General discussion

Why are there so few desktop monitors with touch screens?

Feb 19, 2016 5:13PM PST

With Windows 10 having millions of installs, and the best way to use it being with a touch screen, why are there so few desktop monitors with touch screens available? Is it because it is low in demand by consumers? Or more costly for consumers? Or are people simply leaving the touch screens for tablet and phones? Can you please give me some insight as to why there isn't a faster shift to touch screen monitors? If you are currently a touch screen user for your desktop, do you use it frequently or do find yourself using the mouse more often than not? Thank you.

--Submitted by Paul F.

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It's a matter of ergonomics.
Feb 19, 2016 6:15PM PST

It's a matter of ergonomics. The way one sits in front of a desktop computer precludes the employment of touch screen monitors. One sits too far away from the screen to comfortably reach the screen to fully take advantage of the technology. Besides, right at hand are both the mouse and the keyboard.

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If you want touch screen, stick to a tablet or phone - or 8!
Feb 19, 2016 6:33PM PST

The idea of Win 10 on a desktop with touch screens strikes me - for most users, as way beyond absurd. The whole point of 10 is that most desktop and laptop users DON'T want a touchscreen to get work done with. Touchscreens are for pads and phones, and perhaps for artists or finger painters. Face it, a good mouse is far more precise and easier to control, and it's a royal pain to go back and forth between mouse-keyboard and touchscreen. Maybe you should just stick to Win 8.1; oops, forgot that those who can't type or use a mouse can make 10 work with tiles on a touch screen, though for the life of me I can't see what they'd use it for.

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They are on like 100%
Feb 22, 2016 5:55AM PST

of the all in one desktops which are popular for people with space concerns.

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Feb 20, 2016 4:14AM PST

No argument. Reaching for the screen takes more effort than moving a mouse. And there are certain actions -- such as dragging to select -- that simply work better with a mouse.
Touch screens work better in environments where there is no room for a mouse, or the working surface is dirty.

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They aren't making them right...
Feb 26, 2016 8:12PM PST

In ancient times we all sat at a desk and looked out our paperwork flat on the desktop and wrote directly on the page. This was already ergonomic, even though later some folks preferred a desktop more or less angled like a podium. So if the manufacturers want us to adopt an all in one approach with a large monitor, they will have to lay it flat, or at a similar traditional angle. You could even type easier right on the screen, but I'd still prefer a keyboard - but this would definitely get rid of the mouse.

A friend of mine that needed to use touch based apps on his all in one desktop tried this with great success and a 27" touch monitor, by simply laying it flat, but of course, the cooling vents became a problem, so there is the rub on that particular design. He has only one eye, and this makes using touch much easier for these applications especially. I think it might even become a hit, if done properly. I know I sure liked playing those table top games at arcades that were set up like a coffee table with a very large screen so multiple players could use the same screen. Back in the '80s It made a big hit at drinking clubs too; but then, they had to put controls in the margins, it wasn't until the early 2000s, that touch screens became more ubiquitous.

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right off the bat
Feb 28, 2016 1:01PM PST

you nailed it. I can use one if I have to, but god help me. I wouldn't but anything with a touch screen except a tablet.

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Not Really, It is more a matter of productivity.
Feb 29, 2016 10:19PM PST

I am a Sr. Systems Engineer/Architect and maintain an extensive lab for design and testing work.
My primary workstation is a quad-core i7 with 32 Gb of RAM, a 500 Gb. SSD as the boot drive and OS/application storage plus a 1 Tb. HD as the data drive.
My work desk has been arranged so that it has a raised platform for the display and the keyboard sits in a drawer below the main work surface. I have a HanSpree HT231, 23" touchscreen display as my primary working monitor and use a mouse/keyboard for a lot of the work I do.

However, there are certain applications where having the touchscreen display is a real advantage.

When I need to use the touchscreen, I can simply lift the leading edge of the screen down to the lower desk level and extend the support bail at the back so that it is moved to the rear of the display platform. This results in the screen being supported at approximately a 30 degree angle from the horizontal, and in so doing, the screen is also positioned close to the edge of the working surface. I then simply close the keyboard drawer and have a convenient working surface that is within easy reach, comfortable and angled to make it ergonomically easy on the body.

