Difference between touchscreen and display

A touchscreen is a type of display that is in demand in a wide variety of industries in the electronic equipment market. What are the features of this device?

What is a touchscreen?

Under a touchscreen is usually understood as any touch screen - one that can be controlled by touching a finger or using an additional device (electronic pen, stylus, etc.). The first touchscreens were invented in the 70s. Devices equipped with them appeared on the market in the 80s.

Sometimes only a part of the touchscreen is called a touchscreen - the one directly responsible for processing signals generated by contact with a user's finger or a control device. But this element, strictly speaking, has its own name - "active panel", or "membrane". This element is located between the screen matrix, on which the image is built, and the outer protective glass.

Initially, touchscreen displays were used mainly in industry, in medicine - as an element of control of various types of equipment. Later, touchscreens began to be used in the release of devices aimed at the consumer sector - computers, smartphones, tablets, game consoles. Touchscreen displays were intended to replace traditional hardware controls for corresponding devices - keyboards, mice, joysticks, etc. In fact, this is exactly what happened - these types of devices equipped with a touchscreen, in many cases, do not require additional controls.

Touchscreen displays are also used as hardware components of ATMs, POS terminals, and other similar devices.

The main advantages of touchscreens:

  • ease of control;
  • compactness (traditional display and touchscreen do not differ in size);
  • compactness in terms of dimensions of the device on which the touchscreen is installed (as we noted above, in many cases there is no need to connect external control components to them - keyboard, mouse);
  • functionality (the touchscreen allows you to enter text, move objects on the screen, control characters in games and perform many other useful actions).

Touch displays also have disadvantages:

  • sensitivity to mechanical stress, as well as rather poor maintainability;
  • additional power consumption;
  • Lack of tactile response to pressing - which often complicates the use of touchscreens for people who are used to working with a keyboard.

It can be noted that touchscreens are almost always assembled on the basis of an LCD, LED or OLED matrix. Electron beam touchscreens are extremely rare devices.

Classic Displays

What about “non-touch”, classic displays? In essence, all that distinguishes them from touchscreens is the absence in the design of those elements that can become tools for managing on-screen content. Classic displays can only output data. To enter information, you must use third-party devices - keyboard, mouse, joystick.

Classic displays are presented on the market in the same technological modifications as touchscreen ones - LCD, LED, OLED. They can also be electron-beam - in which case they are almost guaranteed not to be touchscreens.


The main difference between a touchscreen and a classic display is the presence of elements in the design of the first that can convert external touches (with a finger or a special device) into digital signals. They can be used to control the device to which the touch screen is connected.

The difference between the terms "touchscreen" and "display" is also found at the level of the conceptual apparatus: as we noted above, a "touchscreen" is sometimes called a part of the display that is directly responsible for converting external touches into digital signals.

Touchscreens in the sense of "touchscreen display" are extremely rare in the electron-beam modification. In turn, a significant part of classic displays are precisely electron-beam displays.

Having determined what is the difference between a touchscreen and a traditional display, let's fix the conclusions in a small table.


Touchscreen Display (Traditional)
What do they have in common?
Information is displayed on the screen in both devices according to the same technological principles - a screen matrix such as LCD, LCD, OLED is used
What is the difference between them?
This is a touch-type display capable of converting external touches to digital signals to control on-screen contentNot capable of converting external touches to digital signals
Very rarely presented in electron-beam modificationsA significant part of traditional displays are electron-beam
Touchscreen (as a hardware component)Display (touch)
A touchscreen is sometimes called an active panel or membrane, which is a hardware component of a touchscreen that is responsible for converting external touches into digital signalsIt is a complete device, the design of which uses a touchscreen