Product Review: Apple Magic Trackpad

This review is all about the Apple Magic Trackpad. We are looking at the first version of this product, even though version 2 is now out. Interestingly, version 2 has a force sensor and has a slightly bigger surface area than the first. Other than that, many of the review findings below can be easily applied to version 2! This Apple product resembles a touchpad that you would find in any laptop, except this one is much larger and has many functions built into its design, called gestures. Interested in whether or not the Magic Trackpad is considered to be ergonomic? Scroll down for more!

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Pros

Efficiency of Use. Gestures offer a really unique user experience that can improve your efficiency of mouse movement. With little work, you can become very proficient at the gestures to navigate the computer system efficiently. The gestures are very intuitive and clearly Apple has put a lot of thought into them. The value add with gestures is that they eliminate frequent mouse movements associated with the traditional laptop-like trackpad that can cause distress for those of us who use their computers for extended periods of time. Additionally this can be a big value-add for those who are required to do a lot of precision work. I’ve also found this to be useful for widescreen or multiple monitor users as a quick way to navigate across their screens.

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Low Force. The Apple Magic Trackpad requires very little force to use. This is because its touchpad can be lightly touched with any finger to operate. This makes the Apple mouse a viable solution for those of us who tend to grip their mouses too hard and have some sort of repetitive or overuse injury as a result. FYI: a common type of overuse injury associated with forcibly gripping a traditional mouse is  tennis elbow (aka lateral epicondylitis). The Apple mouse with its minimal force requirement is a big win and can allow those who are injured to regain some of their productivity and perhaps return to work quicker too.

Ambidextrous Design. Since this mouse is designed as a touchpad, it can easily be used with either the left or right hands. It seems obvious, but it can be used as a preventative measure to reduce cumulative strain in just one hand. The key thing is that for most of us, it comes down to our habits – whether we can recognize the first signs of musculoskeletal strain or discomfort, and then knowing to immediately switch hands. It can be easier said than done to say the least but at the same time it is a very useful design feature.

One Size Truly Fits All. Unlike a traditional mouse that can lead to some users with either really big or really small hands to work uncomfortably, the Apple Trackpad’s design almost gives it a universal approach to its ergonomics. This means it should technically be useful for 100% of the population (correct me if I’m wrong and leave a comment below), regardless of hand size or hand preference. Of course there would be some differences when it comes down to user preferences – not everyone is going to like this mouse!

Pros

Personal Habits. Based on how you hold your hand to operate this mouse, it can have a huge effect on your comfort levels. There are typically two ways you can hold your hand/wrist to mouse. The first method is when you hover above the work surface, allowing only the tips of your fingers and thumb to interact with the mouse. The second method is when firm contact is made between the underside of your wrists and your desk, essentially creating a pivot point for you to mouse off of and soft tissue compression (an ergonomic risk factor). Which one do you think sounds more familiar to you? If contact is made between the underside of the wrist and the desk, soft tissue compression occurs and overtime this is a big factor of localized discomfort and pain! There is a solution in cases like this. You can always use a small, compressible wrist rest instead of resting your wrist on the work surface (as a preventative measure) but it highlights a core design feature that is not the most ergonomic.

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Awkward Posture. This mouse requires a pronated wrist (palm down) which is considered to be an awkward posture. Additionally, there is a slight positive tilt of the touchpad, and this may result in slight wrist extension and place more strain on the underside of the wrist (aka the carpal tunnel area). You might be asking yourself what the most ‘ergonomic’ position for your wrist to be in, and it is essentially a ‘handshake’ position. There are some mice that are designed for this more ergonomic position, such as the Evoluent mouse, which I did a review on. Interacting with the Apple magic trackpad can result in side-to-side (inversion and eversion) wrist movements and the specific Apple gestures (that I mentioned in the ‘Pro’ area) can exacerbate these awkward wrist postures.

Pros (1)

Apple Magic Trackpad adds a lot of value to a typical trackpad type of mouse design because of its intuitive gesture interface design that shows a lot of ergonomic benefit, but it is not without ergonomic risk. With any piece of ergonomic equipment, you should trial this trackpad mouse before purchasing. And, the longer the better when it comes to making an informed decision, so check those return policies before purchasing! Ergonomically speaking, if you are experiencing a repetitive strain injury associated with a ‘traditional’ type of mouse (such as tennis elbow) then using a mouse like this could be valuable for you! Good luck!

 

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Through the administration of countless assessments in both private and public sectors, Darcie has gained a wealth of knowledge and built a successful practice in the field of ergonomics. She has extensive expertise in conducting office ergonomics assessments in large scale workplaces for all different types of scenarios, from simple adjustments to incredibly complex cases. Darcie also has vast experience in delivering training presentations on the various aspects of ergonomics “best practices” in the workplace. Darcie is a Certified Professional Ergonomist through the Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics, as recognized by the International Ergonomics Association. She also has a Masters of Science, specializing in ergonomics. A little known fact about Darcie is that she once scored from half, off a free kick, in a university varsity soccer (football) match!