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Advantages and disadvantages of touch screen

Today I’ve received the highly anticipated HTC Hero, the European white version (which sells on Amazon for a hefty 700 $, without US warranty), for testing. I got a few hours with the this touch screen little genie and I have now some odd feelings about touchscreen technology in general, that I’m going to share with you in this post. In past years I’ve owned several phones and played with dozens or so other models, both touch and non touch screen.

Touch screen might be the future
Touch screen might be the future

The thing is that I’m not a touch screen fan, even if I’ve loved some of my Windows Mobile devices. As I see it touchscreen technology has big disadvantages, but I think this has a lot to do with my mobile habbits and may not apply to many of you, so let’s see them.

Disadvantages of touch screen

  • screen has to be really big not to miss things when pressing them with your finger: I only like HTC Touch HD, screen size wise, and big screen means increased size of the device
  • big screen leads to low battery life
  • touchscreen means screen can’t be read too well in direct sunlight as it applies an additional not 100% transparent
  • touchscreen devices usually has no additional keys (see the iPhone) and this means when an app crashes, without crashing the OS, you can’t get to the main menu as the whole screen becomes unresponsive
  • touchscreens usually have low precision, virtual QWERTY keyboards being one of the most annoying things
  • most user interfaces are not optimized for thumb operation, so a stylus in necessary, and this means using two hands
  • screens get very dirty
  • these devices require massive computing power which leads to slow devices and low battery life

Advantages of touch screen devices

  • big screen is ideal for web browsing, picture and movies
  • touchscreen gadgets usually have simple user interfaces, which are more intuitive (iPhone once again is a good example)
  • touchscreen devices have fewer buttons that might break after a few months/years of operation

For me, as I use to work sometimes on my Nokia E71 smartphone, I need something fast, that can multitask (copy paste between applications) and a QWERTY keyboard for typing long messages or documents. Size is also important and newer touchscreen gadgets are anything but small.

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