If you've got an old netbook and a little bravery you can easily turn it into a touchscreen heads up display with a cheap touchscreen overlay and some software we made just for you.
NOTE: Although this post talks a lot about a touchscreen display, the Lifehacker HUD runs on any operating system with Adobe AIR.
The video above will walk you through, in detail, how the software works and how you can hack together a touchscreen tablet out of a netbook, but here's the gist. First, let's start with the software.
The Software: Lifehacker HUD
The software is pretty simple and runs cross-platform thanks to Adobe AIR. It's designed to be a home screen that lets you preview items from your RSS feeds and open them in a browser if you want to read more. You can also view your friends' Twitter status and check the weather. The functionality is pretty focused and basic, but serves as a starting point for your device. At the bottom of the post you can download the source code and use the basic structure and interface of Lifehacker HUD to create your own custom heads up display. If you're mildly comfortable in ActionScript 3, give it a try and see what you can create. If you add anything neat that others might enjoy, be sure to push your changes back up to the Git repository.
The Hardware: A Netbook and a HODA Touchscreen Overlay
There are netbooks out there with touchscreens, such as the ASUS Eee PC T101MT, so you can avoid doing the work yourself if you really want to—but where's the fun in that? So assuming you want to install a touchscreen yourself, here's what you'll need:
If you already have your netbook, be sure tobrowse through the Hoda Touchscreen Overlays to see if yours is supported. If it's not, that doesn't mean you're out of luck. I had an HP Mini 1000 and used the Asus EEE PC 1000 touchscreen overlay and it worked just fine. The overlay was the perfect size, and it connects via USB so as long as the screen size is correct it should work on just about anything.
The installation process differs from netbook to netbook. Fortunately, if your netbook is one of the 12 with compatible Hoda touchscreen overlays you'll get nice instructions with pictures. If not, you may be on your own. Not to worry—installation is not complicated. You also won't be the first to try installing a touchscreen on a netbook, so instructions for your model may exist online (like this one for the HP Mini 1000). A quick search should turn up some help, but if you can safely disassemble your netbook you should have no problem installing the touchscreen. It's basically plug-and-play, only the plugging is happening inside the netbook's enclosure.
That's essentially the process. If you'd like to download the Lifehacker HUD software or source code, plenty of links are below. You'll need Adobe AIR to run the application and Flash CS5 to edit the source code. All of the relevant files are below. If you decide to play around with the source and add anything cool, be sure to push it back to the Git repository so other people can enjoy. Thanks!