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A trackpad, also known as a touchpad, is a device that you can use for pointing on a computer display. It uses a tactile sensor that can interpret the pressure of your fingers and translate it into the movement of a cursor on your computer screen. It has different touch-sensitive areas that allow you to create various movements on your screen. 

Trackpads started out as a common feature on laptop computers, but you can now purchase them as separate devices. These standalone touchpads are meant for use with a desktop computer to replace a mouse. They’re designed to replicate the experience of using a laptop trackpad. If you’ve already used a trackpad on a laptop, you’ll be familiar with using one that functions separately. Three of the popular trackpads in the market are the Apple Magic TrackpadWacom Bamboo Pad and the Perixx PERIPAD-501.

Trackpads: What to Look For

Although all trackpads will help you navigate around your computer screen, each product has unique features. When choosing the best trackpad for you, you should consider the platform (Mac or Windows) it supports, what gestures you can use, how the trackpad is powered and how it connects to your computer.

Supported Platforms
As with many computer accessories, trackpads are designed to work best with either Mac or Windows computers. This is the first feature you’ll want to consider to ensure the trackpad you choose will give you the functionality you want and that it will work with your computer.

Supported Gestures
One important feature to consider when purchasing a trackpad is how you’ll use it to navigate your computer. You should look for the ability to use a wide range of gestures, such as scrolling, clicking and zooming. This will ensure fast and fluid navigation. You’ll also want to ensure the gestures are intuitive and easy to remember so you won’t have to continually consult a manual.

How it Connects
Most trackpads connect wirelessly to your computer, so you’ll have the freedom to move your trackpad around on your desk without being limited by the length of the wire attached to your computer. There are some trackpads that connect via Bluetooth, but most use a USB connection. This type of connection requires that you insert a USB radio dongle into a USB port on your computer. This makes it easy to set up, but takes up a USB port on your computer that you might want to use for something else. You’ll also have to remember to bring the USB radio dongle with you if you want to use the trackpad with another computer.

How it’s Powered
Most trackpads are powered by two AA batteries. You’ll want to look at the specs for each manufacturer to see what type of battery life the product has. A rechargeable model that connects to a USB port on your computer for charging can save you the hassle of buying replacement batteries.

Although trackpads are designed primarily to replace a mouse and to be used with a desktop computer, they can also be a useful accessory if you use your laptop with a docking station or want to be able to navigate your computer from the couch when it’s hooked up to your TV. Trackpads have many capabilities, and finding one that works best for you will help you get the most out of your trackpad.

Apple Magic Trackpad Review

The sleek, sliver Magic Trackpad from Apple is a multi-touch trackpad designed to work with a Mac desktop computer. This square trackpad is elevated at the back and features a wear-resistant glass surface. It has the same multi-touch technology as the Mac trackpad on the MacBook Pro, so you won’t have a steep learning curve if you’ve already used a Mac laptop.

This Apple trackpad allows you to use a variety of gestures to navigate your computer screen, including pinch to zoom. You can rotate an image by twisting clockwise or counterclockwise with your thumb and index finger. You can use two fingers to scroll vertically, horizontally or diagonally. In programs like Safari or iPhone, you can use three fingers to page forward and backward by brushing left and right along the surface of the trackpad. This trackpad allows you to press down anywhere on the surface to click or double click, like you would with the left and right buttons on a mouse.

The Magic Trackpad connects to your computer using Bluetooth technology. One button on the side of the trackpad turns it on and initiates Bluetooth pairing. Once you’ve paired this Bluetooth trackpad with your computer, you’ll have a secure connection up to 33 feet away. To have full multi-touch support and the ability to customize your trackpad by enabling and disabling gestures, you need to download a trackpad-specific software update to your computer.

Two AA batteries power the Apple Magic Trackpad. These are included, so you won’t have to purchase batteries right away. You can use regular or rechargeable batteries with this trackpad. Turning the Apple trackpad off when you’re not using it can conserve battery life, but the trackpad also detects when it’s not being used if you forget to turn it off.

As with many Apple products, the Magic Trackpad has an aluminum design that makes it both sleek and durable. It’s designed to be simple to use, with a variety of gestures that will be familiar to you if you’ve used the trackpad on a Mac laptop. The ability to use the trackpad as a large button for clicking and double-clicking is a standout feature that makes this trackpad unique.

Logitech Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad T650 Review

The stylish Logitech Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad T650 has a smooth, glass surface that is designed to be fingerprint and scratch resistant. The entire surface of the trackpad is clickable and it has precision sensors to give you accuracy and control. When you first set up your Touchpad, you’ll be prompted to install Logitech software. This software provides additional gestures and gives you the ability to personalize the settings.

The trackpad will work with desktop computers, tablets and docked laptops. It connects wirelessly through Logitech’s tiny, proprietary Unifying receiver. The USB receiver is inserted into a USB port and can connect with up to six compatible mice and keyboards at the same time.

