Yesterday I had the chance to use Apple’s Magic Trackpad for one day at work. I work in a normal office and am a passionate Mac user that normally tries to use even the most stupid ideas coming from Steves mind. Consequently, I was also looking forward to my first chance if testing the Magic Trackpad. This is even more true since I have my new Macbook Pro (MBP) and I had the chance to try the multitouch Trackpad. It is – by far – the best touchpad that I have used in laptops and I hoped to have the same experience at my desktop.
Compared to a mouse, a trackpad has some important differences in the usability – everyone knows that. Compared to my ancient logitech optical wheel mouse, the Magic Trackpad is much more beautiful and also the scrolling works like a breeze. It is exactly like on the trackpad of the MBP, very precise and just fun to work with. Clicking with the Magic Trackpad work both with only touching or with pressing the pad. Interesting side fact: the mechanical click of the Magic Trackpad comes from the two small rubber feet, so the whole trackpad moves down. Very convenient.
The downside of the Trackpad is the speed and the precision – obviously there is a trade-off between the two. If you switch to an acceptable speed of the pad, selecting text for copy&paste becomes very imprecise and time consuming. However, if you reduce the speed, the pointing precision is improved but the overall experience becomes a bit tiresome.
Example: Yesterday I had to copy lots of headline from a PDF document to an Excel sheet. Since doubleclicking the headlines did not work, I had to select each and every single one. After around 10 headlines I started to use the regular mouse again, because the trackpad does not produce the same amount of speed and precision at the same time.
Another problem of the Magic Trackpad is the ergonomics point of view. When I use my mouse, my hand can effortlessly lay upon it and I can use all functions. I have not had a single problem with my right hand in 15 years that I am using computers now. Even the rather low Magic Mouse is absolutely no problem for my hand. When I use the Trackpad that is built into my MBP, it is also no problem. I can put my hand to rest on the right hand rest of the MBP, right next to the trackpad. In this position, I can use my right index finger to move the cursors and I can use my right thumb to click. Everything is fine.
However, when I use the Magic Trackpad, there is nowhere my hand can rest. Because of the fact that the trackpad rests on the surface of the table on the lower edge and rests on the AA batteries on the upper edge, its overall surface is inclining from lower to upper edge. This however leads to me holding my hand in a very uncomfortable way all the time because I cannot put my hand to rest next to the trackpad and scroll at the same time.
The Magic Trackpad is a nice idea to bring the advances in laptop controls to the desktop. But not only the lack of prevision or speed but especially the way the trackpad is build prevents me from using it. Holding my hand in this unnaturally way all day makes it hurt after only a couple of hours – and also working with it is less efficient.
I have given it back for now. If I would have paid 70 € for it, I would definitely be very disappointed. But lets hope for Apples second version of the Magic Trackpad.