Hands On With The Apple Magic Trackpad: It's Weird, But Could Be Useful

Apple Magic TrackpadThere goes our mousepad collection…

Apple’s latest, the Magic Trackpad, is one of the weirdest gadgets the company has shipped in recent memory. But if you really love using a MacBook trackpad, or really don’t like mice, it could be the peripheral for you.We stopped by our local Apple Store on the way home today, eager to try it out. The Magic Trackpad wasn’t on display, but it was in stock — $70 — so we picked one up. (We’ve been eager to replace our ageing Logitech mouse for a while, so it’s worth a shot.)

The basic idea is that Apple has taken the multi-touch trackpad from its MacBook laptops, made it a lot bigger, and turned it into a standalone Bluetooth accessory for Macs. Like the MacBook trackpad, and some of Apple’s recent mice, the whole surface is a giant button — the button mechanism is neatly built into the feet on the bottom.

Besides the usual pointing and clicking, there’s a bunch of multi-touch gesture controls supported by the trackpad, including scrolling, switching between apps, browsing back and forth between web pages, etc.

After using it for about half an hour, we’re not completely sold on the concept, but it has potential.

The biggest problem is the learning curve: It’s a weird and novel way to zoom around our big desktop screen, and it’s going to take some getting used to. (We’ve never owned one of the newer MacBooks with the “buttonless” trackpad, so we don’t have any practice.) After almost 20 years of using Mac mice, we’re fast and accurate, a skill we can’t yet claim on this new slab.

But we’ve never been crazy about the semi-recent trend of wireless mice — the Magic Mouse doesn’t do it for us — so the Magic Trackpad is worth an extended try. And all the neat multi-touch gestures could end up being helpful once we learn how to use them.

We’ll try it for a month (or until it drives us crazy) and report back.

Earlier: Apple Selling New Gadgets! Magical Trackpad And More!

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