We’re so used to touch screen devices in our lives thanks to gadgets like smartphones and tablets, but the best touch screen monitors are a much rarer find. People will happily choose to buy a laptop that has a touchscreen built-in, they rarely pick up a touchscreen monitor when choosing a display for their home computer. We think that’s a shame though, because there are some great models out there and they can add a lot to your home computing experience.
The most obvious hurdle that people find it difficult to cross when choosing the best touchscreen monitor is the price. The best touch screen monitors are generally more expensive than normal monitors.
But there are some huge benefits to getting a touch screen monitor too. You can interact with your screen directly in ways that a mouse and keyboard just doesn’t allow for. You can drag, swipe, tap, and zoom with simple hand movements that make using a computer feel more seamless, like an extension of your body rather than a clunky device you’re operating. You can even draw directly onto the screen using a stylus.
There are other things to consider too though. Touch screen monitors can be uncomfortable to use over long periods of time as you constantly need to hold your hands in the air. Users have coined the term “Gorilla arm” to describe the pain that comes with prolonged use. The best touch screen monitors get around this by having very flexible displays that can be adjusted on the fly to the most comfortable angle - some can even lie flat on your desk.
Generally, ergonomics play a much bigger role in choosing a touch screen monitor compared to a regular screen. You should also consider whether you'd be better off with one of the best laptops instead, as these offer touch screens on an inherently more mobile and flexible device. But if you do need a touch screen monitor, then read on.
1. Acer T232HL: Best touch screen monitor overall
For our money, the Acer T232HL is the best touch screen monitor on the market today. It’s exceptionally well-built with a sturdy stand which prevents the monitor from moving around in use. The edgeless bezel, while a little ugly, means that you never bang your hands against the desk while using the touch screen - this was an issue with many of the small bezel monitors that we tested. There are certainly better looking monitors out there though, and the large bezels on the Acer T232HL could be off putting to some.
The touch screen itself works perfectly and the image quality is up there with the best HD monitor. The only area that the Acer T232HL struggles with is color accuracy, which means that it’s not ideal for photo editing or watching movies.
In the end, we’ve decided that touch screens are all about function, not form, and the Acer T232HL is the best touch screen monitor for practical purposes. It’s comfortable to use, well-built and easy to use. We’ll put up with an ugly bezel if it’s the price we have to pay.
- Read our Acer T232HL review
2. Planar Helium PCT2485: Most comfortable
It was a close fight between the Planar Helium PCT2485 and our top pick, the Acer T232HL. We loved the Planar Helium PCT2485 because of its flexible stand which makes it comfortable to use.
With a 55 degree tilt angle, the Planar Helium PCT2485 has the widest adjustable range of any of the monitors we looked at (tied with the other Planar monitor, the Planar PCT2235). Sadly, it is quite a bit chunkier than the Acer T232HL and it’s a power hungry beast to boot.
It’s also the only touch screen monitor that we reviewed to come with an integrated webcam, which is a nice addition to the package. Despite that, the Planar Helium PCT2485 is exceptionally comfortable to use, with a flexible stand that lets you adjust the screen tilt angle to suit your needs - you can even fold the stand away if you want to lay the monitor down flat on your workstation, which is ideal for artists who want to draw on the screen.
- Read our Planar Helium PCT2485 review
3. Planar Helium PCT2235: Best budget monitor
The Planar Helium PCT2235 has a strange look about it, as if someone stole the base from a standard monitor and just left the display propped up on a desk. The bottom bezel of the screen rests on your work surface. The bezel is quite thick and extends around the screen on all sides, which isn’t pleasant to look at, but it is functional.
Like most touch screen monitors, the Planar Helium PCT2235 has an adjustable A-frame stand that can also be folded away to let the monitor lie flat on your desk. The tilt range on the Planar Helium PCT2235 is an impressive 55 degrees though, which means it’s easier to adjust the screen into a comfortable position.
At 24-inches and 7.9 pounds, it’s a decent-sized monitor that won’t take much effort to set up or move between rooms if you need. At the same time, it’s a good sized screen that won’t take up too much desk space - 24-inches is basically the Goldilocks zone for monitors.
When it comes to our tests of the screen itself, we had mixed results. The Planar Helium PCT2235 had the longest response time of any of the touch screen monitors that we tested. That means that the pixels take a long time to switch between one color to the next, which isn’t ideal for watching movies or playing games. It does have great color accuracy though, which means it’s great for editing photos and images.
In the end, the Planar Helium PCT2235 isn’t particularly flashy, but if you’re looking for a great touch screen monitor on a budget, it is a fantastic choice.
- Read our Planar Helium PCT2235 review
4. Dell P2418HT: Best looking touch screen
The Dell P2418HT is unique among the touch screen monitors that we tested, in that it’s the only one with a matte finish instead of the usual reflective glass screen. This matte finish means that the Dell P2418HT’s screen is far less reflective than most, which reduces glare for users. The screen’s non-reflective finish also means that it looks much more like a traditional monitor, which is great if you want it to blend in.
