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Why Apple's Magic Trackpad won't kill the mouse

Image: Apple Magic Trackpad
The new Magic Trackpad, with a glass-and-aluminum design, brings the intuitive Multi-Touch gestures of Mac notebook trackpads to the desktop. It costs $69.PRNewsFoto via AP
/ Source: PC World

Apple's multi-touch assault on the desktop continues with the $69 Magic Trackpad, a jumbo touch panel that allows desktop Mac users to do away with their mouses and act like they're using MacBook Pros. But just because people can say goodbye to the mouse doesn't mean they will. Here are four reasons not to count out the mouse just yet:

Ergonomics rule
After using a trackpad for a while, my fingers start to get tired, and I yearn for a mouse whose shape is sculpted to my hand's natural arch. In theory, a trackpad could be even more natural by removing all pressure against your joints and palms, but you'll still have to keep most of your fingertips off the Magic Trackpad to avoid triggering multi-touch gestures. The posture of the hands on Apple's Magic Trackpad Web page doesn't inspire confidence.

Gamers won't dig it
Ever tried playing a first-person shooter on a laptop? It can't be done without an external mouse. The extra real estate of the Magic Trackpad could make gaming easier, but it won't replace the precision of physical buttons. And don't bother arguing that Mac users aren't gamers; the recent arrivals of Steam for Mac and OnLive prove otherwise.

No click-and-lift
If you drag things around a lot on your PC, you're probably familiar with what I call the click-and-lift, where you hold down a mouse button, lift the mouse and place it down elsewhere. It's a vital maneuver for when you hit the edge of the mouse pad when dragging something, and need to get more room. Trackpads can't click-and-lift, and while Apple's magical version has 80 percent more real-estate than a MacBook Pro pad, as mouse users know, it's never enough.

Old habits die hard
Even Apple isn't trying to replace the mouse with the Magic Trackpad by force — at least for now. Mac desktops still come with the Magic Mouse, which allows many of the same multi-touch gestures as the Magic Trackpad in a more familiar form. I'm reserving the right to revisit this topic if Apple decides to bundle the Magic Trackpad at the mouse's expense.