Apple’s Magic Trackpad went two and a half years without an equally appealing third-party competitor for the Mac. Finally, someone has taken a stab at improving on our favorite input device: Logitech’s Rechargeable Trackpad ($70) looks like a real contender. It has all the same features and functionalities of Apple’s controller, plus a built-in rechargeable battery, for roughly the same price.
Just like the Magic Trackpad, Rechargeable Trackpad’s top surface is glass, and it supports all the Multi-Touch gestures you’ve come to know. It has a mechanical click for button presses, as well—absolutely essential, in our opinion. When it comes time to juice up the Bluetooth device, you simply plug in the USB cable and it’s good to go. If you don’t mind wires, you can even leave it plugged in and never worry about running out of power.
Update: A few notes from initial hands-on testing of the Rechargeable Trackpad T651, a numerical distinction that separates it from a Windows version called Rechargeable Trackpad T650. The unit has a slightly larger touchable surface than the Magic Trackpad, and it’s more obviously made from matte-finished glass; a Logitech logo on the top center casts a shadow on the metallic silver surface beneath it. Apple’s unit feels like metal and glass; Logitech’s more like glass and plastic—not hugely different, but different. A green and blue light peers out from the upper right corner of the top surface to indicate power and pairing status before disappearing, a nice effect.
T651 also has a slanted triangular side profile, which removes Apple’s battery tube in favor of a large, flat battery pack that rests directly below the control surface. In addition to a Micro-USB port on the computer-facing back side, a power switch on the right enables T651 to be easily turned on and off, while a Bluetooth pairing button on the bottom lets you re-pair it in the event that you don’t pair it successfully the first time with your Mac, or want to use it with a second machine. Four rubber feet are on the bottom, with the lower two serving as the “click” mechanism; the click isn’t quite as satisfying as on the Magic Trackpad, but again, not terribly different.
Logitech requires you to download a driver in order to use the Trackpad fully with your Mac. Before installing the driver—which wasn’t available when we first received T651 for review—we noted that finger tracking wasn’t particularly precise without it, moving in fits and spurts. Even after installing the driver, which sets up a new System Preferences panel called the Logitech Preference Manager, we didn’t find the Trackpad’s sensitivity to be quite right. Rather than precisely tracking our finger motions, the cursor often moved in unpredictable arcs towards different locations on the screen, something that we couldn’t fully remedy with any of the Manager’s settings. On the other hand, the software enables a large collection of multi-touch gestures akin to Apple’s, and they work pretty much as expected. If the basic scrolling of…