updated 03:00 pm EDT, Wed June 3, 2009
Timing its launch for Computex, Synaptics has unveiled a new notebook trackpad design to close the gap between MacBooks and Windows PCs. Similar to Apple's design, the ClickPad removes discrete mouse buttons in favor of a larger unbroken surface. Users press down to click the button and get more space for multi-touch gestures, which are now a staple of the design. Pinching, scrolling and zooming are all possible with two fingers, while three fingers can either swipe or else produce an alternate click.
In contrast with Apple, Synaptics' version can have a three-finger click serve as an alternate means of starting up the PC. Builders can have the command boot the system directly to one of six apps of the user's choice. A mode toggle at the corner can optionally activate "buttons" hidden in the pad itself for media navigation or other extras.
The company vows out-of-the-gate support for Windows 7 and bills the ClickPad as well-suited to netbooks, where some of the limited space for a tracking surface could be claimed back. Synaptics should make its version of the technology available in the summer and will leave the PCs themselves to ship sometime afterwards.
The development marks one of the few instances of rough parity between multi-touch trackpads on more than one OS. Multi-touch has existed on computers like ASUS' Eee PC 900 series since last year but has often been only selective and usually limited to two-finger gestures. Despite the addition of more complex commands, the ClickPad stilll lacks four-finger gestures.