Walt Mossberg

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Can a Touchscreen Replace a Mouse?

Q:

I’ll be buying several new Windows 8 PCs this year, all with touchscreens. Touchscreens are new to me. When using spreadsheet and word processor programs, does the touchscreen completely replace the mouse?

A:

If you are thinking about Microsoft Office programs, I’d say no. While the forthcoming 2013 version of Office is designed to allow the use of touch instead of the mouse and keyboard, I have found in my tests that the icons and text are too small for that to work comfortably, at least on a desktop or laptop, and I still prefer the mouse and keyboard. In fact, this is a key reason Microsoft itself makes keyboard covers for its Surface tablet.

Q:

Does the new Google Maps app for Apple devices work on the iPod touch? Can I download maps in advance on my touch for use offline?

A:

Though Google says the app is “optimized” for the iPhone 5, it also says it will work on the third, fourth and fifth generation iPod touch, as well as on the iPad and on older iPhones. Note, however, that turn-by-turn navigation likely won’t work because Google says that requires GPS, which the touch lacks. As for downloading maps for offline use, Google hasn’t made this feature available yet for Apple devices.

Q:

My father gave me several hundred slides that we’d like to scan and convert to digital format. Would you be willing to suggest a couple of reputable companies for this service?

A:

One good choice is PeggyBank, which I reviewed recently here: http://tinyurl.com/bmkqdav.

Another I have tested successfully would be YesVideo, at http://tinyurl.com/aeqjng7.

Email Walt at mossberg@wsj.com.


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