Intel ignores Steve Jobs, adds touchscreen to Ultrabook
Research departments come to 180° conclusions
CES 2012 Intel's research department has overruled Steve Jobs: touchscreens have been added to the next generation of Chipzilla's Ultrabook spec.
"Touch skipped the notebook, skipped the Ultrabook. It was dedicated to phones, it was dedicated to tablets," Mooly Eden, general manager of Intel's PC Client Group told his audience on Monday morning at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas. "It's not going to skip the Ultrabook any more."
In October 2010, when introducing Mac OS X Lion, Jobs said that Apple's research department had determined that touchscreens weren't appropriate for vertical displays such as are found on PCs and notebooks. "We've done tons of user testing on this, and it turns out it doesn't work," Jobs said. "Touch surfaces want to be horizontal."
Eden admitted that a lot of folks at Intel agreed with Jobs. "There was a lot of dispute about this," he said.
"We had all this discussion at Intel – and some of us have been almost religious, believing that an Ultrabook with touch would be an ultimate solution," he said, placing himself firmly in the touchscreen camp.
Eden and his pro-touchscreen compatriots don't want to replace the keyboard with a touchscreen; they want the two to cohabitate. "People do not want to give away their real keyboard, the physical keyboard," he said, "but they want to enjoy both worlds: the real keyboard and the screen."
To settle the dispute, Intel researchers tested touchscreen-enabled Ultrabooks with users in Europe and the US. "The reaction was unbelievable," Eden said. "People loved it."
What the Intel researchers discovered was that users naturally separated computing activities into ones they wanted to perform with a touchscreen – such as tapping to open files and using multi-touch gestures to manipulate images and scroll through documents and lists – and those they prefer to perform with a physical keyboard, such as entering textual information.
Eden said he was particularly taken by the response of one test subject, who said of the keyboard, "This for working," and of the touchscreen, "This is for fun."
Eden also contradicted Jobs and Apple's research, which came to the conclusion that working on a vertical touchscreen would be tiring – although many at Intel had felt the same way.
"You've got all these skepticism people – also at Intel we've got a few of them – and they say 'Yes, touchschreen is great, but make sure that you sell it to people with gorilla hands, because you need to do like this [reaching towards a screen with outstretched arms] all the time so you better go to the gym room and make sure that you've got big muscles in order to be able to operate it'."
That's not what Intel's researchers discovered. According to Eden, natural gestures such as pointing and flip-scrolling don't require the aforementioned gorilla hands. "It's much more comfortable to do the scrolling like this," he said, flipping his hand horizontally, "than doing it with a mouse."
Eden said that many at Intel didn't believe the results of this first round of user testing, "So we sent teams over to Brazil and China, and the two teams came back with exactly the same results."
Eden then hosted demos of touchscreen Ultrabooks running Windows 7 and Windows 8 – but before he did, he instructed his audience "If you believe me, say 'Wow!', and if you don't believe me, go later on to these notebooks, try it, touch it, and then tell me 'Wow!'"
From our point of view, Eden may be right – but only for Ultrabooks, where the distance between keyboard and display is minimal and the screen is tilted backward. On a desktop setup, where the screen is essentially vertical and the keyboard is a good distance from it, we're going with Jobs & Co. ®
Should touch-enabled Ultrabooks catch on, it'll be strike two for Jobs. Speaking in a conference call with reporters and analysts in October 2010, the late Apple cofounder ripped seven-inch tablets, saying that their displays were too small for easy use. Citing Apple's "extensive user testing on touch interfaces," he said, "There are clear limits on how close you can physically place elements on a touchscreen before users cannot reliably tap, flick, or pinch them."
Ignoring for a moment the fact that users regularly "tap, flick, or pinch" Apple's iPhone and iPod touch, the success of Amazon's popular – if flawed – Kindle Fire fired a high hard one through the strike zone of Jobs' seven-inch dismissal.
"we all want a computer like in Minority Report"
No we don't. Standing all day long moving my arms every single time I want to interact with a system is not how I prefer to use a computer.
Sitting in a comfortable chair, with a table set at the right inclination, a good, responsive keyboard and a wireless mouse is how I prefer working on a computer.
The 200" screen, however, I would like.
Then why is a plug-in keyboard and a stand to hold your iPad up such a hot seller? It is a must-have to convert the Ipad toy into a working tool.
VERY TRUE STATEMENT
Flat is definitely better than pushing at a screen resting on your knees.
Does anyone else hate finger prints and mess on their screen?
A mobile screen it tablet screen is easy to clean, especially if held, but try it with a laptop.
One hand to reach behind the screen to hold it before the other presses.
Even if he doesn't believe Apple's research, and his own colleagues, the fact that no touch screen PC appears to sell well, and various tablets and phones with touchscreens are selling well should tell him that people don't like using touch screens vertically.
Assuming I have enough battery life, I can conmfortably use my iphone for 2 hours . I find that after 2 hours of using a PC with a vertical touchscreen, my arms are tired.
Admittedly, the Ultrabooks Intel are talking about may have a screen that can fold back so it's horizontal, but Intel and Microsoft didn't do a great job of marketing tablets, did they?
Both ways is best
I have an old Asus T91 - netbook with resistive touch screen. Having both interfaces is very useful and productive. EG: Opening windows and files. I can read in bed and not have to hold the device - flip pages using the TC.
Nowdays whenever I help any normal laptop user I always forget that a TC is not so normal and end up trying to tap the screen causing the owner to look at me as if mad.
I think once you have had both you would not want to go back to just one interface.
A TC probably does not add too much extra cost to a laptop and all The OS vendors are all going there so why not.