*****Final Update***** So it seems that Samsung has been plagued with more issues related to the touchpad and many commenters have related it to something having to do with the power connection. Apparently when the AC adapter is plugged in the touchpad goes wacky. When unplugged it works fine. The solution has been to purchase a cheap power conditioner to put inline with the adapter. I added this update because I wanted to save the reader from reading a very long post only to find the answer to their issue in the comment section. Have a great day!
*****Update***** I found out that one must never rely on reviews, even if they are from a trusted source, for the instructions or features of your product. Apparently one can’t rely on the support from the companies you bought said product from either. Today while I was in a doctors office built like a bunker sans internet and sans cellphone service I decided to read my laptop manual that was preinstalled by Samsung (who reads the manual anyway?). Well, it turns out that they specifically show how to right click using the bottom right portion of the trackpad. This leads me to assume that this MUST be a new manual for a new version of the laptop as there are just too many posts out there talking about double press right click (here, here, here, here, and more. Or most reviewers didn’t understand the complex trackpad in the unit and thought it was just one big trackpad. That led consumers to take their word at face value and not read the manual. Users like me. Either that or I’ve just lost my mind. You decide. It’s probably a little from column A and a little from column B. Anyway, after further research it would seem that the touchpad on the Samsung Series 9 is actually a lot more complex than most people think and is not just your typical multi touch trackpad like say…..Apples.
So I received my new laptop yesterday in the mail from the Microsoft Store online. It’s a Samsung Series 9, 13“. It was late in coming as I had purchased 2 day shipping after ordering it on Sunday and it came on Thursday at 6pm. Granted that it WAS ordered on Sunday but even allowing for processing on Monday it still shouldn’t have taken so long. MS was nice enough to send me a free XBox 360 even though the laptop wasn’t one of their “qualifying” versions for their current “Back to School” promotion for some strange reason. Of course, I had to prove that the owner was a student to get it and since my wife is going back to school for another degree she has a student email address which I used as we both “share” the laptop, wink wink….nudge nudge.
Another bonus for the Microsoft store, and the reason I purchased it there, was that the laptop was more than a few hundred dollars cheaper through Microsoft than anywhere else. In fact, one of the only reasons this laptop gets lower points than the equally beautiful MacBook Air is that it is MORE expensive. Getting it through MS takes care of that problem. My wife has a MacBook Air and I have to say, it’s hard to tell which is a better machine although I think this one beats it out slightly. MS also images their laptops without all of the bloatware normally installed on the piece which is a huge boon. This is part of their “Signature” series of PC’s. When I buy machines I normally wipe them and reinstall the bare OS from scratch so that I can put only the things I want on them. In this case MS did that for me. “Yay,” I thought. This will save me tons of time!
When it finally arrived I was really really excited to say the least. I buy a new laptop only once every few years and always try and go all out so that it will last and serve me well. This one is no exception. It’s gorgeous (Check out the pic below). Not only is it 10 grams lighter than the MacBook Air, it is also made out of this aircraft aluminum called Duralumin which makes it lighter and tougher. It does tend to be a fingerprint magnet though. However, for a guy like me that constantly deals with networks and has to have a native Ethernet adapter (not virtual for packet tracing) this one actually sports one via a native dongle. I hate dongles but if it keeps the laptop slim and light, I’m down. When I turned it on it was instantly noticeable that this was a quick machine. However, when I tested the standby mode and then the “Fast boot” that Samsung promised was just as fast as the MacBook Air it turns out it wasn’t even installed. On top of that the multi touch trackpad wasn’t multi touch.
Something was terribly wrong. I quickly navigated to the Control Panel where I looked at the “mouse” settings to TURN ON the multi touch capabilities that Microsoft had TURNED OFF!!! What??? So then I was able to do all the cool things you’d expect to do with multi touch such as two finger scrolling, four finger Aero, three finger back and forward, etc. Yeah…everything except for two finger right click. On every review I’ve read on this thing it mentions that it has two finger right click like the MacBook Air. What I didn’t notice was that in the customer review sections multiple people mentioned problems with this feature. Some people returned their unit twice until they got one that worked. Some people did what I did and downloaded the latest drivers from Samsung’s website to see if that would fix it and for some people that DID work. Not for me.
