One common mantra I hear from technology experts and pundits regarding Windows 8 is that it is made for touch, and not for the traditional keyboard and mouse. While I can still navigate through Windows 8 with relative ease with a mouse, the thought of having a more comprehensive touch experience certainly has its appeal. Could a trackpad really improve my desktop experience? It would certainly be cheaper than a touchscreen, and I’ve used a trackpad with my MacBook Pro and other laptops in the past.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the Logitech t650 Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad for Windows 8. This sizable trackpad promises to deliver a touchscreen-like experience for Windows 8 users on a desktop.
I drove down to my local big box electronics store yesterday morning and picked one up. It came in a really small box, much like the Magic Trackpad from Apple. When I got the little wedge-shaped device out, I quickly realized just how much like the Magic Trackpad this thing was. It has two buttons on the bottom front to simulate a left and right click (you can also tap to click) and a smooth metallic surface that feels like a high-end trackpad on an aluminum laptop.
What struck me as most interesting was the incorporation of Logitech’s Unifying receiver. Bluetooth is seen as a clear advantage because it doesn’t hog up one of your USB ports. To me, I see it as just the opposite. Bluetooth is constantly disconnecting on me, and I have yet to see an operating system (Windows or OS X) that properly handles Bluetooth connections. I’ve never once had a consistently positive experience with Bluetooth outside of the mobile market, and even then there are issues that pop up from time to time. It may work great for most people, but I can’t stand having a signal drop in the middle of work. The Unifying receiver connects to my Logitech keyboard, mouse, and now the Trackpad. The connection is constant and consistent. I have no problems with it at all.
The on/off button on the right side is invisible to the user unless they’re looking from that angle. I like that. The device itself is sleek and classy. There are no bulky bumps or other design elements that would make it appear out of place on a desktop. Previous touchpad designs from Logitech did not share this quality. I’m glad Logitech stepped up here.
Like any Logitech device that hasn’t been integrated into the OS drivers, there is software required. This is where I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Logitech software has historically been (for lack of a better term) crap. Poorly designed, bulky, and all-but useful, Logitech almost lost me as a customer when I attempted to couple a C910 with the Mac. It’s been a couple years since then, and the SetPoint software Logitech uses for mice, keyboards, and touchpads is a welcome relief from those days.
You can configure just about anything you could imagine wanting to with this trackpad. Turn it off as a pointing device, remove specific gestures you feel you won’t need, and change which commands are accepted as a right or left click. Coming from the Mac, I’m happy to report that (though not default) you can set up a two-finger tap as a right-click. A three-finger tap does a middle button click. It’s intuitive and it works.
The most useful part of the Logitech t650 is the wide variety of gestures you can carry out on Windows 8. Swap between open applications by dragging your index finger in from the left, or open the charms by doing so from the right. You can pinch to zoom, and switch between the desktop and Modern UI with a three-finger swipe. It’s intuitive and powerful. Navigating Windows 8 is a breeze with the t650, and I can’t think of a better substitute for a touchscreen.
I’m sad that three-finger drag isn’t available on the t650. In order to click and drag, you need to press down with your thumb (to initiate a click) and drag the object with your index finger. I could get used to it, but why can’t it work like it does on OS X?
Is It Worth It?
At $79.99, the t650 is hardly a budget piece of gear. It isn’t outlandishly expensive, but it isn’t something I’d recommend to anyone who hasn’t tried it out for themselves first. Try to find a local store that has one on display and take a look at it for yourself. It’s really no different than a multi-touch trackpad on a laptop. There may be a few extra gestures, but it isn’t so widely different that you would need to use it with a laptop. For desktop PC owners like me, it could enhance your Windows 8 experience, especially when dealing with touch-optimized apps made for the Modern UI.
What do you think? Would something like the Logitech t650 Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad for Windows 8 make your Windows 8 experience better? Drop us a comment below and let’s discuss!
Photo: Ryan Pierson