Magic, Inc.

I know it’s wrong to judge a product before using it, but I can’t help thinking that Apple’s new Magic Trackpad is a cool accessory that I will be avoiding like the plague.

In the first place, I don’t understand the appeal of a trackpad on a desktop computer. On laptops, they’re certainly they’re an improvement over the old PowerBook scrollball and the ThinkPad clitoris, but they’re not nearly as good—not nearly as tactile—as a well-designed mouse. Whenever I need to do a lot of work on my old iBook, I bring out a mouse and plug it in. It’s just better than a trackpad.1

The rollout of the Magic Trackpad and my painful experience with the Magic Mouse last year lead me to wonder whether Apple will ever again make a pointer device that I can live with. I actually like the Apple (née Mighty) Mouse,2 but I’m afraid its days are numbered as Apple slowly turns its entire product line iPhonesque.3


  1. Yes, I know the newer trackpads are much more capable than the one on my iBook G4. I’ve tried the new ones; they’re still not as good as a mouse. The Touch interface is great when your fingers are on the screen with the objects you’re manipulating—not so good when they’re two feet away. 

  2. I know most people hate the Apple Mouse because its scrollball attracts debris and is a pain in the ass to clean. There’s no question but that Apple should have made it cleanable. Still, I find it a pleasure to use and, before the Magic Mouse was introduced, had some hope that Apple would fix its problems in a later revision. Now it’s the redheaded stepchild of the Apple lineup and will probably be dropped as the company goes all Touch. 

  3. Despite my tendency to wander off on tangents, I believe this is the very first post in which my footnotes are as long as than the body text. 


6 Responses to “Magic, Inc.”

  1. jihgug says:

    Have you tried the Thinkpad thing, it takes a lot of getting used to but it is fairly good. It allows for much faster mousing than the trackpad

  2. jihgug says:

    Just as the XKCD comic’s alt text says:

    “I know a lot of people hate these, but I prefer them to touchpads.”

  3. Dr. Drang says:

    jihgug, the examples I gave weren’t generic; they were from personal experience. I had a Thinkpad with the red nub several years ago. Didn’t like it. Actually preferred the track ball on the PowerBook, although a trackpad is better still.

  4. jihgug says:

    I wasn’t trying to cause offence. Many of the Thinkpad computers have both a trackpad and the red thing, proving the fact that neither is perfect and they both have there disadvantages and advantages.

  5. Dr. Drang says:

    Oh, I wasn’t offended; just wanted to be clear (because it wasn’t clear in the post).

    But we won’t ever agree on the nub. When I stopped using the Thinkpad, I never missed the nub.

  6. Tanja says:

    I finally bought my favourite keyboard ( http://www.kinesis-ergo.com/advantage.htm ) and I think the magic trackpad will work as a great addition to it (stuck in the middle) I have arthritis in my hands (and elbows and shoulders and pretty much everywhere else) and using a mouse makes them hurt. When I hold something I cramp up. For drawing / photo-editing I’ll use my wacom tablet with pen, but I don’t find it ideal for regular things. A touch/trackpad seems the least demanding mouse-mover on my hands, so I’ve looked for a small trackpad to put in the middle of my keyboard (less travel for hands, same distance for both hands) and the magic trackpad looks like the best option. Must try it out first though, if it feels too rough it won’t work.