It’s not magic, it’s not even unique, and its appeal is niche at best, but that doesn’t mean you should dismiss the Apple Magic Trackpad offhand. We’d certainly suggest you think carefully about whether you want to spend around £60 on a device that doesn’t really add anything new to your computing experience, but that’s not to say the Magic Trackpad doesn’t have its merits.
Although it’s a relatively minor consideration, the industrial design of the Magic Trackpad definitely resides in the list of "plus" attributes. If you're familiar with the dimensions of Apple's aluminium keyboards, you'll find it unsurprising that the Magic Trackpad lines up exactly with one, when placed side by side. In figures it measures 133mm x 130mm x 183mm at its highest point, dropping to just 4.6mm at its lowest.
The tube-like section of aluminium that elevates the rear of the Magic Trackpad also houses its two AA batteries. Obviously any cells will do the trick, but if you want to play the purist, Apple supplies its own charger kit that comes with six batteries - enough to have two charging while the other four power your keyboard and mouse. Obviously there are no wires - perish the thought! - so connection is over Bluetooth; as a nice but pointless touch a special TrackPad icon pops up when one is found by your Mac.
The touch-sensitive area is 130mm square and has the same aluminium-coloured glass finish as the trackpads on the MacBook Pro range. It's more of a design understatement than something to remark upon, but it's certainly an attractive device.
The surface area is just the right size to fit an entire hand on at once, and there's just enough elevation at the back to put your hand at a comfortable angle when resting it. As MacBook users will know, the surface is finished such that it has a good balance between being smooth enough that frequent use isn't irritating, while still providing enough friction that you know your gestures are registered.
The entire surface works as one large button, as we'd expect given that MacBook trackpads work the same way, with the feet at the front clicking into the trackpad when pressed down. The action not only feels satisfyingly mechanical, but also emits an almost tactile "click" noise, imparting confidence in the build quality.
Sensitivity is excellent, as long as you don't turn the pointer movement speed up too high in the Trackpad System Preferences pane. Higher levels not only reduce accuracy, but also the amount of trackpad space that you'll be using. For most applications where you're not moving across large screen distances, you'll rarely be using the full surface area of the Magic Trackpad anyway -- especially with pointer acceleration enabling fine movement when required, while also letting you track across large distances quickly when you need to.
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