When you go to shop for a new notebook, retailers are quick to point out a few specs to highlight all that the system is capable of—the processor, RAM, and screen size, to name a few. However, there’s a number of features and specs that they don’t tell you that are just as important when making your purchasing decision. Here’s a rundown of what they are, how to find them, and how to tell just how good they are—using some of the same tests we perform ourselves.
It's incredible that one of the most-used parts of a notebook gets so little attention. An erratic touchpad can shave as much as a full star off one of our reviews, yet this is an area where laptop makers often cut corners. And, with all the new gestures Windows 8 brings to the table, it's about to get even more important.
Test the touchpad by opening one of the photos in the Photos folder, and performing these gestures: Pinch-to-zoom, two-finger rotate and three-finger flicking (if it's supported). Also, if you go to Control Panel>Mouse, you'll be able to not only see who makes the touchpad, but what gestures are supported. (Some are turned off by default.) Finally, if the mouse buttons are part of the touchpad itself, make sure that it's easy to press, and that it distinguishes well between right and left-mouse clicks.