Amit Paranjape’s Blog

The ‘Touch’ vs. ‘Tactile’ Debate For Computers & Mobile Handsets

Posted in Information Technology, Science & Technology by Amit Paranjape on December 19, 2011

There is a lot of discussion out there about how the ‘Touch’ display keypads are going to increasingly take over from the conventional ‘Tactile’ ones. The rise of iPhone, iPad and other Tablets, Touch Smart Phones are making touch interfaces more and more prominent.

In fact some people have already started writing the obituaries of the good old fashioned tactile keyboard. But not so fast.

I for one cannot just figure out how a touch keyboard can replicate the tactile feedback of contact keys. Or the contoured feel of a mobile handset’s QWERTY keypad.
Touch is fine when you have to type a little, and when you are largely just reading/interacting – but definitely not ideal for writing documents, emails and blog posts like this one. And let us look at some other areas as well. Can you imagine a pianist playing on a touch pad piano? Maybe a ‘Tabla’ (a popular Indian percussion instrument, that has a reasonably flat surface.
Some of my friends who are big cheerleaders of ‘Touch’ (and think that I may be stuck in the stone age…) talk about how swipe, page turn and other gestures are improving interactivity and productivity. But to me they are just better replacements of the nearly 40 year old ‘Mouse’. I agree – the Mouse needs a replacement and a touch pad is a presents a very good improvement. But just cannot see a touch pad being used for heavy duty typing!
Wonder what you think?

Musings on an eBook Reader and Tablet PC Combination

Posted in Information Technology, Science & Technology by Amit Paranjape on January 28, 2010

I had originally blogged about this topic about 6 months back. See original post ““. Also attached below.

After Apple’s much anticipated iPad announcement today, I thought I will revisit this topic once again. I think the LCD display in the Apple iPad would still have certain limitations as compared to the epaper technology display in the Amazon Kindle. The readability and feel of the iPad screen may not be like that of a paper book. It remains to be seen how much ‘real life’ the iPad LCD screen actually feels like.

In terms of creating a ‘hybrid solution’ like the one I had described in the earlier post, the Barnes & Nobles Nook comes a little closer. In the sense that they are using the epaper technology for the display screen and a small touch sensitive multi-color LCD display for the interactive features. Though I wonder that in the midst of Apple and Amazon, does Barnes & Nobles have a chance?  It remains to be seen what approach Microsoft takes in its own Tablet PC (no details/dates as yet).

Going forward, I wonder how the epaper/LCD screen gap would get bridged? Lot of research work is going on in the epaper technology area. Future epaper displays could feature full color support and some level of touch sensitive surfaces. Till that time though, a simple hybrid may not be a bad solution?

What are your thoughts?


Original Post, Dated: July 28, 2009

I have followed the news around Amazon’s Kindle with great interest. I think it will be a tech game-changer. It fundamentally tries to address the readability issues associated with the LCD screens in other devices. Though, I haven’t had a chance to use it as yet, I can imagine how the epaper display technology can produce images and text that is very close to printed paper. In my view, this capability alone will lead to a large scale adoption of this device in the coming years.

I also see a huge opportunity in a ‘next gen’ Tablet PC. I haven’t digged deep into reasons why the existing Windows based Tablet PCs haven’t been that successful over the past few decade. Is it the cost? Or usability? Or both?

There is a lot of discussion in the media around Apple launching a new Tablet – I am sure this will be a game changing device, given Apple’s innovation track record. My initial thought when I first read about it was – here’s comes a potential Kindle killer. But then I realized that the Kindle’s display will be a major advantage over the tradional LCD display.

A tablet’s LCD display is critical for many functions (graphics, media, interactive software and tools, etc.), and doubt if there’s a substitute.

My simple thought: Why can’t someone create a smart, usable tablet computer with an epaper display on the back side??

Such a device could provide you with both capabilities in one single device! You can read a book and then if you want to use your tablet, just flip the device around! Isn’t it as simple as adding an epaper like display onto a tablet device??

As a user, I for one would definitely queue up to buy such a device, at a premium!

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