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I'm looking to set up a wall-mounted touch-pc in our kitchen, and need some feedback in regards to hardware, software and practical usage. I've come over the Asus Eee Top 1602, which seems to be what I'm looking for. Also the HP TouchSmart series covers my needs, at a higher price, but with multitouch.

When it comes to functionality, I believe these are my initial needs:

  • Family calender
  • Notes / shopping lists
  • Internet radio
  • Pictures
  • Check mail
  • Webcam, for family calls
  • Will only be used by adults (for now at least).

So, given my usage-requirements...

  1. Would I need multitouch for a PC like this or would it suffice with singletouch?
  2. Should I expect to run Windows7, or XP with some extra features (like the Eee?). What about any linux distros?
  3. What software should I be looking at to pull this off? ie: Evernote, Google Calendar, Picasa 3.... The possibility to sync items across several PC's is a big plus.
  4. What else can I use a kitchen PC for? Emphasis on practical use
  5. Should I just give up and go and buy myself a table-radio and a whiteboard?

Update:
We already have a couple of laptops in the household, so another portable laptop / netbook isn't what I'm looking for, unless of course you can give good arguments for it.
Also I'm looking for more feedback from people that have tried setting up a similar concept.
Or have hands-on experience with touch pcs / tablets / wall-mounted solutions.

Conclusion I feel I didn't get enough feedback from those that have experience with wall-mounted pcs, but I still received some feedback that got me thinking of alternatives. I have still not decided which way to go.

I'm more or less set on waiting for some reasonably priced Windows 7-based walltops, since the Asus / MSI Top's both have what I'm looking for at a good price. Given that there is a real multi-touch windows-OS around the corner, then getting a system that supports this is a must. Alternatively, I MAY get the current versions with Vista / XP & single-touch even more reasonably, which would weigh up for the lack of multi-touch.

I will update this post when I have made my decision. Thank you everyone for all valuable feedback and time, I appreciate it.

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The Wind Top looks like it'd be perfect for the job, but how would I mount it on a wall? –  Scott Bennett-McLeish Aug 19 '09 at 6:13
    
I know the Asus Eee Top has an Adapter, which can be fastened to any VESA wall-mount –  pavsaund Aug 20 '09 at 11:45
    
i forgot the link: komplett.no/k/ki.aspx?sku=480659 –  pavsaund Aug 21 '09 at 17:31
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10 Answers 10

up vote 5 down vote accepted
+200
  1. I'd recommend single touch if you're not going to be using some sort of pen to interact with the display.
  2. I'd go with Windows 7. It's coming out soon (already out if you have TechNet or MSDN), and it has greatly enhanced support for single and multitouch over say XP. You can try it now with the RC, it's very stable and i'm running it right now!
  3. It sounds like most of your needs can be served by Google Docs (for note taking), GMail (for mail), Google Calendar (for calendar), Pandora or Last.fm (for internet radio), and Windows Live Photo Gallery. Plus, with most of these they're web based so you can split them off into separate "applications" with Prism (a firefox addon) or use chrome's built in functionality for this. This would allow you to access them from your laptops as well.
  4. The one big thing i can see a kitchen PC used for is recipe look-up and storage with a recipe management system like this or this. That way you have an on hand reference for thousands and thousands of recipes whenever (considering) making something.
  5. No! a wall-mounted touch PC is quite useful.
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+1 for the recipe links, great functionality –  pavsaund Aug 19 '09 at 8:12
    
Don't forget about www.recipezaar.com as another decent recipe resource, built from user contributions. –  RBerteig Nov 7 '09 at 21:53
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I was totally going to setup something like this, then I bought a netbook (the Dell Mini 9 to be precise) and put Ubuntu on it. Then I realised that I didn't really want a dedicated kitchen walltop because it was stuck in the kitchen all the time. With the netbook I can take it with me in to the next room when I'm done in the kitchen and I'm not stuck eating my dinner standing up in the kitchen because I wanted to finish the podcast I was listening to.

This doesn't really answer your question but it's solving the same problem from a different angle so I thought I'd share. Also, I guess if there are multiple people using it, then its portability becomes its weakness: you might go to use it and not be able to find it.

