Apple unveils multitouch Magic Trackpad

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Apple on Tuesday unveiled its long-rumored Magic Trackpad, a multitouch input device for your Mac desktop. The wireless, Bluetooth-powered Trackpad behaves much like the multitouch trackpads on recent MacBook Pros, incorporating a host of swipes and gestures to better navigate your computer.

Apple’s Magic Mouse has been a big hit, according to the company. “We also recognize that the majority of our Mac users these days use the trackpad, because the majority of our users are notebook users,” Apple vice president of worldwide Mac hardware marketing David Moody told Macworld. “Our notebook users really love the MacBook trackpad.” So Apple decided to build a standalone trackpad to bring the same experience to its desktop users.

The Magic Trackpad is a single surface; the trackpad is the button—again, just like the trackpads on recent MacBook Pros. The device sits at the same level of incline as Apple’s Wireless Keyboard, meaning you should be able to move your hands back and forth between the keyboard and the trackpad with ease.

Gestures include scrolling, rotating, zooming, and more with two fingers, along with three-finger swiping back and forth between Web pages, and four-finger Exposé triggers.

Apple says that the new Magic Trackpad is “nearly 80 percent larger than the built-in trackpad on the MacBook Pro,” which by my math means the device will be just shy of 7.4 inches across, by 5.4 inches tall. The company suggests that you could use the Magic Trackpad as a standalone mouse replacement, or in conjunction with your existing mouse instead.

The Magic Trackpad runs on two AA batteries. Given that Apple now sells three Bluetooth peripherals that all run off batteries—a wireless keyboard, the Magic Mouse, and now the Magic Trackpad—the company decided to simplify power issues by introducing the $29 Apple Battery Charger. The company sent its teams out to profile the most popular chargers before building its own, said Apple’s David Moody.

The Apple Battery Charger ships with six long-shelf-life batteries that Apple says will retain their charge for more than a year. That allows you to have one pair in your keyboard, one pair in your mouse or trackpad, and one pair in the charger. In addition, the charger is designed to be energy efficient: it draws ten times less “vampire power”—that’s the amount of power a device consumes when in standby mode—than the average charger available today.

The Magic Trackpad costs $69 and is shipping now. It requires a Bluetooth-enabled Mac, Mac OS X 10.6.4 or later, and a Magic Trackpad software update. It can be purchased as a customize-to-order option alongside the default Magic Mouse or bought separately for existing Mac users.

Updated at 7:06PT with comments from Apple and more information on the Apple Battery Charger.

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At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Large, Multi-Touch surface
    • Works identically to Apple's laptop trackpads
    • Rugged, portable design matches Apple's keyboards
    • Easy setup


    • Not as precise as a mouse or trackball
    • Not ideal for large screens or multiple displays
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