Touching image;Hardware

14th May 1999 at 01:00
Anyone who has had past experience with devices like touch screens that adhere to the front of a monitor will view the ClearTekTouchTek touch monitors as the most natural way to interact with a computer. They certainly knocks spots off all previous touch devices. The ClearTek is "capacitative" (ie it works when touched by human skin, normally a finger), while the TouchTek, as the name suggests, reacts to pressure from anything, a head-pointer for example. Both are available in 14, 15, 17 and 19in screen sizes.

The ClearTekTouchTek technology is indistinguishable from the glass to which it is bonded, so all you need to do in order to interact with the computer is touch the monitor. A special gasket seal protects the monitor from liquids, dust, oils and other contaminants, making this monitor a good choice for the severely disabled or for general public use.

When the software is installed, you can calibrate the touchscreen. This means you can define and determine the viewing area's dimensions. The software offers several choices. You can define the touch actions that equate to a mouse click, double-click, and drag. You can define whether you hear a tone when you touch the screen, or when you lift your finger off the screen or how fast you must tap the screen to produce a double-click. An important option is whether to display the cursor in your touch application and where the cursor appears relative to a touch.

I tested a Clear-Tek 14-in monitor using word processing, games and drawing applications. In all cases, commands required only a touch and a double tap - an intuitive process for anyone. The monitor can be used with office applications, but a mouse improves accuracy. More than 30 bespoke programs are available.

Compared with previous touch screens, the advantages are clear. There's nothing to fall off, no parallax problems, and you can get right into the corners.

If you need access with a pointing device other than a finger (such as a head pointer, for instance), the TouchTek is a natural choice. For those who require an alternative to the mouse, look no further: the ClearTek Touch is superb.

Chris Drage

ClearTek MicroTouch Touch monitor for Windows or Mac, from pound;499 TouchTek MicroTouch Touch monitor for Windows only, from pound;549 Inclusive Technology 01457 819790

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