Let’s take a quick look at the TP713 I recently bought and just plugged in. Is it for you?
I recently purchased a Dell S2340T touchscreen monitor – more on that when I get a chance to take it out of the box perhaps. While purchasing that, I was presented with the TP173 as an accessory. The funny thing about that is that I would really need one of these if I have a touchscreen monitor installed. Having said that, there are a few shortcut gestures that the default Windows 8 touchscreen experience doesn’t provide AFAIK and I could ultimately prefer it to a mouse or the built in touch pad on a laptop.
I did wonder whether this was just a touch pad and how I’d know where to tap on the pad if there’s no screen under my finger. Then I realized that this is of course just like a bigger version of the touchpad you find on any laptop that moves the mouse pointer around, but with added Windows 8 gesture goodness.
In fact if you have a Windows 8 laptop or appropriate drivers for a laptop upgraded to Windows 8, the experience may be almost the same. By that I also include the reverse scrolling many people complain about (and while there is a checkbox for reverse scrolling in the Mouse control panel applet Synaptic driver section to change the behavour of my laptop’s built-in touch pad at least, there isn’t any visible control panel specifically for the TP173).
To get started, you just insert the (easy to lose and should have a slot in the touchpad to store it) USB radio dongle – no Bluetooth? – and you’re ready to go after a short recognition process. The device is supposed to last 3 months on the 2 AAA batteries and there is an on/off switch on the bottom. You use the Mouse control panel applet to control sensitivity as if it’s a mouse. If you are left-handed you can switch these in the Mouse control panel applet. There’s an app you can download on the Dell website which when ‘installed’, brings up a simple version of the applet with the appropriate tab showing.
Physically, the unit sits at a slide angle from the desk towards me. The bottom edge can click down to perform left and right clicks just like modern laptop touchpads that have a single continuous surface. This isn’t actually necessary most of the time because you can tap select anywhere on the surface or right-click by tapping two fingers. The edges are silver and I thought they would have been better with a curved edge formed from one top piece rather than a bezel.
So other than swiping around on the touchpad to make relative mouse pointer movements, what gestures does this thing support?
Well there some information on the paper insert in the box, but you are told to download a demo app that shows you all the gestures. Even then, there’s one gesture that wasn’t in the demo app.
|Tap 1 finger on surface||Left click equivalent7|
|Tape 2 fingers on surface*||Right click equivalent7|
|Physical click in bottom left||Left click equivalent7|
|Physical click in bottom right||Right click equivalent7|
|Swipe from close to right edge to middle||Windows 8 charms bar slides on/off|
|Swipe from close to left edge to middle||Windows 8 application switch|
|Swipe from close to top (or bottom just above left/right button area) to middle||App-Bar toggle when in Windows Store App|
|Pinch two fingers together/apart on surface||Pinch/zoom behaviour in supporting software7|
|Rotate two fingers around on surface||Rotate behaviour in supporting software7|
|Move two fingers together up/down or left/right on surface||Vertical and Horizontal scrolling in supporting software7|
|Same but remove fingers while moving||Same but with inertia7|
|3 fingers sliding up on surface||Activate Windows Search in Windows Store app|
|3 fingers sliding down on surface||Toggle to/from Windows 8 start screen|
|3 fingers sliding left on surface||Back navigation in supporting software7|
|3 fingers sliding right on surface||Forward navigation in supporting software7|
* not shown in demo app.
7 Also works in Windows 7
‘supporting software’ means desktop or Windows Store software that normally reacts to these events (e.g. a web browser)
So, here are possible reasons to acquire this device:
- As a desktop mouse replacement because you have limited desktop space to move around – not certain of the long-term ergonomics though
- As a desktop mouse replacement because you like using a laptop-like touchpad more than a mouse.
- As a desktop mouse replacement/enhancement because you want the 1-finger Windows 8 edge gestures using touch or the 2-finger manipulation gestures well suited to touch.
- As a laptop enhancement for the 1/2-finger gestures and your laptop touchpad (even with new drivers) doesn’t support gestures.
- You want touch-based interaction with your app, but remember that this is a touchpad replacement with relative cursor movement rather than an absolute touch-content-on-screen device – for that you need a touch screen solution
- Because you love gadgets