For applications like Visio, the drag and drop; rotation; positioning; and resizing of images is FAR more convenient than performing the same tasks with a mouse. In CAD programs, I use a Jot Pro pen to actually draw on the screen directly without losing the 'click to' functionality of the application. This is much more convenient than trying to draw a line with a mouse and then hold it perfectly still while clicking on a button to anchor a line.

In fact, like a lot of CAD practitioners, I used to use a digitizer and pen for my CAD work, but since I got the touch screen, my digitizer has been completely unused - simply because the touchscreen is much more productive.

Even though I do not use it for purely artistic endeavors, I suspect that the touch screen would also be quite an advantage in that case as well. Finally, another area I have used the touch screen in extensively is mapping programs where one can manipulate the map location and zoom in and out with consummate ease without using either mouse or keyboard. This is especially effective with maps that use satellite imagery to portray the actual structures etc., at a given location.

So, given a little care, ergonomics is really not a concern unless the workstation is rigidly set up to old standards wherein the monitor is permanently at arms' length. A little creativity in configuring the workspace easily resolves the question of ergonomics.

In my case, I can convert from a 'conventional' mouse/keyboard format to a fully active touchscreen format in less than 15 seconds, and with the right applications, the time savings and overall efficiency of a touch screen display are truly astounding.

As far as the comments about fingerprints, etc. in the other postings below are concerned, that is very easily remedied by using a good quality matte screen protector and having a micro-fiber cloth at hand to clean the display. This combination ensures that if fingerprints and smudges become a nuisance, a quick swipe with the micro-fiber cloth resolves the problem. I have never had to make more than one pass over the screen to remove even the worst fingerprints. With the display in its' lowered position for using it as a touch screen, it is well supported and before returning to the mouse/keyboard configuration (which merely requires folding the bail back down and lifting the leading edge of the display back up to its' platform), I simply wipe the screen down with the micro-fiber cloth and then it is ready to go and there is no indication of smudges etc.

In reality, the use, or even the requirement of a flat screen display at a workstation should be decided by the application it is being used with. Just as there are some applications where a mouse and keyboard are more efficient, there are also applications where their usefulness pales in comparison with an interactive touch screen display.

In fact, I have found this particular touch screen monitor to be so effective (with the right applications) that I actually own three of them!!

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There are Many Reasons
Feb 19, 2016 6:28PM PST

Many people just don't like them. Do you like picking up your arm/hand/wrist every time you need to do anything? A lot of people just don't like that. How about if the screen is too far away from you? If you have a big screen, it may need to be set further back. And who wants to clean the screen from fingerprints?

And then there is the extra cost. Not everyone has a high-paying job. I have a touch screen on my iPhone that I'm not sure I like. But that is me. You are asking about everyone else. It was the same thing when people first started bringing iPads to work and found that a touchscreen still required them to have a mouse and keyboard in order to do a lot of documentation. I think it just boils down to many people not liking touchscreens and, if an OS is based on the touchscreen concept (especially without really good mouse and keyboard to it as well) people may choose the old way of doing it. My personal opinion is that, if I had to keep lifting my arm to poke at a screen, my arm would not like that by the end of a work day if I am using the computer for 8-10 hours straight.
I'd like to hear what others have to say.

Post was last edited on February 26, 2016 1:59 PM PST

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What's the Point?
Feb 27, 2016 5:29PM PST

Literally and figuratively. I hate the touch screens, even on my I-Phone. I realize it's necessary for that device. As I am typing this answer should I use the revolting touch screen keyboard, or my regular, like a typewriter keyboard. The touch screen on a desktop just isn't useful.

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How much do you like fingeprints and smudges
Feb 19, 2016 6:35PM PST

Personally, having spent extra $ for a high end monitor I do not like having the screen
smudged with fingerprints. I'm pretty careful with the peanut butter and jam, but human skin has
oils of its own. Keyboard and mouse work just fine for me, thank you very much.

Let me know when Scotty has the voice recognition filters working so I can talk to all three of my computers without them getting confused about which one is to act on the command.

