PC peripherals, unlike women's fashions, don't come in a size zero. Even a downscaled or shrunken object still takes up space. So even if you choose to supplement your laptop's touchpad with a petite notebook mouse instead of a full-sized desktop model, you still need to find a couple of inches of room in your briefcase for it.
After putting its best designers to work on this, er, small problem, Logitech has found an inspiring solution:
The idea behind the V550 Nano Cordless Mouse for Notebooks ($60) is that it doesn't give you one more thing to carry when you grab your PC and head for the conference room, or one more thing to forget when packing your briefcase. Instead, the mouse clings, limpet-like, to the lid of your laptop, ready to whisk into action when you detach and put it on the table or desk.
When docked, the mouse draws no battery power, though Logitech says it will last for up to 18 months on two AA alkalines anyway. There's a manual on/off button on the V550's bottom, and another automatic shutoff when you push a rear latch to remove its plastic base, then stash its USB 2.0 receiver for travel in a tiny slot between the batteries.
It's unlikely, however, that you'll store the receiver inside the mouse in that way. Instead, you'll simply leave it plugged into one of your laptop's USB ports 24/7, because it's the same miniscule module that debuted in Logitech's VX Nano notebook mouse last year -- what the company calls a "plug-and-forget nano-receiver" that protrudes only 0.3 inch from the port.
With the interference-resistant 2.4GHz receiver in place, you don't need to worry about snagging or breaking it as you might if you tried transporting your notebook with a larger cordless dongle (or a flash-memory drive) plugged in. Combine this with the piggyback-riding mouse, and the penalty for carrying a pointing device along with your laptop falls to near zero.
We say near zero because the mouse stands a bit over an inch tall, which effectively makes your notebook an inch thicker. You'll have to hold your portfolio flap or briefcase laptop compartment lid a little wider when sliding the PC into place, so as not to snag.
The docking process starts with selecting a spot on the notebook's top to carry the mouse. Logitech recommends you pick a place well clear of the edges but not dead center, then prepare it by rubbing with one of two tiny supplied cleaning wipes and letting it dry.
You then place and press down to affix a small adhesive tab with a protruding nubbin to the case. Two of the nickel-sized tabs are provided, one black and one silver-gray to coordinate with different laptop color schemes. So is a little plastic wrench to twist and remove the dock if you later decide to do so (the tabs aren't reusable).
After a little off-center wiggling, you'll learn to place the V550 over the nub, then push it forward or upward to lock into place. A firm tug back pulls the device free to resume mousing duties.
It's possible for an impact or jolt, whether a careless swipe of a hand or something shifting position in your briefcase, to dislodge the mouse, but only if it's hit head-on; a side impact merely makes the Logitech pivot around the connection point.
We also tested the mouse's travel toughness when removed from the notebook by tossing it in the air and dropping it a few times. The low-battery light on its top came on, obliging us to open the mouse and reseat the slightly battered batteries, but otherwise it worked fine.