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back to article Apple Magic Trackpad

You've got to hand it to Apple. While it may not be the innovator it likes to think it is, it does have a knack for re-inventing old ideas and coming up with something better. Music players, small form-factor computers, tablet PCs - it's taken existing concepts and given them a major makeover. Apple Magic Trackpad Apple's Magic …

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FAIL

Why?

I can understand a trackpad on a laptop where a mouse isn't practical, but why would I want one on a desk? Next you'll be telling me I should get rid of the four ring hob in the kitchen and use my camping stove and sleep on an airbed instead of a nice comfy proper bed.

OK mice don't do multi-touch, but often come with a nice array of physical buttons and a wheel to provide similar functions.

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FAIL

"but why would I want one on a desk?"

Er, try reading the review, it gives a few reasons!

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A few reasons?

I found one: a cluttered desk. I suspect most people can manage to keep their coffee mug off their mouse mat, and those who can't will be equally tempted to plonk it on this coaster sized device (the effect of the slope on the final location of the hot liquid could be interesting). This 'problem' is of course already solved by a trackball (with the added benefit of recreating that "missle-command" feel if suitably large and used properly (whack and set spinning - again this could result in interestinly located coffee on a cluttered desk).

Or was multi-touch your other reason? I've only had the displeasure of using a multi-touch trackpad once, only result was adding unwanted zooming to the usual problems of unwanted clicking. Give me extra buttons and a wheel for non-pointing functionality.

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I agree... On the Desktop, Mouse>trackpad

I like the f@£king mouse, be it the crappy ones at work or my razer at home.

I use a trackpad too (in fact I'm using one now), on the lappies, and think they're great, but once placed on a desktop, at present, I still think the best all round pointy device is the mouse. There will be times when a pen/tablet is required sure, but most other times.. mouse.

I see absolutely NO FECKIN' reason to use a trackpad on a desktop. If you don't have enough space for a mouse on a desktop, I think you need to get a bigger desktop.

And just you try and game with a track pad....

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Developers

It occurs to me that if one was developing for the iPad or iPhone (or other touch mobile devices), this would be better than using a mouse for interface testing.

Of course, that may not be you or me, but it is a use.

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Gold badge

Bluetooth for a reason

It uses Bluetooth for a good reason. Most if not all Macs have Bluetooth built in. There's no way Apple are going to have a annoying USB dongle sticking out of the computer to use this thing. Proprietary RF dongles are just that, custom to each device. So if you had a wireless mouse and a wireless keyboard from two different manufacturers then you would waste two USB ports.

Bluetooth was invented to provide a standard low bandwidth wireless networking protocol, it's better to use standards then not.

Anyway, PS3 is all bluetooth and I believe the Nintendo Wii uses it for the Wiimotes. It's in more widespread use than you think.

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Why wireless at all?

Wireless mice make sense, they move and the wire can get in the way. This thing stays still, just use a wire - its probably only got to go a few inches to the adjacent keyboard, so hardly messy. Heck by placing the usb ports in a suitable position I'm sure a rigid connector could be devised to fix the unit to the end of an apple keyboard (though perhaps they'd prefer a proprietry dock connector for this, with a suitably expensive wire available separately for connection to other keyboards)

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Bluetooth

I accept your argument for using Bluetooth as a standard, but you have to balance it against the power needs. PS3 and Wii use Bluetooth but get about 24 hours out of it - I'd be appalled if I got 24 hours use out of an everyday HID like this thing wants to be. At least the PS3 has the decency to allow charging via USB.

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Dongle

It's not as if the dongles for wireless mice are "annoying" because they "stick out". The one I have barely protrudes 5mm from the port and its perfectly happy sitting in one of the 10 usb ports I've got on the back of the computer

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Ye gads!

An Apple product I'd actually consider purchasing, will wonders never cease. Extra marks for using BT as well.

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Alert

Doctors be prepared

for a whole new type of RSI!

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Anonymous Coward

OMG...

...user replaceable batteries in an Apple product!

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Just Apple copying previous peoducts

Bamboo has had a touch pad out for sometime, so once again Apple is late to market and still not as good as Bamboo. Also, more expensive. The slate/dove colour with show marks, too.

Next they will applying for a patent.

The only gesture that fits is a clenched fist with the middle finger extended.

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Silly boy...

I'll bite. For starters, I cannot recall any tech pundit or Apple representative claiming that this was a first-to-market product, besides, Apple already have quite a few patents about multi-touch and gesture based input, i'd imagine this is one of the fruits of those particular filings. Second, the Bamboo Touch costs **more** than the Magic Trackpad, the 'cheaper' one on Amazon, for instance, doesn't provide a touch interface. It's worth noting that it's RRP is actually more (£20) that the MT. Third, the Bamboo isn't wireless--another USB port taken up and more cables to snag. Fourth, the Bamboo will show as many marks as the MT and with that you really are clutching at straws!

I don't believe anyone would have an issue with legitimate complaints, but you just sound like a bitter [insert Apple rival here] fanboy with a very dull and tired rhetoric. Here's a thought; stop reading articles about Apple, their products, employees or users/consumers--they clearly piss you off an awful lot, or will you stop when the school holidays are finished?

