Hands-On: Twelve South’s MagicWand Unifies Apple’s Magic Trackpad + Wireless Keyboard
Published: Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Young though it may be, Twelve South has become a reliable source of smart accessories for Apple users over the past year and a half. MacBooks notably benefitted from the sturdy BookArc stand, iPad users more recently received the super-sharp portable Compass, and now desktop Mac users are getting in on the action with MagicWand ($30), a typically well-named accessory aimed at users of Apple’s Wireless Keyboard and Magic Trackpad.
Using only three pieces, MagicWand unifies these two increasingly important peripherals to become a one-piece input solution that’s a little under an inch narrower than Apple’s USB-wired Mac Keyboard with Numeric Keypad. Piece one is a silver tube with a groove that perfectly fits the battery compartments and rubber feet of the Keyboard and Trackpad; piece two is a matching silver H insert that joins the Keyboard and Trackpad together for stability, and piece three is a gray soft rubber insert that goes at the top of the joined accessories, serving as a pad between their metal top edges. Combined together, everything looks and feels mostly like it was made to be joined this way, and the silver tube has rubber feet of its own to replace the ones it covers up. Some users may pooh-pooh Twelve South’s use of plastic rather than metal for the silver parts, particularly given the $30 asking price, but the plastic keeps the weight down while making the tube flexible enough that the Apple parts can be popped in or out without fear of scratching. A little paint from the tube may rub off if you run the keyboard through it rather than just popping it out, but it won’t damage Apple’s silver aluminum.
Read on for additional photos and details.
The overall experience of joining the Keyboard and Trackpad together is nice, but there are a few little user experience oddities that people will need to overcome. First, as Apple has placed both of the peripherals’ battery access points and power buttons in the same place—on the far left and right sides, respectively, of their tube compartments—you’ll have to give up the ability to manually turn the Keyboard on and off unless you want to disassemble the MagicWand, which isn’t a problem to the extent that the Keyboard can automatically manage its power most of the time. Similarly, replacing the Trackpad’s batteries will require you to pull it off of the MagicWand once every two or three months, which again isn’t a big issue. Left-handed users who mount the Trackpad on the left will gain easy access to its batteries but not its power button.
Second, because the two peripherals are so close together, you may experience some accidental cursor movement due to fingers slipping onto the Trackpad from the edge of the Keyboard. Third and arguably most important, the rigidity of the H bracket between the Keyboard and Trackpad limits the latter’s ability to flex its bottom left corner when used as a right-hand trackpad, making left clicks unreliable unless you perform them closer to the Trackpad’s center or activate the Tap to Click feature. Left-handed users who mount the Trackpad on the other side will find right clicks to be similarly challenging.
Given what Twelve South had to work with here—two Apple peripherals that weren’t originally designed to be physically tethered to one another despite very obvious similarities—MagicWand is a pretty cool accessory. It reduces keyboard tray clutter and prevents an issue we’ve occasionally had whereby the Trackpad and Keyboard wind up rubbing against (and even overlapping) each other during normal use on a desk; it also enables both items to be carried together for use away from a desk, with sufficient sturdiness to make that relatively safe. Our suspicion is that the price may seem a little high to some users, but when they see what other companies are planning to ask for similar add-ons, MagicWand may look like a bargain, though also the simplest of the bunch. Until and unless Apple comes up with a unified and dedicated typing and input solution for Macs, MagicWand will do the trick for most users.
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