Windows 7 Driving Touchscreen Evolution

Acer, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, and Sony are scrambling to build PCs that capitalize on the tactile interface.
Falling prices and innovations such as touch capabilities are expected to boost sales of all-in-one PCs over the next few years. DisplaySearch predicts that AIO shipments worldwide will reach 5.9 million units next year from 3.2 million in 2007.

Gateway ZX Series
click image for larger view)

Besides driving touch in AIOs, Windows 7 is also driving the capability in traditional consumer notebooks other than tablet PCs, where navigation with a stylus and finger has existed for quite awhile.

Acer introduced the Aspire 5738G, which enables users to launch movies, zoom in and out of Web sites, edit photos and video, resize windows, and hand-write notes using one or two fingertips. The laptop has a suggested retail price of $800.

Lenovo's new multi-touch laptop leverages Windows 7 and the computer maker's own sofware layer on top of the OS, called SimpleTap. The ThinkPad T400's touchscreen makes it possible to use four fingers to manipulate objects, move images with two hands, and even have another person touch the screen to collaborate on projects, the company said.

Finally, HP is testing a multi-touch laptop, the DV3, in Europe. The company hasn't said when such a system would be released.

Overall, new PCs running Windows 7 are showing that vendors are reaching out to a broader audience than ever before, not just in mature markets like the United States and Europe, but in emerging markets, such as China.

"Never before has the industry launched such a variety of new form factors, price points, technology upgrades, and design innovations at one time," Stephen Baker, analyst for the NPD Group, which owns DisplaySearch, said in his blog. "With Win7 delivering improved capabilities in power management, networking, media, and touch, the variety of systems available appeal to a wider range of buyers than ever before."

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on new software models. Download the report here (registration required).