I've used an Apple Magic Trackpad for the past eight years – basically since they became available in Canada. I love them for the fact that all of the muscle memory that I've developed using trackpad-based shortcut gestures with my MacBook Pro work exactly the same with the Magic Trackpad while I'm hooked up to an external monitor. What I don't like is the price. Apple products typically cost more than their Windows or Linux-powered equivalents do. I remember telling myself as I bought my first Cupertino-designed trackpad that the +$100 price was cool because it was an investment in gear that I use, daily, for work. And besides, it's made by Apple – it'll last for ever!
Five years into owning my first Magic Trackpad, I found myself routinely tearing it apart in order to fix the wee button inside of it that registers clicks. It was a pain in the ass, but I couldn't afford to buy a replacement. At the time, my wife was finishing her degree – what I pulled in was pretty much it for income. What I'd spend on a new trackpad would buy us groceries for a couple of weeks. My friend Susie found out that I was doing this and told me to cut it out: She had a new Magic Trackpad for me, still in the box, never opened. A week later and my first Magic Trackpad was out with the recycling.
Fast forward to 2018.
My second Magic Trackpad, which I had been so happy to receive, was on the fritz. On a regular basis, it loses Bluetooth connectivity with my laptop. I put up with it for months, looking for a way to sort the problem out. Frustrated, unable to reliably do work on the large display in my office and facing a tsunami-sized wall of deadlines, I finally broke down and bought a cheap-ass $40 mouse (I checked out less expensive ones too, but they didn't feel right in my hand) so that I could get on with my life. I knew that it would mean that I would have to forgo all of the gestures shortcuts that I used on a regular basis, but with so much work to do, and so little time to do it, it was an accommodation that I was willing to make. I told myself that, when I could afford it, I'd buy a new trackpad.
But here's the thing: A month into using the mouse and I don't miss my Magic Trackpad at all.
Mouse technology (I instantly thought of a critter in a white lab coat building itself an exoskeleton as I typed that) has apparently come a long way in the eight years since I used anything but a trackpad to do my computing with. It's gotten a lot less expensive, too! You can get a good mouse, full of features, for a pretty reasonable price. The Logitech M510 that I picked up at my local big box store is programmable, runs off a pair of AA batteries for a whole stinking year, and can be programmed with, yes, all of the shortcuts I thought I'd miss out on if I wasn't rocking an Apple-branded trackpad. What's more, I've found that after hours in front of the computer, my wrist doesn't feel as inflamed as it did when I was using a trackpad to navigate my computer.
For close to a decade, I had become so fixed in my ways that I couldn't see that there were less expensive, just as effective means to achieving my goals. I've thought about my attachment to the trackpad I once insisted upon using a lot of late: what else, in my life, do I mistake as being necessary?
Anyway, damn good mouse.
Image via Logitech