Practical uses I've found for a computer in the kitchen are:

  • listening to streaming music. eg last.fm, pandora.com
  • listening to podcasts
  • looking up recipes
  • and of course, email and IM et cetera
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Good answer. This is just the kind of feedback I'm looking for. I'm pretty set in that I can pull this off, seeing as we already have our everyday laptops, meaning the walltop would be dedicated to certain tasks. –  pavsaund Aug 13 '09 at 19:12
    
The fact that we already have portables in our house is the reason I'm considering a walltop. Otherwise, I have to agree with you on the choice of a netbook. –  pavsaund Aug 16 '09 at 20:33
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Have you considered approaching this from a slightly different angle and getting an iPod Touch?

You'd be saving a ton of time, money, and effort, and would be getting a superbly designed and flexible device with an operating system and applications that are actually designed for touch input.

With apps available for note-taking (Evernote, Things), calendar management (built-in), mail (built-in, Gmail), photo management (various Flickr apps), internet radio (Pandora, Shoutcast), you'd have plenty of software available and good options for syncing in a multi-PC (or iPod Touch!) environment.

Some other possibilities that we use our iPod Touch for: - use Apple's Remote app to control an iTunes library on the local network (in our case an HTPC) - use something like Touchpad Elite to remote control a PC on the network (we use this as our HTPC remote -- you could also control an Apple TV) - stream media from a media library on the network using something like the Orb app - and more apps every day!

Granted, you'd be losing some screen real-estate (you could use the video output to address this, though), and there aren't any webcam solutions yet, but those might be small prices to pay for the ease and flexibility of the iPod Touch.

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Though this is a good idea, I still would like to hold on to the idea of a large visible display that can show a calender. This is one of the main usages I'm looking for, with the easy ability to browse "today" & "This week". Also a portable device would make things hard to share stuff with my wife, hence the emphasis on practical use –  pavsaund Aug 16 '09 at 20:27
    
@pavsaund: I would argue the iPod Touch solution would be more practical. They're cheap enough to where you can both get one. And very portable, of course -- you could not only keep and share your lists/calendars on them, but you can take them with you when you go to the grocery store or wherever. And, again, check out the video output possibilities on the iPod -- you could set up a dock connected to a display and then be able to just dock the iPod to connect it up to the display. support.apple.com/kb/HT1454 –  arathorn Aug 17 '09 at 14:42
    
I do beleive the overall costs of buy 2 iPhones would outweigh the initial cost of buying a wallmounted solution. But on the other hand, the iPhone gives back more in terms of functionality, portability and connectivity, as you say. This would still require me to have some display solution that could show / sync a visible calender-like solution, but then the need for touch, and thus high expenses may disappear. Another possible limitation...the wife isn't into iPhone (yet) ;-). This is worth a look at though. –  pavsaund Aug 19 '09 at 7:10
    
@arathorn of course you would argue for the iPod, you're obviously a fanboy. however an ipod touch is not a one size fits all device and the op made it fairly clear that portability was not important and visibility was. –  Darko Z Aug 19 '09 at 10:02
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@arathorn AH! I misread. I would suspect that an iPod touch would be more hassle than necessary (dragging along extra devices). The iPhone would replace a device and give a lot more functionality, for a price. I appreciate the suggestion, I DID emphasis on practical solutions, which this is. –  pavsaund Aug 19 '09 at 17:50
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If i were looking for a touch screen pc for my kitchen i think a will take informations about MSI it seems they have some PC for this usage.

Especially the Wind Top AE2010.

But the ASUS and HP are good choice too. It's a good idea the kitchen computer.. In my dreams the kitchen computer also command all the lights of the house (switch off when you go for ex.), is connected to a media server to look all your DVD's and Divx, also listen for your music.. but it's something else...

  1. Multi touch is a really confortable option, i think it's now necessary.
  2. I'm totally for linux Ubuntu but i think it's only a personal choice.. in other side 7 seems to be better than vista..
  3. I'm for cloud computing and online storage like dropbox..
  4. Lol don't give up ! a white board is not so interactive.. :-)
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The MSI is looking better spec-wise, than the Asus, but I can't seem to find any retailers for the MSI Wind Top in Norway. I'l keep my eyes open though –  pavsaund Aug 16 '09 at 20:23
    
in regards to whiteboards not being interactive; here's Jon Skeets take on the matter. superuser.com/questions/5757/… –  pavsaund Aug 22 '09 at 9:35
    
Lol and it seems he is often right. –  bAN Aug 22 '09 at 18:29
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I agree with humble-coffee, the best bet would be use a netbook or similarly sized laptop.

