Though battery life, keyboard, and processing power are all very important parts of the laptop experience, it's the touch pad that can really make or break a mobile PC. These tiny slabs of plastic or metal (or glass) are responsible for navigating everything from Web site buttons to document creation to photo editing--which means that a badly designed touch pad can really ruin your day.
It's true that many laptop users hook up to an external mouse when their machines are docked or parked on a desk--but in nearly every other situation, whether lounging on your couch or sitting at an airport or coffee shop, it's just you and the touch pad, attempting to replicate the wide variety of movements and tasks associated with the traditional mouse. (If you recall, we caught some serious flack for predicting the eventual end of the mouse-driven computing era recently.)
Fortunately, PC users have become increasingly acclimated to the idea of touch interfaces on tech products, thanks to everything from iPhones and iPads to touch-screen all-in-one desktops (and even ATM machines). We're already tuned to accept touch pads as our primary methods of input, but that also makes flawed ones all the more aggravating. So, what makes a good one?… Read more