The touch interface for Windows PCs is going to be huge, at least if we're to follow the wishes of Microsoft and its latest version of Windows. And by now a number of Windows 8 tablets and notebooks have been released, but desktop PCs have largely been left out in the cold. The touchscreen monitors until this point have not met Microsoft's requirements, but that seems to be changing, with new screens such as the Dell S2340T and the Acer T272HLbmidz. These are two very different monitors, however, but both with price tags in excess of £500. Hardware.Info tested them both.
It's not a mystery why manufacturers of monitors aren't lining up to create touchscreens. In Windows 7 Microsoft already integrated touch capabilities, and emphasised this future among consumers and its hardware partners. However, the touch implementation in Windows 7 was very rudimentary, and it never really took off among consumers. But by that time a number of manufacturers had brought to market several touchscreen monitors, generally based on IR detection, and the result was that no one wanted to buy them. At least they weren't able to sell enough volume to make a profit.
For Windows 8 Microsoft also introduced significantly higher requirements for manufacturers to live up to, before they were allowed to put that Windows sticker on their products. Digitizers need at least five detection points, and the edges of the screen need to be accessible. In practice that usually means that an extra glass plate has to be put in front of the TFT panel. The fuse-bonding technique where the digitizer and panel are glued together is still only being applied to smaller displays in tablets and notebooks.
New requirements mean additional manufacturing costs. The flat, accessible edge around the screen means that IR detection isn't really possible, and since more IR sensors would be required it's unclear whether it would meet the precision requirements. Out of the other detection techniques, the capacitive method seems to be the most obvious one. But it's expensive. There's a reason why budget tablets are still being made with resistive screens. The larger the surface, the more expensive the capacitive layer.
Add to that the added physical requirements for the base. A screen has to be able to withstand some pressure without moving around when you're touching it. When you add it all up it's understandable why the Dell S2340T costs £539 and the Acer T272HLbmidz an average of £519.