The standard multi-touch functions are all here: double tap for right-click, double-finger scrolling, triple-finger swipe to navigate, quadruple-finger Exposé functions, pinch to zoom and rotate are all there, as well as the newer inertial scrolling option.
Brand new this time around is the ability to move windows by holding down three fingers and swiping, although if you enable this you lose the swipe-to-navigate function in Safari and iPhoto. Given that you have to do the gesture while the cursor is placed on the app's title bar rather than anywhere in the window, we'd rather enable drag, drag lock and keep the ability to swipe navigate.
While we're advocates of using tap-to-click, the hardware "button" works just fine, if requiring a little too much effort. Just make sure you've got the Magic Trackpad on a solid surface — it won't work terribly well on soft surfaces like carpet or a lounge. While most would use it on a desk, we could see the potential for the Trackpad to perhaps be used in media centre applications.
AA batteries go in here. Never one to miss an upsell, Apple now sells a battery charger too. (Credit: Apple)
On the Windows side, the Trackpad acts just as the MacBook touch pad does, allowing drag/lock, single and right button taps and two-finger scrolling — anything more complicated you don't have access to. You'll have a tough time though if you buy this specifically for a Windows machine: you'll not only need a Bluetooth receiver, but access to a copy of Snow Leopard as well to install the Boot Camp drivers, as Apple doesn't make these available on its site. You'll then have to install the update from Apple's site for the Magic Trackpad.
Actually using it induces a moment of cognitive dissonance — you are, after all, using a touch pad on a desktop. Soon it becomes second nature though, and while the imprecision remains compared to a mouse, for purely casual users this might just be enough, or dare we say, even better for their needs.
Does it hint at the future direction of Apple's desktops and software? Or is it just another attempt to put multi-touch everywhere? While we still prefer using the speedier and more accurate mouse, some will no doubt be interested in the Magic Trackpad. It's not magic — it does no more or less than you'd expect it to. But then, that's not necessarily a bad thing.