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Windows 8 on a multi-display desktop PC without a touch screen: the Logitech T650 touch pad

Pete Brown - 11 November 2012

I recently updated my primary workhorse PC (a 6 core desktop with two 30" displays) from Windows 7 to Windows 8. As part of that, I picked up a Logitech Touchpad T650. This post includes my observations.

As a Windows 8 platform evangelist at Microsoft, I'm very familiar with Windows 8, especially in a developer context. So far, I've used it on touch and non-touch laptops (I have a Lenovo X220 and a W520) as well as my Surface with Windows RT. I have Windows 8 installed on my son's netbook as well. I was waiting for the new Samsung 840 Pro 512gb SSD to come out before I rebuilt my main PC, but thought I'd give it a whack with a Win7 to Windows 8 upgrade install in the meantime.

Due to working with my Lenovo W520 as my main work and presentation laptop, I'm very familiar with navigating around Windows using that little eraser-looking trackpoint joystick in the middle of the keyboard, as well as the trackpad. For the post part, I prefer the joystick as most trackpads feel like crap to me.

On my desktop, I use a huge and ancient Microsoft Natural Wireless Laser Mouse 6000. I really like that mouse, but it's showing its age and was due for replacement. In addition, I'm pretty short on desktop space, so I find myself picking up the mouse more than I'd like, even with it set to max speed/acceleration. Rather than replace it with another mouse (or clean my desk), I decided this time to go with something that would provide a Windows 8 touch experience without requiring a touch screen, and which would occupy a fixed location on my desk. As much as I love touch on tablets and laptops (most new PCs are laptops, btw.), I'm not going to reach out and swipe on my giant 30" displays - it's not practical for day to day use as I sit almost exactly an arm's length away from my screen.


This time, I decided to pick up a Logitech Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad T650. I hadn't tried one before, so this was completely a blind purchase. Just in case it turned out that I didn't like to use it for everything, I also picked up a Logitech Touch Mouse T400. Both are designed for Windows, and support the key gestures you need to work effectively with the new OS. I picked up both at a local Best Buy at a special "Windows 8" endcap display. The touchpad was $60.


The surface of the touch pad is nice and large (although not anywhere near as large as the poorly Photoshopped photos on the Logitech site would have you believe). It's 5" deep by 5 1/4" wide. You could probably store it in an old floppy sleeve.


Also, as my 6 1/2 year old son pointed out: it doesn't ripple when you touch it either.

Parents will recognize this type of marketing from those companies that make the kiddie slides and pools:


Anyway, overly … erm… optimistic advertising aside, the basics work as you would expect on a touch pad.

Because there are no buttons on the pad, the whole touch pad serves as a button (it has a positive click due to the two front feet being sprung and attached to buttons). This is necessary when you need to click and drag, as when positioning a window or manually scrolling a scrollbar. You press down to click and then move with a finger.

Right-clicking is accomplished by tapping near the bottom right of the touch area. Left click is a tap anywhere on the touch pad.


Of all the basics, only right click gives me any grief. My hand is usually in the middle of the touch pad, so getting to the bottom right corner requires moving my entire hand, or contorting my pinky finger. You can change it to a few other possible choices, including the typical two finger tap.:


Available gestures

But now we get into the nice gestures. Although I find it simple to hit the Windows key to get to the Start screen, including a gesture for that is nice, as is the Desktop. Using these gestures, I can get to the Start screen by swiping up, check out something, and then get back to the desktop by swiping back down with three fingers. Clearly optimized for boy scouts :)

The surface of the touchpad is super smooth and very slick, so gestures are painless. I'm really picky about the surface finish on touch pads, as almost every laptop I've used has had a crappy one. My wife's old HP upstairs is the very worst, with a surface finish that is like trying to do gestures on a piece of latex. My Lenovos aren't much better with their bumpy textured surfaces. The touchpad has exactly the finish I want: fast, and your fingers don't stick or catch. They didn't get the hand size correct in that image, but the "silky-smooth" is spot on.

To switch apps, swipe in from the left edge of the touch pad. This is similar to the gesture used on the screen. You don't get the neat swipe-in animation you do when using a touch screen, but the animation is consistent with what you get on a laptop with a gesture-ready touch pad.

