Computer Touchpads

Written by Sierra Rein
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The technical definition of a computer touchpad is a pad that is sensitive to the delicate pressures of the finger. By moving the finger across the surface of this pad, the pointer on the screen can also be moved. A simple tap or double-tap on a touchpad will operate the same as the traditional click or double-click of a mouse button.

Computer touchpads are incredibly useful in today's society, and many have done away with many of the cumbersome computer mouses, joysticks, and trackballs of the past. Since touchpads are small and extremely compact, they are usually found in laptops and other travel-smart computers. They are also commonly built into portable MP3 players, pocket PCs, and some handheld PDAs (personal digital assistants).

The most advanced forms of computer touchpads are called "tablet PCs" and are built like giant flat rectangles accompanied by a stylus "writing pen." The pen, which contains no ink, functions just like a finger and controls the movement of the pointer across the screen. These tablet PCs are great for digital graphic artists, as they can literally paint and draw beautiful pieces of computerized artwork directly onto the screen. The tablet responds to minute levels of pressure and speed. Thus, if the artist whisks the pen gracefully across the surface, a delicate line will appear on the screen, while if he holds the pen firmly down on the surface and drags it roughly, a harsher and more lumbering line is created.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Computer Touchpads

In addition to the fact that computer touchpads rid the user of space-consuming computer mouses and trackballs, they also function as incredibly good ergonomic tools. By using an ergonomically placed touchpad, a computer user no longer has to move the wrist across the length of the keyboard to grab a mouse. Touchpads are usually more reliable than a mouse or trackball, as they have less moving parts and are extremely easy to clean. However, if a computer touchpad fails or is damaged in some way, it is often quite difficult to fix and may require a full replacement of the product shell to function again.

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