Apple Magic Trackpad


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Like most desktop computer owners I always controlled what happened on my screen with a keyboard and later on a mouse. In the middle of 2010 nothing really changed in that department: You still execute certain commands by either keyboard and/or mouse (maybe a trackball). Next-gen MacBook (Pro) and iPhone / iPad / iPod touch owners have been lucky enough to experience multi-touch goodness for quite some time now to manipulate their devices with.

With the Magic Trackpad Apple aimed to bring this extra functionality to desktop computers as well. But rather than using the traditional way through (multi-) touch input directly by touching the screen like some HP desktops (which isn't that convenient for prolonged periods of time), they moved the multi-touch surface to a separate plate on your desk.

Packaging

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With the Magic Trackpad Apple continue their track record of minimalistic packaging. No surprises there.

What’s in the box

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  • Magic Trackpad
  • Two AA batteries
  • User Guide

Design

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The Magic Trackpad is basically little more than a ± 13 x 13 centimeter square that features the same smooth glass surface as the unibody MacBook Pros do with a battery holder made of the same aluminum as the Apple Keyboard. It also has the same curved back that lifts the thing up at the exact same angle. In hight and depth the Magic Trackpad is identical to the Apple Keyboard. With Apple's attention to detail when it comes to industrial design that shouldn't come as a surprise.

Software and minimal software requirements

The Magic Trackpad requires Mac OS X v10.6.4 + Apple Magic Trackpad Software Update. It essentially means you need a Mac with Intel processor. Macs with PPC processors are not supported.

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When pairing the Magic Trackpad with my Mac Pro for the first time Software Update immediately came up prompting me to download and install the required software package. After the mandatory restart System Preferences will display a new Trackpad preference pane you can access to customize its workings to your liking. As always the teamwork between Apple's software and hardware is impeccable, so really no complaints there. The only downside to this method is that you need an internet connection, as no software on physical media is provided. For most this won't be an issue though.

I imagine that the future v10.6.5 update will feature the trackpad software out-of-the-box, so by that time new owners won't have to do a thing but to simply pair their Magic Trackpad with their Macs.

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Breakdown of all the Trackpad preferences offered by System Preferences. I enabled Tap to Click, Dragging and Drag Lock. These options make dragging windows, files / folders and other content a breeze and much more convenient. Tap to Click allows you to simply, well, tap to click (like the name suggests :p ) instead of physically pressing down the trackpad. Drag Lock will allow you to lift up your finger from the trackpad without dropping down the content in mid-drag.

All options are accompanied by a short movie that explains how to use it. Figuring out how to operate your brand new Magic Trackpad shouldn't be too hard.

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Options of the Magic Mouse in comparison.

Windows support

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Unfortunately for those who would like to know how the Magic Trackpad works with Windows I can't say much regarding the subject. My Mac Pro runs only Mac OS X with no Windows installed. The review is purely based on my experiences with the Magic Trackpad in combination with Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

Windows support update 16-08-2010

Reportedly the Magic Trackpad won't support the following features on Windows:

  • Rotate
  • Pinch Open & Close
  • Any gesture that requires three fingers
  • Any gesture that requires four fingers

More info (thanks to BigBoy): http://www.labnol.org/software/apple-magic-trackpad-with-windows/14158/

Everyday usage

So far the Magic Trackpad seems like a proper mouse replacement for everyday tasks. So far I haven't had issues with the large surface area (Reviewer on Engadget said he felt lost on it), or with the trackpad's accuracy. In fact after few weeks of using it the Magic Trackpad has completely replaced my Magic Mouse which is now out of a job and sitting powered down on my desk.

Future

Mac OS X Lion, which will be released Summer '11, will heavily extend the amount of multi-touch gestures.

Anyway, let me know if you have any further questions. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

price 66-69 depending on where you purchase, not bad. looks interesting enough. wonder how this works with a PC.

thanks for the review. if you have a PC, I'd like to know if it's recognized as a trackpad...

edit: just read this somewhere: "Only works as a two-button scrolling mouse in Boot Camp/Windows."

btw. some other sites claim this is something "Apple dreamed up". I really don't like that standpoint, especially since this has been out there for a while. I guess the solution for the PC is Wacom: http://www.wacom.com/bamboo/bamboo_touch.php

this works for both Mac and PC (Win7 multitouch)

I have the bamboo pen, but it would be nice to do everything with your finger of course.

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Is it windows compatible?

