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  • Trackpads Overview
  • Full Article

Though trackpads (also known as touchpads) have, in recent years, been eclipsed by touch screens in the realm of mobile phone technology, they haven't disappeared from the market entirely. A number of brands (most notably Blackberry) still utilize trackpads in their phones, and, among larger portable electronics like laptops, they remain standard equipment.

Like touchscreens, trackpads respond to changes in their surface conditions, most commonly in electrical conductance. When you move your finger over a track pad, the baseline electrical charge of the surface changes. Sensors below the surface detect that change, and map your finger's position on the vertical and horizontal axis, much as GPS determines location via longitude and latitude. That data is in then interpreted by the device's software and translated, via relative motion, to the movement of a cursor on the screen.

Because trackpads perform such a sensitive task, and because, well, you're always pressing on them, they sometimes lose sensitivity and accuracy. More sudden damages sustained from falls and spills can, moreover, incapacitate a trackpad completely. Thankfully for those out of warranty, replacement trackpads are readily available and affordable, and replacement is relatively simple.

Though trackpads (also known as touchpads) have, in recent years, been eclipsed by touch screens in the realm of mobile phone technology, they haven't disappeared from the market entirely. A number of brands (most notably Blackberry) still utilize trackpads in their phones, and, among larger portable electronics like laptops, they remain standard equipment.

How do trackpads work?

Like touchscreens, trackpads respond to changes in their surface conditions, most commonly in electrical conductance. When you move your finger over a track pad, the baseline electrical charge of the surface changes. Sensors below the surface detect that change, and map your finger's position on the vertical and horizontal axis, much as GPS determines location via longitude and latitude. That data is in then interpreted by the device's software and translated, via relative motion, to the movement of a cursor on the screen.

Replacing your trackpad:

Because trackpads perform such a sensitive task, and because, well, you're always pressing on them, they sometimes lose sensitivity and accuracy. More sudden damages sustained from falls and spills can, moreover, incapacitate a trackpad completely. Thankfully for those out of warranty, replacement trackpads are readily available and affordable, and replacement is relatively simple. Most replacement trackpads come with an included tool, simplifying removal.

Of course, if the thought of performing the replacement yourself seems daunting, you can always bring your phone along with your replacement trackpad to a professional. The overall cost will still likely be much lower than that of an out of warranty repair.

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