The only gesture fit for your comments is an open fist, waved from side to side...

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Just failing to understand what it is.

The author forgot to mention the surface is glass so that 'slate/dove colour' won't show marks. Chances are, the Wacom Bamboo cost the same if not more (depending on model choice) if you cared to look instead of just snarking.

The Bamboo is a multi-tooled, pen & touch 'pad' for ILLUSTRATING!

I got your 'only gesture'...

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Pint

It IS different, it's dove grey

I have an Aple product or two and I agree the fingerprints show on the dove grey. Bad choice for high use items.

I also think the Bamboo version is better.

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Headmaster

Innovation?

>> "While it may not be the innovator it likes to think it is, it does have a knack for re-inventing old ideas and coming up with something better."

Isn't that the essence of innovation? It is very seldom that inventions come from pure ether or thought-stuff. Oxford dictionary defines the word as follows.

in-no-vate

verb [ intrans. ]

make changes in something established, esp. by introducing new methods, ideas, or products.

ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: from Latin innovare, in- "into" + novare "make new".

-dZ.

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Anonymous Coward

do I have to title this?

There's also another word for that process:

iteration - process of gradually changing an established something.

I'd say that was closer to what Apple is doing than to make something new.

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@AC

By the reporter's own admission, "re-inventing old ideas and coming up with something better" is much more than "iteration"; it is old ideas put to novel uses or enhanced with novel methods. Ergo, *innovation*.

-dZ.

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Multitouch is the next big thing...

Multitouch is the next big thing in RSI.

I keep seeing people's hands when they're using their iPhones and wonder how long it'll take before the constant contortions result in tendonitis....

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trackball

I'll stick with my logitech trackball thanks, prevents RSI, has a right click, a mouse wheel and when I get bored I can pop the ball out and roll it around on the desk.

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Thumbs up

Imma upvote you cos I used one of those before. Great device. Especially rolling the ball around the desk. But... alas, a mouse it is not. Play any FPS's and you'll get owned.

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Another upvote from a trackball user

I really don't see why mice are the de facto when trackballs are more comfortable, less strenuous, quicker to find without looking, etc...

Especially fun is seeing the attempts to convert by someone accustomed to mice.

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Trackballs and RSI

The reason I am familiar with the logitech balls is because I know of several people who use them in place of mice and TRACKPADS because of RSI. I was invited to try them out as they found these devices unbelievably gentle on their hands. With a lot of doubt and assumptions, I tried them. And they really were bloody good. The trackball is actually big enough that it fits comfortably in your hand and the buttons are appropriately placed in the 2 models I had the pleasure of using.

Not my choice pointy device, but I can see why people use it if they have RSI issues. Needless to say I would recommend trying them if you've had trouble with other pointy devices.

I think trackballs are as good or better than trackpads, and certainly more comfortable, but not as good ultimately as a mouse (my value judgement).

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Nice little gadget.

I have one of these. I use the trackpad with my left hand for browsing/app switching/expose and mouse with the right for fine pointer work. Works like a charm.

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Pint

Now _that_ is a good idea

I've seen studies in the past that reckon the most efficient computer control (for right-handers) is trackball on the left for controlling OS, keyboard in the middle, mouse on the right for detailed work -- your suggestion sounds similar and maybe even better.

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Jobs Horns

icrap

"The only flaw here is Apple's use of Bluetooth technology. Yes, it saves having to lose a USB port to a dongle"

Not if you installed have a bluetooth dongle in the first place to use the pad on an old computer.

What happens when you get caught watching porn because the battery on the pad has gone?

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Bluetooth dongle??

What planet are you on? Apple haven't made a computer without Bluetooth built-in for at least 5 years. (In any case, one thing the review doesn't make clear is that you need Mac OS X 10.6 to support the magic trackpad, so that rules out older non-Intel machines for a start.)

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WTF?

iCock

Yeah Apple, thanks a lot for not considering the bad feng-shui of having to equip old computers with a Bluetooth dongle.

In fact, why stop there - damned inconsiderate of them not to take account of those of us without computers at all! What's that all about, eh? Eh?

in fact, fuck it why not go the whole hog- Apple, you're just a bunch of self-serving pricks who are only focused on COMPUTER USERS from the LAST 10 YEARS who want to get on and USE THEIR SYSTEMS - how DARE you!?!?!?! What about the rest of the population? What about little kids in Africa who don't have a computer and never will have - or what about PETS and ANIMALS who can't even type - did you consider them in your drive to develop genuinely useful stuff? No of course not, you inconsiderate bastards!

</sarcasm>

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Sorry to contradict Rolf

But my Mac Pro (just coming up to 3 years old) does not have BT. It was available only on the BTO models. An over-the-counter model did not have it. Similarly it does not have WiFi.

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RE: Lord Elpuss

Not all Macs have had bluetooth for the last 5 years, even the guy posting before me points that out

So by trying to point out criticism in my original statement about losing a usb port you have only shown yourself to be a fanboi incapable of reading or indeed telling the truth.

