Full disclosure — I am a die-hard Apple user. I love my iPad, iPhone, iTouch, MacBookPro and iMac. I do. I love the operating systems and the touch interfaces.
So when Planar asked if I would like to test their new Planar Helium 27-inch multi-touch desktop monitor, of course I said yes. When they asked if I had a Windows 8 machine, I gasped. Argh. Windows.
Our Web team has been playing around with Windows 8 for a while so there was a PC I could test it out on as well as have them give it a whirl as well.
I had seen the new Windows 8 interface on a non-interactive screen and wasn’t thrilled. I am willing to say that could be because I am a Mac head.
Gasp again. I took to the Planar Helium, 27-inch multi-touch desktop monitor and Windows 8 like a two-year-old to an iPad.
First the important stuff: If you are familiar with Planar displays you’ve come to expect only the highest quality HD image (1920 x 1080). This Edge-Lit LED LCD display lives up to Planar’s reputation for depth of color, black levels and thoughtful industrial design.
After a couple of minutes of figuring out the Windows 8 gestures and how things were organized to get to a new screen or call up a file, I was swiping around with the same familiarity as my iPad. I didn’t experience any latency issues. The projected capacitive touchscreen has a 12 ms response time.
There have been many times when I have put away my iPad to work on my iMac and I would touch the screen to move something or zoom in and forgot that the screen was not interactive. There are just some things that are more intuitive and quicker to do on the screen versus with a mouse or a keypad.
The touch sensitivity is very accurate and light on the Planar Helium display. The smooth, zerobezel, all-glass surface makes the experience seamless. Within a short period I was whipping between the monitor and the keyboard that I attached directly into the monitor. This is a very natural way to work.
Other than the outstanding quality the display and the fast response time, the greatest benefits of this display are simple: It integrates multi-touch, a computer tablet or ultra-book, a webcam, microphone and you can plug a keyboard directly into the monitors.
In a recent interview, Cris Derr, product marketing director for Planar Systems, noted that one of most important trends that they identified that drove their decision to develop the product was that developers were getting re-excited on the Windows platform. “The big reason for this is that they can make money now once again on the Windows platform. Those developers are creating the applications that users want. Those applications drive the demand for things like touch technology,” he said.
“We saw these three things: Windows 8, hardware vendors and developers getting re-excited about developing on Windows, and we decided to build a display to basically pair with those coming trends,” said Derr.
Windows 8 puts touch technology first on this platform, which is very clear once you start using it. “People like to pair their ultra-books or their tablets or their laptops with a larger screen when they go back to their desk. They want to have that experience that they were having on their tablet or ultra-book be extended. That’s where Helium got seeded and became an idea that then became a product,” said Derr.
Planar Systems had three fundamental things in mind when they set out to design the Helium display: First, “We wanted it to be a very functional display. The touch had to be super responsive, it needed to have the sort of feature-set people would want like the webcam feature; USB, display port; HDMI. The second thing was the ergonomics. We wanted it to be very easy to use. We wanted a display to be able to be both upright and then easily move into a drafting table or a more touch-friendly layout. Then the third area was the design. We wanted it to be really beautiful. We wanted it to be something that people would want to have on their desk. Something that was sleek beautiful and something you’d want on your desk or feel equally comfortable putting it in a retail environment because it looked really nice,” concluded Derr.
From this reviewer’s perspective, I’d say Planar Systems nailed all three points.
I have a background in design and can easily see this display lying flat on the desktop and use to collaborate with another user.
Planar lists a whole bevy of targeted end users. To be honest, I don’t see a scenario where this multi-touch display wouldn’t fit, from corporate users to those using CAD software to the medical field to my office and most certainly at my home — the “prosumer.”
Whenever we get new technology in the EH Publishing offices people swarm. A lot of people were playing the Xbox Live Fruit Ninja Kinect fruit slicing game and amazed at the responsiveness. I wonder if the game developer had a 20-point, multi-touch monitor in mind with the scoring? As my coworkers were walking away — almost to a person they said, “That’s great, but who is going to pay $2,500”? I never mentioned price. When I said that the Planar Helium 27-inch was retailing for $899, they were pretty stunned.
This display is available through integrators but will also be sold through CompUSA in October.
I am thinking Apple finally has a competitor.