Touchscreen Laptops? Just Say No!

Real Estate Technology with Independent Consulting

You've got to admit that touchscreens make life a lot easier - especially when you're on the road, sitting in an awkward position, or some other situation where the traditional mouse & keyboard combination just doesn't work. We all had to wait decades before computer manufacturers made them standard on tablets, and now that we feel comfortable with touchscreens, they're starting to make an appearance in laptops, as well.

Just like the rest of us, computer manufacturers are always "keeping up with the Joneses", so when I visited Best Buy last week for a new mousepad, I saw not 1 but ten different laptops for sale with touchscreens...and of course, my first thought was, "wow, I want to get one of those." Just imagine having a laptop that's as easy to navigate as your tablet.

Now from an agent's perspective, these mobile devices are a lifesaver - especially for showings. There's nothing better than people able to pull up specs, photos, and information on your tablet during a walk-through, and agents often keep their laptop in the car for pulling up MLS details and other "legacy" systems that aren't tablet enabled yet. Laptops are a little harder to use in the car than they should be, though, and having a touchscreen would be theory.

In real life, there's a different story - touchscreens are BAD on laptops, and here's why. They lead to something called "Gorilla Arm", which is pretty well documented in the computer industry, and happens when you hold your arm "up" for too long. I guess if you want to see it in action, set your iphone or iPad on edge and try to use it for a while....and then you'll experience "Gorilla Arm" firsthand.

The general idea with touchscreens is that they're best-used when they're at a slight angle, which is something that Microsoft discussed at length with their new "Surface" tablets, and Steve Jobs discussed in relation to the "Gorilla Arm" issue several years ago. It turns out that Apple considered touchscreen laptops long before the rest of us did, but abandoned the idea because of too many sore arms.

So start selling touchscreen laptops now? Well, there are a few reasons: they cost less to manufacture than they used to, Windows 8 supports multi-touch capabilities designed for touchscreens, and of course, once one manufacturer adds them, everybody else needs to also in order to remain competitive.

Save your money. Save your arm. If you find a great laptop with a touchscreen built in, by all means purchase it - but don't make that a key purchase decision, and definitely don't get rid of your mouse.

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Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

My husband tried to sell me on using the iPad for "in the field" action such as checking on other listings or signing docs.  I have not used it except in listing presentations.  I come prepared with paper listing info and my clients like to take notes and highlight key areas.  BUT I do have a MacBook Air that I carry with me.  It is light and easy to use.  At home I hook it to a 24 inch monitor and a cloud storage system for all my transactions. 

Apr 11, 2013 03:59 AM #1
Jim Patton
Aspire Home Real Estate 209-404-0816 - Modesto, CA
Realtor - Stanislaus ,Merced, San Joaquin Counties

Tim - I can understand the touch screens on tables such as the iPad but not on laptops.  It just doesn't make much sense to me.  I'll leave the gorilla arms to the real gorillas.

Apr 11, 2013 10:39 AM #2
Dinorah VanWey
Notary2You - Hesperia, CA

Thanks for the info! I need to buy a new laptop and I was actually considering purchasing one with the touchscreen capability. I have to agree with you, carrying a bulk laptop (no matter how slim they are) and maneuvering the touchscreen might be a little tricky. I think I'll stick to the traditional laptop and invest in a tablet later.

Oct 30, 2013 06:55 AM #3
Tim Ventura
Independent Consulting - Blaine, WA
Digital marketing & technology executive.

Article Update: Since writing that post, I've purchased a new laptop - which has a built-in touchscreen - and I do not use it at all. I'm not against them, I'm just comfortable with the mouse, so why reach all the way forward to the screen when the mouse is only a couple of inches to the right of the keyboard?

Oct 30, 2013 07:30 AM #4
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Tim Ventura

Digital marketing & technology executive.
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