No:

Software and Software Requirements

The Magic Trackpad requires Mac OS X v10.6.4 + Apple Magic Trackpad Software Update

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I think if Microsoft releases one it has a better chance. This one is only for Macs. And will work with Bootcamp... But not do any Multi-touch gestures etc. A Windows one (Possibly Linux) would attract a bigger market. But thanks for the good review :cool:

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Thanks for the review!

Can you play games effectively with it? Or is it just like any other trackpad?

some people may be able to, but it isn't my preference. I can play wow on it while leveling a toon, and that is about all that I am comfortable with. Someone who takes advantage of all the programable gestures from available with bettertouchtool could be very effective in a game. I don't see this working well for a fps.

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Can you play games effectively with it? Or is it just like any other trackpad?

I really, really doubt that Apple had gamers in mind while designing the device.

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between your magic mouse and the trackpad, do you have any preference in terms of everyday use?

Since I got the Magic Trackpad my Magic Mouse lies powered down next my LED Cinema Display. At first I though the trackpad would be a pain to use with "pro" applications like InDesign and Final Cut Pro, but it actually works very well. Especially the tab click and drag lock makes things extremely user-friendly.

Still not sure whether or not to sell my Magic Mouse, because I really have no use for it anymore.

This thiing is huge. Interesting review :)

Its sheer size is what makes the Magic Trackpad so great compared to, especially, the tiny trackpads most PC laptops carry. It also looks pretty cool sitting on the desk like that without a mouse lying next to it. Very futuristic. :p

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are your fingers ok after a day? What about wet hands (a hot day, for example)? Personally I cannot use tachpads for the long period of time. Feeling like fingers are wearing :)

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are your fingers ok after a day? What about wet hands (a hot day, for example)? Personally I cannot use tachpads for the long period of time. Feeling like fingers are wearing :)

You get used to your hand being in another position compared to the mouse pretty quickly. I'm not going to lie here: The first few days definitely felt awkward and my index finger would cramp up. Now I'm used to using the Trackpad that issue has resolved itself. So far I haven't had any issues with sweaty hands, but then again I don't sweat that much while sitting behind my desk. ;)

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I'd personally wait (actually I am) - wait for Microsoft's trackpad (widely rumored already), which will have 1st grade Windows support of course.

From what I gather Microsoft's answer won't immediately support multi-touch though. Which makes me wonder what point there is to getting one.

I'm adding your link to the review, thanks for it. :)

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Damn I had been hoping the Tragic Macpad was going to be fully Windows compatible as I liked the sound of it.

I will have to stick to my old mouse I guess on windows for a while yet.

Nice review btw, I actually read all of it (Y) (I normally read bits as they bore me, but yours didn't)

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Great review .Neo!

I have to say that you have to have cool hands to be able to use this for an extended period of time. You can wipe off your hands once in a while using the trackpad. I have a problem with sweaty hands and my fingers do not glide easily over the trackpad during daytime this summer. Maybe it's just because the trackpad gets dirty from all the sweat that it needs to be wiped clean once a day.

I've had the trackpad since Friday the 13th and I have wiped it off numerous times and washed my hands a million times just to get rid of the residue Holding the trackpad up against the light and one sees the residue from the sweaty fingers. I have never used the trackpad on a laptop of my own but I guess it needs to be cleaned too.

It's going in the wrong direction. The Magic Mouse, the Magic Trackpad and the iPhone(all versions) needs to be wiped clean many times during the week. 15 years ago using the Amiga and later PC I never wiped anything clean like I do today. Not my mouse and certainly not my phone.

Down with sweaty hands! To hell with global warming. Give me an ice age instead.

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You get used to your hand being in another position compared to the mouse pretty quickly. I'm not going to lie here: The first few days definitely felt awkward and my index finger would cramp up. Now I'm used to using the Trackpad that issue has resolved itself.

Just wanted to add this can be true for any input device. Take for example trackballs, at first you can' stand them but give it 3 days and you can't go back. Just a heads up because even though I'm not an Apple fan, facts have to be given and this can avoid some extra bashing.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just picked one for myself and I have to say, at first I was skeptical of buying it but after reading this review and seeing couple of youtube hands on reviews.

I decided to take shot at it and so far I am very impressed and enjoying every minute I use it.

Thanks .Neo for great review.

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Thanks.

I just found out something new. If you rest all five fingers the Magic Trackpad will ignore the fingers you're not using. So basically you can tab, click, stroll and track without having to keep the rest of your fingers up.

Not sure if I'm making much sense here. :laugh:

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