It's official: navigating Windows 8 with your mouse, well, bites. But do you really need to chuck your existing laptop and buy one with a touchscreen?
Maybe not. The Targus Touch Pen converts any laptop LCD into a touchscreen, albeit one that relies on a special stylus for input.
It works like this: You plug a small receiver into one of your laptop's USB ports, then stick it to the side of the display. After a one-time calibration (performed within Windows 8's settings--there's no special software required to use the pen), you're good to go.
The thick, black, comfy stylus could easily be mistaken for a business pen, save for the brush-style bristles on the end. You use it exactly as you'd expect, by tapping and/or swiping on the screen.
And here's the shocker: it works.
I tested it on an a fairly old Acer 17-inch laptop that I upgraded with Windows 8. My swipes and taps were recognized instantly and accurately, giving me a much "truer" Windows 8 experience than I could get from a mouse and keyboard.
That said, you'll have to decide just how valuable pen input is on a traditional laptop (as opposed to, say, a convertible or actual tablet). The real benefit would seem to lie in working with paint apps, though obviously that's not a big (sorry) draw for most users.
Also, I should note that the bristles pick up every speck of dust on your screen. I frequently found myself pulling little dust-bunnies from the tip. Bleh.
At $99.99, the Targus Touch Pen is an affordable way to add touch capabilities to older laptops. It also makes Windows 8 a little easier to live with, and that's no mean feat.