Touch screen technology enables people to operate computers and other electronic devices by touching a video screen, rather than using a separate input device such as a keypad or mouse. It's possible to operate a touch screen using a stylus or fingers. Manufacturers have installed them in devices ranging from cellular phones and electronic organizers to Automatic Teller Machines (ATM). Touch screen technology holds many advantages and disadvantages.
Touch screen technology eliminates the need for a separate keyboard or mouse, which can shrink the overall size (and weight) of devices like computers and electronic organizers. Among other advantages, this eliminates crevices around buttons where grime and dirt can collect. It also reduces the number of separate components that may eventually need replacement. Unlike a keyboard, the touch screen can list only the options available at a given time, which may enable the user to make a faster decision.
Another of the advantages to using touch screen technology is its adaptability, both in terms of hardware and software. Manufacturers can produce hard glass or soft plastic touch screens, ranging from simple two-color Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) to large color CRT-based units. Also, developers can adapt this technology to work with existing software by using on-screen keyboards and allowing taps on the screen to emulate mouse clicks.
One of the major disadvantages is that a touch screen doesn't respond to touch as well as a traditional keyboard responds to keystrokes. Although efforts to improve touch screen keyboarding continue, TechWorld indicates that the ability of touch screens to replace mechanical keyboards remains in doubt. In addition to the technical obstacles, many people have become accustomed to using keyboards and may not easily give them up in exchange for an unfamiliar device they will have to learn how to use.
Several other disadvantages also persist. Sometimes, the electronic device has to devote part of its display to showing extra buttons or an entire virtual keyboard, effectively shrinking the screen size in comparison to a key-operated device. With a touch screen computer, the user cannot connect a large monitor and sit far way from it. Some people complain of ergonomic issues, such as having to reach up to the screen and touch it repeatedly. Users can't select small items with a finger (too imprecise) and fingertips may leave marks on the screen, according to the SAP Design Guild. Using a stylus can overcome some of these disadvantages.