The 10 Best Computer Touchpads

Updated April 17, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

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We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Touchpads are essential to most laptops, but they're rarely found on desktop keyboards. So, if you've grown quite comfortable using the trackpad format, one of these aftermarket options will add convenient functionality to almost any computer. The right selection will help to relieve hand and wrist strain, while enabling accurate onscreen control. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best computer touchpad on Amazon.

10. Adesso Easy Cat

The Adesso Easy Cat is a straightforward alternative to using a mouse. It allows for advanced multitouch gestures but also includes two highly responsive physical buttons, in addition to an embedded scroll wheel on the right side.
  • works with both pcs and macs
  • not known to last especially long
  • some users find it too small
Brand Adesso
Model GP-160UB
Weight 4 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

9. Perixx Peripad

The Perixx Peripad is a rugged, durable device that's suitable for use at industrial work sites or in busy retail settings. It offers an array of handy functions, such as zooming, sliding, scrolling, and tapping, though only on Microsoft's operating system.
  • 5-foot-long usb cable
  • compact palm-sized design
  • a bit too much surface friction
Brand Perixx
Model 10062
Weight 2.9 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Jelly Comb

Fully compatible with latest version of Windows, the Jelly Comb recognizes many common gestures, such as click-to-drag and three-finger task-view access. It also has two rows of navigation buttons, which you can turn off if they get in the way.
  • simple plug-and-play installation
  • doesn't work with windows 8
  • somewhat overpriced for the quality
Brand Jelly Comb
Model WGJP-012
Weight 7.2 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

7. Dell TP713

The Dell TP713 features a minimalist design that adds function and class to your desk, albeit at a price. Its left- and right-click buttons deliver a satisfying tactile response without any obtrusive noise, and it can detect up to four-point multitouches.
  • topped with smooth glass
  • edge-to-edge effective workspace
  • software leaves a bit to be desired
Brand Dell
Model X4YJC
Weight 11.5 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

6. Magic Trackpad

Even though it's an older version, the original Magic Trackpad still very much exemplifies Apple's superiority in the field. At just about 5 inches square, it's a compact and moderately-priced way to bring top-notch accuracy to your iMac.
  • up to 10-meter bluetooth range
  • matches the apple wireless keyboard
  • lacks newer force-touch technology
Brand Apple
Model MC380Z/A
Weight 9.6 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

5. Logitech T650

With the Logitech T650, you put the control wherever you want it: on your desk, on the conference table, or on the couch beside you. It recognizes a host of Windows-specific commands, which are easy to learn and help streamline the computing experience.
  • large glass touch area
  • charge lasts an average of 5-7 days
  • can have problems with windows 10
Brand Logitech
Model 910-003057
Weight 8.8 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

4. Wacom Intuos Pro

Technically a high-end drawing tablet, the Wacom Intuos Pro is the only way to emulate a true Precision Touchpad on most PCs. It has a 4" by 6" working area, and unlike many options, it supports a variety of customizable controls.
  • professional fit and finish
  • perfect for designers or engineers
  • drivers can be rather finicky
Brand Wacom
Model PTH451
Weight 3.5 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

3. Logitech K400 Plus

An exceptionally versatile unit, the Logitech K400 Plus may be the perfect addition to your home theater controller. It combines one of the best aftermarket touch devices with the brand's renowned connectivity, providing effective input from anywhere in the room.
  • native support for samsung smart tvs
  • ideal for a roku or a fire stick
  • meets any budget easily
Brand Logitech K400 Plus
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

2. Logitech Touch Lapdesk

More than just a trackpad, the Logitech Touch Lapdesk is a complete home for your computer, giving you a stable place upon which to work or surf the web. The control pad itself slides in and out of the side of the unit, offering easy storage and portability.
  • accommodates up to 16-inch laptops
  • dedicated navigation buttons
  • ergonomic palm rest
Brand Logitech
Model 939-000356
Weight 3 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Apple Magic Trackpad 2

In keeping with the brand's sleek, minimalist form, the Apple Magic Trackpad 2 looks simple and unassuming on your desk, yet responds nimbly and accurately to your every touch. This redesigned model is larger than its predecessor, with an edge-to-edge glass surface area.
  • runs on 2 aa batteries
  • unrivaled tracking precision
  • comes with 1-year warranty
Brand Apple
Model MJ2R2LL/A
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

How Computer Touchpads Work

Touchpads can be based on one of two different types of technologies: capacitive or conductive. Conductive touchpads contain multiple layers of material. The uppermost layer is the one the user touches, while the lower layers contain rows of vertical and horizontal electrodes. Each of these layers is separated by a super thin layer of insulation. At the very bottom of all of these layers is a circuit board that all of the electrodes are attached to.