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Something You Would Like with Three Computers
Feb 19, 2016 8:14PM PST

This was something I found once. For my job, I needed at least two computers on entirely different networks. I found something called "Mouse without Borders" and was available on a Microsoft Garage site (meaning, not supported but useful). It allowed you to move the mouse across multiple screens where each screen was a separate PC. I don't remember it doing anything for a keyboard but you were also able to drag-n-drop files from one machine to the next. The mouse would go off the monitor on the right side and appear on the next computer screen on left.

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Mouse without Borders
Feb 27, 2016 9:16AM PST

Now that sounds super useful. Where do I find this utility?

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Borderless Mice
Feb 27, 2016 7:52PM PST
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Input Director
Feb 28, 2016 6:52AM PST

For multi-computer mouse and keyboard, I've been using Input Director for years.

There's also the open source Synergy that's also cross-platform. I've never used it, but I've seen it mentioned for years.

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Coupla possible reasons
Feb 19, 2016 6:46PM PST

I suspect the biggest reason is that, these days, most desktops are probably sold to business, and there's no Killer App for business where a touchscreen makes sense. The vast majority of interaction most people have with their PC at work is typing text and numbers. That, along with the inertia of businesses, who want to get their money's worth out of their current equipment if there's no good reason to upgrade, right now.

I haven't looked at detailed numbers, but from what I'm hearing, a lot of people are buying tablets to consume the the 'Net at home. If not a tablet, then mostly Netbooks and laptops. I think desktops at home are the minority, right now.

Part of the slow uptake of desktop touchscreens is a usability issue. Back when touchscreens were first being introduced I read the term "Gorilla Arm," describing how people feel like their arm/shoulder is getting a workout from having to hover their arm over the desk in order to touch the screen. Depending on how the desk is arranged, it's terribly inconvenient to use a touchscreen.

I'm a gamer, and a programmer, so I have desktops at home. I have a deep desk, 3 ft deep, with my monitors positioned at the back of my desk. Depending on whether I'm leaned forward or back, my eyes are literally 4 to 5 feet from my monitors. So, I can't reach my monitors unless I go out of my way to lean way forward.

Besides being a gamer, I'm a web developer and I want to get back into game programming. As above, the vast majority of my work is typing. The interactions I need to make with the UI are handled quite well by a mouse or trackball. In my day-to-day work, a touchscreen is useless to me.

A friend of mine had a Surface 3 for about six months, and I used it a coupla times a week. The touchscreen didn't excite me very much. I did find myself reaching up to touch it, occasionally, to click a link or scroll. But, most of the time, I'm sure mostly out of habit, I used the keyboard and touchpad. Since I was often using the device while sitting on a couch or lying on a bed, literally in my lap, the lack of a laptop hinge for the screen made it extremely cumbersome to use. I didn't like it much at all.

On top of all that, there is the added cost you mentioned. Without a killer app to justify the added expense, I suspect most people will not spend the money.

Drake Christensen

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windows 10 touchscreen
Feb 19, 2016 7:11PM PST

I have a 23" desktop touchscreen monitor on a 6 core HP running windows 10. It works great but it is so much easier using the mouse instead of holding your arms out and touching the screen. It gets old pretty fast holding your arms up. It is much different than holding a tablet or phone. It was really a waste of money. My wife has a laptop with a touchscreen.... she always uses the mouse, never the touchscreen. I guess they might be good if you are into drawing but otherwise I would not buy one for a desktop or laptop.

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I want one
Feb 19, 2016 7:23PM PST

I doubt if I'll have to replace my 24" screen anytime soon, but I will then purchase a touch screen monitor.

I toggle back and fourth between my laptop and desktop. I find myself using the touch screen on the laptop much more than I ever thought I would, even though it is a 2-in-1 but I don't use it in tablet mode. It just turns out there are many things which I find quicker to do with my finger rather than using the mouse. When on the desktop computer I often find myself reaching for the screen because it is such a habit on the laptop.

