trackpad.jpgApple’s latest input device is in the form of a trackpad almost identical to those found in all of their portable lineup. Most would ask why would you ever want, what most would consider, an inferior pointing device relegated to laptops to be used in a desktop setting? Well after using the device exclusively with my MacBook Pro coupled with a 24″ Cinema Display for a few days, I think the answer is two fold:

Apple has clearly done some major enhancements to the standard trackpad that most laptop users are familiar with. Unlike PC laptops trackpads, the trackpads on the Mac portable line up are clearly larger and more sophisticated than their PC counterparts. They allow for a large combination of gestures including swiping, pinching, scrolling and zooming that allows intuitive controls in most applications. The Magic Trackpad brings all this functionality to the desktop. Like the portables there is no visible buttons, rather the entire device is a large button that clicks on the bottom two feet that get depressed in to provide the tactile feedback. I actually found myself enabling the “Tap to Click” feature in System Preferences which I prefer to disable on my laptop since I prefer the click in that scenario. On the desktop though it just doesn’t feel right to me.

I never really thought about the lack of gestures when my machine was docked to it’s display and in “Desktop” mode but after about 30 minutes I was very surprised as to how natural it felt. The Magic Trackpad very seamlessly pairs via bluetooth and springs my sleeping machine to life when touched almost immediately compared with my bluetooth mouse with takes a few seconds to kick (sometimes longer).

I do think that in some scenarios I’ll default back to using the mouse, for example when doing precise image editing or any task that requires more precision than the trackpad can provide. But for the most part I think the Magic Trackpad has the potential to be a primary pointing device for most.

I promised a second reason to my original question which is that I see this device completely replacing my iPhone/iPad mouse software and my bluetooth mouse that I alternate using on my Mac Mini that is hooked up to my flat panel TV. This device is absolutely perfect in this setting. No longer do I need to awkwardly move my mouse across my coffee table or couch cushion or have to go find my iPhone or iPad and start up a remote mouse software and wait for it to pair to be able to use my Mac Mini in my living room. This device is absolutely perfect for this use and I almost wonder if Apple has more plans for the Magic Trackpad in the living room than we know now. With the recent refersh of the Mac Mini incorporating HDMI out and now the Magic Trackpad I totally see Apple testing the waters of home theater use.

In conclusion the Magic Trackpad makes a great secondary input device for the desktop and in a lot of cases a perfectly viable primary input device. For the home theater it’s perfect and has led me to purchase a second unit for just this type of usage.

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