Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Logitech Touchpad 'Just Works' With Ubuntu

I had been hearing various positions in the debate about the move towards using touchpads with desktop computers instead of the usual mouse. I have never liked using mice, since 2000 I have always used trackballs. This mainly being born from me working in the merchant navy at the time and having a mouse sliding back and fourth was counter-productive. My experience with touchpads on laptops have been hit and miss too, some have been excellent, others unusable and requiring me to bring a mouse along everywhere. So I have decided to take the plunge and get my hands on the Logitech Wireless Touchpad.

Logitech Toucpad with packaging and 15cm/6in ruler

The packaging is surprising small, but the touchpad is also a relatively nice size. Yes, it is weird to use at first, but after two weeks I now find it nicer to use then my trackball. Of course all the literature to go with it only says that Windows is supported but I am happy to report that it worked out of the box with Ubuntu 12.04 and 12.10. While the computer was off I plugged the "Unifying receiver" into a free USB port, turned on and the touchpad worked straight away. It is powered by two AA batteries which come supplied and should last a few months, but using my rechargeable batteries should mean there should be no issue with replacements.

Side view of the Logitech Touchpad

The first time you touch it there is no response, I am guessing it is in hibernation mode, but after a moment it starts to react and follow your gestures. I have read complaints about the 'touch area' not being better defined when you move in or our of it, but there are notches in the corner areas and I do not find myself floundering out of bounds. My only real complaint for the ergonomics is using the right click button. The bottom of the touchpad has two very large buttons of equal size, being right-handed using the left button with your thumb is no trouble, but it takes a little while to get used to using the right button.

'Unifying receiver' in the front USB port

Multi-touch works fine too, but since I have not used multi-touch much before all this is new to me so each new feature I learn is a bit of fun. The two-fingered scrolling is great for browsing the web and the three-finger scrolling acts like 'page up' and 'page down'. For Windows users there is a download available from Logitech to let you change the multi-touch settings, but there is no easy way to do this yet in Ubuntu. However knowing the Ubuntu community I would expect something to land in the Ubuntu Software Centre sooner rather than later.

Overall I am really enjoying this and can say it has improved my desktop user experience.

Peace
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