Logitech Gets Touchy
Logitech has had their hand in the Human Interface Device (HID) market for quite some time and offer one of the widest arrays of devices of any manufacturer. Most of these are aimed at PC users but as the Mac user base grows, so does the market for non-Apple accessories. It's a tough marketspace to be in due to Apple's customer loyalty and their penchant for coming up with solid designs. Nevertheless, Logitech has seen fit to offer a trackpad specifically designed to work on Macs, specifically those running OS X 10.6.8 or later, which competes directly with Apple's own Magic Trackpad. OS X has supported gestures for a while and leveraging them can really enhance the user experience. How well Logitech's offering performs and well as how it compares to Apple's is something we'll try to bear out in our review.
Officially designated with model number T651, it has a Windows compatible counterpart carrying part number T650. Each have a glass surface with identical dimensions and overall design save for the T650 having a dark gray color and the Mac oriented T651 sporting an aluminum silver color to match most Apple products. Curiously, the T650 carries a higher MSRP that's $10 higher than the $69.99 listed for the T651. This may be due to the inclusion of the unifying dongle required for use on Windows. On the web, we've been able to find the T651 online for $47.69 shipped and the T650 for $54.81 shipped.
Logitech T651 Trackpad for Mac Highlights
- Bluetooth Wireless
- Up to 30' Range
- Multi-touch Gestures
- Integrated Mechanical Click
- Ergonomic Tilt Angle
- Recharges via USB
- Power Management
Unlike the T650, the T651 relies on Bluetooth technology to make the connection. Something we've found troublesome on Windows which is probably one of the reasons why Logitech decided to use the unifying dongle receiver instead which also has the benefit of making it easier to use multiple Logitech devices together.
In the box, other than the obligatory user manual and warranty information, is the USB to micro-USB cable that's used to charge the trackpad as needed which tends to be anywhere from a week to a month depending on usage. It comes complete with retention clips to allow for easy wrapping when not in use that really works great. More companies should do this!
A Closer Look At The T651
We've had a look at the front in our introduction which is where all the action happens and we'll talk about performance in a bit, but first we'll look a bit closer at the other aspects of the T651. All the way around the back side, we find four rubber feet to keep the pad from moving during use and keep the trackpad on an even stance. The only other feature of note on the bottom is the Bluetooth connect button which is highlighted by the instructional sticker. Pushing it puts the device in connection mode for pairing.
On the right edge is a simple sliding power switch which displays an orange color when off and green when on.
On the rear edge (the end that faces away from the user) is the micro-USB port to be used when charging the trackpad.
In terms of size, the Logitech T651 is basically the same size as the Apple Magic Trackpad although there's a top aluminum strip across the top of the Apple device that's non-functional as it houses the batteries.
The Magic Trackpad is more elevated in the rear as compared to the T651 which is probably more a product of necessity for battery storage and a desire to match the Apple keyboard where the Logitech's battery is internal and more compactly stowed.
Usage & Final Thoughts
Using the Logitech T651 Rechargeable Trackpad is not unlike that of the Apple Magic Trackpad or any trackpad on an Apple laptop. It supports gestures, taps, and clicks. Unlike Apple's trackpad which uses batteries, the T651 is rechargeable, so giving it a full charge is the first step upon opening and it takes two to three hours to get a full charge. During charging and when turned on, there's a blinking green indicator LED in the top right-hand corner which also blinks red when the battery needs charging. The light also turns blue when attempting a Bluetooth connection. When not lit, there's no gap in the surface of the trackpad to even indicate that the LED is even there. It's a very handy visual cue in all cases.
The glass surface is slick yet tactile and feels very much like the Magic Trackpad and trackpads found on the varying MacBooks. So, those that are used to using them shouldn't really feel a difference. However, the Logitech trackpad has a bit of a dead zone around the edges, especially at the top. Around the bottom and sides, it's roughly a 1/4" but at the top, it's closer to a 1/2", starting just below the logo. It can be a bit disconcerting but thankfully once your digit reaches the touch sensitive area again, cursor movement continues. Still, it's not something you encounter on the Apple Magic Trackpad and negates any larger surface area the Logitech has over the Apple. This may be remedied with a software update unless this area is just not designed to be touch sensitive. As with most trackpads, precision movements are tougher than with a mouse or tablet and the T651 feels like it might be just bit less accurate in this department. Slowing down the tracking speed helps but it's just hard to be precise with a blunt implement like a finger. Clicking for dragging, etc can be a bit tricky because you need to click the lower left corner down for the process and the physical feedback from the click is a bit feeble and not quite as definitive as the feel of the Apple trackpad. Still it works and you get used to the difference if you've used the Magic Trackpad for a while.
In order to leverage all the features of the T651, you must install Logitech's preference manager software. This is somewhat similar to the SetPoint software many PC users may be familiar with. The download and install are both short endeavors and the preference manager can be accessed via the system tools folder.
There are three "tabs" for the various settings. The first deals with pointing and clicking and you can customize the taps and clicks as well as the tracking speed. An animated example appears on the right.
The next deals with scrolling and zooming. The scrolling speed is controlled with a slider and the the various options are simply toggled on or off.
Finally, there are additional gestures you can use which can be toggled on or off as well as modified to suit your preferences. This is handy because they can be invoked accidentally which is always a treat. You can also find further options by clicking the gear icon at the bottom to change the double-click speed, inertia scrolling, and toggle the low battery warning display. In all, there are more customizations available than what Apple offers which is an added benefit to buying the Logitech if you plan on using them.
Overall, it's a very competent alternative to Apple's own trackpad and its design complements Apple's suite of hardware products. The $69.99 MSRP of the T651 is equal to that of Apple's offering but can be found online for as low as $47.69 shipped. Rarely can you find Apple's products with that type of markdown so Logitech has a leg up there.
Legit Bottom Line: The Logitech T651 Rechargeable Bluetooth Trackpad is a capable alternative to Apple's Magic Trackpad. It offers some additional functionality and can be purchased for less but has a few quirks that those used to Apple's trackpad may need some getting used to.