When shopping for a tablet computer, you’ll need to choose the right touchscreen technology. Some tablets use capacitive technology to detect and respond to touch commands, whereas others use resistive technology for this purpose. Capacitive and resistive tablets aren’t the same, however. They each use a different mechanism to detect and respond to touch commands, resulting in different benefits for capacitive and resistive tablets.

How Capacitive and Resistive Tablets Work

What’s the difference between a capacitive and resistive tablet exactly? Capacitive tablets feature a capacitive touchscreen interface that leverages the human body’s electrically conductive properties to identify touch commands. They emit an electrostatic field that changes in response to a conductive object, such as your bare finger. Capacitive tablets will register these changes as a touch command.

Resistive tablets work by using layers of an electrically resistive material, which contain embedded electrodes. Performing a touch command will press these layers together so that the electrodes touch each other.

Benefits of Capacitive Tablets

In terms of popularity, capacitive tablets are at the top of the list. Most tablets manufactured and shipped, in fact, use capacitive technology. One of the reasons for their popularity is a superior level of sensitivity. You don’t have to press or touch them forcefully. Rather, you can gently place your finger on a capacitive tablet’s touchscreen interface to perform a command.

Capacitive tablets also tend to last longer than resistive tablets. Resistive tablets have multiple layers. Each time you perform a touch command, these layers will move. Over time, the constant movement of a resistive tablet’s layers can cause it to fail. Capacitive tablets don’t have moving layers, nor do they have any other moving parts. As a result, they typically last longer than resistive tablets.

Benefits of Resistive Tablets

While not as popular as capacitive tablets, resistive tablets still offer some benefits. They are considered more durable capacitive tablets, for instance. Most resistive tablets are resistant to water, moisture and other liquids. They feature a sealed design that protects against liquid ingress. Therefore, resistive tablets are often used in harsh environments where capacitive tablets would otherwise sustain damage.

Resistive tablets also support the use of a stylus. You typically can’t use a stylus to control a capacitive tablet. Styluses aren’t conductive, so they won’t change the capacitive tablet’s electrostatic field. Resistive tablets are a different story. They don’t use an electrostatic field, meaning you can use any object to control them, including a stylus.