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Magic Trackpad: Apple reinvents the mouse

The Magic Trackpad is Apple's take on the mouse. But the device is unlikely to wow anyone who has used a Mac laptop.

By Matthew Shaer / July 27, 2010

The Apple Magic Trackpad. According to Apple, the Magic Trackpad is just a regular mouse – but much, much cooler.

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The Magic Trackpad! The name conjures images of the kind of hardware that the boy wizard Harry Potter would adore. But the Magic Trackpad, which is available now on the Apple Store, is a very real device – a next-generation mouse, as envisioned by Apple. And like most Apple products, the Magic Trackpad is hewn from glass and aluminum, with more sharp lines than a F-22 Raptor.

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But what does the Magic Trackpad actually do?

Well, the device is essentially a standalone version of the multi-touch trackpads featured on the Mac notebook line. It plugs right into your desktop, and will sit nicely alongside your sleek Mac keyboard. Users will be able to make a pinching motion to zoom in and out, and rotate an image with their fingertips. According to Apple, the Magic Trackpad can be configured to support tap-to-click as well as a physical click.

Reactions to the Apple Magic Trackpad have been mixed. Some bloggers have fretted about the relatively hefty price tag – $69 for what amounts to a regular old trackpad with a fancy name – while others see potential in Apple's latest gizmo.

"I rarely use desktop computers these days, but I like the idea: I’m not exactly anti-mouse, but mice take up a lot of space, have a nasty habit of colliding with papers and other items, and are sometimes hostile to southpaws like me," writes Harry McCracken of PC World. "Which is why I’m at least as likely to use a trackball as a mouse when I am at a desk."

Earlier this month, the tech site Digitimes Research reported that Apple will release a scaled-down MacBook Air – kitted out with a 11.6-inch display – by the second half of 2010. Those dimensions would edge the MacBook Air, which currently features a 13.3-inch display, into territory traditionally occupied by Netbooks, the highly-portable, slimmed-down laptop computers. No word yet from Apple on the MacBook Air rumors.

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