I was wondering if I can make my laptop touchscreen. If you have a non-touch laptop or display and you’re looking for a way to convert it to a touchscreen, this article is for you.
I’ll cut to the chase and tell you it’s not possible to change a non-touchscreen to a touchscreen without after-market devices.
In some cases, laptop manufacturers have touchscreen panels for certain laptop models that can be swapped out, but that’s very expensive and rare.
There are two options that kind of make a laptop touchscreen. It’s not exactly the same but close enough for casual users.
Can I Make My Laptop Touchscreen?
The AirBar is your best option for turning your laptop into a touchscreen without expensive panel replacements or upgrades.
AirBar by Neonode
AirBar by Neonode is a USB device that attaches to your screen and uses infrared to simulate a touchscreen.
It’s a very interesting and futuristic device that I’m surprised I haven’t heard about until now. It’s also pretty cheap too, the largest model is under $100, and the 13″3 one is under $50 USD.
How AirBar Works:
The AirBar by Neonode attaches to your laptop’s screen via magnets and creates an infrared field based on the dimensions of your screen.
To visualize how it works, you can imagine the AirBar is shining light up your laptop’s screen, and when you block the light, it registers an action. It’s an invisible touch field on your laptop.
The cool thing about the AirBar is you can use any object to trigger the touch features, it could be a finger, stylus, or any object that can block the infrared.
Unlike regular touchscreens, if you use the AirBar, you don’t need to actually press on your screen for it to register.
It also can be used on other surfaces (more on that later).
AirBar Supported Screens:
Before you go absolutely crazy with this device, there are a couple of things you should know.
For one, the AirBars are tuned to specific laptop screen sizes (13.3″, 14″, and 15.6″) and they won’t be accurate if you use them on non-supported displays.
So if you want the AirBar to be accurate, you need to buy one that matches your laptop screen.
AirBar Supported Gestures:
With the AirBar you can tap, swipe, pinch, zoom and rotate. Multi-touch is supported but only with two fingers, it’s not nearly as good a touchscreen tablet.
Setting it Up:
Setting up the AirBar is really easy and everything is plug & play.
- Windows 7 – 10 (recommended)
- Mac (Functional, but not very accurate)
- USB A
- A laptop screen that Matches the AirBar Models
If you meet the requirements, follow these setup steps:
- Remove the Two Tags on the Back of the AirBar (these are sticky magnets)
- Align the AirBar 3mm Below Your Screen
- Match the Lines to the Bezels on Your Laptop Screen
- Attach the AirBar to the Magnets
- Plug it in a USB A port
- And Now You Have a Touchscreen Laptop!
If your AirBar isn’t accurate, I suggest downloading the latest firmware from their website.
Does AirBar Work on PC Monitors?
AirBar is calibrated to specific laptop screen sizes, and it won’t be accurate on a PC monitor.
However, on Windows 10 you can adjust the settings slightly to make it a little more accurate on non-supported displays.
Nevertheless, it’s only recommended on the laptop sizes mentioned earlier.
AirBar actually works quite well, and sometimes you forget that your laptop is not a touchscreen.
It’s a really neat gadget that you can play around with. I personally don’t have a practical use for it, besides a bit of fun.
If you really need a touchscreen on a non-touch display, the AirBar gadget is the best option for you at the moment.
The downside to the AirBar is you can’t close the screen when it’s attached. I can already imagine some scenarios where you forget it’s there.
It’s easy to forget about the AirBar when you want to quickly close your laptop screen.
Overall though, I think it’s a cool device that can make boring traditional laptops a lot more interesting and fun.
Just be careful not to smudge up the screen too much. If you’re going to get an AirBar, consider getting a laptop screen protector.
I also noticed it seems like AirBar is a little outdated. The last firmware update was released in 2018.
Another option is to attach a drawing tablet to your non-touch laptop. Drawing tablets can be used as a mouse in Windows 10 too.
It won’t make your laptop’s screen touchscreen, but you can use a stylus on the pad to click on icons like you would with a touchscreen.
Buy a Laptop with a Touchscreen
If you really want a touchscreen laptop, it might be time to upgrade to a laptop with a touchscreen.
Most touchscreen laptops are quite expensive, but you can find decent Chromebooks or 2-in-1 laptops that have good touchscreens.
I really like the Lenovo Flex 5.
To summarize, the AirBar is the best way to add a touchscreen to a non-touch Windows 10 laptop.
My only concern is I feel like the project has been abandoned a bit. The products still work but I feel like the company has moved on to other projects.
Also, a touchscreen on a regular laptop, unless it has 360-degree hinges, isn’t that useful.
What do you think? Have you tried the AirBar? Do you have any thoughts about touchscreen laptops? Drop a comment below.