Apple may have done away with the Touch Bar on the latest MacBook Pro, but PC makers are determined to give it a new life. the last revival comes from corsairwhich has added an LCD row of customizable shortcut buttons above the keyboard that glows in Gamer RGB.
It’s starting to be a trend. Apple did away with its Touch Bar on the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro last year, but PC makers seem determined to prove the company wrong. First, Dell introduced the XPS 13 Plus, which features a “new capacitive touch experience that lets you easily switch between media and function keys.” The laptop is available for purchase, but it’s been delayed for weeks and there haven’t been any reviews, so we don’t know for sure how it will be received, but Dell’s Touch Bar concept seems even less useful than Apple’s – the buttons they are static, just floating above the actual keyboard and don’t seem to add any functionality.
Dell then added a Touch Bar to the trackpad on the Latitude 9330. When using a video conferencing app, a strip of four keys lights up at the top of the trackpad with options for camera, screen share, chat, and mute. That might be useful for quickly turning off the camera or microphone, but your fingers will still need to learn to avoid them when they’re active (presumably whenever you’re using a video conferencing app).
Now there’s a new Touch Bar for PC, this time on the Voyager a1600, Corsair’s first gaming laptop. Corsair didn’t officially name or announce the new feature, it just appeared as a teaser, but the company told The Verge that the strip features “10 easy-to-access customizable S-key shortcut buttons.” Corsair says the keys work with Elgato Stream Deck Softwarewhich allows for highly customizable keys geared towards streamers.
Corsair’s Touch Bar doesn’t replace the row of function keys, but it’s in an odd location: on the hinge below the screen. Even in pictures, it looks incredibly awkward to reach. Based on the renders, you can still access the Touch Bar when the laptop is closed, which looks like an accident waiting to happen (not to mention battery drain).
Admittedly, Corsair’s Touch Bar looks great. The buttons have RGB styles to match the keyboard, and the outlines of the laptop give it prominence below the screen. But as with Apple’s Touch Bar, it remains to be seen whether people will actually like it and whether it will be useful.
But the biggest question I have is: why? Nobody shed a tear for the Touch Bar when it was removed. While it has its merits, it was never a proper pro-level feature and the implementation didn’t evolve beyond the original idea. It was too thin, lacked tactile feedback, required constant scrolling, and didn’t really save time. It looked good, but even Apple didn’t seem to know what to do with it.
The MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar was one of Apple’s most polarizing features and never caught the attention of developers. Perhaps a niche use like gaming or video conferencing will fare better, but ultimately the Touch Bar, Apple or otherwise, is a failed concept that should be a thing of the past.