The innovation doesn’t stop there though, thanks to the Dell P2418HT’s unique flexible rotating arm which holds up the display in place of a traditional A-frame stand. The flexible arm can be easily adjusted, allowing for forwards and backwards, as well as up and down movements. The downside of this is that the stand isn’t as stable as a fixed frame, so the screen can wiggle around during use. It also doesn’t have seamless bevels, which means you can bang your fingers into the edges when using the screen, which is irritating.
Compared with the other monitors that we tested, the Dell P2418HT is far more energy efficient which means it will cost less to run it over time. It also impressed us with it’s fantastic color accuracy, something that our top choice, the Acer T232HL struggled with.
All-in-all, the Dell P2418HT is a great touch screen monitor that does just enough to stand out from the crowd, providing some much needed variety in a relatively samey market.
5. ViewSonic TD2230
The perfect touch screen monitor for space conscious consumers, the 21.5-inch ViewSonic TD2230 offers great image quality in a compact design. With a compact form factor and relatively light weight of just 7.9 ounces, it’s portable too, which is great if you need to move the monitor around a lot
Sadly, the ViewSonic TD2230 is let down by some odd design choices. For one thing, the connection ports are all located on the side of the monitor, which means you end up with cables sticking out the side of your screen, which is a nightmare for cable management aficionados. It can also be a little uncomfortable to use, which is a huge issue if you need to use the touch screen for extended periods of time.
But if you need a touch screen monitor and don’t have enough space for one of the chunkier models, the ViewSonic TD2230 offers everything you need in a tiny package.
- Read our ViewSonic TD2230 review
How much do touch screen monitors generally cost?
Touch screens are pricier than their standard counterparts, and you also need to account for the cost of the computer, which you purchase separately. Creating projective capacitive technology, the stuff that allows monitors to register touch, is expensive. Only high-end gaming monitors with 4K and curved displays are more expensive. On average, a desktop touch screen monitors cost just over $300, compared to between $50 and $200 for an everyday, non-touch screen monitor.
How we tested
During our research phase, we looked at each monitor's dimensions and build quality and noted which have notable or rare features, like discreet on-screen display options or speakers. We also evaluated each monitor’s connectivity options and counted the number of ports it has, since more is better. After we researched these products, we brought them into our lab for testing.
We tested each monitor’s ability to accurately depict color and display depth and dimension in videos and games by measuring the gamma and color averages. To get the most accurate display measurements possible, we performed these tests by connecting a laptop to a high-quality spectrophotometer, specifically the X-rite i1Pro. A device called a pattern generator transmitted color-accurate images directly to the monitor, and CalMAN software prompted the spectrophotometer to take images of the screen and plot the information onto charts and graphs. We used the results to help us determine which monitors have the best visual display.
Along with the above tests, we compared response time, which is the time it takes for the pixels in the display to change color. We also considered the distance between pixels, called the pixel pitch, and the time it takes the monitor to respond to input from an outside source, called input lag. The former impacts how sharp the display looks, while the latter is a measure of how quickly your input is processed by the display, which can sometimes impact gameplay.
We used the monitors for long periods of the time during the business day under normal office lighting to test how comfortable they are to use. We also did some typing tests to see how much the interface might impact job performance.
Things to consider when choosing a touchscreen monitor
We recommend looking for a monitor with an A-frame stand and wide tilt range. These features make touch screen displays easier to use all day long as well as easier to adjust from one position to another.
When touch screen monitors first became available, most couldn’t handle more than one or two points of touch, and most of them were difficult to use. Now, many have ten-point multi-touch screens, which means they can register up to ten simultaneous touches at a time, making a variety of tasks much easier.
Touch screen monitors with glass surfaces are the best because they are the most durable and comfortable to use. They also more closely mimic the shiny, glossy screens we are accustomed to on smartphones and tablets.
The only downside to a glass touch screen is its reflective surface; it’s a bit distracting to see yourself and your surroundings reflected in the screen when you sit down to work. These highly reflective surfaces can also cause eyestrain. Some of the monitors we looked at have a matte surface, which eliminates glare but is not as smooth.
A lightweight monitor is typically easier to move around or hang, though it should also be sturdy. It’s also important for the monitor to have a large display because touch screens have on-screen keyboards. Keep your eye on the dimensions versus the screen’s total viewing area; some manufacturers don’t account for the size of the bezels in their listed screen size.
Another design element that makes a big difference is the bezels – the plastic edge around the screen. The bezels shouldn’t interfere with touch capability. For example, you don’t want to spend your entire work day bumping your finger against the edges of the display. The best touch screen monitors have edge-to-edge glass, and we find that these seamless displays also make monitors look sleeker and more attractive.
Finally, on most standard monitors, the display controls, which you use to change the screen’s brightness, color and contrast, are physical buttons located on the bezel. However, when these buttons are in the same place on a touch screen, you constantly bump them while typing and using touch functions. While most displays have a feature that locks the buttons when they’re not in use, a few house the controls in more practical places. We recommend looking a monitor with display controls located somewhere other than the bezel.