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HTC claims Tattoo's screen is too small for capacitive to work well

Chris Ziegler
09.08.09
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For full-touch mobile use, capacitive touchscreens are the best solution we've got -- and it has absolutely nothing to do with the iPhone, it has to do with the incremental improvement in usability brought about by near-100 percent touch registration. That's a big deal, because even a 5 percent loss of registration on an on-screen QWERTY keyboard would represent roughly one letter missed every five words (assuming an average word length in the English language of just over 5 letters). Resistive screens have many, many totally valid applications, but put simply, phones aren't one of them; they've been outmoded by a different technology that's more appropriate for the size and use that the average handset sees. Registration issues aside, fingers are larger than styli, and when a resistive display is registering an unweighted pinpoint coordinate, you end up ironically losing accuracy -- a benefit touted by resistive that's really only realized if you're using a stylus full-time. No one's claiming that capacitive screens are the magic elixir to make human digits achieve superhuman accuracy on a tiny screen, but... you know, step one is making sure the phone knows you pressed something.

Anyhow, HTC's now claiming that the just-announced Tattoo has gone resistive because its 2.8-inch screen is simply too small "to be accurate with" as a capacitive. The company's tweet goes on to say that resistive "ends up registering fewer miss-clicks," which could be argued -- maybe -- were users expected to use styli. Android is not and was never designed as a stylus-driven platform, and unless HTC's driving in that dubious direction, the claim is bunk. More realistically, the resistive display is probably a cost sacrifice the company made to keep sticker shock to a minimum, which is fair enough -- HTC's trying to cover many market segments with Android, as it should -- but we wish they'd been upfront about it.

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