Is a touchscreen useful on a laptop? Surprisingly, yes!

Once upon a time, mice didn’t have scroll wheels. (Scary to think how long ago that is!) Then there was a confusing time when some mice had those wheels. Soon after, only a few didn’t. And that’s when many people had that disappointing experience of trying to scroll using a mouse that couldn’t.

If you don’t know that feeling of confusion followed by irritation and then sadness, now’s your chance to relive it!

We live in a time where wheelmice are disappearing again. They are now being usurped by touchscreens. I used to think that putting a touchscreen on a laptop is nonsense: it already has a keyboard, touchpad, trackpoint, and commonly a USB mouse as well. Today’s post is my admission that I am mistaken—a touchscreen on a laptop is remarkably useful!

For a few months now, I have been the happy owner of a nice business laptop. It’s a used Lenovo ThinkPad T440s with an Intel i7 CPU and 12GB RAM. I grabbed it because used ThinkPads with that much memory are rare. It needed a new battery, and now it has power for a whopping 7 hours of work. Even so it’s not too heavy.

The surprising thing that is really worth telling about is that it has a touchscreen, and I actually use it!

I usually do not like to use laptops, at least not without having a mouse next to it. I can’t control a trackpoint at all, and even a large touchpad is rather smaller than my hand, or than the screen. Yes, they allow multipoint touches so you do rudimentary gestures like scrolling, but a mouse is much faster than swiping around on a touchpad.

But do you know what’s even faster than moving a mouse? Press that button—literally. Swipe the literal page to scroll through a document, drag an icon to a folder, tap an application in the Taskbar, minimize a window … it’s so intuitive to operate that I do not miss the mouse or its wheel at all. I hardly notice that I am using the screen. It is so much faster than reaching for the mouse, finding the cursor, moving it over, and then clicking.

I don’t really notice that I use the touchscreen, but I guess I use it a lot because I’ve started to touch the screens of the other household computers and don’t understand why it’s not responding to my touches. Only after repeated touches do I sheepishly realize that, oh, this one doesn’t have touch! Haha, oops. My bad.

Of course, there are still times when I use the touchpad, e.g. , when a little more precision is needed. Especially in text, a mouse is still practical. Windows Touch can even do “text selection” in the same way as you are used to from Android / iOS, but this is one thing where accurate operation is faster with the mouse or keyboard.

Touch usually means that the screen is glossy and not matte, which I don’t like, primarily because a glossy screen acts like a mirror and the fingerprints are visible. My screen is nearly as matte as a normal one, because thankfully it’s not a glass panel so it doesn’t act like a mirror. And because it’s so matte, fingerprints are invisible—that’s essential. I only see the fingerprints when I look at the screen at a nearly flat angle, which of course isn’t how you generally look at a screen.

—So there you have it: a quality touchscreen is surprisingly useful and amazingly intuitive that I use more often than I could have guessed! I doubt I will ever buy a laptop without touch, just like I would never buy a mouse without a wheel.

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