While plenty of new laptops and desktops are incorporating touchscreens to accommodate the touch-centric aspects of Windows 8, not everyone who upgraded to the new operating system chose to upgrade to more expensive touch-enabled hardware. For those folks, as well as anyone who questions the ergonomics of a touchscreen desktop, there’s the new Logitech T650 Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad.
Where most Windows 8 peripherals are adding broader touch functionality to traditional mice – like the Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse and the Microsoft Sculpt Touch Mouse – the Logitech T650 Touchpad puts the best features of the new OS into a desktop touchpad.
The glass surface of the T650 is delightfully smooth, providing as perfect a touch surface as you could hope for. The bronze-grey colour should blend nicely with the silvers, greys, and blacks of the average desktop PC, while still maintaining an element of style.
Measuring 133 x 130 x 10mm (WxDxH), the T650 is roughly the same size as the Apple Magic Trackpad. It's large enough for comfortable use, but small enough to be slipped into a laptop bag and taken to and from work. And since it only weighs 200 grams, the extra bulk won't weigh you down either.
The entire touchpad is clickable, so a firm press almost anywhere on the surface registers easily. The lower right corner of the touchpad, however, is reserved for right clicking. Two-finger scrolling is smooth and simple, and offers both vertical and horizontal scrolling, which is essential when navigating the long horizontally-laid out Start screen.
Windows 8 shortcuts are also built in. Swiping from the right edge of the touchpad pulls up the Charm bar, just as it does when swiping the right edge of a touchscreen. Swiping the left edge of the touchpad cycles through open apps. Swiping from the top pulls up the Applications bar (which is counter-intuitively located at the bottom of the screen). Swiping up or down with three fingers pulls up first the home screen and then the desktop, while swiping right and left counts as Forward and Back, respectively, within the web browser.
The T650 connects to the PC via a USB receiver, Logitech's Unifying Receiver, which can also support several other Logitech wireless products. This is a bit of a departure from the many Windows 8 devices we've seen utilising Bluetooth in order to free up USB ports. The reasoning behind it is that on a desktop PC, the lack of USB ports isn't an issue, and Logitech's wireless protocols offer better battery efficiency than Bluetooth can, thus extending the life of the rechargeable battery. Logitech also covers the T650 Touchpad with a three year warranty.
The only problems I encountered during use were with the more complex gestures, such as Zoom – the pinching motion rarely registered properly. And one feature that was shown to us just before the product was announced – the right "flick" for pulling up the side bar of open apps – seems to have disappeared, with the functionality missing and no mention of it in any current product documentation.
One head-scratcher that occurred to us during testing is the fact that the wireless touchpad is charged via USB, raising the obvious question, why use a wireless device for a stationary desktop? Obviously, the wireless aspect does provide a certain flexibility, and the included three-foot cable might be a bit short for some desktop arrangements, but I could easily see a slightly cheaper wired version of this product selling just as well as the wireless model.
For any Windows 8 user who wants to embrace the intuitive touch controls built in to Windows 8 but doesn't want to upgrade to a touchscreen system, the Logitech T650 gives you all of the intuitive control of a touchscreen in a comfortable, unobtrusive peripheral. Windows users who have envied the Apple Magic Trackpad now have a viable Windows alternative.
Though it's not perfect, it has a broader feature set than the Windows 8 mice we've reviewed – like the Microsoft Wedge Mobile Mouse and the Microsoft Sculpt Mobile Mouse – and it earns our Best Buy award.
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