To show the charms, you swipe in from the right. Similarly, to show the app bar in an app, swipe in from the top. Unfortunately, swiping in from the bottom isn't an available option. I'll get used to the top, but on a touch screen. I tend to swipe up from the bottom to show the app bar.

The last two gestures are for straight desktop use. I haven't used them yet, but I may.


All of these navigation gestures take a little practice to get right.

Perhaps the most important gestures are the scrolling and zooming gestures. I use the two fingered scroll constantly. However, I find it easier to touch down two fingers, but then only scroll with one of them, keeping the other finger in place. This gesture works well with the touchpad, but once in a while (especially in IE), it comes through as a zoom instead of a scroll. Two finger scroll is the one gesture I use more than any other.


The touch pad is a good compromise when a touch screen isn't practical. It's not a replacement for a touch screen (it doesn't map touch points, for example, so playing that multi-touch synth like Tachyon or MorphWiz isn't going to happen), but it does help make navigation in Windows a lot quicker and more enjoyable.

Just in case

I wrote this entire post using just the touchpad, without any mouse. However, I wasn't sure if I'd find the T650 touchpad suitable for everything. And, quite honestly, sometimes a very precise pointing device like a pen and tablet or a mouse is just better for certain use-cases, especially with CAD. For those reasons, I also purchased a Logitech T400 touch mouse. A wacom tablet seemed overkill.

The mouse has almost no gesture support other than three assignable zones on what would otherwise be a touch version of a scroll wheel. One good thing about it, is it will use the same wireless receiver than the touchpad uses. You set it up using the Logitech Unifying Software. The extra receiver stows away inside the mouse (slide the bottom to open).

image image 

image I love it when installs congratulate me. It's like I did something worthy of a trophy or a special award :/


I've only been using the touch pad for about a day. So far, I like the touch pad and enjoy using the gestures. However, I've also gotten very used to the keyboard shortcuts (Windows key to get to Start page, Windows + C for charms, Windows + I for settings, Alt-tab to switch between apps, etc. I'm not a huge shortcut user like Scott, but the shortcut keys are definitely helpful in Windows 8, as they are standard across all apps.) The two fingered scrolling is a lot easier on your joints than the scroll wheel for sure.

The downside to the gestures is your pointer isn't where it needs to be to quickly select something, especially in the case of the charms bar. With the mouse, your pointer is already on the right. With touch, your finger is probably right over the charm you want. With the touch pad, your pointer stays where it was so you may have to move it across two screens to get to the charm in the charms bar.

Overall, I think the Logitech touch pad is a great addition to Windows 8, as long as you don't think of it as an analog to a touch screen.

not tagged
posted by Pete Brown on Sunday, November 11, 2012
filed under: not tagged

14 comments for “Windows 8 on a multi-display desktop PC without a touch screen: the Logitech T650 touch pad”

  1. Josh Einsteinsays:
    Good to see there is an option available for Windows users. The Apple Magic Trackpad I use with my iMac is by far my favorite feature of the Mac. Its integration with Mission Control and standard actions like back/forward is buttery smooth. I use it alongside the mouse as well. It gets too tiresome to use just the trackpad.
  2. PuzzledVS2010ProDevsays:
    "As a Windows 8 platform evangelist at Microsoft"

    Perhaps you could explain on another blog entry why the "Microsoft Windows Compatibility Assistant" software, tells me that I can perform an upgrade of Win 8 Pro over Win 7 Pro SP1, but flags two key components of Visual Studio Pro 2010 as not compatible:

    "Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Professional - ENU
    Not compatible

    Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Service Pack 1
    Not compatible"

    While indicating many other .NET facilities are compatible.

    And perhaps you can explain why Microsoft's official site listing compatible Win 8 applications shows the "incompatible" visual graphic next to Visual Studio 2010 Pro, while, at the same time, there are several end-user votes that it is compatible:


    I'm asking you, at the risk of making an annoying off-topic reply to this blog entry, because no one else at Microsoft seems to be explain this: sorry about that.

    thanks, PV10D
  3. kloddisays:
    Dear PuzzledVS2010ProDev,

    The page that You link points to states :
    "Not compatible Visit software publisher's website "

    A visit to the publishers website leads to this:

    P.S. sorry to contiue this TOTALLY off topic thread.
  4. zombieflysays:
    ^^ignoring the spam post derail above, back on topic, the touchpad.

