Apple may hit the touch bar on the latest MacBook Pro, but PC makers are determined to give it a new lease of life. The latest revival comes from Corsair, which adds an LCD array of customizable shortcut buttons on top of the keyboard burning in the gamer’s RGB.
It has started to become a trend. Apple killed its touch bar on the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros last year, but PC makers seem determined to prove the company wrong. The first Dell XPS 13 Plus launched a “new capacitive touch experience that lets you easily switch between media and function keys.” The laptop is available for purchase but has been back-ordered for weeks, and there has been no review so we don’t know for sure how it will be received, but Dell’s Touch Bar concept seems to be less effective than Apple’s: the buttons are static, they’re real keyboard. Floating on top, and they don’t seem to add any functionality.
Dell then added a touch bar to the trackpad at Latitude 9330 When using a video-conferencing app, a strip of four keys at the top of the trackpad is illuminated with the camera, screen sharing, chat and mute options. It may be effective to quickly turn off the camera or mic, but you need to learn to avoid them while your fingers are active (probably whenever you’re using a video-conferencing app).
Now there’s a new PC touch bar, this time on the Voyager a1600, Corsair’s first gaming laptop. Corsair did not name the new feature or even officially announce it – it only appeared as a sneak peek – but the company told The Verge that the strip had “10 easy-access customizable S-key shortcut buttons”. Corsair says the keys are powered by Elgato’s stream deck software, which enables highly customizable keys built into streamers.
Corsair’s touch bar function doesn’t replace rows of keys, but it does have a weird position – the hinges at the bottom of the display. Even in the picture, it looks incredibly uncomfortable to reach. According to the render, you can still access the touch bar when the laptop is turned off, which seems to be waiting for an accident to happen (not to mention the battery drain).
Of course, Corsair’s touch bar looks cool. The buttons matching the keyboard have RGB styling, and the laptop’s contours dominate the bottom of the display. But like Apple’s Touch Bar, it’s a matter of whether people will like it or not.
But my biggest question is: why? No one cried for the touch bar when it was killed. While it has its merits, it has never been a proper pro-level feature and implementation has not evolved beyond the original concept. It was very skinny, lacked sensitive responses, required constant scrolling and didn’t actually save time. It looked beautiful, but even Apple didn’t know what to do with it.
The MacBook Pro Touch Bar was one of Apple’s most polarizing features, and it was never caught by developers. Using a niche like gaming or video conferencing can have good results, but in the end the touch bar, Apple or otherwise, is a failed idea that should be in the past.