I started a new job earlier this month and I wanted to get my home office in order to start out on the right foot. Specifically, I wanted to get a new widescreen computer monitor to replace my aging 4:3 19" unit. I had an HP 20" widescreen display connected to my family Gateway desktop PC and I decided to move it to my home office and get a new monitor for the family PC.
Which monitor to buy? I wanted a slightly larger monitor (21"-23") at a reasonable cost (~$150). As a Microsoft Windows user I've been intrigued by the new multi-touch capabilities of Windows 7 but I had never tried it for myself. A quick search revealed only a few vendors of multi-touch monitors: HP and Dell among them. I found an HP Compaq L2105tm display from PC Nation for $236.30 delivered. Naturally, touchscreen monitors are more expensive than a regular monitor but I decided to give the HP a try.
Installation was a piece of cake. In addition to the standard DVI cable, the monitor connects to the computer via a standard USB cable to control the touch screen. The drivers installed automatically on my Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit. I was immediately impressed with the clarity and brightness of the screen and I was able to control Windows 7 by touching the screen with my finger. In addition, I installed the Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows 7 which is available for free from Microsoft and includes the following:
- Microsoft Blackboard, an intricate game of physics in which you solve a puzzle by creating a fanciful machine on a blackboard.
- Microsoft Garden Pond, a tranquil game that takes place in serene Japanese water gardens.
- Microsoft Rebound, a game in which you use your fingertips to control Tesla spheres with an electrical field between them to catapult a metal game ball into your opponent's goal.
- Microsoft Surface Globe, a program that you can use to explore the earth as a flat 2-D map or as an immersive 3-D experience.
- Microsoft Surface Collage, a program that you can use to explore and interact with your photos and arrange them as a desktop background.
- Microsoft Surface Lagoon, a screen saver and interactive water simulation, complete with a meditative rock arrangement and playful, shy fish.
I also installed Angry Birds from the Intel AppUpp online store. All of the programs I ran worked well and the touch screen was responsive. There's even an on-screen keyboard. My kids, in particular, got a kick out of it. However, I quickly went back to using the mouse and keyboard. The touchscreen was more of a novelty which quickly wore off as the weeks went by.
Based on this, I'd have to rate the monitor and Windows 7 touch a thumbs down based on a month of use. Given the limited number of touch screen displays, laptops and all in ones PC's with this capability, I'd say that the market agrees. While there are some nice Windows 7 applications that make effective use of touch, the operating system itself is not. Windows 8, due out in 2012, promises an new user interface optimized for tablets.