Has the touch screen's day finally come? There are two consumer technologies to watch to see if this also-ran interface will be important to a new generation of computers.
Not as well known is Hewlett-Packard's $1,800 TouchSmart IQ770, a desktop PC that lets people use their fingers to call up pictures, music, and notes written on the the 19-inch screen with a stylus. It also can be controlled with a keyboard and mouse. HP sees it as a kitchen computer, replacing a PC, TV, and message board. HP is the first major computer maker to launch a touch screen PC. "In many ways, it's a revolutionary device," says Sam Bhavnani, an analyst for Current Analysis.
The most widely known is the iPhone, which Apple plans to start selling in June. It relies entirely on a touch screen, so success hinges on how its patented technology works and if people like using it.
Let your fingers do the work
The PC's software has had some performance bugs, and it's sure a pricey way to replace Post-it Notes on the fridge. A few hundred dollars is more realistic, says Harry Wang of Parks Associates. Jon Peddie of Jon Peddie Research says touch screens are too tiring to use for any length of time. "I don't see it being a significant contributor to productivity," he says.
It's not ideal for every use. But the PC's been tied to mouse and keyboard for 30 years. Maybe it's due for a touch of innovation.