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Long-term review: The Dell XPS 15 Touch is the laptop to beat

Scot Finnie | Feb. 3, 2016
Dell's latest Windows 10 laptop is lightweight and powerful, with one of the best displays around.

It's most likely Microsoft's driver that has given me a mixed-bag experience with the touchpad. All the gestures that are supposed to work, do; but some are difficult to initiate consistently -- especially anything to do with lateral swiping. The most important finger functions all work: swipe three fingers down to reveal the desktop (my favorite new gesture); tap to click; two-finger tap for right-click; two-finger scroll; and move objects by pressing and holding them with one finger (I use my thumb), then dragging a second finger in the direction you want to move the object.

With that core set of gestures in hand, as it were, there's enough Mac glass-trackpad-like functionality for me to jump ship to Windows and the Dell XPS 15.

The problem with the Precision Touchpad is that it's finicky. When your intent is to make only a small adjustment to the mouse pointer's position, it sometimes balks. (Keeping the touchpad clean helps.) If you also use an external mouse with the touchpad, the two human interface drivers sometimes get confused and drop their settings.

Probably the most frustrating aspect is two-finger scrolling. It works great in most browsers. But scrolling through Outlook 2013's message list, I feel like I'm slogging through molasses. In Word 2013, scrolling sometimes just stops working altogether (especially in Draft view). In various other applications two-finger scrolling may be fast or slow. Scrolling speed and characteristics (such as whether it has momentum or stops right away) is inconsistent from app to app. It's ironic that Microsoft Office 2013 apps have the most difficulty with the Precision driver. The finicky behavior seems to come and go. If you don't use an external mouse in addition to the touchpad, you'll see fewer issues.

I've seen one other bad behavior. A single touchpad tap to click can become three or four clicks in a split second. For example, I sometimes find myself clicking browser back and forward buttons repeatedly until I can get the Web page I want because the touchpad overshoots. I'm not trying for multiple clicks, but I get two or three on a single tap. Mac trackpads don't add additional clicks based on the amount of time your finger is touching the pad after a tap, nor does the intensity of the tap add additional clicks. I'm not sure what's causing this, and it doesn't happen all the time. More than anything, the improved Windows touchpad needs a user setting for sensitivity and unified application support.

windows 10 precision touchpad settings
Dell In Windows 10, the pointer controls are divided into two locations: Some are found under Control Panel while others are found here in the new Settings applet.

 

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