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spacer all reviews > > > special software

TouchWindow

Edmark

All Ages

Rating Scale
5 = great,    1 = poor
Educational Value
n/a
Kid Appeal
n/a
Ease of Use
4.5

TouchWindow Screen Shot System Requirements

PC / Mac Price Survey

Product Support

This input device can be used as a touch screen, graphic tablet or keyboard substitute. It attaches to the computer monitor, and interacts with most popular software titles. Once installed, users use the included stylus (or a finger) to select and move objects, open applications and pull down menus. Not only does it provide a satisfactory option for those who have difficulty using a mouse, it also performs well with art programs where mouse use can be difficult and unwieldy. Students can remove the window and place it on a flat surface to draw or trace pictures.

Installation of this product does not disable the computer mouse or keyboard. Users can use all three at once, without compromising performance in any way.
Educational Value
The TouchWindow allows developmentally delayed students, and young students who are not yet able to master the mouse, to more fully benefit from educational software programs. Students can interact in a more satisfactory manner with the computer, spending less time on task completion and experiencing less performance-related stress.

Kid Appeal
Successful use of this product requires a bit of practice. Our first inclination was to conclude that it's easier to use a mouse, however this is not necessarily true for beginning computer users, adults included. We tested the window's functionality in a variety of applications, from games (Solitaire) to spreadsheets and databases, to art programs. In all cases it worked smoothly, provided it had been accurately calibrated. Our testers did complain, however, that prolonged use caused their upper arms (deltoids) to ache.

According to one of the world's experts on the subject, Douglas Engelbart, the father of the mouse, devices like this are inherently not as efficient as the mouse, because they require the user to repeatedly lift the hand to the screen.

Ease of Use / Install
The TouchWindow must be used with a 15" monitor, and can be purchased for a variety of set ups, including Macintosh (ADB), Macintosh (USB), Windows/DOS (Serial) and Windows (USB). Edmark has also announced that a universal Mac/Win (USB & ADB) 17" TouchWindow will be available for Fall 2000.

We tested the Windows/DOS (Serial) version. To install the TouchWindow as a touch screen, we first needed to attach it to the monitor. This process depends somewhat on the shape of the monitor, and the window itself comes packaged with permanent-looking Velcro strips, bumpers and adapter rails to allow the user to achieve a precise fit.

Next, the TouchWindow Cable and DC transformer must be connected. Connecting the cable posed a problem for us, as our test machine had a 9-pin male port, while the included cable had a 25-pin female connector. We were able to circumvent this issue with the purchase of an inexpensive Serial Port adapter, which can be found at most computer supply stores. Before buying an adapter, take careful note of the gender of each of the interfaces -- the adapters are available in a variety of combinations.

At this point we booted the computer and installed the TouchWindow driver software from the included floppy disk. We then calibrated the TouchWindow. This process tells the computer where the TouchWindow screen is in relation to the monitor screen. To calibrate, users simply follow the on-screen prompts. As we later learned, this process is a crucial to the functioning of the TouchWindow and should be completed with accuracy and care. Furthermore, re-calibration is needed each time a new user (especially a child) uses the computer.

This completed, the TouchWindow is fully functional. Users can also adjust the settings to vary double-clicking range and tap time as desired, or change the button mode options to initiate mouse clicks in different ways. The included manual gives clear directions for all of the use options.

Best for... / Bottom-Line
TouchWindow installs quickly and easily and performs well. It offers students of all abilities the opportunity to successfully use a computer.

See SuperKids' comparisons with other special software titles, and the Buyers Guide for current market prices of the PC and Mac versions.

System Requirements
PC: Windows 3.1, 95 and MS-DOS, Any IBM or compatible, 9" to 15" monitor, Disk Drive, Serial Port.

Mac: System 6.0.5 or higher, any Macintosh except for the Mac Plus or Mac 512, 9" to 15" monitor, Apple Desktop Bus port .

Reviewed on:

  • Pentium166 with 64MB and 12XCD
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