Where'd All the Crazy Keyboards Go?

By Will Smith

Sometimes good hardware dies before its time. Even if it was really just bad hardware. Also, Apple's Magic Mouse is dumb.

Way back in the days before Windows 95, I was in college, doing IT contract work to pay the bills. In the process of supporting a handful of businesses, I came across an dozens   of goofy keyboards that included all sorts of goofy built-in pointing devices, from trackballs to the IBM pointing nub to trackpads. At the time, I looked upon these keyboards with scorn, after all, they were bad keyboards and bad pointing devices, jammed into one super-shitty shell. 

Trackpads rule the mobile world. Why can't I get a nice keyboard with one built in? 

In no device is this weird dichotomy more apparent than in Apple’s new Magic Mouse—a wireless mouse whose entire upper surface is one giant multi-touch canvas. For normal tasks, it behaves exactly as you’d expect; touch the left or right side of the mouse and click to emulate the common mouse buttons. You can also drag two fingers down the surface to scroll, and you can even use the other multitouch gestures made popular by the iPhone on the back of this new Magic Mouse. Clever, right? 

Not really. You see, the reason everyone loves touchpads on their laptops isn’t trendy multi-touch gestures, no matter what Uncle Stevie wants you to believe. It’s that you don’t need to remove your hands from the keyboard in order to move the cursor. When I’m typing on my MacBook and I need to make a quick cursor adjustment, I can swing my chubby thumb down to the pad, move the cursor as needed, and be back to typing in a literal blink of the eye. Compare that to the time needed to move your hand off the home keys, over to the mouse, make your moves, and then return your fingers to the keyboard and you’ll see what I’m talking about. And, if you’re like me, with glass and gravel-filled wrists, the last thing you want to do is use the mouse one moment more than you need to. 

 That is one sexy keyboard with a trackpad, isn't it?

That’s not too unreasonable, is it?