Targus Touch Pen Enables Touch Input on Non-Touchscreen Laptops

With the Touch Pen for Windows 8, Targus has found a way to welcome old laptops to the touchscreen party.

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With the Touch Pen for Windows 8, Targus has found a way to welcome old laptops to the touchscreen party.

The pen enables touch input on Windows 8 laptops that don’t have touchscreens. Users must clip a small receiver to the side of the laptop, then perform a one-time calibration to tell the device where the edges of the screen are located. After that, the pen can be used like a finger for tapping, scrolling or drawing on the screen.

The pen itself has a soft, almost brush-like bristle that’s designed not to harm the laptop’s display, and it can attach to a magnet on the receiver for storage when it’s not in use. It supports screen sizes up to 17 inches.

The Touch Pen had some issues in my brief demo. When scrolling across the Start screen, the system would occasionally fail to detect the entire pen stroke, which in turn caused Windows 8 to register a tap and accidentally open unwanted applications. And while the pen does detect the Windows 8 charms bar gesture, in which you swipe from the right edge of the screen to bring up a set of options, getting this gesture to activate usually took me a few tries.

Targus has some time to work out the kinks — it’s planning to launch the Touch Pen in the second quarter of this year — but at a price of $100, new PC buyers shouldn’t think of this as a cheaper alternative to a proper touchscreen laptop. The Touch Pen may be a good solution for older machines, but only if Targus can improve the gesture recognition and touch responsiveness before launch.

MORE: Check out TIME Tech’s complete coverage of the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show