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AirBar by Neonode turns your screen into touch

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“Make your screen come alive” is the tag line for the AirBar — a thin, sleek, bar that magnetically fits to the bezel (the space between your computer’s screen and keyboard) of your computer which turns your notebook or laptop into a touchscreen. This add-on uses an invisible light field to detect fingers, stylus, or any object 5mm or wider — within reason. It supports scrolling, pinching, zooming, rotating and most other features you are used to with any other touchscreen device, like your phone.

Look and feel

Its slim and flat design allows it to blend in with your computer almost seamlessly, making it relatively undetectable to onlookers. The device comes with a 9.5-inch USB cable that attaches it to your device. Unfortunately for those with no more available right-side USB ports, you can only attach the bar to the right side and the AirBar cannot be used upside down to try and plug it in to the left side – others have tried.

Your computer cannot be closed while it’s plugged in, and an alarm will sound if a hand is detected at the outer most top edge of the light field, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting. The AirBar weighs about 200 grams and comes in three sizes -13.3, 14, 15.6- for Windows in black and one size -13.3 -for Mac in silver.

Setup and use

The device works for both Windows 10 and Mac, but the setup for each is a little different. Both require magnets to attach the device to the computer.

Windows set-up:Most Windows computers are touchscreen at this point, but for those still using an older or a non-touchscreen model, the AirBar could be the right gadget to make your life easier. Windows 10 was designed with touchscreens in mind, so using the AirBar is as simple as plugging it into your device and using it. There is no extra software download required, so using it is a simple as plug in and play.

Apple/Mac set-up:For Mac users, the setup is a little more complicated. Mac computers are not and as Apple’s senior vice president hinted to wired.com, might never be designed with touch capabilities (that’s what iPads are for). AirBar, however, is here to make our Mac dreams a reality. To help the device run smoothly, there is an extra driver, available on the AirBar website, that will need to be installed. The website also has step by step instructions on the download process. This will allow your Mac to run seamlessly with the Airbar.

Function and performance

In terms of function and performance, there are some glitches, which can be expected from any add- on device. We’ve heard some complaints about inconsistencies when it comes to touch accuracy, but for the most part, it works quite flawlessly.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Accurate touch control; Chrome OS and Windows support
  • Easy setup
  • Novel and exciting
  • Adds basic touchscreen capabilities to your MacBook Air

Cons

  • Magnet setup can be tricky (and permanent)
  • USB cable aligns only on the right
  • Inconsistent operation
  • Can’t close the laptop
  • Only available for one Mac model (Macbook Air 13.3)

 

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