User Preference: Touchscreen Keypad or Physical Keys?

Change is often difficult to accept. Particularly when you’ve been doing something the same way for more than a decade.  Fortunately, most of the time these changes ultimately end up saving us time and money (fax machine vs. email?).  When it comes to data entry, we’ve been using keys for hundreds of years – so the touchscreen was probably a little foreign to us at first.  But then we came to realize how much easier it can be – for most applications.

Evolving Technology

Physical keys can wear after a lot of use, particularly devices used in harsh environments with multiple users. If a key breaks, either a replacement key or whole new keyboard is required; and sometimes that’s not even an option. It also takes a bit more effort to operate a keyboard (okay, not a ton of effort, but more than a touchscreen would require).

We’re doing more than ever with our phones and mobile computers today. We’re performing operations that used to require a computer connected to a network, like communicating via voice and data, performing inventory lookups, using GPS, creating pick-up and delivery confirmations and more, and we’re becoming more reliant on the performance of these devices with each and every day.

The result? Screen real estate is for more valuable, and devices are getting larger. So, it’s only natural to surmise that an on-screen keyboard might be more desirable for most applications. Not to mention the fact that removing a physical keyboard may make the device more reliable, or even offer more space for advanced technology like a larger battery, and so on.

Data Entry Applications

As consumers we do a lot of pointing and clicking (maybe even a swipe here and there) and texting has become second nature, so an onscreen keyboard may not seem like such a big deal. But when an application requires a heavy amount of data entry, the keyboard has to be the better way to go.  Slender hands probably don’t have any problem whizzing around a touchscreen keypad, but for large fingers, they probably spend more time on the backspace key than any others – causing frustration, delays and possible data entry errors.  On the other hand (no pun intended), a physical keypad offers the assurance of hitting the right key most of the time and can help to speed up productivity and keep data entry errors to a minimum.

What about delivery and pick up applications in a cold climate? Wouldn’t it be nice to keep those gloves on instead of having to take them off every time you needed to use the device? That’s where a keypad can be helpful as well, as long as the keyboard itself has keys large enough to accommodate a gloved hand.

The Choice is Yours

What if you had a choice between touchscreen and keys? What if you could change your mind based on your mood, or your application?  Well, that’s the freedom technology is affording us these days when it comes to handheld computers.  Take the Honeywell CN80, for example; this device is available with both a touchscreen and a QWERTY or numeric keypad.  This makes it easier for procurement, configuration, implementation and use across a wide variety of preferences and work styles.  For those that simply are more familiar with, and frankly prefer real keys, they can opt to use keys for their application.  While at the same time, their touchscreen preferring co-workers can choose to use the onscreen keypad.

Keep your mind and options open – there’s always something new and exciting around the corner to make operations easier, accuracy rates higher and transactions simpler to perform.

For more ways to improve your work processes, contact us for a free consultation.


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181 East Evans St. | Florence, SC, 29506
Phone: 843-656-2084 or 877-331-7427