So for the sake of having both the laptop and desktop have the same functionality I will be buying a touch screen monitor. It's not about what is practical. My touch screen is within reach but it is at the extent of my reach. Touching a laptop touch screen is easier because the top of it is lower than my neck. The top of my desktop monitor is even with the top of my head so less easy to use. Still I realize there are a few things which would be quicker and easier with a touch screen, and I won't be frustrated with that major difference between the laptop and desktop.

I suspect the trend will be stable, that is desktop monitors with the touch screen feature will only be available on a few models.

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Many people do not want one
Feb 19, 2016 7:47PM PST

Most of the people I know simply are not interested in touch screens. I am not interested in them. In addition to the grimy fingerprints all over the screen, I don't think I would appreciate using one on a desktop or laptop. It wouldn't be comfortable. Those I do know who would want touch screens are generally teenagers who are far more interested in the "cool" factor than they are in actually using the computer for anything useful. I think it is just a personal choice, for the most part. I have Windows 10, and I see no reason to have a touch screen with it. It works great with a keyboard and mouse.

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It's all about the holograms
Feb 19, 2016 8:15PM PST

There have been interface attempts at keyboards, gui's, touch screens, tabletop/desktops and smart boards all with various measures of success.

However, in the future I think we will evolve into OLED touch interfaces that you will be able to use anywhere and however big; and of course by speaking. Then I think the logical progression will be into the holographic interface where you will be able to figuratively reach 3 dimensionally into a storage matrix's x, y, & z axes to pull out data, graphics as well as other content and media.

Eventually we will relegate physical interface into a backup mode.

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Practicallity is the reason
Feb 19, 2016 9:16PM PST

First in a desktop environment, the screen is simply out of reach for the vast majority of us. Second, (shhhh...Don't tell anyone, but we eat at our desks, and get oil, food, and other stuff on our hands. Check out the stats on the cleanliness of keyboards and mouses.)

In other words it is not a real world practical use for a touch screen. Yes there are special applications, say in public kiosks, or large displays for presentations. None of these are typical on your desktop.

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It's a tradition, personal preference, ergonomics kind of th
Feb 19, 2016 10:09PM PST

Well, as you've probably gathered from the posts there are lots of opinions. I think #1 is "It's the way I've always done it" and #2 is "It's the ergonomics, stupid." It's always the same whenever something new comes along, "Who needs a video monitor, I can do everything I need to do with a teletype. Who needs graphics, I can read green letters. Who needs a mouse, I have arrow keys. Who needs a cell phone, I don't want anybody to call me when I'm away from home. Etc." And now, after 150 billion Samsung and Apple phones and tablets have been sold in this solar system alone, people still ask "Who wants a touch screen? I can do everything I need to do with a keyboard and a mouse." And my personal favorite, "Eeeeeeuuuuuwwwww! Fingerprints and smudges, oh my!!" Have you ever sneezed or coughed (with your mouth full) on a monitor? Much more disgusting than fingerprints and smudges. But it cleans right off and you move on.

I bought a 24" touch screen monitor for my desktop for graphic design/graphic art work, and the ergonomics are terrible, but if you pick it up and hold it like a tablet you can draw on it like a tablet. I'm trying to figure out how to mount it close to horizontal so I can just slide the keyboard under it.

I have a touch screen phone, a couple of tablets, a budget laptop, and a touchscreen laptop. I think touch and voice are the most natural ways to interact with a computer with pen and keyboard falling in behind. Look at Siri, Google and Cortana. Look at the way the people on the evening news work with computers. That's what I want, a 14' diagonal touch screen with a stool, a recliner, a stylus and a floating keyboard. That'll be my superpower.

So if you think you want a touchscreen monitor, get one. See if it works for you. But first you might want to just reach out and touch your current monitor from time to time and see how it feels. And keep a 14' diagonal space on your office wall clear.

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I can mount a monitor horizontally...
Feb 26, 2016 7:12PM PST

...but it wasn't cheap. I bought a double Ergotron arm for my dual monitors. That might make a touchscreen usable. If you don't know what they are, use a search engine. They are great. As for the idea that keyboards are not practical, I beg to differ. There is not, and never will be, any manual input method that is better. There is not one now that can equal it. Those of us who actually need to work (I am a writer) will not give up the best way to enter text that has ever been invented. The imitations on touchscreens are so inferior that nobody could ever seriously consider using them for real work. It has nothing to do with "that's how I've always done it." Keyboards are the best and most efficient way. Anything else is too slow and unwieldy. If you are using your computer for games and internet, then do whatever you like. If you are using it to work, then you have to be practical.

