- The Washington Times - Monday, August 15, 2005

It seems doubtful there will be much of a middle ground among those who try, and use, Apple Computer’s $49 Mighty Mouse, recently introduced to Mac lovers, but also usable on a Windows PC.

You’ll either love it or hate it, I suspect. And, if you’re not using the latest version of Apple’s Mac OS X, dubbed Tiger, some features won’t be available.

Having Tiger installed helps put me in the “love it” category for now. As I play with the mouse, and understand a bit more of the design philosophy, it’s quite impressive. This is one of the fastest mice — in terms of scrolling — that I’ve ever used. The scroll feature isn’t a wheel, as found on many mice, but a small button that can scroll in many directions. Getting through Web sites or spreadsheets can be a breeze.

Rolling the scroll wheel on my usual mouse is a big part of the day. Microsoft’s Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer 2.0 added side-to-side tilting for the wheel, so some multidirectional scrolling could be done. In a side-by-side test, however, the Mighty Mouse is noticeably faster than the Microsoft product. The IntelliMouse is slow in vertical scrolling.

The Apple product could be described as a two-button mouse with only one button. How so? Simple: You can configure the left or right side of the mouse to perform an alternate action. Click the mouse full on, and you’ll get, well, a click. Favor the right side, at least in my setup, and you’ll get an alternate menu, the same as with a right click of a two-button mouse. (Confused? An experienced mouse user can explain.)

I don’t know how this works — Apple’s Scott Brodrick, the product marketing manager for, ahem, Mighty Mouse, just said it did — but it’s a sight to behold. Such preferences are set, on the Mac, via a “Systems Preferences” control panel. It’s also where you can designate an action for the side buttons, as well as when you press down on the scroll point.

The side buttons can be set to display the various Dashboard “widgets” that are now standard in the Apple operating system. Or they can invoke the “Application Switcher,” which lets you easily move among open programs on the computer. In my case, I chose to use them to invoke “Expose,” the Mac OS feature that lets me see all the windows on my desktop at once, and pick the one I want to bring up. Pressing the scroll point, for me, invokes application switching.

That’s part of the beauty of the Mighty Mouse, that you can very much customize these features and develop a way of working with which you are comfortable. On the Windows side, you’ll have less flexibility, but the various buttons can still invoke certain PC actions, Apple’s Mr. Brodrick assures me.

Another nice feature of the System Preferences settings is that you can change the scrolling, tracking and double-click speeds of the mouse, which is a feature also found on the Microsoft product, and, indeed, on most modern mice.

What’s not to like? Besides the name, which just irks a bit, there are those who won’t like the Mighty Mouse’s cord. It should be wireless, like the Microsoft product. Maybe so, but there are those of us who don’t mind a wire on occasion, and perhaps a wireless version will arrive at some point.

If nothing else, the Mighty Mouse deserves a serious look from dedicated desk jockeys. Apple, for me at least, has produced a stellar product that should appeal to many users.

E-mail MarkKel@aol.com or visit http://www.kellner.us.

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