No other laptop manufacturer has got their trackpad as awesomely right as Apple. Their new line of multitouch enabled gestures based trackpads on Macbooks and Macbook pros, and release of Magic Trackpad for desktops is an awesome traditional mouse replacement.
I have always despised trackpads on any other laptop I’ve ever used. They are very basic, small, with left/right mouse buttons just not placed in a way to be easy on your palm position. You have to actually adjust your hand when shifting between cursor movement, and clicking. Their sensitivity level is also hard to adjust, and the whole moving your finger on top of it experience just isn’t fun. In one word, they are just plain “ugly”. But all of these problems go away with Apple’s trackpad. The trackpad itself is a button, so you don’t need to adjust your hand during movement/clicking. And the overall multitouch gestures experience is on a whole new level.
I never thought I would be using a laptop without a mouse, but I proved myself wrong when I bought a macbook pro. Its trackpad is just so awesome, I never felt a need for getting a mouse. I could switch between apps, spaces, desktop, and zoom in/out on items, all controlled from the comfort zone of the trackpad. But, there is one problem. With continuous usage of the trackpad, you are bound to face wrist pain issues. While using trackpad, it is inevitable to have your hand positioned in a way such that the lower portion of your palm is pushed against the bottom edge of your laptop. Given enough time, it is a given you will feel uneasy, and soon have a pain in your palm and wrist.
When that happens, there are two solutions. Either you get the Magic Trackpad by Apple, or get back to a mouse. Magic Trackpad would be an awesome solution. But when I decided to chose between these two, I went for a mouse. To begin with, because it seemed like a very expensive solution to have an isolated Magic Trackpad, when the one builtin with macbook pro is essentially the same thing. So I thought to get something different, just for the sake of it.
I’ve always heard bad of Apple’s Mighty Mouse. People have given it bad reviews for its performance, and durability. I considered a Magic Mouse, but once I tried it at a friend’s place, I was convinced against it. Its tracking speed is horrible. Plus I just didn’t like the whole multitouch experience on it. May be I would get used to that part with some usage, but the fact that I’ll always have to make sure it has enough battery juice within it to last me during my work session, is just extra burden.
That left me with one option. I had to go for a cheap USB optical mouse for now. And I did. But just when I thought that would give me a suitable solution for time being, I figured Apple has done something wrong with its USB drivers stack in current line of Snow Leopard, that made this particular optical mouse I bought, not work with my system. I couldn’t figure what it was. Mouse would power up, which I was able to tell because LED light on it would turn on, and it was also detected as shown by System Profiler. But it won’t work. What was the issue, I can’t say, as I don’t have the complete details. But I found the solution in form of a software utility you can install on your system. Namely, SteerMouse. After installing it, I was able to make this particular mouse work with mac. But SteerMouse just doesn’t help you with your USB Optical Mouse driver, it also helps with lots of other attributes of a mouse. You can control its tracking speed, that your default settings on your system never seems to get right. Using it, I was able to take mouse pointer’s tracking speed and sensitivity to a level I couldn’t with default utilities. It also lets you define other useful features for your mouse pointer that you might find useful. For example, when a new application window opens, you can let SteerMouse take your mouse pointer immediately to some specific location, such as close/resize buttons, or a default cancel/ok button within the applications.
There are whole lot of other options that you can use to give your mouse a different set of functionality not thought to be achievable with mac’s default utilities.
So, till I finally get the courage to buy that expensive Magic Trackpad, which I am determined to get by the way, and suggest you get it too, I am happy with my cheap chinese made USB Optical mouse, happily working thanks to SteerMouse.
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