Sunday, March 17, 2013

Review - Logitech t650 Touchpad

Review - Logitech t650 Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad / Trackpad / Mousepad

Summary:
A large, well-manufactured device that works as expected and is particularly suited for Windows 8.  I would buy one of these for any Windows 8 desktop or for laptops with touch-screens, tethered to a desk.  Although I like the device, it is not perfect.  Click and drag is cumbersome and this device has some inconsistencies and flaws with this gesture, as described below.

For some uses, the pad is better than a mouse -- scrolling in documents and web-pages comes immediately to mind, but in other areas, such as photo-editing, where precise pointer accuracy is needed, a blunt-tipped finger is not accurate enough.  These are well-documented shortcomings with all touchpads.  For this reason, I leave both the mouse and the pad connected and find I reach for both.  


2013.05 Update:
After using the touchpad for nearly two months, I definitely like it and have been pleased.  However, I can report my hand is confused.  I still sometimes reach for the pad and mentally expect a mouse and when I use the mouse, it feels abnormally large and bulky.

I often switch between the two devices.  If accuracy is needed, such as a photo-editor, or I need to do a lot of clicking and dragging, I favor the mouse.  For text editing, browsing, email and other tasks, I prefer the touchpad.

With the touchpad I have noticed missed-menus, missed-right-clicks and missed highlighting -- many more failures than I would ever have with a mouse -- but a second tap of the finger and I am on my way.  Although these events are noticeable, I still enjoy and recommend this device and am using it now to edit this article.


Features
  • Supports all Windows 8 tap and swipe events
  • Reportedly (not tested by Keyliner), works well in Windows 7
  • Large, glass-topped trackpad
  • Heavy for its size, with a good grip on the desk; substantial
  • 30-day, USB rechargeable battery
  • Micro-USB transmitter, 2.4Ghz
  • Other Logitech wireless devices can share the same transmitter*
  • Supports both Touch-clicking (tap) and physical clicking
  • Works simultaneously with a regular mouse
  • Price $65 - $80

Drawbacks
  • No place to store USB dongle
  • Some tap-and-drag operations do not work as expected
  • With very dry humidity, some tap events are not detected
  • Physical click may be too firm for some
  • Driver installs a soft-keyboard task-tray icon, which cannot be removed
  • Battery is not removable but has a three-year warranty


Design

Compared to the Apple Trackpad, the Logitech is thinner and sits comfortably flat on the desk, although I admit the Apple device looks neater.  The Logitech is definitely heavier and feels more substantial with the glass surface. 

Dell computers sells their own branded touchpad (unknown manufacturer), which I did not purchase.  Reviews on that device were poor.  By contrast, most reviewers believe Logitech has made a superior product.  Logitech will probably pay better attention to the drivers than either Dell or Apple and we will likely see improvements as the product ages.

Logitech supports both "tap" and "click".  Tap your finger anywhere on the pad to click a button or select a menu or you can physically press the lower half of the pad to make a mechanical click (tap vs click).  The way the switch is built is surprising; the click happens because the footpad compresses into the assembly and acts as the clickable button. The touchpad itself does not flex or bend during a click event.


The click is moderately firm, taking more pressure than a normal mouse-click. A softer switch would be a nice improvement, but it is manageable.  As you will see below, a physical click is sometimes needed for some click-and-drag operations.

The transmitter is a small USB dongle and can be used with other newer Logitech devices.  Unfortunately, there is no parking place for the dongle inside the touchpad.



Drivers

The touchpad has 13 gestures, provided the Logtech drivers are installed.  Although the pad will work with standard mouse drivers, only mouse-movements, and clicking are supported.  To use "tap" or other gestures you must install the driver.  The driver does not interfere with the mouse and both can be used simultaneously.

Driver Link:  www.Logitech.com/t650 (Setpoint Drivers) As of 2013.04: Ver: 6.52.74

After installing, the program drops several Logitech tiles on the Start Page, all of which can be deleted because the same settings are found in the Mouse control panel, under the new "Setpoint" tab.

The driver does not have the ability to deactivate a laptop's built-in touchpad.  This is probably more of a shortcoming with Microsoft's or the laptop's drivers.

The driver also installs a software-keyboard icon in the system tray, with no obvious way to disable.

Some cautions on the Mouse Drivers.
If you click the Mouse-driver's "Enhanced Precision" checkbox (Microsoft's way of saying Accellerated Mouse Movements), the mouse-speed will be different for the mouse and the touchpad.  In other words, the touchpad might become blazingly-fast while the mouse is horribly slow with both controlled through a single slider-bar.  This puts you in a no-win situation.

Unchecking "Enhanced Precision" will not resolve the problem, even after a reboot.  The only solution I could find was to de-install Logitech's SetPoint software, reboot, reset the mouse speeds, then re-install SetPoint.  My recommendation: Do not check the box.


Gestures

Although all Windows 8 actions can be performed with a mouse, a touchpad is more graceful and natural with certain gestures than a mouse.  The entire gauntlet of Windows 8 gestures are supported.  Visit Logitech's site for a detailed explanation.  Below are the more interesting techniques, which are not documented as well as they should be.

Two Finger Scrolling
The two-finger scroll-down behaves wonderfully on the pad and this is now my preferred way to scroll in web-pages and documents and it is especially nice in Excel.  Scrolling works in all four directions.  This feature is a joy to use.

Pinch-zoom is also supported and it works in pleasantly-surprising ways in the most interesting places.  For example, in this blog, I can zoom to make text larger and smaller. Naturally, you can pinch-zoom photos.