The Logitech trackpad supports 13 gestures that you can perform anywhere on the surface, even near the edges. You can swipe two fingers up, down or sideways to scroll. To create a left click, you can press the Touchpad’s surface, and you can create a right click by pressing the lower-right corner. With the ability to use both a right click and a left click, this wireless trackpad is a solid replacement for a mouse.

Although the Logitech Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad works with both Windows 7 and Windows 8, there are some gestures that are designed specifically for Windows 8. When you swipe up with three fingers, you can access the Start menu. When you swipe down, you can see the desktop. These, among other gestures, make Windows 8 simple with a trackpad.

The Logitech Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad is powered by an internal, rechargeable battery. A blinking red light on the rechargeable trackpad indicates when the battery is low. The trackpad charges through a six-foot USB charging cable that’s included in the box. It will take about three hours to charge, but you can still use the Touchpad while it’s charging. You should expect to be able to use the trackpad for up to one month each time you charge it.

This trackpad is worth considering to give you a touch-screen experience on your Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer without purchasing a touch-screen device. A USB receiver that can connect to multiple devices, and the ability to recharge the battery through a USB charging cable adds to the versatile features of this wireless trackpad.

Perixx PERIPAD-501 Review

The Perixx PERIPAD-501 professional touchpad is a device that you can use for pointing and scrolling on a computer display. It’s a compact trackpad that measures just 3.39 inches by 2.95 inches by 0.43 inches. It has an ergonomic design with two buttons to perform click functions and a smooth touchpad for scrolling. Instead of using a mouse, you can use the Perixx PERIPAD-501 to move your cursor around your computer screen.

This trackpad for PC uses gestures that you can perform with one finger. The right side of the trackpad includes white arrows facing up and down to help you remember which side is used for vertical scrolling. To perform a right click, like you would with a mouse, you can use the button on the right-hand side or tap the touchpad with three fingers. You can double click with two taps on the touchpad. These simple gestures make it simple to use the trackpad without requiring you to memorize a lot of complicated gestures.

The Perixx PERIPAD-501 USB trackpad connects to your computer through a USB cord. It also charges through the USB cord, so you won’t need to worry about replacing batteries. Because the trackpad needs a wired connection, you’re limited in how far away you can place the touchpad from your computer. The USB cord connects from the right-hand side of the trackpad, instead of from the back, which could contribute to an awkward placement of the trackpad on your desk.

This trackpad for Windows is designed to work with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. You don’t need to install a specific driver to get the touchpad up and running either. It’s meant to work as soon as you plug it into your computer. You can also adjust the sensitive settings and pointer speed to fit your preferences.

The Perixx PERIPAD-501 is designed for use with professional and industrial applications. With no software to install and the ability to plug it in and start using it right away, the PERIPAD-501 is a good choice if you’re looking for a trackpad for a work computer. It also features simple gestures and has a compact design that can help you save space on your desk.

Wacom Bamboo Pad Review

The Wacom Bamboo Pad Wireless offers a variety of gestures you can use with both Windows and Mac operating systems. The trackpad measures 5.4 inches by 6.5 inches and ranges in thickness from 0.61 inch at the top to 0.18 inch at the bottom. This trackpad functions similarly to a touchscreen device.

This wireless trackpad is available in metallic gray and black, as well as pearl white with one of three bright colors: green, purple and blue. The ability to choose from several different colors is an added feature that makes this trackpad unique.

The thicker part of the trackpad holds the two AAA batteries that power the device and store the USB radio dongle if you want to travel with it. Based on an average two hours of use per day, the batteries should last up to four weeks. To help save battery life, the trackpad turns itself off if it’s left idle.

You can navigate your computer with gestures that will be familiar to you if you’ve used a touchscreen device. With one finger, you can point and click. With two fingers, you can scroll, zoom in or out, and rotate an image. The Bamboo Pad will also recognize up to four finger gestures at a time. In addition, you can choose whether you want to use the trackpad right-handed or left-handed.

The Wacom Bamboo Pad Wireless comes with a pressure-sensitive digital stylus. It slides into the right-hand side of the trackpad for easy storage. You can use the stylus to write, sign documents and add handwritten notes. You can also use it for sketches and doodles. The pressure sensitivity allows you to draw both thin and thick lines.

You can use the USB radio dongle to wirelessly connect the Bamboo Pad Wireless to your computer. If you plan to use the trackpad for Windows, the trackpad will work out of the box with Windows 7 and Windows 8. You simply need to plug the USB radio dongle into a USB port on your Windows-based computer. You can also use the Bamboo Pad with Mac OS 10.7 or later. To use the trackpad with a Mac computer, you need to install Wacom driver software first. You can also use the software to customize the trackpad, including setting the double tap and pointer speeds.

The color choices and included stylus are among the standout features of this trackpad. If you’re looking for a multitouch trackpad that will work with both Mac and Windows operating systems that connects to your computer wirelessly, you should consider the Wacom Bamboo Pad Wireless. If you prefer a wired connection, Wacom also makes a USB version that connects to your computer via a USB cable.

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