My first delve into Mac OS was with my MacBook Pro, so with the recent upgrade of my desktop PC (to an iMac) it took some getting used to to be able to comfortably work around my iMac with a conventional mouse. All this time I’ve equated the aesthetics of using OSX with a trackpad (my MacBook Pro), and now that Apple’s put this out, I can move back into that realm of using OSX exclusively with a multi-touch trackpad.
Pros to using the Magic Trackpad:
1) If you’re used to using a Trackpad, this is a good fit. Say, if you’re a heavy MacBook or MacBook Pro user and you still use a desktop Mac regularly, this will quickly begin to feel natural compared to using a normal mouse. I used the Magic Mouse that came with my iMac for about two weeks, and have used conventional mice for as long as I can remember. The first five to ten seconds are the only instance in which using the Magic Trackpad felt out of place. Before this, the only time I’d ever used a trackpad, it was constrained to one spot, directly beneath the keyboard glued to my MacBook Pro. Using a trackpad unrestrained, that’s able to be moved anywhere in relation to you, the computer, and the keyboard can be of-putting at first, but worth it.
2) A definite footprint… Meaning that if you’re like me, and at times you’ve got very limited workspace to use for your keyboard, mouse, and other materials, a trackpad can ensure that your pointing device will always only utilize the five inch square space that the trackpad fills. WIth a mouse on the other hand, from my experience, the space needed for me to get from one end to the other (and from top to bottom) can be as much as 8″ by 8″ in comparison. Desktop “minimalists” will like the fact that using the trackpad can keep your cursor-navigating confined to just a five inch square.
3) There are more multi-touch gestures available with the Magic Trackpad than there are for the Magic Mouse. The mouse gives you the ability to scroll 360 degrees, swipe forward and backward, with right and left click detection. Both the Magic Mouse and Trackpad allow for intertial scrolling, with the recent updates from Apple for Snow Leopard.
Cons to using the Magic Trackpad:
1) Practicality. This thing is $70, which is just as much as a Magic Mouse, and for that matter, just as expensive as many deft keyboard/mouse combos out there. Although it’s probably more capable than the Magic Mouse, which is usable at best; the Magic Trackpad is still a step down in usability as far a customizable buttons go. One major downfall of Apple’s input devices is the fact that they include minmal buttons and tend to rely on touch sensitivity — which is innovative and useful in it’s own right. But for those who like to use third-party mouse/keyboard driver-accompanying software that can yield extensive customization of buttons (especially extra buttons) there’s still nothing much in the way of that here. If you’re like me, and you’re complacent with navigating the OS with multi-touch gestures including Expose, you’ll like this.
2) While the need for a mousepad is virtually nonexistent, using the trackpad on a hard surface (such as a wood desktop) can create strain not only on the wrist, but the heel of your hand. May probably find that the negligible cushioning of a mouse pad might be enough, but without that, some mind find using the trackpad for extended periods of time bothersome.
In the end, the Magic Trackpad is only as magic as you find the MacBook Pro’s trackpads to be. I can’t speak for the quality of the entry-level, polycarbonate MacBook’s multi-touch trackpad, but this thing will work just as you’d expect it would on any of the MacBooks. Although the MacBook’s trackpads measure about four inches by three, the Magic Trackpad comes in a whopping five inches by 4.25.
As for whether or not you should buy it; I can only recommend spending the $70 if you’ve got the money burning a hole in your pocket, or you simply prefer the feel of a trackpad over a conventional mouse… Or maybe you just have to have the latest and greatest gadgets from Apple, in any of those cases: Buy.