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Lenovo IdeaCentre A700 Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) Touch Technology

Lenovo IdeaCentre A700 is the first desktop that uses the Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) Touch Technology, which caught my interest quite a bit. I asked Lenovo about this technology they are using, and researched a little about it myself. Here’s what I came up with.

What is Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) Touch Technology?

Think of it this way – When you touch a pool of water, it creates a ripple effect radiating outwards. Similarly with this “Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW)”, the sensors radiates a ripple effect on the horizontal and vertical axis. When you touch on a certain point, the sensors pick up the distortion in the ripple effect and is able to figure out the position where you’re touching. This is by far one of the most advanced touch screen technologies in the market. You can find out more of the technical details about “Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW)” on Wikipedia.

What are the benefits of SAW Touch technology as opposed to the commonly known resistive touchscreen (used by HP TouchSmart) and capacitive touchscreen (used by most devices)?

SAW technology has proven itself by distinct accuracy, high sensitivity, good transparency and less vulnerability to vibration, dust or ambient light conditions. In addition, there is a commercial-standard of 10-year warranty attached to SAW touchscreen, which makes the technology more reliable.

Resistive touchscreen is the most commonly use touchscreen technology in the market. Although it is cost effective, their lifespan is relatively shorter than their counterpart. Transmittance, also known as sensitivity, is lower in comparison to other touchscreens and users need to adopt a more forceful touch to it, which will increase the chances of damaged.

Capacitive technologies divide into projected capacitive and surface capacitive. Projected capacitive uses grids to enable multitouch experience and generates higher resolution than resistive technology. The hard glass sheet surface provides projected capacitive touchscreen with higher durability. Projected capacitive has good transmittance and will not be easily affected by external light resources, but it comes with a hefty price tag.

Surface capacitive technology is moderately durable with good transmittance, but has limited resolution. Typically it does not support non-conductive material input.

Is SAW cost effective, knowing that capacitive touchscreens are expensive to produce for larger screens?

Yes, there is no major change in pricing in relation to the size of the screen for SAW technology.

How many millimeters is added to the thickness of the screen to accommodate SAW Touch technology?

9mm.

How many touch points does Lenovo A700 detect?

Currently only 2. But the technology supports limitless number of touch points.

Pricing of the Lenovo A700

It was launched in August and the price is going at SGD$1999 (promo price), SGD$2399 (retail price).

Summary

Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) Touch Technology is definitely a contender of being a great touch screen technology by being the most durable, high touch resolution, with the highest image clarity, which might put capacitive touch screens at a disadvantage. It also scales well into larger displays without changing much in production cost. Time will tell if SAW will replace our current capacitive touch screens on smaller devices, but Lenovo has upped their game by being the first in producing a consumer-centric device that uses SAW Touch Technology. Kudos to Lenovo for innovating beyond.

About Justin Lee

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One comment

  1. Very cool blog post – Nice job! With the added thickness, one can see why this technology might not be widely used on laptops.

    Mark

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