Formerly available to consumers only when their touch screen computers came with it preinstalled, the Windows 7 Touch Pack bundles six free games and apps into one download. If you have a touch-screen computer but you haven't been quite sure of what it's capable of, this free pack should help point you in the right direction.
The programs are all from Microsoft Surface: Surface Globe will look familiar to fans of Google Maps and Google Earth. You can zoom in and out by double-tapping or using one hand, or two, toggle between satellite and road view, tilt the … Read more
Trapped in the temporal vortex between the iPad's announcement and its actual release, the Archos 9 PC tablet --a Windows 7 touch-screen slate PC--has the unenviable job of competing with the ridiculously high expectations set by Apple's device.
Despite its slim, sturdy metallic design, full-featured operating system, and even a USB port, the first version of the Archos 9 we looked at fell well short, even when grading on a curve, of iPad/tablet fever.
Largely overlooked amid the overwhelming iPad hype is its biggest potential achievement. Apple's touch-screen quasi-PC may have finally struck a fatal blow to the long-standing king of input devices, the computer mouse.
Make no mistake about it, the era of the familiar PC mouse is coming to an end. It may not be a 2012-style apocalypse (and the mouse will surely hang on in some form for many years to come), but the door is slowly shutting on the universal acceptance of this single iconic piece of hardware that we have equated with personal computing for decades (for argument's sake, let's agree to date its lifespan from the 1972 invention of the ball mouse, and its use as a consumer device from the 1981 Xerox Star). Replacing it is an array of touch input devices and icon-focused operating systems that are built (not always for the better) around expediency over flexibility.
Long before the iPad, touch-screen tablet PCs had been around for years, occasionally enjoying a brief surge in consumer interest, and then fading away again, as users discovered that touch navigation was not really ready for prime time. Apple's iPhone, and later the iPod Touch, changed all that, bringing actual one-to-one touch to the masses for the first time.
But on the PC side, this only made the sluggish, temperamental touch screens found on most tablets even more glaringly obvious; we frequently described these devices as having a rubber-band effect. You'd drag a finger across the screen to move an icon, and it would follow behind by half a beat, as if on the end of a rubber band. The takeway was that touch was workable on tiny handhelds, but not well-suited to larger laptop screens.
The iPad's disruptive success in building a larger touch environment that has received almost universal praise puts the lie to that theory. It may not be as productivity friendly as your ThinkPad, but add a Bluetooth keyboard and Apple's iWork apps, and you've got a reasonable approximation of a laptop experience in many cases.
But even before the iPad, PCs that traded the mouse for a fingertip have been making significant strides. HP has led the way with its TouchSmart line of all-in-one desktops and convertible tablet laptops. Again, the experience wasn't entirely seamless, but each successive generation of these systems has seen further refinement of their specialized touch interfaces, which sit on top of Windows, hiding the mouse-driven desktop from view. Asus also did an decent job with the custom interface on the Eee PC T91, a touch-screen version of the popular Eee PC Netbook (despite that system's other flaws).… Read more
Apple's iPad is apparently a big seller even before hitting its retail release date. So if you didn't preorder, reserve a unit, or plan to line up at 5 a.m. outside your local Best Buy (which will carry iPads in 600-plus stores), it's time to start considering your touch-screen options.
As we've previously pointed out, there are many tablet/slate devices available that do things the Apple iPad simply can't. Though Apple's tablet runs a version of the company's iPhone operating system, most of these tablets run different versions of Windows, and (… Read more