Resistive Vs. Capacitive Touchscreen

resistive vs capacitive touchscreen

Buttons have started to disappear in our favorite gadgets. This is evident in Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus, wherein the familiar three keys for Androids are now gone and are integrated within the screen itself. Tablets are now replacing the key-laden laptops (although some like Asus Transformer Prime include docks). Even televisions are featuring touch panels. There is no doubt that touchscreens are part of the future of devices.


There are two common types of touch panels: capacitive and resistive. Although some find them confusing, each has their own unique advantages and disadvantages. We will differentiate them and find out which touchscreen technology is better. It’s Resistive vs. Capacitive touchscreens after the jump.

How They Work

Those who are familiar with electronic circuits know that resistors and capacitors are the most basic components. Each touchscreen technology works through the principles of which their names are derived off.


A resistive touchscreen is made out of several layers. The layers that are responsible for reacting to touch are two conductors that are separated by a narrow gap. When you touch the screen, the two layers press together, unbalancing the voltage between the panels (like in a voltage divider). Consequently, a current change is induced and the location is determined by a controller.


Meanwhile, a capacitive touchscreen handles static charges. Remember the experiment where you were able to make your hair stand using a balloon? Capacitive touch panels are coated with a material which can store electrical charge, like a capacitor. Since the human body can also store charge, touching the screen allows the charges to transfer from the screen to the finger. A special circuit detects this decrease in charge and determines the area where the touch occurred.


Each type of touchscreen technology has their own arguments when debating which of them is better. Let us discuss them one by one.


Why Resistive Panels are Better

Most cheap tablets, like this Chinese iPad clone uses resistive touch panels.

Resistive panels have the advantage on cost. A capacitive touch screen is much harder to manufacture, thus they are much more expensive.  A 10.4 inch resistive panel only costs around $10 each while a capacitive panel of the same size can go as high as $100.


You can use any pointing device with a resistive touch panel. Capacitive touch panels are limited to your own fingers and some special capacitive stylus. Thus, resistive panels are the choice for digital drawing panels and handwriting recognition systems. Those who have fat fingers usually have a hard time with capacitive touch panels because of the lack of accuracy.


Another advantage of resistive panels is that it can work in any amount of humidity available. Capacitive panels need at least 5% humidity for the capacitive effects to work. This means that resistive panels can be used even when the weather is dry.


Why Capacitive Panels are Better

Capacitive panels are expensive for a reason. Because it detects changes in electrostatic field rather than current, it can monitor several areas at once. Thus, the multi-touch feature which made pinch-to-zoom possible.


The special coating of capacitive panels makes them less reflective than resistive panels. You can look at images even under bright sunlight. Capacitive panels also look glossier than resistive ones as well as more scratch resistant.

The ASUS Transformer is one of the top tablets in the market. It uses a capacitive touch panel.

Because resistive panels can respond to any pointing material, it can also detect dust particles. This is not the case with capacitive panels since only your fingers can activate it. When you have nothing but your fingers to use, capacitive panels respond better than resistive touch panels.


Resistive vs Capacitive Touch Panels – Verdict

Two devices with the same features except for the screen technology used can have a great margin in price. If you are looking for a cheap touchscreen gadget then you should go for those which use a resistive panel such as Apad. But if you want the best touchscreen experience, then you should choose those who have capacitive panels. They are not hard to find, as most popular gadgets use this panel technology. The best tablets used capacitive touch technology for their touch screens.


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