This is a really difficult question and this post doesn’t really answer it. There’s a ton of evidence though and you can make up your own mind.
First, the video of Sony’s implementation of the touch feature – [wpvideo ChHMYL9o]
Reasons Touch is a good feature
The areas where the Sony Touch’s touch feature really shines –
- Hitting a spot or an item is quicker. You don’t have to move the cursor to a spot or an item.
- Home Page, Book List Pages and Menus are easier to use.
- You can add freehand notes and scribbles in the margins and in the book itself (although can’t seem to figure out how to enter longer notes).
- There’s a notes view where you can add notes, highlight text, erase notes and highlights, set bookmarks and look at all the existing notes.
- In Notes mode highlighting is really easy.
- The Freehand drawing (in the Handwriting app) is useful as it lets you do freehand scribbling, notes and drawings.
- On screen keyboard is easy to use (in the Memo app).
Reasons Touch is a bad feature.
The Touch feature has some disadvantages too –
- The biggest by far is loss of readability. The touch layer is reflective and reduces readability and its worse when there are bright lights.
- Touching the screen leads to finger prints and smudges.
- Writing on the touchscreen is awkward (especially as you can’t rest your hand on it).
- You need to use the stylus a lot of the time so its two handed reading.
- eInk means that you have to move the stylus a bit slower.
Disadvantages due to Sony’s implementation of touch –
- The bad placement of the page turn buttons and the drag gesture (instead of a tap page turn) makes page turning awkward.
- No handwriting recognition.
- The Notes Mode eats up a lot of screen real estate.
- There aren’t enough shortcuts. There are two-step actions instead of shortcuts or one step actions.
An example of the last is that to highlight you have to do Options > Notes > Select Highlight Button > Do the Actual Highlight.
Even if you read in Notes Mode it’s Choose Highlight Button > Do Highlight.
The current state of eInk technology causes a few of the main disadvantages i.e. loss of readability and having to wait a tiny bit to see the result of your ‘touches’.
The loss in readability is not trivial and a big downside.
Sony’s implementation of Touch adds a lot of disadvantages including the rather inelegant way page turns are handled.
Which leads us to a rather interesting question –
Would touch be a good feature for Kindle 3? Well,
- Amazon would have to work in a better implementation of Touch.
- We would need eInk advances so that the effect of a touch layer on readability was minimal.
That’s two big IFs. It’s hard to say whether the current benefits of touch outweight the downside.
Kindle 3 is unlikely to add touch, unless of course there is a big advance in eInk technology.