The Apple Magic Trackpad is no longer the only external touchpad on the block. The touch functionality of Windows 8 and Windows RT has inspired Logitech to out the Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad T650. Can it take the place of your cherished mouse? What activities is it good for? What is it not good for? Is it really better than a traditional point-and-click tool?
It's a fairly tastefully designed object. The charcoal grey 13.4 x 13 cm surface offers smooth, nimble finger movements, and the glides on the bottom keep it good and stable. Before you can start using the T650 you have to plug a tiny USB receiver into one of the ports on your computer. Sticking out just 5 mm from the port, the dongle is what allows the touchpad to communicate with your PC.
While the Apple Magic Trackpad requires two batteries, the T650 requires just one battery (non-removable) that charges via the micro-USB port on the upper edge of the device (micro-USB-to-USB cable included). The T650 stays usable while charging. As always, the rechargeable battery is a bit of a double-edged sword. It's convenient because you don't have to buy new batteries every month, but if ever there are any problems with it, a AA or AAA, even rechargeable, is easier to replace than a built-in proprietary battery.
To save on battery during transport and avoid unintentional commands being made with the accidental swipe of a finger, there's a physical ON/OFF button on the left-hand side. While we were testing the T650, after a full day of use it lost less than half of its battery life.
Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows RT all recognise the Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad T650, but to make full use of its features you have to install the driver. Without the driver you won't be able to turn on or off the various functions, such as two-finger zooming and scrolling. In the software you can also adjust the cursor and scroll speeds, both of which are a little over-the-top by default.
Windows 8 and RT have several more touch gestures than Windows 7. The gestures on the T650 are the exact same ones you would do on a touchscreen. The driver has a video clip illustrating each of the 11 gestures, a helpful addition for anyone who doesn't know them yet.
To do a right-click, you press down or click in the lower right corner of the touchpad. A click or tap anywhere else on the surface performs a left-click. It isn't always clear whether you've actually clicked or whether the top just went down a bit. The Apple Magic Trackpad clearly holds the advantage here, as there's more accent put on the click.
So what activities is the T650 good for? Other than smaller games like Angry Birds, the T650 isn't really suited for gaming, and the same goes for anything else that requires high precision, such as photo editing. The T650 is best used for web browsing and multimedia playback (looking at photos, watching movies, listening to music...).
The T650 is great for the home cinema experience. In fact, it's even better than a wireless mouse because it doesn't need a flat surface of any kind. That means you can watch movies and control your PC even when sprawled out on a couch with a bag of Cheetos on your lap.