Thinix Touch is an application designed to make Windows 7 a more touch-friendly operating system. Sure, Microsoft built support for multitouch gestures into Windows 7, as well as a bigger taskbar with nice large icons that are easier to tap with your fingers. But many UI elements were simply designed for a mouse and keyboard instead of a fingertip, and Thinix Touch goes a long way toward fixing that problem… but perhaps not quite far enough.
I’ve been meaning to check out Thinix Touch for a few months, but I kept getting sidetracked. Fortunately my colleague James Kendrick posted an overview today which jogged my memory.
In some ways, Thinix is similar to Mirabyte’s FrontFace software, which I’ve previously tested. Both essentially replace the Windows 7 desktop and start menu with screens filled with large icons for launching apps, organized by category.
The Thinix icons are easy to customize: up to a point. Just hit the QuickEdit button and then tap on any icon to change it. For instance, if you’d rather have a shortcut for Firefox than Internet Explorer, just tap on the IE logo and select Firefox from the drop-down menu. Tap on any empty space to add a new app. Unfortunately, after installing the Irfanview image editor, I found the app didn’t show up in the drop-down list, so I couldn’t create an icon. That meant there was no way for me to launch the app with Thinix Touch running, since I had no access to the Windows Start Menu.
The thing I like most about Thinix Touch is the on-screen keyboard. It’s much easier to use on a device like the CTL 2goPad with a 1024 x 600 pixel display, because unlike the default Windows 7 on-screen keyboard, the Thinix Touch keyboard doesn’t try to put every possible key on the same screen. In portrait mode, it’s even easier to thumb-type using the Thinix keyboard than on some smartphone sized devices I’ve used including my iPod touch and Google Nexus One.
In landscape mode, the keyboard is pretty good, but not quite as pleasant to use as the iPad keyboard. The best thing about the keyboard is that when you pull up the on-screen keyboard, it anchors itself to the bottom of the screen and automatically resizes your running apps so that you don’t have to keep dragging the keyboard out of the way to see what you’re typing.
On the other hand, I found that the resizing feature was inconsistent. In my tests, sometimes minimizing the keyboard made the app go back to full size. Sometimes it didn’t. It also took longer than I would have liked for the keyboard to appear after tapping the keyboard icon — which may be a limitation of the Atom processor and GMA 3150 graphics on the 2goPad rather than the software itself.
Thinix Touch isn’t perfect. But it certainly makes Windows 7 more touch friendly.
A full version of Thinix Touch costs $49.99, but there’s a 30 day free trial period if you want to check it out before spending any money. If you want email support and maintenance, you can also pay $99.99 for a personal license with support, or $199.99 for a business license with support.
You can check out my hands-on video overview below.
Update: Thanks to turn_self_off for reminding me that you can dock the Windows 7 keyboard. I gave it a quick test and discovered two things. First, you have to navigate through the Tools menu to dock the keyboard every time you launch it. After you close the keyboard it will open in “float” mode then next time you launch it. Second, it takes up more than half the screen in landscape mode. You can see a photo showing just how ridiculous it looks after the break.
Am I the only person in the frikkin universe to use FITALY ? Works like a charm on both of my resistive touchscreens, will only get better on a capacitive display…
“But many UI elements were simply designed for a mouse and keyboard instead of a fingertip,” ….
did you ever use the built in functions of “display properties / advanced options” ????????
if not this would explain this non-sense statement.
by using these functions it is possible to render all applications in windows finger friendly. exceptions are applications that do not follow strictly the windows policies. but this is a problem of the corresponding programmer, not windows itself,
in one aspect you’re right. it is not understandable why microsoft and producers of touch-devices do deliver them with optimized desktop and windows parameters as a standard profile that might be chosen easily via the options menu. if, then it is this one might call the arrogance towards and ignorance of consumers by microsoft. it would not be the first time and from a commercial point of view it’s dead silly behavior.
I’ve spent some time tweaking those settings on the 2goPad… it doesn’t help much. You can make the toolbars and icons larger — and then they’re easier to tap accurately but they take up a ridiculously large amount of space on a device with a 1024 x 600 pixel display, giving you very little room to actually see the application — especially if you’re using the on-screen keyboard.
Check out the second image in this post to see what I mean. That’s what happens when you adjust the settings to increase the size of UI elements and make them more touch-friendly and then anchor the keyboard to the bottom of the display.
The same thing happens on my Android smart phone and probably many Android tablets. The on screen keyboard takes up most of the screen. The icons are huge and also take up much of the screen. So I don’t know how it’s worse on Windows 7. It’s the exact same thing.
Anyway, tablets are stupid in the first place. Just use a laptop.
Brad, thanks for the review!
However, I would like to mention that the Windows 7 keyboard can also be resized to the exact size you like it! (Perhaps you did mention that and I missed it.)
This is nothing personal, but I am getting a little bit tired of people complaining about Windows 7 not being right for a slate! I am using W7 as of when it was released on my R2H and it is working great!
Just use the tools that Windows gives you! For example: if you hate double clicking it is very easy to setup Windows that clicking once works as double clicking.
I delighted your wiley posts, the fact that your site is a little bit unlike makes it so real interesting, I get fed up of seeing the like old deadening recycled stuff all of the fourth dimension.
Question – do you know if any UI software can put up a virtual touch pad to move the cursor to a specific spot?Answer for Win7 on screen keyboard – there are two OSKs. The OSK in the Ease of Access folder is crowded and often unusable. However, the OSK which is part of the Tablet Input Panel has a multitude of options including a compact or expanded format, docking or floating, and text completion.
I don’t know about a virtual touchpad, but “miniscroller” is a popular tool for cursor keystrokes and scrolling. Check the forums on GottaBeMobile.
I can’t confirm it, but i could have sworn the win7 osk is dockable in some way.
You can dock the keyboard… but you have to press the dock button every time you open the keyboard. When you close it and reopen it, it floats again. And in landscape mode when you dock the keyboard it takes up more than half the screen on a 1024 x 600 pixel display.
I just updated the post with a picture showing just how much space the default keyboard takes up when docked.
My operating thesis at the moment: Windows 7 was clearly designed with touch in mind… there’s a keyboard, support for multitouch gestures, and so forth.
It was also designed with netbooks in mind. It supports low resolution displays, slow processors, and Microsoft pretty much invented Windows 7 Starter for netbooks.
Windows 7 was *not* invented for 10 inch slate computers with netbook-like screen resolutions, processors, and other specs.
Thanks for taking the time. And yes, i suspect said crossover point never showed up on their list of test cases.
FYI, If you use the keyboard icon to open the keyboard, this is correct. If you add the Tablet PC Input Panel Toolbar to the Taskbar and use it to open the keyboard, it remembers the option setting.
Thinix has a consumer focused app called MyMashup that can be used with or without Thinix Touch, and that lets you instantly make your own touch friendly buttons to anything – check it out, free download on Thinix.com
I would say that MyMashup is a great application. There are quite a few UL providers out there but MyMashup was an added resource to any tablet pc owners to be exact.
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