Apple Magic Trackpad
NOT content with revolutionising the digital-music industry, reinventing the mobile phone and turning a niche tablet computing market into a sales phenomenon, Apple has turned its attention to bumping off the humble mouse.
In many ways, the Magic Trackpad is just a natural extension of the pointing devices Apple has been building into its notebooks. And it's by no means the first company to adapt the touchpad idea to desktop PCs. However, the introduction of multi-touch gestures (where, for example, you can slide two fingers up and down to scroll) has made trackpads a genuine alternative to using a conventional mouse.
Anyone who's used a MacBook Pro with a multi-touch trackpad can attest that going back to clutching a mouse and dragging it around a desktop often feels clunky.
The Magic Trackpad takes that trackpad's convenience and untethers it from the computer by using Bluetooth wireless technology.
The pairing process to connect it to the Mac is pretty painless once the computer has been given the latest updates (OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.4 is required).
The large surface area means it is even more user-friendly than its notebook-bound cousins. The trackpad is raised at an angle thanks to its battery compartment, which takes two AAs.
The mouse "button" is built into the rubber feet on the underside, so when you push to click, the whole pad is depressed. It takes more pressure than perhaps is regarded as ergonomic but there's always the option to configure the trackpad to register light taps as clicks, through the configuration settings.
Zooming, scrolling, rotating and flipping through pages in a browser with simple movements of your fingers soon becomes second-nature.
So, can the Magic Trackpad replace the mouse altogether?
For most everyday office computing tasks, it has every bit the potential to do so. Those looking for a precision-pointer, however, will still be reaching out for something to hold.
This story was originally published in the Digital Life section.