The electrode layers are charged with an alternating current, and when the user's finger touches the upper touchpad layer, it is slightly depressed causing it to make contact with the lower electrode layers. This creates an interruption in the current and registers on the circuit board. The initial touch point of the user's finger is plotted on the touchpad and any movement afterwards is related to that initial touch point. This is how a touchpad knows how far to move the cursor on the screen.

Currently, capacitive touchpads are more common than conductive. With a capacitive touchpad, the layer the user touches holds the electrical charge which creates a vertical and horizontal array, much like a grid. When the user touches a capacitive touchpad, it plots the coordinates, very similar to the way a map user identifies a location based on the longitude and latitude grid. Once the touchpad determines the location of the user's finger, it converts it to a specific location on the computer screen.

Capacitive touchpads are known for being more accurate and won't accidentally register touches from the tip of a pencil or other inert object as conductive touchpads do. This can be problematic for those wearing gloves as the touchpad won't register a touch from a gloved finger either.

Most touchpads come with a number of additional features as well. Some common features seen in touchpads include interpreting a tap or double tap as the click of a mouse button, and the use of multiple fingers for scrolling and panning. Many often feature areas the user can depress just like clicking a standard mouse, or hotspots with pre-programmed functionality.

History Of The Computer Touchpad

The first touchpads were integrated directly into the keyboard of 1982 Apollo desktop computers. Just one year later in 1983, the Gavilan SC laptop computer also included a touchpad, which was located just above its keyboard. This also happened to be the first computer ever marketed as a laptop. It featured a unique clamshell design in which the screen folded down over the keyboard for protection.

The first capacitive touchpad was invented in 1988 by George E. Gerpheide and, in 1994, it was made commercially available and marketed as the GlidePoint. Apple was the first company to license the GlidePoint and they incorporated it into their 1994 Powerbook laptops.

As more companies began to incorporate touchpads into their laptops in the mid 1990s, there was no agreed upon term for them. This caused much confusion among consumers, as one company may call it a touchpad, while another may refer to it as a GlidePoint, and others still were calling it a touch sensitive input device, or simply, a trackpad.

Even today there is no commonly agreed upon term for touchpads, but buyer confusion has dissipated with time and understanding that the definitions of these devices are synonymous with one another. Interestingly enough even today's companies, like HP and Lenovo identify them as touchpads, while Apple labels them as trackpads. Some software manufacturers even call them clickpads.

Despite their various names, they are currently the most popular navigation device for laptop computers, and many desktop users are buying external touchpads because of the many additional features they offer over a standard computer mouse.

Understanding Standard Windows Touchpad Gestures

Understanding all of the different gestures your touchpad is capable of is key to getting the most out of it. Efficient use of a touchpad relies on having a working knowledge of its shortcuts, and they are capable of some much more than just moving a cursor and clicking on a program or file.

Zooming in and out with a touchpad can be accomplished by placing two fingers on the pad and then either pinching them together, to zoom out, or stretching them out, to zoom in. One can also scroll up and down by placing two fingers on the touchpad and swiping up or down. This also works for horizontal panning, but instead of swiping up or down, one must swipe left or right.

Hovering the cursor over a file and then placing both fingers of the touchpad for a second or two without releasing will function just like right clicking with a standard mouse and bring up additional options that can be performed on files and programs.

To switch between open windows or programs, one can place three fingers on the touchpad and swipe left or right. To see all open windows at one time, place three fingers on the touchpad and swipe up and away from you. To immediately return to the desktop, perform the opposite maneuver by placing three fingers on the touchpad and swiping towards yourself. A three finger single tap can also be used to bring up the Cortana search feature.

The above are standard features on all computers using Windows 10. One can also go into the touchpads settings and choose which features they enjoy using, and which they would prefer to be disabled.

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Last updated on April 17, 2018 by Christopher Thomas

A traveling chef, musician, and student of the English language, Chris can be found promoting facts and perfect copy around the globe, from dense urban centers to remote mountaintops. In his free time he revels in dispelling pseudoscience, while at night he dreams of modern technology, world peace, and the Oxford comma.

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