In my photo editor, the two-finger scroll acts as a zoom-in/out and it works better than the pinch-zoom gestures.  If you are in a selection box or a scrollable-menu box, the two-finger stroke increments the menu choices.

Right-Tapping

Right-tapping (right-clicking) / Context menus were inconsistent and troublesome until I understood where the hot-area was.  Stay in the area illustrated below in red.  The gesture will not work if you are near the edge.  Right-clicking (as opposed to tapping) works, as expected, in this same area.

You will have a habit of tapping with your middle finger anywhere on the pad, expecting a right-click event.  This doesn't work because the pad cannot tell which finger you are using.  It is the location of the tap or click that matters. 

When right-tapping, tap quickly; do not linger on the up-take, or the stroke is ignored.

Clicking and Dragging

Clicking and dragging is the most problematic feature of this, or any touchpad, and the gesture takes time and skill to learn.  I have not mastered this yet.

To highlight text in a document or to drag a rectangle in a drawing program, or to highlight a group of cells in Excel, do the following:

Tap to select the starting point.
Click and hold (not tap and hold - click the mechanical switch).
Drag, while maintaining pressure on the click.

Alternately, while maintaining pressure on the click, use another finger to drag.  This is probably the best way to use the feature.  When great accuracy is needed, I often use fingers from both hands.

Why not Tap and Drag?  The Logitech help-screens shows a gesture:  double-tap-hold, then drag.  This works for highlighting text but does not work for windows/title-bars, in drawing programs or in Excel.  This seems to be a bug.

A Wish:  Wouldn't it be neat if the keyboard's left-shift-key acted as the click and hold?    Highlighting with the keyboard and the touchpad at the same time feels natural. 

Three-finger Side Swipe

Using a three finger left-or-right side swipe takes you back a previous screen.  For example, while searching in Google's results, swipe left to return to the search screen; swipe right to return to previously-found results.  Where and how this works seems to be mystery and sometimes it surprises.  For example, in this blog editor, a left-swipe offers to abandon editing changes and will return you to the previous menu.  I suppose this is proper behavior, but it has scared me once or twice.

A three-swipe down takes you to the desktop; a three-swipe up takes you to the Windows 8 Start Page (or if you are on that page, to the last-running app).  These gestures are particularly nice to have.

Unfortunately, other touch-device vendors use their own three-finger gestures.  For example, my Dell 15Z three-finger swipe-up does not take me to the Windows 8 Start menu; instead, it task-switches.  This has been confusing.  All vendors should agree on the same gesture, or at the very least, make them configurable.

Other Gestures

Other gestures and swipes are well-documented in your Windows-8 and mouse/pad documentation, and I won't describe them here.  Be aware there are three-finger and four-fingered gestures -- all of which will take time for the world to learn.



Conclusions:

When you hear Windows 8 does not work without a touchscreen, I always say malarkey -- the mouse can do everything.  I stand by that belief.  But the touchpad is a nice addition and I don't have to reach so far to touch my screen.  With this, you can buy a less-expensive monitor and avoid greasy fingerprints, so there are benefits, even on a laptop.

My original intention was to buy the touchpad for a laptop.  It is thinner than a mouse and I hoped it would pack better with the ultrabook.  Also, I wanted to be able to type on the laptop without having to worry about the palm-rest pad while typing, but I have found I like the device on the desktop and this is where it will likely stay. 

Because of the click-and-drag gestures, it doesn't quite replace the mouse, especially in the photo-editor, but in almost all other programs, it works well.  Expect several days of good, solid use before you become proficient.  This is like learning a mouse for the first time.

The t650 Touchpad is a solid, high-quality device, well-designed for Windows 8 (Windows 7 experience, not reviewed - reportedly works well). 

With a Windows 8 desktops or laptops, this is a recommended device. 

Related Article:
Logitech t650 Right-Click not working (excerpt)
Logitech T630 Ultrathin Mouse Review

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Logitech t650 TouchPad Right Click not working

Logitech t650 TouchPad Right Click not working, inconsistent, intermittent

This is an excerpt from a longer Keyliner article: Review Logitech t650 TouchPad

On the Logitech t650, right-tapping (right-clicking) for context menus were inconsistent and troublesome until I understood where the hot-area was.  When tapping or clicking, stay in the area illustrated below in red.  The gesture will not work if you are near the edge.  Right-clicking (as opposed to tapping) works, as expected, in this same area.

Note: This article assumes you installed Logitech's SetPoint software -- which is required to detect these zones.  If you have not installed SetPoint, only the mechanical right-and-left clicking works. 
 

You will have a habit of tapping with your middle finger anywhere on the pad, expecting a right-click event.  This doesn't work because the pad cannot tell which finger you are using.  It is the location of the tap or click that matters.

When right-tapping, tap quickly; do not linger on the up-take, or the stroke is ignored.



Clicking and Dragging

Clicking and dragging is the most problematic feature of this, or any touchpad, and the gesture takes time and skill to learn.

To highlight text in a document or to drag a rectangle in a drawing program, or to highlight a group of cells in Excel, do the following:

Tap to select the starting point.
Click and hold (not tap and hold - click the mechanical switch).
Drag, while maintaining pressure on the click.

Alternately, while maintaining pressure on the click, use another finger to drag.  This is probably the best way to use the feature.  When great accuracy is needed, I often use fingers from both hands.

Tap and Drag

The Logitech help-screens shows a gesture:  double-tap-and-hold, then drag.

This works for highlighting text but does not work for windows/title-bars, in drawing programs or in Excel.  This seems to be a bug.


Related Article:
Review Logitech t650 TouchPad