Of course this was already available in limited capability on several of their previous offerings, such as the two finger gesturing available with the last couple of driver sets, but nothing like what is being shown now at CES.
The newest touchpads are using image sensing, instead of simple capacitive and pressure coupling, which is allowing the kind of gesturing and motion capabilities of the type demonstrated on the Microsoft Surface computers.
This technology has already been released in several models of Lenovo laptops, and the claim is that the sensing is so precise as to allow ten finger control of the screen real estate.
Though I have always thought that, absent the size and position of a Microsoft Surface system, that multitouch was very awkward. The demonstration of it, on a Dell notebook, at a Microsoft seminar for the introduction of Windows 7 showed me that even those tasked with bringing the good news were less than comfortable with the idea.
But the idea of having a pad to the side of my keyboard, where I could do all that I can now do with a mouse, plus the gesturing and two-handed control possible with Surface would be great. I could quickly and happily get used to that.
The other nicety of this improved control is that the pressure of the touch is also available, and adjustable, so that, with something such as a drawing program, the width of a stroke could be changed by the pressure on the pad.
Noted also in the PC World story is the fact that the pads are doing away with the separate buttons for clicking, which may be awkward at first, but should quickly become simple and easily done by anyone, especially when coupled with new intelligence built-in to know the difference between pushing with your palm, for a wide area change, and accidentally brushing the palm as the fingers were working on the pad.
The most notable change, though, may be in how you click the new touchpads. Many touchpads no longer have separate buttons for mouse clicks. But they are hinged, meaning its easy to click at the bottom of the touchscreen, and increasingly harder as you move upwards. Series 3 touchpads, which should be on laptops by June, have no hinge — the whole pad moves up and down. That makes it a cinch to click anywhere on the pad.
The only thing I can see as possibly a problem is the setup of the device to individual preferences and idiosyncrasies. If that takes too long, or is overly difficult, it could put a damper on quick and widespread adoption.
I’d like mine about double the size of two regular mouse pads, and as I think about it now, I’d probably put it between myself and the keyboard, so as to make it most easy for two-handed stuff, and also to allow the inclusion of my old friend, Le Rodent, to the right of the keyboard, just in case.