These days there is a lot to be excited about in the world of Apple. First off, rumors are abound regarding a 7 inch iPad to be released by Christmas. Or is that a 7 inch iPod Touch? LOL. Bad jokes aside, I did get the opportunity to test out Apple’s Magic Trackpad for a couple weeks now. And the verdict is in: I like it. I actually like it a lot.
Disclaimer: I have had very little personal experience using Apple’s new line of glass trackpads with their multi-gesture commands. I almost exclusively work on my 3.5 year old MacBook and my aluminum iMac so I have not had the chance to use the new trackpads for an extended period of time. Because of this, I am going to review the Magic Trackpad and the multi-gesture functionality as well.
When I first heard about the Magic Trackpad, I was skeptical. Most people I know, including myself, don’t like using trackpads on laptops, especially for an extended amount of time. Aside from work, when I am home using my MacBook, I always hook up a wireless mouse. I work a lot with Logic (Apple’s professional recording software), and I find it really frustrating using my MacBook’s built in trackpad to make minor adjustments to audio tracks. So naturally, I rarely use the trackpad on my MacBook unless I am out and about with it. So when the Magic Trackpad came out, I dismissed the premise of the whole thing; I mean, why would I consider ditching my mouse to use a trackpad on my work iMac?
Well, the thought occurred to me as I was editing some images in Photoshop: perhaps using the Magic Trackpad would be similar to using something like a Wacom Tablet while using Photoshop. The Magic Trackpad could potentially make things a little easier for me while using Photoshop. Well, I got a Magic Trackpad and, well….It’s not any better than using my traditional USB mouse while editing in Photoshop. As a matter of fact, I find using the Magic Trackpad in Photoshop could be a little counter-intuitive as the Trackpad’s rotate function is a little sensitive and I find myself rotating the image unintentionally.
Aside from that, using the trackpad for everything else is amazing! And here are the main reasons I love using the Magic Trackpad over my mouse.
1. Expose – Being able to switch between Applications with a horizontal four-finger swipe is great as well as clearing the desktop and showing all open windows. This is one of my favorite things about the Magic Trackpad.
2. Scrolling – Two finger scrolling is one of those things that is just way easier and accurate than using a scroll wheel on a mouse. It’s simply more precise and allows me to do a simple gesture instead rolling a scroll wheel.
3. Comfort – This one is a little tricky. I have grown so accustomed to using a mouse that when I first used the Magic Trackpad it was really uncomfortable to use. I felt the muscles on top of my hand strain as I had to constantly hold all fingers up off the trackpad while leaving one finger on. After the first day of using the trackpad, I was ready to dismiss it. But when I got in the next day, my hand gravitated to the trackpad. I wasn’t feeling any strain and using the mouse again felt uncomfortable. What?!?!?! Just after one day of use, I was just about fully accustomed to using the trackpad. It just started to feel right and the mouse just started to feel wrong.
4. Size – There is enough real estate on this device that using it does not feel like you are using a laptop trackpad. It’s not too big that it takes over your desk, and its not too small.
And here are a few things I don’t like about the trackpad:
1. Learning Curve – If you are one of those people that absolutely hates using a trackpad, this probably won’t work for you unless you devote a day or two to exclusively using the Magic Trackpad. Also, using Expose with the various finger swipes takes a little getting used to.
2. Rotate and Zoom Functions – As I said before, when using the trackpad with Photoshop, I found my self unintentionally rotating the image when I was trying to zoom in. Additionally, trying to zoom in inside a web browser is a little more tricky than I would have hoped.
3. Spaces – I am one of those people that loves using spaces. I have dual monitors and use 9 spaces. With my mouse, I mapped the Spaces function to my scroll wheel button. This is super convenient. So when I used my Magic Trackpad, I was at a stand still…how do I activate Spaces with my Magic Trackpad? I can’t. Apple simply left out the ability to map Spaces to a gesture. I would have loved to use a four-finger right swipe to activate Spaces, but I can’t. I had to map spaces to my F5 key. This may seem like a minor thing to most people, but as much as I use Spaces, I feel like including this as an option would have been the right thing to do.
Here is the verdict. I love using the Magic Trackpad, but it’s not perfect. I still have my mouse hooked up to my computer, so I would say that I use the Magic Trackpad about 75% of the time. The Magic Trackpad is not a necessary peripheral by any means, but if you did own one, you would most likely like it a lot…and use it a lot. Web browsing with this device is awesome given the two-finger scrolling. Expose works very well with this device. So, though nice and convenient, I feel that the Magic Trackpad is not going to be a perfect alternative to the mouse. But If you are using both a mouse and this device, you are set.
I give Apple’s Magic Trackpad 3.5 stars out of 5.