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Using a Monitor Arm
Aug 7, 2016 11:29PM PDT

I am using one too --- the LocTek Dual Monitor Arm Desk Happy I guess, it is just a matter of where you are most comfortable with. The one i got through NotSitting allows me to use the mouse with my upper arms relaxed and a really nice feature is the USB, audio, and mic ports in the stand base, providing a stationary, desk-top connection point for my phone and headset.

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my all in one has one
Feb 19, 2016 10:28PM PST

my all in one has one and I never use it - I forget I have it because It is so inconvenient. you have to sit up close and personal to the screen. It is uncomfortable to use since you have to stretch your arm to the screen. it is just not a natural position. It is not as relaxing as leaning back in the chair with the keyboard on your lap or keyboard tray checking your sites. Nor can you rest your arm on the desk while using the mouse.

IMO, touchscreen should only be on mobile devices.

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And Something Else
Feb 21, 2016 10:01AM PST

Try using a mobile device for 6-8 hours a day with a lot of typing while sitting in a cubicle. Some people at my office tried but were unsuccessful. Try typing on a desktop touchscreen for the same period. OK, so far, you've replaced the screen keyboard with a real/Bluetooth one. Here is an interesting experiment that I tried due to an office ergonomic discussion: Using your regular monitor with a 21" + screen: Every time you want to do something with your mouse, first try it by touching your screen. Do you have to get out of your seat because to monitor is too far back? Does your arm start to hurt? Do you get your fingerprints on the screen? With a large screen, you really can't put it too close to your face and you will find typing on it nearly impossible. All of your points are well taken.

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Not even on tablets
Feb 26, 2016 7:13PM PST

My 7 inch Winbook 8.1 tablet is sometimes cranky or balky. I installed Win 10 on it, along with additional memory, and it now works better. But adding a mouse greatly facilitates its responsiveness. Maybe partly because the cursor is smaller and more accurate than my fingers. For serious work, I am considering also plugging in a USB keyboard.

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Because it's totally unworkable
Feb 20, 2016 1:28AM PST

There are a lot of reasons why touchscreens aren't taking off in the desktop world and it's mainly because they are unworkable.

It's not too bad on a phone which you have in your hand and you've got it to hand, that works really well. But a desktop can be plugged into a number of different screens.

In some cases people plug computers into projectors - can you imagine trying to use a projector as a touch screen, also most normal computers have the screen set back at the right distance for your eyes. To use the touch screen you'd need to constantly reach over the entire desk just to touch the screen, or bring the screen closer which could cause problems.

If you plugged your computer into a big screen, even 21" screens might be too big to have within reaching distance, or if you plug it into a big 4k or full HD TV screen then you're sat too far back to even bother reaching over to touch the screen, however with the mouse and keyboard you can have it at a nice distance.

Also because of the angle of the screen it's just not comfortable to try and type at a 90 degree angle. It also possibly greatly increases the risk of RSI using a touch screen monitor.

Then you also have another issue which I've come across. I have a customer with two touch screen laptops and they've told me that they find it a bit of a hindrance. When they want to show someone something on screen and then they go and point at the screen to what they mean and suddenly the computer starts doing all sorts of things - "oh look at the way this graph goes up - oh wait the graph doesn't go up any more because I've just touched the screen and moved all the data round... grr..." you have to really remember when using a laptop with a touchscreen to not go anywhere near the screen unless you want to do something.

There is also the fact that touchscreens tend to wear out faster, especially large touch screens before the screen wears out. I was in Ikea the other week and most of their screens were unusuable because the bit where the scroll bars appear was totally worn out so you could touch anywhere other than where the scroll was, I tried about 5 of their touchscreens, I thought it's a shame they didn't just leave a mouse and keyboard out at least that thing wouldn't wear out - and actually in the end I got my smartphone out, connected to their wi-fi, searched for the product on my smartphone and then went to ask an employee who had access to a computer with a mouse and keyboard where I could find the item!

