February 29, 2016 · Laptop Surface Book Microsoft Hardware Touchpad

All touchpads are created evil

Dear Microsoft Surface Book, I owe you an apology.
Yes I was mad at you for a few days, because you disappointed me. I had such high hopes in you and your abilities. And I couldn't foresee that your tiny touchpad would make a dealbreaker.
But there was something I did not foresee, because I had only eyes for you: The other touchpads are equally crappy or worse! Something I didn't anticipate during your review.

Another visit at the computer store

I went back to a different computer store to have a look at a few other models, mainly the new Dell XPS 13, that has been voted the best laptop of the milky way or whatever (citation needed).
This one doesn't really raise my heartbeat, but the specs are fine and the display's good. So what's not to like about it? Well, you guessed it: The freaking touchpad, of course!

Testing the Dell XPS 13

Again I faced a model with one of those fancy tactile pads without proper keys, and before I began testing I already knew where all of this is going. And I was right: Once again I experienced the same struggle as I had with the Surface Book. That's when I realized I accused the wrong one about those touchpad affairs.
This, time I really tried hard to get a grasp of the touchpad. I read a few about them upfront and I was careful to execute all movements the way, their vendors want me to use them.

But this was a hopeless encounter. I just... well it seems I just don't get it, how to use them. As soon as I put my thumb anywhere near the touchpad, that whole thing goes apeshit and moves the pointer or doesn't react at all.
Even when I use just the index finger it sometimes doesn't do jack.
I think there might be an issue with the different zones of a touchpad. Tapping seems to work anywhere, but actual clicking only works close to the bottom line, which actually makes sens.
But even if you leave the "clickable" zone with your finger, you will be able to raise the "click"-event of the touchpad, which is registered with a loud clicking nouse. Unfortunately that's about it and a real click is not raised. The OS just pretends nothing happend. Great.

Form follows nothing

Sure, there is a learning curve with those new pads. They behave differently, but in what sense are they better, than the versions with keys? You can't really call them an improvement, if those are solely aesthetic aspects. What happened to form follows function?

Surprisingly not too many people consider this as a serious issue. There is the odd thread on reddit and some other forums about this problem, but there hasn't been no outcry across the spectrum. It's just people like me who struggle single-handedly. And that get's me thinking: It's probably me, not them. Shucks...

Can't touch this

I don't know how I am supposed to approach this issue. Should I simply accept my fate and get used to tactile touchpads? One day we will be happy again? This sounds reasonable at a first glace. Less so, when this risky endeavor sets you back around 2 grand plus a possible productivity hit. Or will I be required to use an old fashioned touchpad, which will leave me with less and less models to choose from until I will always get the short end of the stick?

A match made in heaven

Using a device that doesn't make you happy to the fullest is not worth buying as a power user. Come on, you spend more time with that thing, than your spouse. It has to be a perfect match, there is no room for compromises.

My Toshiba Portegé Z830 was such an perfect match back then. It satisfied all those needs important to me, while it sucked at others, which weren't that important. It has aged gracefully, so it's no surprise I want something like that just a bit younger. Unfortunately its direct successors don't seem to attractive to me. They aren't cutting edge anymore. no QHD Displays? Kira Book? No thanks... Sorry Toshiba. May you find your way back on track.

Verdict

I don't know at what point I missed the touchpad conversion, but I need to work on that. Is it really the touchpads? Some people say, the drivers are bad. Some claim, the MacBook is the only real tactile touchpad... and they might actually be right, at this point.
So right now, I will take a step back and give the whole laptop topic a fresh start. The battle against the tactile touchpad has just begun.

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