There’s Magic on Your Desktop

Posted on August 5, 2010 by

Gadgetwise blogger Nick Bilton at The New York Times reports taking Magic Trackpad for a test drive that covered “two-finger scroll on Web pages, pinch and zoom on images in Apple’s Preview application, and a number of other multitouch features.”

From The New York Times:

In the years I’ve been using computers, monitors have grown thinner and more vivid in their picture displays, and the technology that runs them has grown faster and less expensive. But two things have remained relatively constant: my keyboard and mouse.

Yet that’s about to change. I’m pretty certain I will never own a traditional mouse again, at least when I use an Apple computer. Instead I will own a trackpad — a Magic Trackpad.

The new gadget, which was announced by Apple last week, and works only with the company’s computers, looks more like a large silver kitchen tile than a mouse. But when it’s properly connected, it affords a  traditional desktop computer a multitouch mouse, just like those available in most Apple laptops today.

The trackpad works like an ordinary laptop trackpad, where you slide your fingers to control the cursor on the screen. Once I was comfortable with it, I began taking full advantage of its features, which include two-finger scroll on Web pages, pinch and zoom on images in Apple’s Preview application and a number of other multitouch features.

After a few days of use, the trackpad started to feel like a natural transition for computers as they enter a new era of multitouch, but it did take some getting used to. Several times I unconsciously tried to grab the Trackpad and move it around my desk, which  obviously didn’t work out.

The technology behind the trackpad originates from a company Apple purchased in the late 1990’s, which had designed a similar device for people who suffered from repetitive stress injuries. The idea is that a touch surface would be less taxing on a user’s hands than a traditional mouse.

The trackpad, which costs $70, easily connects to a computer wirelessly though a Bluetooth connection, but requires the latest version of Apple’s operating system, Mac OSX 10.6.4. There is also an optional battery charging kit for $30, available through the Apple store.

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