What Are Dual Touch-Screen Laptops?

Jeremy Laukkonen

Dual touch-screen laptops are portable personal computers that are hinged like other notebooks but possess an additional screen instead of a keyboard. Some computers that use this configuration have only one touch enabled screen, but dual touch-screen laptops use two. Both single and dual-touch screen laptops can typically simulate a keyboard and touchpad on the second screen if necessary, though a touch enabled primary screen removes the need for any additional input devices. It is typically also possible to extend the desktop onto the second screen, allowing for more viewable space in a smaller form factor. A main drawback associated with dual touch-screen laptops is battery life, due to the extended drain of running two displays instead of one.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

Traditional laptop and netbook computers consist of a base unit and a screen that are attached by some type of hinge. The base usually contains all of the hardware components, such as the hard drive, random access memory (RAM), and motherboard, in addition to input devices, such as a keyboard and touchpad. Dual touch-screen laptops use this same type of form factor, but the base contains a second screen instead of keyboard. Additionally, both screens are touch enabled so that additional pointing devices are not necessary. It is possible to plug in an external keyboard if a dual touch-screen laptop has universal serial bus (USB) ports, but these devices are usually capable of displaying a software keyboard on the second screen.

There are a number of uses for dual touch-screen laptops due to the unique configuration. Some of these devices can be used in a vertical orientation, resulting in a book-like appearance. Though this is not a standard orientation for laptops, it can allow for a dual touch-screen device to be used as a sort of book-like e-reader. It is also typically possible to extend the desktop from the first screen to the second, resulting in a much larger portable display than would otherwise be possible.

The additional screen present in these devices can convey usability benefits in some circumstances, but there are also several potential drawbacks. It can be more taxing on the graphics processing unit (GPU) to run two displays at once, and there is also additional power consumption to consider. A single screen device with identical hardware will tend to perform better in both of these areas due to the requirements imposed by an additional screen. Some software keyboards also perform better than others, so it is possible to experience lag or other issues with this type of input method.

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