So there are a few reasons why touch screens aren't taking off. Also mouse and keyboard have been around for years and many people have got used to them. You could control a car with an Xbox or PS4 controller if you wanted to (or even a touch screen) but I don't see many car manufacturers in a rush to replace the old gearstick and steering wheel - and actually one car we were going to get once we were put off by because the gear stick was on the steering wheel rather than near the handbrake and we couldn't get used to it. So sometimes if something works and people are used to it why try and "improve it" when you actually might end up making it worse.

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They are an expensive abomination on desktops
Feb 20, 2016 3:00AM PST

There are multiple excellent reasons already given as to why touch screens are demed universally horrible for almost anything beyond a phone or a small tablet .

Every reason already given is valid and factual.

Here are a few more.
Your paws, in front of the screen, severely obscure your view.
You cannot hover over obscure icons or text for explanatory info (without touching and then seriously wishing you had not!)
An accidental touch can remove or ruin all your previous work. This happens all too easily, especially with aching arms that feel like they weigh a ton after just one minute of unsupported waving around.

For a productive desktop, there is absolutely nothing in favour of a touch screen and a tidal wave of negatives. The arguments against them are so overwhelmingly obvious that, for most people, the question never needs to be asked or is dismissed after a moment's logical thought.

A much more appropriate and difficult question would be "Given the glaringly obvious downsides, why on earth WOULD one want a touch screen for a desktop?"

Even on phones and tablets, touch screens carry many patently obvious negatives, It is only the overwhelming need for one, ultra-portable box that carries the argument for them. An over-riding "single box requirement" and some very specialized niche products are the only ones that can justify a touch screen.
In a nutshell, the blunt answer is
"Few people actually want one and many who have one regret it".

Post was last edited on February 26, 2016 11:51 AM PST

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RE: They are an expensive abomination of desktops
Aug 8, 2016 6:40AM PDT

Totally agree. I'm 74 years old, a retired scientist, and I spend 10-12 hours a day writing at my computer. I wouldn't last five minutes having to lift my arm up to reach my screens. I have two computers side-by-side, each with a 23" screen (just beyond arm's length), full keyboard, and mouse, plus one with a graphics tablet. Between each keyboard and screen is a copy stand, one of them foot-operated. It's an extremely convenient, functional, and customized (ergonomic) setup. I can easily type 90 WPM at a keyboard, so why in blazes would I want to handicap myself by having to lift my arms up to do it, which I simply couldn't do physically.

I wish the computer industry would recognize that, for many of us, our computer is a business machine, not a toy, and changes are unwelcome. My computer is not an end in itself, it's just a tool, and having to relearn how to use it every few years is down time I always resent. I just about reach the level of "expert" when I get reduced to novice again.

I've been using computers since the 1970s (programming FORTRAN on punch cards). The best "authoring" tool I ever had was WordStar for DOS on an IBM PC 8088. Why? Because I could do everything without lifting my fingers from the home row. I moved to Windows kicking and screaming because using a mouse slowed me waaay down. All the accommodations computer makers have made for people who can't touch type have made the computer a less efficient authoring tool for touch typists than it was 30 years ago.

So, no, I will not be moving to a touch screen on my desktop. Ever.

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Feb 20, 2016 5:14AM PST

I don't know about you, but for me I like keeping my desktop monitor free of fingerprints. But that's just one point.

Most desktop computers are on a desk with the arrangement of components optimized for ergonomics when the user uses a keyboard and mouse. Most desktop monitors are somewhat larger so they can be, and usually are, placed farther away from the user, requiring an inconvenient reach to use them as touchscreens.

And lastly and perhaps most importantly, touchscreens are more expensive than regular monitors.

I have a touchscreen on my laptop but seldom (not never, but seldom) use it. Indeed, I use it less frequently on my laptop than I use glass cleaner to clean the surface of my desktop monitor. How those fingerprints and other cruft get there I have no clue, but I find myself having to clean them off about once a week or so.

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