    I pre-ordered this after mistakenly purchasing the previous version and thinking it would work in the win8 CP. This new version is everything that the old one wasn't.

    as you pointed out, the touchpad is more of a mouse with gestures than a virtual screen. The major annoyance i've got is the fact that the pointer cannot "jump" to the equivalent place on the screen, you have to move it there. I was wondering if this could be added as an option and more-so, would it work in this configuration?
  5. Petesays:

    I have Visual Studio 2010 SP1 on my Win8 machine. I use it for the .NET Micro Framework projects which, until NETMF 4.3, weren't compatible with VS2012.

    I have never had any problems installing. I have never had any upgrade issues.

    My main home machine was an in-place upgrade from Win7. No compatibility flags. I'm not sure what happened in your case.


    Agreed. It's annoying that you can't jump the cursor.

    I've also run into some issues where if I run an app in the simulator (via Visual Studio), the Logitech helper software gets spun up again, causing all clicks from that point forward to register twice. That completely eliminates taps as they go through as a double tap: menus open and immediately close, for example. Once I shut down the simulator, taps stop working entirely until I reboot. Killing and restarting their software doesn't fix it.

    I believe this is because they have an app which runs in the system tray. I haven't had a chance to report this on their forums, but will soon.

  6. Ira Minorsays:
    Microsoft should develop an app for the Surface tablet to use it as a touchpad for a Win8 desktop or laptop. I have been experimenting with my Android tablet with remote software such as TeamViewer to control my Win8 desktop. It replaces both the mouse and keyboard although the mouse and keyboard are still available. This solution is completely free since I have the tablet anyway. I have also controlled my Win8 system with my Android phone.
  7. Petesays:
    So, after using it for a bit, I have the following nits about the touch pad:

    1. I'm still faster with a mouse. I like the gestures, but when I try the mouse, I find I'm much quicker with it. That said, I'm sticking to the trackpad for a while longer to see if practice makes perfect.

    2. The trackpad needs recharging way too often. My MS mouse would run off two AA batteries for like half a year. The Logitech trackpad must be plugged into USB to recharge a couple times a week.

    3. Sometimes the track pad stops responding and I have to wait a second for it to catch back up. No idea what's up there.

    4. Don't remote desktop when using the trackpad. It causes all sorts of problems including loss of gestures even after shutting down the remote desktop. This includes the VS Win8 simulator. Note that I haven't tried those with the mouse.

    Those caveats aside, it's still the best (only?) choice if you want a trackpad instead of a mouse.

  8. Sanjaysays:
    Thank you for the timely article.

    I'm a little confused as a developer. Can I skip buying a surface tablet and test my application designed for win8 with this touchpad? I guess not because you can't tap at specific parts of the screen. In that case, is there any alternative to buying a Surface? For example, there is the simulator in the visual studio with which you can do most of the testing. But what about apps developed outside of the studio or the apps downloaded to try out their interface. Can they also run in the simulator?

  9. Petesays:

    If you're targeting Windows RT, you'll want an RT device, whether that is the Surface or one of the others. This is a different processor architecture and lower power than x86, so you really need to test on the target hardware.

    If you're just interested in testing touch, any multi-touch Windows 8 compatible display will work for you.

  10. Sanjaysays:

    Thanks for the tips.

    I was hoping that I could save money by buying this Touch Pad to test new windows 8 applications that primarily use touch for navigation. From your answer, it seems that this is no substitute for real multi-touch displays. I further want to clarify that my applications won't be real graphics ones requiring precise touch points. But they will be designed with touich as the primary navigation between screens.

  11. Petesays:

    Right. If you want to test touch beyond the simulator, you need a touch screen.

    Also, remember that all Windows Store apps must equally support Mouse, Touch, and Keyboard for *all* functionality. Your app will be rejected if it doesn't.

  12. Richard Haysays:
    Pete - great post and insight. I just purchased one of these from eBay and should have it in a couple of days. I had almost the same exact reasons for the purchase as you did.

    Looking forward to getting it hooked up and running.

    Thanks again.

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