Touchpads have become synonymous with laptops. Regardless of the brand, most laptops have a built-in touchpad that allows users to control them. Rather than connecting a mouse, for instance, you can move your fingers around the laptop’s touchpad. Doing so will essentially mimic the movements of a mouse, meaning the cursor will move in response to your finger movements.

There are two primary types of touchpads, however, including resistive and capacitive. Resistive touchpads work in a similar manner as resistive touchscreens, whereas capacitive touchpads use a similar mechanism as capacitive touchscreens. If you’re unfamiliar with resistive and capacitive technology, keep reading to learn more about them and how they are used to power touchpads in laptops.

What Is a Resistive Touchpad?

A resistive touchpad is a type of laptop control system that uses pressure to detect a user’s touch command. It acts like a miniature resistive touchscreen device. When you press your finger against a resistive touchpad, you’ll push its two conductive layers together. The top layer will press into the bottom layer. The resistive touchpad will process this information to determine where you touched.

Resistive touchpads have been around for decades. They offer a simple and effective way to control laptops. With that said, resistive touchpads have largely been replaced by capacitive. Since the turn of the 21st century, more and more laptop manufacturers have switched to capacitive touchpads.

What Is a Capacitive Touchpad?

A capacitive touchpad, on the other hand, is a type of laptop control system that measures capacitance to detect a user’s touch command. If you keep up with our blog here at Nelson Miller, you may recall reading about capacitive touchscreen devices. Whether it’s a smartphone, tablet or human machine interface (HMI), capacitive touchscreen devices detect touch commands by measuring capacitance. Capacitive touchpads follow this same path by measuring capacitance to calculate a user’s touch command.

Capacitive touchpads generate a uniform electrostatic field during operation, meaning they have a constant and consistent electrical charge. When you press your finger against a capacitive touchpad, your finger will draw some of its electrical charge. The capacitive touchpad will notice the reduction of capacitance, which it will use to determine when and where you touched.

In Conclusion

Laptops are often designed with either a resistive or capacitive touchpad. Resistive touchpads use pressure to detect touch commands, whereas capacitive touchpads use capacitance to detect touch commands. They both support the use of touch commands, but they use different mechanisms to detect them.