Sometimes archrivalry is the sincerest form of flattery. Microsoft's newest notebook mouse combines Microsoft's latest mouse innovation with, uh, Logitech's latest mouse innovation.
The latter is what Logitech has called a "plug-and-forget nano-receiver." In the Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 6000 ($50), it's called a "plug-and-go nano transceiver" -- a wireless receiver that, instead of sticking out like a thumb drive, projects only 0.3 inch when inserted into a laptop's USB 2.0 port.
This lets you leave the receiver plugged into your notebook without worrying about it snagging or snapping off as you stuff the PC into and yank it out of your briefcase. If for some reason you don't want to leave it in place, the receiver also fits in a tiny slot in the mouse's bottom when not in use.
A micro receiver was a good idea when Logitech debuted it with the VX Nano mouse, and it's a good idea today. It's also a good match for the abovementioned Microsoft innovation, the BlueTrack Technology that premiered with Redmond's Explorer Mouse last December and that lets the Mobile 6000 work on virtually any surface.
BlueTrack is Microsoft's successor to LED and laser optical-mouse architecture -- a bigger, bluer beam to illuminate the area beneath the mouse, combined with a more efficient contrasting mechanism to analyze the difference from one surface snapshot to the next and thereby track the mouse's movement.
Like all optical mouse designs, it can't work on clear glass or mirrored surfaces that make it impossible to compare one millisecond's location to the next's. (It flunked with the shiny aluminum of a Diet Pepsi can.) But it works smoothly on almost any other surface you might have at hand, including your other hand; marble or granite if you have an imposing desk; carpeting if you're lying with your notebook on the floor; wood; smooth or corduroy fabric; cardboard; tile; your pants leg; your stomach if you slouch in front of the PC; and almost anything else you can think of, let alone the proverbial airline tray table and hotel-room desk. Even more than laser technology, BlueTrack makes the mouse pad an endangered species.
If Only There Was a Black Mac
Though plumper, the 2.4 by 3.8-inch Wireless Mobile Mouse 6000 is reminiscent of Apple's Mighty Mouse in its simple, elegant design -- a symmetrical or ambidextrous, glossy black oval with classy chrome strips on each side, comfy rubber side grips, and tiny side buttons. After a little practice to get the hang of clicking the left without also squeezing the right side button, we'd rate them as outstanding -- almost perfectly placed for a right-handed user to operate with just a flick of the thumb and flex of the ring finger, respectively.
The scroll wheel's small size, and its liquid motion with no clicks or detents, are the only things we can imagine even the most persnickety mouse maven complaining about. We prefer detents ourselves as a rule, but the wheel's precise control largely offsets that gripe.
Besides spinning for vertical and tilting left and right for horizontal scrolling, the wheel serves as a fifth mouse button; clicking it by default summons Vista's Flip 3D view of stacked application screens, as an alternative to Alt-Tab switching among program windows, instead of the usual auto-scroll.
Microsoft's IntelliPoint driver lets you program or reassign each of the five buttons from a menu of command functions and keystrokes or to custom application- or Web-page-launching or macro playback. Unlike Logitech's, Microsoft's driver won't let you reassign a left or right wheel nudge to anything except horizontal scrolling -- a choice we've grumbled about before, but less loudly this time, since the 6000's side buttons are virtually as convenient as our favorite left tilt for executing a browser Back command.
Microsoft says the 6000 can squeeze up to ten months' use from its single AA alkaline battery, helped by an on/off switch on its underside to save power during travel or idle times. Its 2.4GHz wireless radio has a range of 30 feet. It also seems likely to survive the rigors of travel -- we tossed and dropped it onto a carpeted floor several times with no ill effects.
All told, the Wireless Mobile Mouse 6000 is a simple, solid, exceptionally handsome performer -- the best, and most affordable, yet in Microsoft's BlueTrack line, and comfortable enough to tempt desktop as well as notebook accessory shoppers.
Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 6000
On a 5-star scale:
Article courtesy of Hardware Central.