Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Apple's Magic Trackpad Review

Magic Trackpad
I received my Apple Magic Trackpad yesterday and have been putting it through its paces.

For the past 5 years, I have most often used a trackball on my desktops at home and at school. The ergonomic aspect of keeping my hand in one place seemed to protect me from the stress and strain oftentimes brought on by mouse use. The Magic Trackpad provides that same "hand and arm in one place" option.

I am also a unibody MacBook Pro user and have never used a mouse with any laptop I have owned.

I still continue to watch some teachers struggle with the use of a trackpad and do realize it is an acquired skill that takes a lot of practice. However, I feel it is well worth the time it takes to perfect it! (How else can you use a laptop on your lap?)

The Apple Magic Trackpad includes all of the cool functionality of the trackpads on the Apple laptops. Features can be customized, and include:
  • Point
  • Click
  • Double-click
  • Right-click
  • Click and drag
  • Two-finger scroll
  • Rotate
  • Pinch/Zoon
  • Page back and forward
  • Switch applications
Installation of the trackpad required a software update, which did not seem to show up until I had paired the device with the desktop. You will probably need to keep your current pointing device available during the set-up process, as I did.

I have found, as with the trackpad on the laptop, your hands have to be rather dry in order to use it smoothly. Use in areas of high humidity, with damper hands, may cause a bit of a problem.

I tweeted about the device yesterday, and received some inquiries as to the suitability of the Magic Trackpad over the use of the mouse for the youngest students. I think the device is a viable option for easy navigation by the PreK to 1 set, who often find the use of a mouse difficult. (A regular trackball works well for this group, too!) Once students realize they can simply tap to place and double-tap to open, I feel the input device will no longer be a barrier for the younger students. Clicking and dragging may take some getting used to, and you should experiment with drag lock for these students. I would also suggest that most of the other functions of the Magic Trackpad be turned off because of the possibility of swiping and zooming by accident.

I tried the Magic Trackpad on the Windows side of Bootcamp, and it connected with no problem. I have not yet installed the Windows drivers (64-bit available, too) Apple offers, but the comparison chart here shows the functionality on the Mac and three flavors of Windows.

All in all, I am really impressed with the Magic Trackpad as an alternative input device!