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How to Choose the Right Touchscreen Display

by Newhaven Staff
Published: Last Updated on 570 views

Touchscreen displays have become a common piece of technology in our daily lives. Many LCD and OLED applications now include touch screen technology to improve functionality. 

However, there is not a universal touchscreen for every application. You’ll need to decide which touch screen is right for your specific project. Much like deciding between OLED and LCD, choosing the right touch screen will depend on what your application requires.

The two types of touchscreens are resistive and capacitive. Keep reading to learn the difference between these technologies, and decide which one is right for your touchscreen display.

Resistive Touchscreen Displays

learn how resistive touch works

Resistive touch panels were the original touch screen to enter the market and are still widely used. This touchscreen type senses pressure on the top layer of the display and sends a signal to the circuit layer to activate the touch screen functionality. Because they use pressure to activate the touch inputs, resistive screens can be used with a stylus or gloved finger.

Displays with a resistive touchscreen have a soft, semi-flexible top layer. A “touch event” is registered when a user presses into the top layer. Resistive touch screens are built without  cover glass, so they more susceptible to dents and scratches.

Diagram detailing the parts of a resistive touch panel

Advantages of resistive touch

functions & uses for resistive touchscreens

Resistive touch panels are often seen as the less advanced variety of touch screen compared to capacitive. However, being able to interact with non-organic inputs keeps these touchscreens relevant in certain industries.

Resistive touch panels are less sensitive than capacitive touch screen displays. This is actually considered an advantage in some cases and is the reason why they’re chosen for specific applications. Resistive touch panels will not respond to accidental inputs from the environment, so they won’t be interrupted by things like water spills or lightweight debris landing on the screen. 

This touchscreen type requires more intentional inputs from the user which makes them more reliable in rugged and unstable environments. For example, a resistive touchscreen is the perfect solution on a construction site where water or debris might land on the screen. They’re also the best touchscreen display for situations where the user is wearing gloves.

Illustration depicting the "Keep out area

Note: Spacers are placed inside resistive touch panels to separate the layers of material inside the screen. 

This illustration shows how inputs close to the touch panel’s internal spacer can cause the top layer to flex at a sharp angle. These sharp bends can cause cracking in the top layer’s resistive coating which can lead to reduced touch sensitivity and lower accuracy. 

To help prevent accidental damage, avoid putting touch features within 2mm of the display’s bezel.

Pros Cons
Low Cost to Manufacture More Susceptible to Scratches and Dents
Operates with Stylus, Pen, Gloves, Etc. Screen can Become Blurry or Dim Over Time
Fewer Accidental Inputs (Water, Debris, Etc.) Recognizes Only 1 Touch Input at a Time
Better Resistance to Heat and Moisture Must Be Calibrated Before Use

Capacitive touchscreens Displays

Capacitive touch panels are the more modern and advanced touch screen variety because of their advanced capabilities. They are commonly found in consumer products like smartphones and tablets.

Capacitive touchscreen displays allow for touch gestures and respond to multi-touch inputs. You’ll typically be able to enter one to five touch inputs at a time, but some capacitive touch panels can process even more.

Displays with capacitive touch screens are more durable because they are designed with cover glass on their top layer. This type of touch technology responds to conductive inputs like a fingertip and don’t require pressure to activate a “touch event”.

Illustrated diagram of a capacitive touch panel

While the cost is currently higher than resistive touchscreens, capacitive touch panels are becoming the industry standard in touch technology.

Any device that utilizes touch gestures like swiping, pinching, or multi-touch will require a capacitive touch panel. These features often help make capacitive touchscreen displays more intuitive and user-friendly than resistive touchscreens. Displays with capacitive touch screens deliver brighter, higher contrast images due to the makeup of their panels. 

The enhanced responsiveness can be a downside depending on how and where the display is being used. For example, a capacitive touchscreen would not respond to the user when wearing certain types gloves. And although capacitive touchscreens don’t respond to inorganic inputs, they can still be accidentally activated by other conductive elements. One of the the most common elements that causes interruptions is water. 

Rain, humidity, and condensation on the surface of capacitive touchscreens will often cause accidental inputs and reduced accuracy until the water is removed. This is one of the main reasons why a resistive touchscreen would be chosen over a capacitive touchscreen in certain situations. 

While the cost is currently higher than resistive touchscreens, capacitive touch panels are becoming the industry standard in touch technology.

Pros Cons
Capable of multi-touch and touch gesture inputs More durable due to added cover glass
Operates with Stylus, Pen, Gloves, Etc. Screen can Become Blurry or Dim Over Time
Fewer Accidental Inputs (Water, Debris, Etc.) Recognizes Only 1 Touch Input at a Time
Better Resistance to Heat and Moisture Must Be Calibrated Before Use

Conclusion

Which Touchscreen display is right for you?

While it’s clear that capacitive touchscreens are dominating the consumer electronics market, resistive touch panels still have an advantage in some places. You’ve probably also seen new accessories like styluses and gloves that are able to interface with capacitive touch screens, making them more viable option for everyday use

If you’re looking for a touchscreen that is cost-effective and able to operate in rugged environments, then resistive is the way to go. For more advanced and intuitive touchscreen technology with higher quality images, then choose capacitive. 

To learn more about touchscreen displays, or anything else related to display technology, we’re always here to help! Get in touch with our engineers today: Contact Us

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