Looking at the posts it seemed that it was very hit or miss with getting this to work. I had already reinstalled multiple drivers, checked settings, read through numerous forums, etc. Nothing. I decided that the next day I would call Samsung to see if there was a known issue or better yet, a known resolution to the issue. When I reached technical support they told me that there is a known “AM frequency” issue and to remove the power cord from the laptop, turn it off, then turn it back on again. I’ve actually seen these kinds of issues before in other mobile devices. It can do all kinds of strange things including causing issues with touchpads. “Does right click work now?” she asked. “No,” I said. “Still nothing.” She asked if I was sure that I was pressing with two fingers to the point where the touchpad clicked and not just tapping on it and I assured her I was. At that point she told me it was a hardware problem and I’d have to call MS to get it returned as it was so new. If I went through them it would take 7 to 10 days before I received the replacement.
So I called MS. A lovely sounding lady came on the other end of the phone almost immediately. I was impressed even though I was angry, frustrated and disillusioned. I mean, I just received this thing, late, and it already had to go back. Not to mention I had already spent hours installing software and tweaking it to where I wanted it. Yes, I could image it and place the image on the replacement but I’m always weary on that in case it’s a slightly different build. I explained my issue and my amazement that Microsoft would DISABLE core functionality on a laptop by default. How can one disable multi touch on a PC that doesn’t have a right click button? To clarify, there IS a right click button on the keyboard itself but this is a pain to use and worst of all you have to left click first the item you want to right click. Try right clicking a hyperlink then. It’s impossible.
She was as surprised as I was that they would do that and assured me she would contact the labs to get it all sorted out. She said that if it was a hardware problem I would have the option to do an advanced replacement. Now an advanced replacement to me means I give my credit card info and if I don’t send back the faulty unit my credit card will be charged. Not in Microsofts world. For them it means that I PURCHASE A NEW LAPTOP and when they receive the old one they will credit me at some point. Nice. I guess I didn’t really have much of a choice as I wasn’t going to be a day without this thing. She gave me her full name and direct number and told me she’d call back later. That also, was impressive.
In the meantime I didn’t want to give up looking for a solution. I went to the Synaptics website as they are the maker of the touchpad. There I saw no driver downloads as each OEM has to write their own using the Synaptics API. It then hit me, how could this be a hardware issue if I can do two finger scrolling? Surely if the touchpad can see my two fingers scrolling it can feel the two fingers click the pad! Immediately I called the woman at MS to tell her I and the Samsung support technician must have been wrong. It HAS to be a software issue. To my amazement the number she gave WAS a direct line to her and she picked up almost immediately. What service! She had actually been researching the issue and talking to the guys in the lab. They were scratching their heads over the problem. I told them it must be a driver issue and coincidentally the latest drivers came out August 29th which was 3 days before I received my laptop. Maybe THAT was the issue. She told me she’d call me back after lunch and once again I was left to myself trying to figure out a way to fix this. I would download Synaptics‘ API and write my own driver if I had to. Thought I’m not really good at it I’ve had to do it before in a pinch.
After reading more forums where people were so upset they returned the laptop for good I read about some other “issues”. It seems that some touchpads are out of alignment. Or were they? Many people complained about the fact that the touchpad is smooth and streamlined at the top but at the bottom there is a little bezel as it is lower on each side. Finally one person said that they think this is a design choice and is purposefully done that way as there is hidden hardware functionality in the bottom corners. Huh? I clicked the bottom right corner, as close to the bezel as possible. RIGHT CLICK!
I can only deduce from this that when the initial builds came out there was a two finger right click as on the MacBook Air. Since then there has been a driver change that altered how this works. Unfortunately there is NO documentation on it and neither Samsung technical support or Microsoft technical support are aware of it (or at least the people I spoke with). In the end I’m definitely frustrated on how this went and how much time out of my life it took to get it resolved. However, I’m relieved that I don’t have to send the unit back and reinstall all of my programs, settings, etc. The woman at Microsoft was glad to hear what happened. She had been speaking with the people in the labs and they may put multi touch back on the default menu as well as fast start. They’re also noting how to right click so that people don’t have to return their laptops for nothing anymore. 🙂