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Affordable Touchscreens

jpkishere

Member
Been surfing most of the day looking for an affordable touchscreen that has Windows CE built in..

Don't see much other than the ELK which doesn't fit my definition of affordable...

With PDAs being relatively cheap, why are the larger 6-7 inch touchscreens so expensive? Heck the PDAs have WiFi built in as well.

It seems most HA software have web based interfaces, so processing power shouldn't be an issue..

I bought an intermec 5055b as a test, but it is kinda large, doesn't wall mount well, etc..

Basically, I want something relatively small that can act as alarm keypad, whole house audio controller, etc. instead of having a bunch of keypads..
 

Dean Roddey

Senior Member
A web interface, though important to have, is a pretty sad substitute for a dedicated graphical interface system, so you will tend to need some amount of graphical oomph to get high quality interfaces. And since almost all the fancy interfaces you see us alpha blended images, that will leave most really small devices out, and so you end up with much less sexy interfaces.

Anyway, one thing I would assume is part of this is that a very small computer can use more or less off the shelf components and operating system, just packaged up in some useful form, and which is something that would be generally useful. Otherwise, you are probably into something proprietary, and the market immediately shrinks very much, so it ends up only being done by people who have larger systems that these proprietary touch pads are sold as part of.

I do hope that before too much longer that someone does a very stripped down UMPC tablet, mostly for dedicated vertical markets that don't need the bells and whistles.
 

rocco

Active Member
I'm not sure if this would fit your definition of affordable, but these work for me (but I'm odd):

http://www.qsicorp.com/product/industrial/qterm-g70.php

They are not that expensive, considering that they are industrial. They are completely standalone, Ethernet (with PoE), programmable touch-screen terminals. The programming language is an object-oriented version of basic, with graphical design/simulation software that runs on a PC (free download).

But it won't ever look as good as CQC or MainLobby, but better than Homeseer.

Since they are standalone ethernet devices, I hope to someday write a xAP/xPL driver for them.
 

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
rocco said:
The programming language is an object-oriented version of basic, with graphical design/simulation software that runs on a PC (free download).
This can interface with your HA gear?
 

jpkishere

Member
Dean Roddey said:
Anyway, one thing I would assume is part of this is that a very small computer can use more or less off the shelf components and operating system, just packaged up in some useful form, and which is something that would be generally useful. Otherwise, you are probably into something proprietary, and the market immediately shrinks very much, so it ends up only being done by people who have larger systems that these proprietary touch pads are sold as part of.
PDA's regularly go for a couple hundred bucks with 3.x" "touchscreens", why not just bump of the size to say 6" and usa CE as the OS?

I believe CQC has a CE based viewer as I am guessing some other programs do?

Ideally I would like something that is powered via POE that is around $400 bucks for 6-7" touchscreen.. I don't see why that isn't achievable nowadays..
 

Dean Roddey

Senior Member
That's always possible, but you still do suffer from the fact that these small devices are weak on the graphics side. And for most companies it means maintaining a completely separate code base just to support smaller devices. All of use would vastly prefer to have a single code base that can support both desktop and handheld devices (and it means more time to put into faetures and quality so it's good for the customer also.) This is why the UMPC devices are so important for folks like us.
 

jpkishere

Member
TonyNo said:
There are also Windows CE versions, the first of which below is $790...

http://www.eautomationpro.com/us/product/modl_1-1TYXHR.aspx
Interesting on the eAutomationPro end.. We (at work) purchae a couple hundred advantech systems a year - with my discount wonder what that would work out to?

Still looks like these are aimed at industrial designs..


Dean - not sure what CQC is written in but if it were written in .NET, isn't there a .net framework for CE devices that would act as a standard device?

I really haven't looked at anything on the UMPC front, google here I come..
 

gduprey

Member
A web interface, though important to have, is a pretty sad substitute for a dedicated graphical interface system, so you will tend to need some amount of graphical oomph to get high quality interfaces.
Not to go too far off topic (I'd be happy to discuss it elsewhere), but while I have beleived similarly in the past, recent developments have really changed my opinion.

