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As much as we love our mice and trackpads, Apple’s marketing has made us a bit jaded about anything with “magic” in its name. So, when Mimo Monitors’ Magic Touch landed on our doorstep, we were appropriately skeptical.
Out of the box, the 10-inch touchscreen display doesn’t feel very magical. While absurdly light (about a pound without the base, and a little over 2 pounds with it), it looks like a cheap tablet. It might not be a fair comparison, but for a 10-inch touchscreen that costs almost as much as an iPad mini, it’s impossible not to focus on how outdated it looks, from the thick plastic enclosure to the raised bezel. You can opt to use the Magic Touch with or without its adjustable stand, but it always needs to be plugged into a computer.
It works OK, but we’d rather spend a little more and get an iPad that works on its own, too.
We didn’t really expect Magic Touch to “just work,” but the lack of documentation for Mac users made the process unnecessarily confusing. The required third-party touchscreen driver costs $35 from www.mimomonitors.com, but what was less clear was that we needed the UPDD Gestures pack, too. The included cable has a micro-USB end that connects to the Magic Touch, and the other end has two standard USB plugs, to connect to your Mac and provide bus power. It worked just fine using one USB plug with our MacBook Pro, so presumably the second plug is only needed if your Mac’s ports don’t provide enough power. We also had to visit the UPDD (Universal Pointer Device Driver) Console in System Preferences for some tweaks and minor calibration and launch the UPDD Gestures applet.
Finally, we were ready to be wowed. But despite its immodest modifier, the Magic Touch doesn’t act much differently than any other second monitor would. It can either mirror or expand your desktop, and we found it most useful as a place for palettes, folders, and documents that would normally be obscured by other windows. We wouldn’t call it magical, but for the most part, the $299 monitor worked as advertised, with good response to our cursor motions and trackpad gestures, although scrolling lagged at times. Colors were washed-out compared to our Apple displays, but we quickly incorporated the mini monitor into our workflow.
However, we rarely used our fingers on Magic Touch. Maybe we’re just not used to it, but our natural tendency was to use the mouse to move between screens. Even when we remembered to tap and pinch, it was an awkward, uncomfortable experience. Through several days of use, OS X consistently recognized the Magic Touch upon waking from sleep, though we occasionally had to relaunch the companion gestures applet. We also experienced frequent issues with display noise after our MacBook Pro woke from its slumber, but powering the monitor off and on never failed to correct it.
The bottom line. The Magic Touch might have been magical five years ago, but now that you can use an iPad as an external touchscreen display thanks to apps like Air Display and Mini Display, its tricks just aren’t very impressive.
Intel Mac, UPDD driver ($35), UPDD Gestures applet
Extremely lightweight. Good touch sensitivity. USB-powered.
Confusing setup. Expensive. Touching it is awkward and unergonomic. Some responsiveness issues.