Friday, November 09, 2012

Windows 8 Trackpad Gesture support for older Laptops

As many have learned, there are a whole new set of ways to navigate Windows 8. Most of these are accessible via a mouse and keyboard. But what about the trackpads built into laptops? Especially, older existing laptops that people may upgraded to Windows 8.

Paul Thurrott did a good job documenting the addition of Windows 8 gesture support using a trackpad but noted that this support would likely be limited to new laptops designed for Windows 8. As is often the case, older laptops need not apply.

I have an Asus UL30a that I bought a couple of years ago and continue to enjoy to use. It is pre-ultrabook but shares many features of the newer ultrabooks. I’m not quite ready to retire it since I have done a few hardware upgrades to improve its performance (Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid hard drive, etc.). I recently upgraded the OS to the shipping version of Windows 8 Pro 64 (including Media Center) and had a good upgrade experience. There were a few details to work out including getting updated trackpad drivers.

The UL30 uses an Elantech trackpad. Looking at the Asus default web site for the UL30 shows trackpad drivers from almost 3 years ago. Asus has a very bad habit of essentially abandoning their hardware after they are released and are very poor at providing links to the latest drivers even when new ones have been released. Often it is much better to bypass Asus completely and go straight to the hardware vendor site directly. For example Realtek makes the audio codec in the UL30a and you can get the latest Realtek HD Audio drivers directly from the Realtek web site. Other vendors such as Elantech can’t be bothered to offer drivers and simply refer you to you laptop maker such as Asus which leaves you spinning in circles!

The dirty secret is that Asus does have updated drivers on their support site but they make them nearly impossible to find.

I have now stumbled upon a fast way to find the latest Asus drivers independent of what hardware you may have.

You simply use the Google “Site:” keyword in your search to hone in on these gems. For example to find the latest trackpad drivers that Asus has on their website you would type the following search: site:support.asus.com elantech. The top result is a list of all the latest trackpad drivers for Elantech and Synaptics in reverse chronological order!. The very top item is a very recent driver for Elantech touchpads that features Windows 8 gesture support. I have installed this driver on my UL30 that works and now I have access to several of the Windows 8 gestures!

I also needed an update for the Asus hotkeys to allow me to control volume and screen brightness, etc. from the keyboard. Using my previous example you can search using the keyword “ATK” and get an updated driver list for this critical driver as well.

It’s ashame that vendors like Asus cannot expose this search feature on their web site but as I have stated earlier, Asus essentially abandons their hardware as soon as it is released and can’t be bothered to provide links to updated drivers. Thanks to Google, you can circumvent this roadblock to happier computing!

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,

thanks for your report. Completely agree regarding Asus' driver support. It's really annoying.

I have installed Win8 on my UL30a too and I was wondering if you could clarify the touchpad version you've installed. I've tried some, but haven't really got it working yet.

Also, which ATK version did you install?

Thanks a lot for your help!

Chris said...

I used version Version V11.5.2.1 of the Elantech Driver which is at the top of the list at the link I provided in my original post. I also used Version V1.0.0056 of the ATK Hotkey utility to provide Windows 8 support for the function key commands (e.g. screen brightness, volume).

-CB

Anonymous said...

That's very helpful. Thanks a lot.

Anonymous said...

Did you ger your camera working? After I upgraded to Windows 8 my camera image is upside down and only displaying a resolution of .4mp.

Wiseday said...

What an interesting find. I have a laptop of the same model. Was wondering if it was possible to change settings, Through your advice I have obtained the touchpad drivers for elantech, however I cant change any settings for them such as tapping scrolling which were available in the windows 7 one. the etd control centre. it is there in program files double clicking it just opens a process with no ui

jjwatmyself said...

Finally I find a page for fellow UL30a owners using Windows 8. :) I have been accumulating drivers etc and am also having issues with the inverted webcam image. :(

Anonymous said...

I have the same problem with the camera, picture is upside down :( Anyone have a solution to that?

jjwatmyself said...

I thought I posted yesterday but somehow it vaporized.

I still do not have a solution for the web cam.

The touch pad is interesting. There are drivers from Asus, Acer and Dell. Those where edge gestures work are difficult to work with. It seems that the edge is the border and because the trackpad is quite small there are too many accidental edge detections. I'm using the Dell driver now and quite happy with it. The edge features do not work, but that's OK.

Touchpad_Elantech_W8_X02_A00_Setup-MG9H2_ZPE.exe

http://www.dell.com/support/drivers/us/en/04/DriverDetails/Product/inspiron-m521r?driverId=MG9H2&fileId=3099048097&osCode=W764

jjwatmyself said...

I've tested additional drivers and here is my conclusion for the optimum Elan trackpad driver for the UL30a.

Version 11.5.2.1 from the Asus site has brilliant gesture support including right edge, two finger tap, three finger swipe up and down. There is no left edge swipe, which on 11.5.5.2 is poorly implemented to say the least. If a newer 11.5.5.x version is released, the left edge gesture may be improved and worth re-testing. Download links can be found on the link below.

http://support.asus.com/Download.aspx?SLanguage=en&m=Touchpad&os=30

jjwatmyself said...

Off topic post: The default Microsoft WebCam driver for Chicony CNF7129 will work, but all images will be upside down.

Unfortunately the Microsoft driver lacks the facility to flip the image. To fix the UL30a webcam flipped issue (upside down) for legacy apps only, download and install the W7x64 driver from Asus version v61.5.200.270 or v61.5.200.290. Reboot is required.

Next, update the following registry setting:
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{6bdd1fc6-810f-11d0-bec7-08002be2092f}\0000\Settings]

"Flip"=dword:00000001

Legacy apps will function correctly (e.g. Skype for Desktop) with the image the correct way up. Windows 8 RT apps will not recognize the camera. I am guessing that drivers for RT are different / operate independently to those used for legacy apps.

jjwatmyself said...

Camera continued:

Edit snp2uvc.inf. Find and replace all occurrences of the following to provide the appropriate Win 8 legacy support:

Find and Replace NTx86.6.1 with NTx86.6.2

Find and Replace NTamd64.6.1 with NTamd64.6.2

This will ensure that the appropriate registry settings are added.

The registry notification described above is still necessary

Alex said...

Has anyone figured out which driver to install to get the touchpad disable hotkey (fn + f9) working? I've installed ATKOSD2, ATKHotkey and the newest Touchpad driver, still now working. Any ideas?

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Dulal Hussain said...

Has anyone figured out which driver to install to get the touchpad disable hotkey (fn + f9) working? I've installed ATKOSD2, ATKHotkey and the newest Touchpad driver, still now working. Any ideas?
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Jerry Gene said...

I like your style of writing. You break it down nicely. Very informative post. Keep up the good work.


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star kid said...

That was lovely to hear about it. Windows 8 has got a lot to go with laptop and now windows phone are rocking! In b/w the trackpad was really awesome to look out.
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