Give me a slab, and please get rid of the touchscreen

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Reviewing the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro has been fun, but it has brought up again a consistent annoyance of touchscreen devices.

From the Samsung Jet to the HTC Touch Pro2 and others to this petite powerhorse, the usability of touchscreen devices suffer from this thing.

touchscreen
If you have used a touchscreen device at some point, you should be able to identify with a situation in which you want to scroll through a contact list but the screen registers your effort as a tap. Next thing you know, you’re dialling out.

There are times that I have had to repeat the attempt a couple of times – yes, frustrating – before succeeding in scrolling to the contact or conversation or spot on a webpage that I want.

Ironically, capacitive displays are the worst culprits because of their greater sensitivity.

This kind of hindrance to usability is one reason why I continue to prefer non-touch devices. The scenarios presented above simply NEVER happen with non-touch devices.

A good solution to this problem would be for hardware direction keys to be included on touchscreen devices. But there are those who say that would spoil the looks of those devices. Pure touchscreen slabs are just sexy, we are told.

Well, you give me a slab anyday, but please get rid of the touchscreen.

13 comments

  1. Coming from you, my dear yomi, i am not too surprised. Just as touch screen phones have their quirks, non-touch phones also have some limitations too. Perhaps, you love the non touch phones because of the long admired tactile feel of the keys. With long usage one gets accustom to the accidental tapping when you wish to scroll. And one gets adept at using the touch screen.

    But then the advantages of touch screen over non-touch is myriad. It includes faster navigation. you could just tap on the settings or games icon for instance on the front screen directly instead of navigating buttons on a non touch phone to get to those same icons. And don’t forget that in most cases you have a bigger screen in touch screen phones! Browsing the internet on a well equiped multi-touch touch screen phone is breeze! AND to me, the bigger the screen to a certain extent on a phone, the better!

  2. Thats a big flaw of touch screens. There are times I feel like smashing my X6 against a wall. Its the cost that holds me back. I think faster processors and bigger RAM should resolve majority of those freezes and lockup especially when multi tasking.

  3. Afewgoodmen, you said:

    Perhaps, you love the non touch phones because of the long admired tactile feel of the keys.

    Well, I have more than one reason for preferring non-touch devices. The clumsiness of accidental taps is only one. A few others include:

    – the requirement of two hands at most tasks
    – lack of tactile feedback
    – frustratingly poor battery life
    – greater fragility because of large display
    – display needing regular wiping from dirt
    – clumsy handling, except when the screen is locked
    – outdoor screen contrast generally poorer than on non-touch devices
    – crappy for games in which a physical d-pad is essential (though better for some other type of games)

    I deliberately did not include all these in the article, as it wasn’t intended to be a general article on the negatives of touchscreen devices, but a focus on just the accidental tap issues.

    At the end of the day, each person will decide for themselves what they want, and hopefully everyone is happy.

  4. Archie,

    True. Unfortunately, faster processors and bigger RAM are likely to translate to even worse battery life on devices whose battery life are already poor.

  5. The perfect phone form factor/ basic feature for me would be a bold 9000 size phone but a little slimmer with a trackpad instead of a ball, qwerty and touch screen with a 12 mega pixel camera with flash, hdmi output then awesome speakers.

  6. “Well, you give me a slab anyday, but please get rid of the touchscreen.”

    Hmmm. Dont think so. Fact is – i disagree. Vehemently too!

    The business of accidental taps- for contacts..
    Get an app like t9nav. Problem solved. Definitively.

    Requirement of two hands at most .tasks. Most tasks? Not on mine!

    lack of tactile feedback-neither here nor there.

    Frustratingly poor battery life- not applicable to my Nokia 5800. Not in the least.

    greater fragility because of large display- a lot of mobile devices – like that $5000 wrist watch. – are fragile too. not enough reason not to use them

    display needing regular wiping from dirt- there is a price to pay for little conveniences! Use a stylus instead. No more display greasiness.

    clumsy handling, except when the screen is locked- not sure what that means. There are numerous auto lock apps like nunlock that ensure locking / unlocking is a non issue.

    outdoor screen contrast generally poorer than on non-touch devices- true talk. My biggest grouse with touchscreens. Super AMOLEDs and improving display technologies are addressing this great headache.

    crappy for games in which a physical d-pad isessential (though better for some other type of games) – none berra than the other..
    I still believe the advantages of touchscreen outweigh the little announces. By a large margin…some of those announces are agreeable by third party software.

  7. Quam,

    Those speakers on the 9000 are simply awesome! Did a comparison with the X10 Mini Pro earlier today. The Bold has much louder and better audio reproduction.

  8. I sure like touch screen phones but i prefer them with full qwerty.
    the more expensive they are the better the experience, and of all touchy phones I give kudos to iPhone.

    – the requirement of two hands at most tasks
    I support you or is it possible to use a stylus with one hand and in most cases it is more convenient to use two hands on touch screen phones.

    – lack of tactile feedback
    hope services like swype have come to save us

    – frustratingly poor battery life
    no aguement here bigger screen uses more battery

    – greater fragility because of large display
    off course, you are right

    – display needing regular wiping from dirt
    all screens do but bigger screens needs more

    – clumsy handling, except when the screen is locked
    they are very sensitive, accelerometer etc, but the have their benefits too

    – outdoor screen contrast generally poorer than on non-touch devices
    super Amoled is awesome

    – crappy for games in which a physical d-pad is essential (though better for some other type of games)
    iPhone say otherwise.

  9. @EyeBeeKay
    Your nokia 5800 must be one of those made by nokia tech from err… outer space. Most 5800 that i know, including mine, eat up the battery in less than 24hrs with heavy use. That sure does not translate to good battery life.

  10. @EyeBeeKay
    You are right about one thing though, one handed operation is very good on 5800 . If you use it in the vertical orientation, the one handed use is even sweeter.

  11. @DeolaDoctor, the battery life of my nokia 5800 is outstanding.
    It lasts a full day, no matter what i do. And i do A LOT on the phone..

    Before you tell me that a full day is nothing, or that an e71 would do three days effortlessly, remember that touchscreens generally consume more power than non touch.
    A full battery_day of heavy use -for a touch screen IS GOOD!

  12. @EyeBeeKay
    Mine does not last up to a full day with heavy use. When i say heavy, i mean really heavy use like music video browsing and making calls.

    I charge the phone daily with moderate use.

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