Should You Buy a Touchscreen Windows PC?

The pros and cons of a touchscreen PC

Microsoft first incorporated touchscreen functionality into the Windows operating system with the launch of the Microsoft Surface in 2012. If you're purchasing a new computer, consider the pros and cons of a touchscreen Windows PC.

Touchscreen Windows Laptops

Despite manufacturers' attempts to create trackpads that support multitouch gestures, touchscreen laptops allow for easier navigation than a built-in trackpad. That said, touchscreens have some disadvantages.

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Cleaning the Screen

The most apparent issue of a touchscreen laptop is that you need to clean the screen frequently. Constantly touching a display leaves behind dirt, grime, and oils from your fingertips. While certain types of coatings can help mitigate that problem, they can cause glare and reflections. Smudges make the problem worse, especially outdoors or in offices with bright overhead lights.

Battery Life

Touchscreen displays draw additional power at all times as they detect input from the screen. This small but consistent power drain reduces the overall running time of a touchscreen laptop compared to one without a touchscreen.

Power reduction varies from as little as 5 percent up to 20 percent, depending on the battery size and the power draw of other components. Be sure to compare estimated running times between touchscreen and non-touchscreen models.

Many devices aren't as accurate as they should be when it comes to estimated battery life.

Cost

Touchscreen laptops cost more than non-touchscreen laptops. Some low-cost options are available, but cheaper laptops may sacrifice other features, such as CPU performance, memory, storage, or battery size to incorporate a touchscreen.

Touchscreen Windows Desktops

Desktops fall into two categories: traditional desktop tower systems that require an external monitor and all-in-one PCs.

Traditional Desktop Tower Systems

A touchscreen isn't much of a benefit in a traditional desktop system, with cost being the main factor. Laptop displays are typically smaller, so adding a touchscreen is more affordable. Desktops, however, generally have larger screens (24-inch LCDs are common). A 24-inch touchscreen monitor can be more than double the price of a typical standard display.

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All-In-One PCs

All-in-one touchscreen PCs are more expensive than touchscreen monitors for desktop PCs, though prices vary according to specifications. Most of these devices feature a glass coating on the displays, making them more reflective and more apt to show glare, fingerprints, and swipe marks. These issues aren't as bad as with laptops, however.

Multitouch support on these devices is handy, but not critical. Windows users familiar with shortcut keys won't be as impressed with touchscreen features, especially when switching between applications and copying and pasting data, although launching programs via touchscreen is convenient.

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Final Verdict

Touchscreens provide many benefits, but they cost more and usually have a shorter battery life. They are most useful in a portable environment. Desktops equipped with touchscreen capabilities are probably not worth the extra cost unless you're eyeing an all-in-one system and you don't care about using Windows shortcuts.

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