Update on Apple’s Magic Trackpad: Battery Life + As A Mouse Replacement
Published: Wednesday, August 18, 2010
The good news: my “early hands-on” left open the possibility that the initially good accessory could come to feel great, and it did. One week into using the Magic Trackpad, it became a completely comfortable replacement for a comparable desktop mouse (specifically Apple’s solid Magic Mouse, which I’d liked but not loved before getting the Trackpad), and when I hit the two-week mark, I was ready to say that I wouldn’t give up the Magic Trackpad for a mouse again. The act of calibrating the Magic Trackpad properly for the screen size of your computer is the point at which you start to appreciate how viable it is as a mouse replacement, and though finger- rather than laser-precision may be an issue for some people, it hasn’t been a problem for me at all. Between the complete access to multi-touch gestures, including ones left out of the Magic Mouse, and the fact that I can achieve the same use of my computer without the footprint of a mouse pad, I’m sold, locked in, and very happy with this accessory. It’s become a “pry it from my cold, dead hands” add-on for my Mac, which is exactly what I hoped for when I made the purchase.
The bad news: yeah, about that battery life thing. I popped in a fully charged set of Apple’s rechargeable batteries on August 3, the day the Apple Battery Charger arrived, which is to say it’s been nearly 15 days since I started with a 100% Trackpad Battery Level. Today, it’s at 14% percent, which means I might get three or four more days out of these batteries before they need to be swapped and recharged. Even by Magic Mouse standards, 20-day battery life* sucks. Based on early testing noted in the comments to the original Trackpad article, it looked like the higher-capacity disposable batteries included with the Magic Trackpad would have lasted for three months before needing to be thrown away and replaced, but the rechargeables are running down at a rate that seems disproportionately and suspiciously high. In any case, since I regularly use a wired Apple keyboard, I would seriously prefer to just pop a USB cable from a wired Magic Trackpad into the spare USB port on the keyboard’s side. But Apple doesn’t make a wired Magic Trackpad. I wish the company’s growing team of magicians would conjure one up, because as fun as battery swaps with coin-operated swirled metal compartments may be, I could do without them. You probably could, too.
(* = Battery life will, of course, depend on how much you use your computer, how efficiently Apple’s software manages the power of its accessories, and the type of batteries you’re using. Since I’m using Apple’s hardware, software, and batteries at this point, there’s really no excuse for short run times except that wireless accessories eat batteries when you actually use them—which I do for eight or nine hours each work day, five or six days a week. My machine’s on a 10-minute automatic sleep timer. You’ll get longer battery life if you use your machine less and turn it off properly when it’s not in use.)
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