In partciular, with the extensive use of AJAX and DHTML and good graphic design, I've recently witnessed web interfaces that competed at the same level a dedicated, well crafted GUI. Very responsive (no press submit and wait page refreshes -- in fact, virtually no page refreshes at all), fully animated (panels appear and disappear -- sliding in and out, fading in and out, "exploding" out, etc very smoothly) and highly responsive (things change as soon as they are touched and automatically update as the underlying data changes -- i.e. a light level slider control will auto-adjust the displayed values and thumb location when a user somewhere else in the house changes the light level -- no delay on the web page at all). In this case, the company had hired a graphic artists to create some incredibly sharp control graphics as well, giving this a really "top shelf" look AND feel.

I've been pretty skeptical of Web UIs for use for more highly interactive and/or rich interfaces, but what I've seen has changed that. I saw a no-compromise user interface that could run on any platform and keep all the "heavy lifting" on the server, allowing for lightweight clients (as well as remote access and such). Further, because everything came from HTML source, tailoring the interface was remarkably easy.

This particular app was a touch screen interface and they used Opera as the browser because it has a "kiosk" mode that runs in fullscreen mode and hides all the menu bars, navigation buttons, URL fields and other things that look like a browser. The result was indistinguishable from a GUI based touch screen app -- there was nothing that would clue you in this was a web program from looking at or working with it.

As a result, I really do feel you can now have a sexy, no compromise interface via a web browser. I'm not saying the age of the GUI is over -- it isn't. Some things -- especially things that run entirely locally (like a word processor) I have a hard time seeing working like this (then again, I could be wrong). But for client/server type things, it is a reality now.

Gerry
 

rocco

Active Member
BraveSirRobbin said:
This can interface with your HA gear?
Yes.

You can use one of its serial ports, or an Ethernet port. Of course, you have to do your own protocol. That's why I was thinking xAP/xPL. I find HomeSeer scripting inflexible and tedious.

Since they are standalone computers, I program them to present the different screens and provide menus internal to the touch-screen firmware, and only communicate when they need to, like sending "Kitchen Light On".

They cannot show video, but can show a captured still pretty well (meaning fast, with adequate color definition). They also do pre-programmed animations well. They have an audio codec that allows you to play .wav files for announcements.

With HomeSeer, you could use George's IP Manager plug-in for the Ethernet port, or the normal comm-port script functions for the RS232 (though the serial port will limit the speed to 115 kbaud). I've only experimented with HomeSeer, since my wife hates these, but I use them a lot in my robotics projects.

TonyNo is correct, this is going down the industrial road. But I find that road to be well-paved. Some of those units that he posted may be even better. Ideally, I would like the same thing in a Win-CE version, but only so I could use C++ instead of basic.
 

Rupp

Senior Member
Combine one of the small form factor PC that were recently posted here for ~$220 + an 8" touch screen for $179 and you have a full fledge touch screen pc that can do it all for ~$400.
 

Dean Roddey

Senior Member
Combine one of the small form factor PC that were recently posted here for ~$220 + an 8" touch screen for $179 and you have a full fledge touch screen pc that can do it all for ~$400.

I've made the same argument. But some folks are just philosophically against that because it introduces more PCs to the equation. Though it would cost a bit more than that, since you'd ahve to add a Cat-5 extender, putting those little guys in the closet and just exposing the touch screen on the wall would make for a more managable system of that sort.
 

Dean Roddey

Senior Member
Dean - not sure what CQC is written in but if it were written in .NET, isn't there a .net framework for CE devices that would act as a standard device?

CQC is written in very high level C++. It would be pretty tough to write it in .Net IMHO and have it remain as high performance and nimble as it is now. I think that .Net is fine for smaller stuff, but when you are talking about highly multi-threaded, highly interactive, large scale stuff, I just wouldn't want to go there.
 

smee

Senior Member
The idea of the PCs is probably sound, but you will introduce arguments about all those PCs burning electricity all the time. And cheap PCs don't have the most efficient power supplies. Ideally, they should consume very little power. It's the small form factor PC-compatible boards and their support hardware that become expensive.
 
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