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Old 13-07-2010, 06:16 AM
slitchfield slitchfield is offline
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Resistive vs Capacitive: Moving the goalposts?

In an article written some 15 months ago, just after the first S60 5th Edition smartphone had appeared (the Nokia 5800), I went in depth into the pros and cons of resistive versus capacitive touchscreens, pronouncing both technologies as being equally valid, but for different use cases. We're now mid 2010 and it's clear that capacitive technology is winning out, for mid and high priced smartphones at least. So what's changed? Who moved the goalposts?

Read on in the full article.

Old 13-07-2010, 07:30 AM
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Nothing has changed, they both have their uses where one works better than the other. I absolutely need resistive,capacitive is very inconvenient for my needs.

I work with a lot of dirt and dust, which has a bad effect on physical keypads, so I need touch.
I am 90% gloved so can't use capacitive.
I need something that is resistant to impact so I can't use capacitive.

So, I end up with a 5800 with tape over the three buttons. Works good!

Old 13-07-2010, 07:32 AM
John Winny
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Thumbs up Found a summary

Just found this interesting post on Zero Lines of Code about touchscreen selection..

Old 13-07-2010, 08:21 AM
bluejacker bluejacker is offline
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I think it depends on the device. My Nokia N900 has a great resistive touchscreen, I'm sure most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Unfortunately pinch to zoom has become somewhat of a well promoted and now wanted feature. I personally find the double tap method better, as it allows one hand usage.

Old 13-07-2010, 09:50 AM
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Sounds like you need something ruggedised rather than expecting a consumer device to do the job for you

Double-tap is supported on capactive as well. The best of both worlds!

Old 13-07-2010, 10:12 AM
Hurtta Hurtta is offline
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bluejacker: "My Nokia N900 has a great resistive touchscreen, I'm sure most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference."

The reason most people would not know the difference is that most people have not actually used touch screens at all (or have used only resistive ones). I own both an iPhone 3GS and an N900 and I can tell you the difference in user experience between the screen types is huge.

It's quite hard to explain. Even though the screen on N900 is very sensitive, you still need to apply some pressure, however minimal it needs to be. When using a capacitive screen you don't need to use *any* pressure at all. This yields a far better user experience.

And that difference is what makes capacitive screens become the dominant ones (at least in high end models) even though on paper resistive screens have better properties.

Old 13-07-2010, 10:13 AM
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Capacitive screens only operate well between 0 and 35 degrees? I live in a country where it freezes in winter and gets above 35 in the summer, not an ideal screen for here. I like resistive much more.

Old 13-07-2010, 10:26 AM
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malerocks malerocks is offline
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Is it true about Capacitive screens working only in temperatures of 0 degrees to 35 degrees C? If that is the case, during winters in all places where it snows, people will not be able to use their devices at all?

Old 13-07-2010, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by malerocks View Post
Is it true about Capacitive screens working only in temperatures of 0 degrees to 35 degrees C? If that is the case, during winters in all places where it snows, people will not be able to use their devices at all?
im just guessing here, i dont know how that works, but i would be guessing that the phone itself would have to go under/over that temperature, and since the phone would be in a pocket, either pants or jacket, it wouldnt be as cold/hot as the environment that you would be in, which would make it usable regardless...correct me if im wrong though....

Old 13-07-2010, 12:18 PM
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Well, I live in Finland and last Winter the temperature went as low as -25 even in the Helsinki region, and I was able to use my capacitive display with no worries. Now the temperature has been for couple days for as high as +30 and no problems what so ever! So no worries with the capacitive displays and the weather!


Old 13-07-2010, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by bp101 View Post
Sounds like you need something ruggedised rather than expecting a consumer device to do the job for you

Can you name a device as usefully featured as a 5800 that is ruggedised? And if it was, then how much more expensive would it be? Would it be any use with gloves?

The 5800 does it. already.

Old 13-07-2010, 12:45 PM
Gil Freund
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Multi Touch and Kinetic scroll

I think Multi Touch and Kinetic Scroll, and the snappy response feeling they create are the main reasons for capacitive screen popularity.
On the other hand, if you need or want a stylus (yes, there are some of us left), then resistive is the way to go.
So much for rational discussion. I think it's quite obvious who was the main pusher for the capacitive screens, and the US tech media followed suit.

Old 13-07-2010, 01:08 PM
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There is one glaring omission to the entire resistive/capacitive debate:
Writing and Doodling.
Not the act of artistic authorship, the actual mechanical methodology of putting implement to paper and recording thought.
Especially true for artsy-fartsy/creative types, using tools specifically designed to create a semi permanent record is not something easily overcome with sweeping gestures on a 3" - 4"+ canvas.
Cross and other companies came out with pad sized digitizer solutions that allowed a user to write up notes on paper while recording them digitally with additional functionality provided by key input locations and gestures on and around the paper. Integrated OCR coupled with PC I/O planner style formats made these solutions intuitive and logical follow-ups for PDA's.
And then ..... crickets.
Instead, phones, PDA's, laptops and the ubiquitous paper tablet/planner became standard luggage that would show up on table tops during meetings.
One of the most elegant solutions that ever came about was a Papermate PHD Multi pen, a short stack of small, clear tab Post-Its, the ubiquitous tablet/planner portfolio and a PDA phone.
By the late 90's most PDA displays were large enough for the clear tab Post-Its which carried over to the PDA phones.
Stick a few Post-Its on the display and you'd have a semi-clear screen protector you could write on or just pull off for any reason.
Call up the handwritten notes or Post-Its like app, write your note, apply or give over the Post-Its and ShaZam! Permanent record, handy note/instant art, digital record and your screen is always in great shape.
Plus, Post-Its art rocks.
Has anyone tried using a Post-Its like app on capacitive screens with fingers? Very unsatisfying.
And newer resistive display technology is very very good.

Old 13-07-2010, 01:12 PM
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take note that capacitive's glass screen maybe more resistant to scratches,but since it is glass,it break more easily. (remember the iphone 4 drop test?)

unlike the capacitive screen, resistant screen is vulnerable to scratches but will not break as easily as glass! (remember the N97 drop test?)

Old 13-07-2010, 02:40 PM
Peter Sulzer Peter Sulzer is offline
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Steve, you have forgotten one thing about resistive touchscreens. Also AFAIK not available yet for mobiles, there are a lot of notebooks (convertibles) with resistive touchscreens, but: These touchscreens are pressure sensitive, e. g. a "resolution" of 256 steps (8 bit = 1 byte).

On a mobile phone this could be used for a totally new interface. An example:

Tapping the display softly, sets focus to the element, dragging afterwards, marks a range.

Pressing (normally) selects (executes) the element (like double tap on S60 5th).

Pressing hard, pops up the context menu.

Of course you could use it for an extraordinary drawing app. Pressing hard makes thick lines, soft thin lines, ...

I think a pressure sensitive resistive display would be much more usefull than a capacitive display.


capacitive, goalposts, moving, resistive

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