So far we’ve looked at the Butterfly Touch like any other laptop. But what are the advantages of its swivel screen and touch capabilities?
First of all, there are potential ergonomic benefits to a swivel screen. Just to give one common example: when watching a film on a plane, usually the clearance above the tables is not adequate to allow you to tilt your screen far enough back for optimum viewing. With a tablet laptop, however, you can just turn the base of the laptop around (positioning it backwards) and rotate the screen 180 degrees to form a ‘V’. Like the iPad, it’s also a good form factor for showing friends and colleagues snapshots, while an in-built sensor ensures you can view documents and web pages in portrait mode should you wish.
More importantly, unlike the Acer T230H multi-touch monitor and Acer Aspire 5738PG touchscreen laptop, the Butterfly Touch’s tablet form factor actually makes good use of the touch capabilities. On a tablet laptop (i.e. a flat surface), playing touch-based games and even typing using Windows 7’s on-screen keyboard is a pleasure rather than a chore.
This is all the more true thanks to the use of capacitive touch screen technology. It might not allow for stylus use, like with the MSI Wind Top AE2220 or EeeTop ET2203T, but its sensitivity and accuracy means you don’t need one. Even with a finger it’s easy to navigate Windows’ various menus and handwriting recognition works just fine, though it’s hardly necessary given the on-screen keyboard is so effective on this multi-touch display. Drawing with a finger in the pre-installed Photoshop Elements 8 is also a lot of fun.
Our only caveat is that the touch experience doesn’t quite match up to the likes of the iPad and its effortless glass-fronted screen, but the PB’s display is nonetheless pleasant to touch, offering a generally smooth surface. Of course its glossy finish does mean fingerprints become a problem, but that’s a failing of most touch devices.
Like the Acer Aspire 5738PG, the Butterfly Touch also offers a TouchPortal interface – presented as a kind of virtual living room. However it’s very childish and poorly presented (something we didn’t emphasise adequately in our Aspire 5738PG review, where the laptop’s awkward form factor made it more of a necessity), and requires a major redesign before we would consider it worthy of attention or hard drive space on a tablet. Luckily it’s entirely superfluous on a device such as this, which works just fine without any half-baked touch interface to complicate matters.