In a recent post, one of my peers wrote about small form factor desktop computing and how the Intel® NUC provides an elegant solution. These mini-desktops take advantage of low power processors, improved thermals, and small form factor design motivated by mobile platforms. However there is another aspect of mobile computing that lacks penetration in the desktop – and that is touch.
With every tap, pinch and swipe, mobile devices are continually reinforcing the modern way of interacting with technology. Not only is touch ubiquitous on phones and tablets, but now a higher percentage of clamshells offer touch to take full advantage of Windows 8.1. Most people have touch technology on every device they use except their desktop, whether that “desktop” is an actual desktop PC or a docked mobile device.
While a keyboard and mouse still offer the most intuitive man-machine interface when working at your desk, there are times when touch comes in handy. For the longest time I found myself trying to manipulate objects by touching the screen to no avail, that is, until I got an “All-in-One”. An All-in-One system integrates a PC within a large touch screen display. Add a wireless keyboard and mouse and you have the most elegant desktop computing solution available. I can both lean back and interface via keyboard/mouse or lean in as needed to utilize touch functionality.
There are a couple of desktop touch use cases that really stand out to me. The first is zooming on content. Regardless of our view settings for emails, documents or web pages, inevitably image and font sizes are all over the place on everything we consume. I enjoy the ability to blow up a web article, a PowerPoint slide, or an email for easier reading. Think of it like this – we expect to be most productive while sitting on our desks, so why put up with less than optimal content consumption? Moreover, zooming is convenient when folks come to my desk and I have to show them something onscreen, whether text or graphics. Plus this can be done on a by-window basis because this zoom functionality works great on the Windows 8.1 ‘desktop mode’ (versus the new Windows UI which we already know is touch optimized).
Speaking of the new Windows UI, this brings me to my second preferred use case -- the “snap function”. With the Windows 8.1 snap feature, the PC user can easily display two apps in split-screen mode. I’ve often had an onscreen calculator and a spreadsheet side by side. Or a news feed and a web page. Or a music play list along with this blog I’m typing. I also tend to use the swipe-from-left function that allows me to quickly switch between apps.
The uses for touch on the desktop extend to productivity apps such as 3D image/data visualization, art design, and more. While some industries may want to wait for specific touch-optimized apps, I believe most workers can benefit from everything All-in-One systems have to offer today.