Capacitive might be the most common touchscreen technology, but there are technologies used to power tablets and other touchscreen devices. Some touchscreens, for instance, are powered by surface acoustic wave (SAW) technology, whereas others are powered by resistive technology. While they both support touch-based input, though, SAW and resistive aren’t the same. What’s the difference between a SAW touchscreen and a resistive touchscreen exactly?

What Is a SAW Touchscreen?

A SAW touchscreen uses sound waves to detect touch commands. It’s considered one of the most advanced types of touchscreen technologies on the market. SAW touchscreens don’t use mechanical or otherwise moving parts to detect touch commands. Rather, they rely entirely on sound waves.

When turned on, a SAW touchscreen will produce ultrasonic sound waves that travel across the display interface’s surface. You won’t be able to see these sound waves, nor will you be able to hear them. Touching the display interface, however, will cause your finger to absorb them. The SAW touchscreen will then register this position as a touch event and send the necessary data to the onboard controller for processing.

Benefits of SAW Touchscreens

SAW touchscreens offer several benefits. They typically provide higher resolutions and better image clarity, for example, than other types of touchscreens. If image quality is important, there’s no better choice than a SAW touchscreen.

SAW touchscreens are also long-lasting. Since they don’t contain moving parts, they don’t suffer from the same premature wear and tear as other types of touchscreens.

What Is a Resistive Touchscreen?

A resistive touchscreen uses layers made of an electrically resistive material to detect touch commands. Most resistive touchscreens have two layers, which are seperated by air or gas. The layers feature conductive contacts that face each other. A voltage is applied to one layer, so when you touch the display interface, the opposite layer receives the voltage through the electrical contacts.

Benefits of Resistive Touchscreens

Resistive touchscreens are considered one of the most durable types of touchscreens available. You’ll often find them in restaurants for this reason alone. Restaurants use point-of-sale (POS) terminals featuring a resistive touchscreen. Resistive technology offers a high level of protection against moisture and liquids, making it safe for restaurants and other workplaces.

It’s also worth mentioning that resistive touchscreens are inexpensive. While the exact price can vary, they typically cost less than other types of touchscreens, including SAW touchscreens.