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A touch screen computer monitor is exactly as the name implies; a device in which the screen itself functions as a touch pad the user can input data through. This is made possible by a tiny electrical current that passes from the user's fingertips—a touch screen computer monitor recognizes that touch and uses it to compare the impact point with the available options on the screen. When that point of contact reaches a location that was programmed to carry out a function, the task is completed just like it would be if clicked by a mouse.
Touch screen monitors have become very popular since they effectively can replace both a keyboard and a mouse. This technology has played a large part in the advancement of portable devices like cellular phones and hand-held games. In many aspects, consumers prefer this type of technology for business applications since it allows for much more rapid computing, especially in point of sale networks that are designed for checkout transactions and order processing. It also makes it possible to create portable diagnostic equipment that automotive servicemen and other industries utilize because the need for additional input space is eliminated.
A touch screen computer monitor also has several drawbacks. The screen itself is often difficult to properly clean and, in time, the electromagnetic sensors implemented within the monitor can fail due to exposure to the dirt or oil that is transferred by touch. On average, a touch screen computer monitor only lasts around half the lifespan of a comparable liquid-crystal display (LCD) monitor, yet it retails for nearly double the price—from a cost perspective, it is a questionable investment. Many users also complain of the time it takes to type in words and sentences directly on the screen interface, so it is fairly common to use a keyboard with this device despite its ability to replace one.
A touch screen computer monitor also requires additional maintenance when compared to conventional models. Besides the extra cleaning time, these devices also need to be calibrated frequently for the touch sensors to remain in alignment. Since the monitor is only projecting the illusion of touching the corresponding keys on-screen, users often forget that a program is merely assigning numerical graph-like values on each input. This procedure is completed by following an on-screen tutorial in which the user will touch various points on the screen, allowing the software to compensate for any misalignment errors.