However, if you would be happy with a stationary machine, it may actually end up cheaper to buy a standard display, and purchase a touch overlay for it. You could reduce costs significantly, because you'd have just a regular PC with a screen and a camera, and I'm willing to bet you could also go with the multi touch.

You could also get away with a reasonably small form factor PC hiding behind the display - since most of the uses you mentioned don't require too much in the way of grunty hardware. Most modern computers would be able to handle all that easily, especially on XP or a light-weight linux distro.

Let us know which way you end up going!

Some companies that produce touch overlays - although this is a bit more expensive than I remember, and more aimed at OEM applications :p

http://www.nextwindow.com/ http://www.elotouch.com/

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Hmm, haven't heard of touch overlays for monitors, have a link with some info? –  pavsaund Aug 16 '09 at 18:57
    
I've considered minipc's, but space to hide the box is an issue. Alternatively, if I had a long enough display-cable, this could be pulled off –  pavsaund Aug 16 '09 at 20:29
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Regardless of what hardware you end up using, I would suggest going with at least Windows Vista or 7. I currently have an HP TouchSmart tablet convertible running Vista and I love it. I can use my fingers or the included pen. But what I really love about having Vista on my tablet is that that it already has a lot of great utilities and gesture recognition that makes using the convertible as a table a breeze. If you were to use XP instead of Vista or 7, you would need to use separate applications to get the same feature set.

Also, you might have some problems with Chrome and gestures. Although I tend to use Firefox more then Chrome regularly, I've been forced to use it more in my tablet because Chrome does not recognize the the scroll up/down gestures. Sure, it's not a big thing, but I do find that doing the gestures for scrolling to be far more natural then using the scroll bar in a touch interface.

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Have you considered using a "regular" PC, with a separate touchscreen monitor? I've considered a project like this, and the best solution I've come up with is a wall-mounted (probably on an arm from Ergotron) touchscreen LCD, with a small form factor case hidden away in the back of a cabinet. I'd probably pair all of that with a slim wireless keyboard and mouse that can be stashed in a cabinet as well when not in use.

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There's the AI touch-book.

https://www.alwaysinnovating.com/touchbook/

This has a removable keyboard - and is magnetized so you can stick it to your fridge.

It is, however ARM based, so you'll have to chuck the notion of Windows (or Hackintosh) however it'd be perfectly suited - most of what you want to do should be possible with a thin, web-client.

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anyone had any experience with this? –  pavsaund Aug 21 '09 at 17:32
    
as far as I know, these are only just shipping out now - I've pre-ordered on good-faith. –  salmonmoose Aug 21 '09 at 21:12
    
looks really interesting. This will certainly be a consideration. :) –  pavsaund Aug 22 '09 at 9:39
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Wait a few months and check out the Windows 7 tablet pc's. They will support up to 4 finger multi touch. Wall mounted with proper ventilation, this should be a viable option.

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This is also something I've considered. I guess that Regardless of solution, I should wait for a Windows 7-based OS (if i go for a windows based system of course). My main concern is the increased pice of a multitouch solution –  pavsaund Aug 19 '09 at 8:13
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I wanted exactly the same thing and in the end I settled on the ASUS 1602 as it’s cheap (£400), has a touch screen and isn’t too large for a typical kitchen. Some of the other all in one PCs look huge on a kitchen work top.

I upgraded it to Windows 7 which works really well on it. The lack of multi touch doesn’t really make much difference in a Kitchen scenario as you are really just clicking to launch and control things rather than manipulating pictures etc.

For software, I couldn’t find anything that matched my needs so in the end I wrote my own, KitchenHub http://www.tudorspan.com

It has a shared colour coded family calendar that syncs with Google calendars so you can view and update the calendar from any internet connected pc or phone. It has multi user email so you can get all your family’s email in one place. It also has to do lists, an address book, a recipe organizer, shopping lists, sticky notes and a few other things.

For the other things that you mentioned like webcam and photos I figured the built in Windows software is good enough so why reinvent the wheel.

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