Velcro the thing to a desk so it didn't slide around you could free up the hand holding it, but I'd think that opportunities to do that are pretty rare.
        Yagotta B. Kidding
      • Good point

        The edges around the keys on my current cel phone seem to be magnets for gunk.
        tic swayback
  • my list

    well a super partial list
    1 sun glare. thats a given as when i go for run and have my watch on the glare keeps me from reading my times, and this goes way back to my first digital. also happens when i watch tv and a sunlit room.. at least you can shade athe iphone

    2 dirt under keys. i dont have that a bit with my 5 yr old cell phone. but i keep it in a protector. as for wearing it out fast by dialing, i use voice dialing.

    3 how many ppl are going to throw an expensive item like that into their pockets?? come on

    we have 7 yo pda's at work that we use for inventory. they are beat to hell and guess what. never having to re enter input due to "misalignment"

    cant answer one handed texting on it. i havent help an iPhone yet. i imagine i would be able to do it tho

    as for speed, on out pda, again at work, speed isnt a problem for entering the data
    richvball44
  • One-handed operation works quite well indeed

    Who ever came up with the myth that you can't use a
    touchscreen with one hand? Just because the Apple ads show
    the actors demurely using one index finger doesn't mean you
    can't hold the iPhone or iPod touch in one hand and type
    with your thumb. You can. I do it all the time. It is very much
    a one-handed device.
    Nelson Peter
  • RE: 10 things wrong with touchscreens

    Nice post !I guess the touch screen critic has never heard of the opposable thumb.

    But, then again, he did sound like a monkey.
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