Logitech Rechargeable Trackpad for Mac

6 March, 2013 by Lex Friedman, Macworld
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Logitech Rechargeable Trackpad for Mac

Logitech, www.logitech.com/en-au/

Pros 

Supports virtually all the same gestures as Apple’s Magic Trackpad; no need to change batteries

Cons 

Occasionally struggles to distinguish between single- and two-finger clicks; could benefit from a better battery-status indicator

$99.50

Reviews

We use Logitech’s Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 every day. That keyboard satisfies our particular needs: We prefer a full-size keyboard with a number pad, and we want it to work wirelessly without having to remember to change batteries.

Since we acquired that keyboard more than a year ago, we’ve considered also replacing my Magic Trackpad with something that doesn’t require batteries. But once we went trackpad, we just couldn’t go back-pad. So we kept on keeping on with my Magic Trackpad, swapping in replacement AA batteries when the need arose – a smidgen too frequently for our taste, we thought.

Which is why Logitech’s announcement of its $99.50 Rechargeable Trackpad for Mac was big news for us. We was delighted to get our hands – or, really, fingertips – on one.

What it says on the tin

The Rechargeable Trackpad for Mac is, like Apple’s own standalone trackpad, a glass trackpad that supports OS X’s Multi-Touch gestures. But unlike Apple’s trackpad, this one has a built-in, rechargeable battery. You charge that battery by connecting one end of the included USB-to-Micro-USB cable to the Micro-USB port on the back of the trackpad, and the other end to a USB port on your Mac. Logitech says three hours of charging should give you about 60 hours of use.

To conserve battery power, you switch off the Rechargeable Trackpad using a power switch on the right-hand edge. We’d prefer a smart-shutoff feature, like the one on Logitech’s wireless keyboards, that would put the trackpad to sleep after a certain period of inactivity, but since recharging is quick and painless – and because you can use the Rechargeable Trackpad while it charges – this is a minor complaint.

The Rechargeable Trackpad’s surface doesn’t feel noticeably different from that of the Magic Trackpad, but the incline of the trackpad’s surface does. The back of the Magic Trackpad sits about 2cm off the ground (largely due to the space required for AA batteries), while the Rechargeable Trackpad’s rear rises just over 5mm. It’s unlikely that you’ll miss the Magic Trackpad’s incline, especially if you’re comfortable with the fully flat trackpads built into Apple’s laptops.

Like the Magic Trackpad, the Rechargeable Trackpad physically clicks by making its front two feet double as buttons; when you push down on the trackpad, those feet trigger a pointer click. Our first day with the Rechargeable Trackpad, we found that its physical click required more force to trigger than that of the Magic Trackpad. After a few weeks of use, though, it’s no longer an issue – the difference was small enough that we largely got used to it. We’d still say that the click is still a hair less “clicky” than we’d prefer, but it’s entirely manageable – and likely only an issue if, like us, you’ve been using Apple’s trackpad. (If you prefer tap-clicking, you can opt for that approach. In fact, tap-click is enabled by default in Logitech’s companion software – a decision that resulted in accidental clicks all over the place before we realised what was going on. We’re no fan of that feature, and once we disabled it, sanity returned.)

Speaking of software, Logitech’s configuration utility for the trackpad, a System Preferences pane called Logitech Preferences Manager, lets you configure tap and Multi-Touch gesture behaviour, as well as see the current battery level. However, if you don’t need that battery status, you can use the Rechargeable Trackpad without Logitech’s software. With or without Logitech’s software, the Rechargeable Trackpad supports nearly all of the same Multi-Touch gestures that Apple’s trackpad handles: clicks, right-clicks, two-finger clicks, two-finger scrolling, spread/pinch to zoom, rotate, swipe back and forth between webpages, swipe between full-screen apps and spaces, show Launchpad, show the Desktop, enter Notification Center, and double-tap to zoom.

The only gesture that we find the Rechargeable Trackpad gets wrong out of the box is that it uses Lion’s three-finger double-tap to bring up inline definitions, instead of Mountain Lion’s three-finger single tap. If you’ve already set your gesture preferences in OS X’s Trackpad preference pane, you’ll still need to set them again in Logitech’s preference pane.

A status light on the Rechargeable Trackpad – a hidden LED positioned just below the surface in the upper-right corner—flashes red if the trackpad is running low on juice or shows green when it’s charging. We wish the trackpad displayed a more-precise sense of how much battery life is remaining. You can launch System Preferences, find the Logitech Preferences Manager, and check on your remaining battery status using the iconographic there, but we’d prefer something like a series of LEDs on the trackpad itself.

The rub

Our complaints to this point – wishing for a better battery indicator, a slightly clickier click, and one different default gesture – are all pretty minor. However, we do have one bigger complaint that, while not turning us off from the Rechargeable Trackpad, is a true disappointment: Logitech’s trackpad doesn’t seem quite as smart as Apple’s about detecting whether we intend to trigger a one- or two-finger event.

What we mean is that the Rechargeable Trackpad occasionally – mistakenly – interprets us as having used two fingers on the trackpad when we think we’ve used only one. Put another way, the Rechargeable Trackpad seems less capable than the Magic Trackpad at handling incidental contact. The result is that Logitech’s trackpad sometimes erroneously believes that we want to scroll the page, or perform a right-click (a two-finger click), when our intention is to use just a single finger on the trackpad.

This isn’t a deal-breaker, as when the problem occurs, nothing catastrophic happens. It’s merely an annoyance – for example, the page scrolls when we want to simply move the cursor. And after using the trackpad for a few weeks, we’ve gotten better at avoiding the latent finger or palm that seems to cause the issue in the first place. But it still happens to me a couple times per day.

Bottom line

We wanted to love the Rechargeable Trackpad: we don’t like dealing with batteries, and we want to keep using a trackpad, so Logitech’s offering seemed perfect for me. My minor complaints border on trivial, but the annoyance of errant touches is a disappointment, even if a manageable one. That said, we’ve stuck with the Rechargeable Trackpad instead of going back to my Magic Trackpad – despite the latter’s better touch handling, we appreciate the rechargeable battery enough to give Logitech’s Trackpad the edge for us. Still: we look forward to the next version Logitech releases.

One Comment

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  1. Peter Spain says:

    Unlike Apple’s Magic Trackpad which uses bluetooth, Logitech’s offering uses up a USB port for it’s radio frequency receiver dongle. Another gripe is Logitech’s non-removable rechargeable batteries do die sometimes very early in the life of the mouse or other device and turns it into expensive landfill. My preference therefore remains solidly with the Magic Trackpad. Btw, users can use rechargeable AA cells in the Magic Trackpad so there is no real advantage to the higher cost Logitech product.

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