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Why is it that every laptop I see in the shops has copied Apple's concept of having no buttons on the mousepad, i.e. buttonless mousepads?

I can't think of a more horrendous usability decision. Every time I want to do a drag and drop or a right click, the act of clicking on the pad shifts the cursor, making using the laptop for complex tasks useless.

closed as primarily opinion-based by DA01, Joshua Barron, Bart Gijssens, greenforest, Matt Obee Jun 16 '14 at 9:02

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Just a data point here, but on my MacBook Pros I've never had a problem with clicking on the pad shifting the cursor. Which company's trackpads are you using? – Drew Beck Jun 15 '14 at 21:14
  • I hate this too especially because I use Linux and even for laptops that come with it pre-installed, the drivers are no good. – Vlad Topala Jun 15 '14 at 22:17
  • I was confused by your question until I figured out that you were talking about trackpads -- not mousepads. – Spire Jun 16 '14 at 6:02
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I don't know for sure, but I imagine it has to do with design sensibility more than functionality (like some other choices by Apple - eg aluminum phones even though it is heavy, gets dents and scratches and weakens the signal for the antenna... To be fair they do generally have good aesthetics). They probably believe, rightly or wrongly, that the buttons interrupt the appearance more than just a flat track pad or magic mouse does.

It could have to do with the OS, too... What is needed to navigate it. At some point i know Apple's OS didn't have right click (although I think they do now) so maybe just having one type of click (tapping on the track pad or magic mouse) suffices. I imagine apple has also find some research and discovered that people were tapping on track pads even when buttons were available, so they knew they weren't not including something must people considered integral... You have to remember that many of Apple's design choices are not geared for power users. The reason is they they only offer a few models. If you only offer a few models you have to aim for the average user, not the rare breed power user. Sometimes they include power user level hardware, like sick GPUs, nice screens, etc, but they won't let those power user features interfere with the design that will appeal to the averageish apple consumer - that's why you won't see something like a number pad on an apple laptop or buttons on the track pad. Those things are power user features that make it look less sexy, so they won't make the cut. If they had a more diverse line up they might have a computer that included those features.

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I can't state this for sure, as we can only speculate, but in terms of Apple, it's likely that they've spent a lot of time and energy into touch UI and arrived at their 'no button' touch pad based on very valid reasoning.

The 'no button' touch pad has been around for a while now on OSX machines and seems to be a very fine way to go about interacting with the computer. The advantages of the button-less pad include:

  • leaves a much larger area for pure touch interaction
  • one doesn't need to focus on any particular spot to create the 'click'
  • larger touch area allows for much smoother scrolling (no need to fumble with a dial or aim for the tiny scroll bars)

This makes for a much more versatile touch interaction for people. It doesn't matter if your left or right handed. Good posture or poor. It's equally usable by all.

As for all these 'other laptops in the shop' I can't speak for them. Maybe they're trying to copy Apple and doing it poorly (a not uncommon issue). Or maybe it's simply not something you personally prefer.

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