capsule review

Twelve South MagicWand

At a Glance
  • Twelve South MagicWand

    Macworld Rating

From the moment Apple introduced the Magic Trackpad, a standalone, Bluetooth version of the company’s Multi-Touch trackpad, some Mac users have pined for a way to join it with Apple’s Wireless Keyboard—after all, the two are essentially identical in their designs, making them appear to be a perfect pair. For some people, such a setup would be perfect for controlling a Mac mini used in a home-entertainment system from your lap. Others just want a tidier desk.

We’ve seen a few options for pairing the two devices—no Bluetooth pun intended—including wood trays from Combine Collective and Tree Designs; Magic Lapdesk’s side-by-side and laptop-style plastic trays; and the machined-aluminum BulletTrain Express mounting platform.

A less-expensive, and in many ways more elegant, solution can be found in Twelve South’s MagicWand , a simple, aluminum-colored plastic rail that holds your Wireless Keyboard and MagicTrackpad together, securely, without adding a bulky frame or changing the overall size or appearance of either.

The MagicWand is almost exactly the length of a Wireless Keyboard and Magic Trackpad placed side-by-side, and is shaped like a tube with the top sliced off. You snap—don’t slide—the rounded battery compartment of each input device into the groove, rotating the device until the MagicWand’s own silicone “feet” point straight down. At that orientation, grooves inside the MagicWand grab the device’s own silicone feet to help prevent rotation during use. You can place the Magic Trackpad on either side of the Wireless Keyboard, depending on whether you prefer to use the trackpad with your left or right hand.

Twelve South could have stopped here, which would have resulted in a setup that’s stable on a desk or other flat surface. But if you pick up the entire contraption by the keyboard, the Magic Trackpad can rotate independently about 20 or 30 degrees; if you pick it up by the trackpad, the Wireless Keyboard rotates a bit more thanks to its heavier weight. So the company has included a thin, aluminum-colored piece of plastic with an H-shaped profile. Twelve South calls this the H-beam Stabilizer, and it slides between the two devices, essentially locking them together. With the H-beam in place, the setup is considerably more solid.

Twelve South also includes a small piece of grey silicone, called the T-pad Insert, to fill the bit of space between the H-beam and the MagicWand itself. This piece is a thoughtful touch that makes the package look much more polished.

Once all three pieces are installed, you barely even notice the MagicWand is there. You can see a tiny sliver of it along the top edge of the keyboard and trackpad, and, of course, you see the H-beam and the piece of grey silicone. But as the images above make clear, the fit and finish are impressive—Twelve South has done an excellent job of matching the finish and design of Apple’s devices. The setup is also surprisingly stable. You can pick it up by either end, and the most you’ll see is a very slight bend at the joint between the trackpad and the keyboard—and only if you pick it up by the trackpad, thanks to the keyboard’s weight.

There are, however, a couple drawbacks to joining your keyboard and trackpad together like this. The first is that, since both the Wireless Keyboard and the Magic Trackpad have their battery compartment on the left and their power button on the right, each device will have one of the two blocked. This is only a minor inconvenience when it comes to the blocked battery compartment, given how infrequently you need to change the batteries on the two devices—the MagicWand is easy enough to remove and reinstall. But if you regularly power down your keyboard or trackpad, doing so is more of a hassle when using the MagicWand. (Twelve South points out—correctly—that both devices sleep when not in use, so there’s little need to actually power them down. Unless, I should point out, you’re planning on traveling with the setup and want to avoid accidental input; but I suspect few people would actually travel with the setup fully assembled.)

The second drawback relates to the MagicTrackpad’s “clicker.” As I noted in our review of the Magic Trackpad, although the device doesn’t have a traditional trackpad button, it does indeed support physical “clicking”—each of the trackpad’s two front feet has a button built into it, so when you press down on the trackpad, one or both of those buttons is depressed. But when the Magic Trackpad is attached to the Wireless Keyboard using the MagicWand, the H-beam Stabilizer dampens the trackpad’s movement on the edge closest to the keyboard. So if the trackpad is positioned to the right of the keyboard, you must press a bit more firmly to get a click in the lower-left corner; if the trackpad is to the left of the keyboard, you must press more firmly to get a click in the lower-right corner. (The Tap to Click feature is unaffected.)

The only other potential issue is that, in my experience with many Apple-focused accessories, metal-looking finishes tend to wear off of plastic over time. We’ll have to wait and see how the MagicWand holds up in this respect. (It’s worth noting that if you remove the H-beam Stabilizer, it leaves a bit of its silver finish on the edge of your Wireless Keyboard and Magic Trackpad, though you can easily wipe off the residue.)

Given its minimalist, device-matching design; stability; and reasonable price (compared to similar accessories we’ve seen), it’s easy to recommend the MagicWand. For those who wish Apple made a Wireless Keyboard with a built-in Magic Trackpad, the MagicWand gives you the next best thing.

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At a Glance
  • Twelve South MagicWand

    Macworld Rating
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