“Oh the weather outside is frightful…”
Yes, winter will soon be upon us and we will start having to bundle up to brave the elements. You might need to grab that extra sweater or throw on a scarf to keep warm. You might have a favorite pair of gloves or mittens too, but what does this mean for your touchscreen smartphone or tablet? Most gloves are not at all compatible with our touchscreens, but we still want to send text messages and surf the mobile web. What is a freezing tech enthusiast to do?
Thankfully, there is an increasingly large selection of touchscreen gloves available on the market, but they’re not all made alike. They’re not exactly priced alike either, so let’s have a look at two very similar yet very different examples.
The $2 Generic Touchscreen Gloves from iTech
Aside from the special “i-Dot Technology” conductive material woven into the thumb, index and middle fingers, these are otherwise the same kind of basic cotton gloves that you’d find at the dollar store. I tested them on a variety of touchscreen devices, like the Samsung Galaxy S III and the Sony Tablet S. The “skin like responsiveness” is only at the aforementioned three fingertips, which are clearly indicated with the grey fabric.
The gloves themselves are quite thin, so don’t expect too much in terms of added warmth. The good news is that the touchscreen capability really does work, though you lose a fair bit of precision compared to your bare fingertips. Typing on a smartphone’s virtual keyboard was quite challenging, but hitting bigger virtual buttons was fairly easy.
Tatchies Touchscreen Gloves
On the surface, these Tatchies Touchscreen Gloves appear to be pretty much the same product. That’s partly true, but you also have to realize that they retail online for €30.00 (about $38 Canadian), which is nearly twenty times the price I paid for the iTech gloves. What do you get for this extra money?
For starters, the Tatchies gloves themselves feel like they are of much higher quality. The material is nicer and it is substantially thicker. This should help to keep your fingers nice and toasty, not to mention that you’re less likely to rip a hole in one. I should note that the version I reviewed is an unbranded pair from the sample selection, so the final retail version may be slightly different.
The other major difference is that the touchscreen capability is not limited to three fingertips; any and all parts of the glove work. That includes all five fingers. Indeed, even the palm works. That might not be useful for most devices, but the Galaxy S3 has some palm gestures–like swiping the side of your hand across the display to take a screenshot–where this might prove helpful.
Keep Warm and Connected
While I certainly liked the Tatchies pair over the generic pair of touchscreen gloves from iTech, I’m not sure I can justify the huge difference in price. To be fair, the iTech gloves were purchased from a liquidation centre for a clearance price, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find something similar for well under $40. Also, while the added thickness of the Tatchies was definitely warmer, it made using the touchscreen device even more difficult because of the even greater loss of precision. This is something that you’ll really want to consider.
It also doesn’t help that neither of these products is waterproof or even water-resistant. Get some rain or snow on there and you’ve got soggy fingers. What I’d like to see are some weather-resistant gloves with the touchscreen fibers sewn into them. I understand that I’d be losing precision again, but for people who have to brave the elements, deal with winter driving and inevitably get their hands in the snow, it’s a tradeoff worth considering.
That way, the snow won’t soak through and, indeed, you can stay both warm and connected during these cold winter months.