Touch screens are already available on laptops and all-in-one desktops,
but I suspect that they won't be nearly as useful as people think. It's
just the latest thing.
I suppose it depends on your definition of "useful". I use a tablet for my
day-to-day biz needs, and I use the hell out of *that* touch screen -- but
at home, on my workstation, it would be pretty inconvenient to have to
reach across the desk to poke the monitor every time I needed to click
(On the flip side of that, my tablet came with a keyboard that works as a
sort of docking station, effectively turning it into a laptop. I use it at
home when necessary.)
As for touch screens being the "latest thing" (which you are almost
certainly right), they have been available for a couple of decades (at
least), it's only now that they're becoming "hip" (or whatever).
The issue is precision. Your finger's touch surface is about 1/4" in
diameter, more or less. The mouse pointer is actually a square (large
enough to display the arrow), whose active area is a few pixels in
diameter. There's no way you can have that kind of precision with your
finger tip. Thus, a touch-operated GUI will use a lot of real estate
(for tabs, eg) compared to a mouse- or touch-pad operated one. The
physical size of the screen is more important than the resolution, I
Minor detail: the hotspot for any cursor is 1 pixel.
But I agree with you; trying to poke (for example) Winamp's close button (a
tiny button next to 2 other tiny buttons) with my finger is an exercise in
I wrote an app specifically for use on tablets, and I had to make the
buttons (relatively) *huge* for them to be useful.
I was issued an iPad as part of my work on a volunteer board, and have
found that its touch screen is woefully lacking. The iPad is good for
reading documents, handy for casual photography, OK (just barely) for
video-phone, but not for real work. I mean, you can take notes if you
really want to, but a real keyboard and mouse is much more convenient.
My tablet runs Windows. (Normal x86 Win7, not the new ARM Win8.) I use it
for data entry in Excel while I'm on the road. It's better than when I was
using a laptop.
Bottom line: a touch GUI is good for a two or three operations, such as
opening an app or paging through a (short) document, but not good enough
for anything else.
To each his own, I suppose. I've used my tablet for data entry, internet,
programming, games, and reading without any problems beyond "minor
inconvenience". (But note that I don't normally use it at home.)
Postscript: even for reading documents, the iPad is mediocre. Paper is
much easier to handle, not least because it's much lighter. It's storage
of documents that makes the iPad a viable device. As a substitute for
paper it's merely average IMO.
While individual books may be lighter, I wouldn't want to carry around
several dozen books, whereas my tablet's weight doesn't increase no matter
how many books I have stored there. (I actually *prefer* digital formats to
dead tree format.)