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New Apple Peripherals

October 28, 2009 - Dave Hecei
Along with the computer updates from Apple, we now have yet another Mac mouse, the Magic Mouse, and a new aluminum Apple Remote. Apple also released an updated Airport Extreme wireless router and Time Capsule wireless backup router.

Apple has had a long and somewhat rocky road with their computer mouse. The original Mac mouse was actually one of the best ones they made. But when the iMac was first introduced, over 20 years ago, it had the ‘hockey puck’ mouse, one of the worst ones ever created.

This latest wireless model is called the Magic Mouse, which uses BlueTooth to connect wirelessly to any BlueTooth enabled Mac (most Mac models in the last few years have BlueTooth built-in). This new mouse is remarkable in that you don’t see any buttons, wheels, or scrolling balls.

Instead of the scrolling ball used by the Mighty Mouse, the top surface of the Magic Mouse is touch sensitive, which includes Multi-Touch functionality. It is still a two-button mouse, it can sense where you are pressing and responds accordingly. To scroll up and down, just slide a single finger up and down the top surface of the mouse. Just like the scroll ball on the Mighty Mouse you can even scroll left, right, and any direction diagonally, giving 360-degrees of coverage.

The Multi-Touch functions are limited to two finger movements, or swipes. With programs like iTunes or iPhoto, you can swipe two fingers to flick through your photos or albums. Unfortunately, there are no pinch zoom features on the Magic Mouse. You can zoom in on the screen by holding the Control-key and then scrolling up or down on the mouse.

The one thing it can do is scroll with momentum. This works like it does on the iPhone. If you swipe your finger hard down the mouse and the window will scroll fast and then gradually slow down to a stop. This is great for very long music lists, if you have lots of photos, or an extraordinarily long web page.

Just like other Mac mouse models, you will either love the Magic Mouse or you will hate it. It is available separately from Apple for $69, or you can get one free, they are included along with a wireless Apple keyboard with any new iMac.

The Apple Remote, which used to included with a new Mac, is now a $19 accessory. The new model is encased in aluminum to match the new Macs (all Macs and Apple monitors are aluminum except for the white MacBook). Slightly larger than the original Apple Remote, the aluminum model is longer but has all the same buttons. The Play-Pause button has been moved from the center of the directional ring to down beside the Menu button. Other than that, it functions exactly as the original.

The Apple Airport Extreme Base Station has been updated with improvements to the antenna design, which Apple claims to give it up to 50 percent better wireless performance and 25 percent better range. Time Capsule, Apple’s wireless router with built-in hard drive for Time Machine backups, has had some firmware updates allowing faster backups with Macs running OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. Airport Extreme is $179. Time Capsule is $299 with a 1 TB drive and $299 with a 2 TB drive.


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