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Many laptops come with an off-center trackpad as seen below:

Sample image

What's the rationale behind this design? Has any research been done into what end-users prefer?
As my personal and very subjective opinion, it's the number one thing I don't want in a laptop.

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    I guess the real question is "do users really want a number pad?" as that would be the most common reason to set the main keyboard off centre, thus influencing the trackpad position. Personally, I'd like to see less number pads and more centred keyboard/trackpad designs. – Jeremy Mar 26 '16 at 19:55
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    I'd be fairly surprised if it isn't just legacy positioning from when touchpads weren't multi-touch, when left/right buttons were present (and actually half-usable with a thumb), when touchpads were trackballs, etc.. Maybe I type differently than every other human, but accidentally utilizing the touchpad has never been an issue while typing for me. Maybe I use a touchpad differently than every other human, but when I'm two-finger scrolling, it doesn't matter where my hand was on the keyboard, because it's entirely moved to the touchpad. IMO the touchpad & typing hands both should be centered. – Jan Kyu Peblik Feb 7 '18 at 5:07
  • Since they felt so strongly about it, I wish the OP would have given a clue as to why they didn't want the touchpad centered based on a typist's hand locations. – nobar Nov 10 '18 at 21:23
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    The touchpad on the Dell XPS-13 is centered over the h key, a few centimeters from where I'd like it (between the g and h key). I cannot figure out how to type without the base of my right thumb hitting the trackpad, which of course is a mouse-click. Maddening, so I turn it off and use an external mouse. No idea why the touchpad would be anything but the center of the keyboard. – Tac Tacelosky Jul 21 '19 at 14:45
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    Interesting. So it seems that for me personally, the way my hands are placed on the keyboard also affects the degree to which the touch pad will pick up the palms. I happen to prefer typing with my wrists and elbows tucked inward towards one another. After reading these answers, I find if I spread/push my wrists & elbows outward then there's little to no risk of touching the touchpad. Of course now typing is a bit awkward and I have to get used to the new position. – Gbenga Apr 28 at 2:15
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In the case of this specific laptop, the track pad was positioned on the same axis as the keyboard centre, which is right between G and H (since F and J are the 'touchtypist' edge keys).

Here are the centres of interest on a particular HP machine:

An image of an HP laptop with 3 vertical lines, each representing the centre of the keys, trackpad and screen

And the touch typing centre:

An illustration of computer keyboard with hand in touch typing positions

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  • The trackpad being centered is far from being unique to this laptop alone, this is merely a sample image. This answer is too specific. – Nit Feb 25 '15 at 21:37
  • Indeed. When I said "In the case of this specific laptop" I meant that with this specific laptop the trackpad is indeed keyboard-centred. But that isn't the case with all laptops, where, as the first illustration shows, on some the trackpad is neither screen-centred nor keyboard centred. – Izhaki Feb 25 '15 at 21:44
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If you type with your two hands in the home row position (as you should), they will be centred around the f and j keys on a qwerty keyboard. That means that if you don't want someone's palm to rest on the trackpad and annoying activate it, that you need to place the trackpad below the f and j keys to minimise inadvertent touchpad touching and cursor movement.

The picture shown in the question shows a well placed touchpad, whereas if you were to place it in the middle of the keyboard (on that laptop), it would be quite a UX disaster for most users. The touchpad on a MacBook Pro is exactly in the middle, but has a more centred keyboard, which is how Apple get away with it - that and good palm detection.

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