Intel is showing off a reference design for an ultrabook with a touchscreen display. It’s not a convertible tablet, since you can’t fold the laptop flat and still use the touchscreen. It’s just a notebook — with a touch-sensitive display.
You can use the touchscreen much like you’d use any phone or tablet touch interface. You can pinch to zoom, tap your finger to “click” or swipe or drag your little heart out.
On the one hand, this sort of solution would make it possible to interact with Windows 8 Metro apps designed for tablets even if you don’t have a tablet (assuming what you do have is a notebook with a touchscreen).
On the other hand, you have to reach up from the keyboard to use a touchscreen on a notebook.
Yes, I know that sounds obvious. But if you’re reading this on a computer right now there’s a good chance that your hands are hanging out near the keyboard, touchpad, or mouse. Moving your arm sideways to reach the numeric keypad, mouse or other area takes very little effort.
Now try moving your fingers up to poke at the screen. Now imagine that you’re reading a book or magazine that requires tapping the screen every minute or two in order to change pages. You have to lift your arm up over and over again or leave it hovering in an awkward position.
I’m not saying touchscreens on notebooks are useless… I’m just not sure they’re as useful as touchscreens on tablets or smartphones, because I’m not sure you’re going to want to use them all that often.
That said, the Intel ultrabook prototype sure is purty. It has a 13.3 inch, 1600 x 900 pixel touchscreen display and appears to be just as thin and light as most of the other ultrabooks we’ve seen. You can check out a few videos of the prototype below, thanks to Ultrabook News, Engadget, and The Verge.