What's Wrong with Acer's Dual-Touch Screen Laptop? Plenty

Over the weekend, TechReviewSource scored some photos of what is allegedly an Acer laptop with dual touch screens.

I’m not familiar with the website, which doesn’t name its single source that provided the photos, so take these details with a grain of salt, but the 15-inch laptop reportedly packs a 2.67 GHz Intel Core i5 processor and Windows 7. The goal is to release the laptop in fall 2011 — it’s still slow and buggy right now, says the source.

A lot can change in a year — my gut says this is a prototype that will never see the light of day — but for now I’m wondering if any PC makers really think the dual-touch screen Windows laptop is a great idea to begin with.

Toshiba has already attempted one product, the Libretto W100. It runs Windows 7, but is more of an ultra-portable tablet than a full-blown computer, with each screen measuring 7 inches. From the start, Toshiba held this creation at arm’s length, referring to the Libretto as a “concept PC” with limited availability, but at least is has some allure as a book-like e-reader and personal planner.

A full-sized laptop, like the one Acer is reportedly developing, faces a bigger challenge than Toshiba’s experiment: It would be expected to replace the traditional laptop. In a full-time work environment, touch screen keyboards become a serious burden. Without tactile feedback, typing on a touch screen is nearly impossible without looking at your fingers. Pointing and clicking would be another source of confusion; TechReviewSource’s screenshots show a virtual trackpad on the botton screen, but doesn’t that defeat the purpose? Without some really good software for the bottom screen, it would just be a more frustrating replacement for physical keys and trackpads.

Also, the memory of Microsoft Courier is still too fresh in my mind to enthusiastically back a Windows laptop with two touch screens. If anything, the Courier proved that a new operating system, built completely around the hardware, could capture the tech world’s excitement. Acer’s alleged laptop is more of an amusement, and not in a good way.

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