Do your research next time fanboi

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Headmaster

Well.....

A BT dongle stuck in the back, front or keyboard socket of the average Mac Pro ain't gonna hurt. How much are they now? £8 + VAT?

Most Mac Pro's are on EtherNet networks or you can install an AirPort Extreme card for WiFi.

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Noy sure here AC

My Mac Pro has got a BT dongle stuck in a USB port on a hub ands it is on an ethernet network so I'm not sure what your point is.

However. If I wanted WiFi on my Mac Pro I would have had to bought a build-to order model. There is noweher inside to plug in a card - nor are there any aerial connectors..

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If

at 1/3rd price and using USB instead of batteries and Bluetooth, I'd consider it.

I'm sure these can be made with USB and sold at /6th price and make a profit.

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Saw one of these in the Apple Store yesterday*

No of course they're not original, yes there are others out there, but you do have to admit yet again Apple do just have that certain something with the execution of their devices, it is a rather lovely thing to look at!

I've always liked trackpads on laptops myself 'cos I think that pointing with a fingers is actually a more natural method of control than moving a mouse around, but of course where they're located on laptops is often far from convenient.

* No The Apple Store isn't my regular haunt, I was dragged in there reluctantly by a friend who wanted to play on the iPads :-\

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JDX
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I like

I would give it a try anyway, as a combination mouse/stylus. No reason to think a mouse is the ultimate input device.

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FAIL

Why wireless?

It's a great idea - I find myself missing my macbook's trackpad when using desktops with mice. But I'm resisting buying one because they're only available as wireless. I don't want to have to have a standard wired mouse as a backup for the inevitable time I forget to have charged batteries to hand when it runs out of juice. And why separate batteries? Surely they could just build in the battery and provide a USB cable for recharging from your computer?

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Boffin

Why wireless?

The same argument could be said for wireless keyboards (and in fact, I do argue against them) but people do buy such keyboards for aesthetic reasons. Reasons that Apple have repeatedly proven they understand.

Batteries wouldn't be an issue if equipped with some form of near field power coupling. Of course that would need a specially constructed desk but any fanboi buying one of these would also be liable to buy certain fruit branded office furniture. Hmmm... I think I have an ambiguous and over-reaching patent idea.

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If its put on a desk

and never going to be moved, why have it cordless?

I thought a wired one would be better. No batteries to replace.

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Batteries

I saw somewhere that someone had modded the battery slot to connect to a power source, thereby negating the need to use batteries.

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Yes But

It's still a bluetooth device.

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Original Trackpad?

"You've got to hand it to Apple. While it may not be the innovator it likes to think it is, it does have a knack for re-inventing old ideas and coming up with something better. Music players, small form-factor computers, tablet PCs - it's taken existing concepts and given them a major makeover."

So whose idea did Apple "re-invent"?

Wikipedia: Apple's PowerBook 500 series was the first laptop to carry such a device, which Apple refers to as a "trackpad". When introduced in May 1994 it replaced the trackball of previous PowerBook models.

I bought an Apple Magic Trackpad to try out. It took a bit of getting used to - one finger for this, two fingers for that, three fingers etc., but now I would not EVER go back to using a mouse with my desktop PC.

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Grenade

Nice selective quoting there

Same article, only three paragraphs up in fact. "Early Apollo desktop computers were equipped with a touchpad on the right side of the keyboard."

Given that they were only made between 1980 and 88 this predates your example and is perhaps more relevant as the tragic mackpad be for desktop machines.

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Grenade

Re: Nice selective quoting there

And as anyone with a memory that wasn't reflashed upon starting to use Apple products knows, Psion had something pretty similar on their MC notebooks in the late 1980s, early 1990s, as the same Wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trackpad) notes.

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Living room users beware

Something not mentioned in the article, is that the physical "click" uses the 2 rubber feet, instead of the entire base of the device.

This doesn't cause a problem if the device is located on a solid, flat desk, but anyone planning to use this in a "12ft interface" setting (as the wireless nature allows) - where surfaces tend to be non-flat and fabric covered - need to beware. It doesn't work well.

Annoyingly, there is a large slab of white plastic underneath which could have easily served this purpose, with the rubber feet glued to that. It would not have affected the desktop user, but allowed "desk free" use. It might even have been cheaper to manufacture.

Apple being unneccessarily clever, IMO. "ooh look, we can make the feet act as buttons!"

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Just turn on 'tap to click'...

...works well.

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Title

I think I'd actually want to try one of these... but I have similar problems as everyone else... no USB, Mac pricing, etc.

I dunno, think this would be better or worse for carpal tunnel? You have to hold your fingers above it still, so I'd think it would still have the same problems.

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Anonymous Coward

Mac only ?

What is the liklihood that this will work with Vista - will someone produce the necessary drivers ?

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Mac only ?

Vista drivers are available - to Mac users who run Boot Camp.

It just needs some bright spark to show everyone else how to extract them...

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works perfectly on the arm of my sofa

We have a mac mini as a media pc under our telly. We have always struggled to use a mouse on the arm of the chair... this solves the problem perfectly, it did take a little while to get used to it, but now I wouldn't look back...

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