On paper, Apple’s Magic Trackpad looks like an excellent alternative to the good old computer mouse. The Trackpad is wireless, the Aluminum body is sturdy and looks beautiful and, best of all, the design is ergonomic – thus it may offer relief to those who suffer from wrist pain due to prolonged computer use.
The official specs from Apple say that Magic Trackpad works only on a Mac but it is fairly easy to configure Trackpad on a Windows PC.
The above video describes how to install the Trackpad driver on a Windows computer and once they are installed, you just have to connect the Trackpad to your computer over Bluetooth. Hold the ON button of your Trackpad, enter 0000 as the pairing code on the computer and you are done!
Magic Trackpad or Windows Mouse?
I have been using the Trackpad with Windows 7 for some time now and it is obviously quite a different experience.
I like the way it lets me scroll web pages by dragging my two-fingers up or down. A gentle tap with a single finger acts like a left-click while a tap with two-fingers is treated as right-click but what’s really nice here is that you can tap just anywhere on the Trackpad surface.
There’s an additional gesture on the Trackpad that I am not sure if we can replicate with a mouse. Point the mouse pointer to an item – like a folder or a file on your desktop or even the title bar of a window – double-tap and hold. Now when you release your finger, the item will stick to the mouse pointer and you can move it anywhere without having to continuously press the Trackpad. This gesture is worth trying inside a drawing application – like MS Paint – for non-stop brushing.
But there are downsides as well. The Trackpad is built-for Mac and most of the gestures – particularly the three-finger or four-finger swipes – won’t work on Windows. You can’t zoom or rotate pictures with your Trackpad as is possible on a Mac. Horizontal scrolling with two-fingers is again not an option for Windows users. Also, the Trackpad is not a great input device for ‘precision’ work like when you want to draw a marquee around an object in Photoshop or when you want to crop a picture by exact ‘n’ pixels.
That said, the Trackpad is still a very comfortable input device and does handle the most common computer tasks quite well – especially for navigating web pages or scrolling long documents. And it is an ambidextrous device so it should work just fine even if you place it on the left side of the keyboard while the mouse stays at its original location.