With the impending launch of the touch-friendly Windows 8, touchpads are set to become the new must-have PC accessory for those not upgrading to touchscreen hardware such as the Microsoft Surface. With them you can effortlessly pinch, swipe and rotate your way round the interface, giving the new software a more intuitive feel. One of the first choices to hit the market - aside from the long-standing Apple TrackPad - is the Logitech Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad T650.
First impressions of the Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad T650 are excellent. At 129mm (length and width) this square trackpad is, like Apple's Trackpad, roughly 50 per cent larger than even the most oversized laptop trackpad, giving you a spacious area to perform basic operations and gestures. The all important surface is good too with Logitech using smooth, scratch-resistant glass which has a sand-blasted matt finish that gives a good balance of smoothness and slipperiness.
While gently sloped to present the surface to users at a slight angle, the T650 also isn't much thicker than a modern smartphone and it is lighter as well allowing it to be thrown in a bag or even coat pocket. The underside of the Logitech T650 backs up this portable lifestyle too with a toughened matt plastic base and four rubberized feet sunken into the trackpad rather than simply stuck on. So far, so good.
Style wise, it's not quite as snazzy as Apple's metal-clad effort but at least you couldn't accuse Logitech of outright copying.
While it would be equally comfortable permanently staying on your desk this portable theme is continued with the inclusion of an integrated (non-removable) battery which will last up to a week between charges. Charging the T650 is done via a micro USB port at the front. As for the 'Wireless' in its lengthy name, Logitech has steered away from Bluetooth instead using an automatically paired 2.4GHz USB dongle. As with all recent Logitech products the dongle is tiny, barely sticking out of a USB port so it can be left in and it will pair with up to six Logitech devices simultaneously to compensate for taking up a port. An acceptable trade-off in our minds.
So it looks good, is durable and fairly portable, but what does the T650 actually offer above and beyond a standard laptop trackpad? In Windows 7 the answer is not much. Left click (tap the pad in the middle), right click (tap the pad in the bottom right corner) and middle click (tap three fingers in the middle) are all standard across both Windows 7 and Windows 8, as is two fingered horizontal and vertical scrolling. A little more exciting is three fingered swipes left and right to go back or forward in web browsers and folders while the ubiquitous pinch to zoom gesture is supported too.
Then again it is Windows 8 where the T650 really comes alive. Three fingers up takes you to the Windows 8 Start screen (complete with 'modern UI'), a one fingered swipe from the left edge switches between open applications (both programs and Windows 8 apps) and a one finger swipe from the right edge opens the Charms menu – essentially a transparent overlay with shortcuts for search, share, devices, settings and the Start screen. Meanwhile swiping one finger from the top edge opens the Windows 8 context menu for whichever app you're in.
In addition Windows 8 adds a few more gestures for core functionality: three fingers down minimizes/restores desktop windows and four fingers up/down maximizes/minimizes windows. All in this is a fairly heady list, but since they are in accordance with Microsoft's official gestures for Windows 8 they are worth learning and in time become second nature. Furthermore if you aren't happy with them Logitech's SetPoint software will let you customize gestures to your heart's content.