Product Review – Apple Magic Trackpad

By | 2011/05/03

Apple Magic Trackpad


I’ve been using the Apple Magic Trackpad since October 2010; it had already been out for a few months, and I was vacillating as to whether I’d get one or not. Sure, it looked nice, but I was already using the Magic Mouse (the most superb mouse I’ve ever used, I might add), I just couldn’t see the justification in going to the Magic Trackpad.

Yet, curiosity got the better of me and I lashed out in October to acquire one of the little beasties for my Mac Pro. Now, I also have a Mac Book Pro, which I use extensively, and so I’m very used to using a trackpad.

So now, around 7 months later, I’ve finally made a decision about the Trackpad.

It’s a dud. A version beautiful dud. There are three key flaws with the Magic Trackpad:

  • Jumping – The trackpad is incredibly sensitive to the touch. While you’re actually using it to move around, it’s reasonably accurate for coarse granularity; however, as soon as you lift your hand, you run the risk of jumping the cursor to a completely different location on screen. At least several times a day, I have my cursor jump across multiple windows, halfway across a 1920×1200 desktop – usually just before I’m about to make a pointer click. It’s slowly driving me nuts.
  • Accuracy – I said before, “it’s reasonably accurate for coarse granularity”; however, when it comes to fine granularity control, its effectiveness exponentially drops off. Video editing, for instance – frame by frame selection, is an exercise in extreme frustration.
  • RSI – I’ve suffered from RSI for years. The keyboards introduced by Apple a few years ago were miraculous, since with their minuscule key travel, they made typing a dream again. I had previously been using a Kinesis Ergo keyboard – the Apple keyboard allowed me to consign that to the dust. (See here for some details on that change.) However, after months of using the Magic Trackpad, I’m satisfied that it is extremely ergonomically unsound when you have to keep your hand on the unit for anything but the shortest period of time. I can comfortably keep my hand on a mouse with reasonably intensive work for periods of half an hour or more without even thinking about it. About five minutes is my upper limit on the Magic Trackpad. Five minutes before my fingers cramp up. Maybe it’s the angle, or maybe it’s the hand positioning compared to a regular trackpad on a laptop, but ergonomically, the Magic Trackpad is an exercise in pain.

Tomorrow I’ll be switching backover to the Magic Mouse, and keeping the Magic Trackpad as a spare.

Sorry Apple, this product is a dud.