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Tracking the pad February 20, 2008

Posted by reverseengineer in Hardware.

A big concern of mine with the Eeep is the smallness of the trackpad.

If the screen and keyboard are small already, the pad is miniscule, literally a postage stamp. I was wondering how I’d take to it when I took the Eeep out of its box.

Not very well, as it turns out.

I have trouble double-tapping because the danged cursor seems to move ever so slightly on the second tap. Or at least that’s what I want to believe. I know it’s really because I can’t hit the same approximate spot a second time because the target is too small, my aim is poor and the software is unforgiving, hence tap two is interpreted as just moving the cursor.

So I use the short, chromed plastic button instead, and it’s a bit of an effort to click down on. I also tend to forget its actually two buttons in one; each end is its own person, and I often mistakenly zig when I mean to zag.

I like the scroll area on the right edge, but it’s small consolation for the smallness of the useable area on the pad itself. I have to slide gingerly on the surface, because if I rest my big index finger’s full weight on it, the tip annexes too much real estate.

It’s an uneasy truce for now, but that’s par for the course. Truth be told, I hate trackpads per se. We’ve been enemies way before the Eeep was even a gleam in Asus’ eye.

I’m more of a mouse man, and I carry a small black wireless one and use it as often as I can. On days when I just grab the Eeep itself, I’ll have to deal with the pad. And don’t get me started on the red nub that Thinkpads use; I have a T43 and I’ve never once used it. If there’s an input device I hate more than a trackpad, it’s that red nub. It’s the joystick when it was still a fetus. I’d rather use a trackball, honestly.

Then again, the trackpad size is a consequence of the form factor. It’s the nature of the beast. What were we expecting (I hear some you say)? You want a big screen, a big keyboard, a big trackpad? Then what are you doing using an EeePC?

The answer is because the Eeep is still an excellent computer despite its – ahem – shortcomings. But it could have been better thought out. There’s no helping the keyboard, but the screen could have been a bit larger, price considerations aside. So with the trackpad.

Asus could have at least given the pad another half-inch, and that half-inch could have made a big difference – the palmrest could have given up that much space. And if you dispose of the raised bezel around the trackpad, a full inch more could have been possible.

Oh, well. Hindsight is 20-20.

Here’s looking forward to future revisions.



1. TalkinTech - February 21, 2008

I hate tapping/double tapping on the trackpad itself. I even disabled it on my MacBook (and the iBook before that… and the Texas Instruments laptop way before my Apple phase). What’s funny is I only got to use the trackpad for tapping/double tapping on my Eee and I’ve gotten so used to it that I now reactivated that feature on my MacBook πŸ™‚

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