- The Washington Times - Monday, July 31, 2006

The announcement last week of Apple Computer’s $69 Wireless Mighty Mouse was followed shortly by its arrival for testing. Would I replace a good, working mouse with this new product? Perhaps not, but I’d certainly consider it if my old mouse needed replacing, or if I wanted to trick out a new Mac ensemble.

Besides being cordless, the other big difference in this new model is that, unlike its wired (and $20 cheaper) predecessor, the wireless Mighty Mouse (MM) won’t work with a Windows PC. The MM is a laser-based device, which means it can use just about any surface, including smooth ones, and achieve a good amount of accuracy. It connects to the Mac via Bluetooth, which just about every new Mac has as a “built-in” feature.

As with most wireless mice, the wireless MM will require AA batteries to run on, and it has space for two cells. However, Scott Brodrick, the Apple Computer product manager for the device, said travelers could save on weight by using one battery. The mouse works the same, but obviously that battery would have to be replaced more quickly. Using the lens cover can also save power. Slide it up and the mouse switches off. About the only thing missing is a travel pouch.

The MM has one top button that acts as two: A single press works as a regular click, but shift the pressure to the right side of the mouse and you can invoke a right-click menu. There are two side buttons that can be configured to handle all sorts of tasks, as well. The supplied software is easy to work with when it comes to setting such preferences.

The center of the MM’s top side has what Mr. Brodrick called a “scroll button,” a soft, pointerlike object that will scroll up and down, but also from side to side. Those who work with spreadsheets will relish this feature, and the rest of us won’t object. It’s a neat way to get around a document, photo or other item.

I do wish the wireless MM would work with PCs, too, but I’m happy that it does such a good job with the Mac. There are, after all, plenty of mouse options for PCs, as a visit to any computer store will affirm.

Perhaps my only gripe with Apple here is price, because a wireless keyboard/mouse duo will cost $128. For $29 less, both Microsoft Corp. and Logitech will sell you their wireless keyboard and mouse combos. Granted, both use a separate “dongle” that plugs into a USB port, less convenient than Apple’s built-in Bluetooth solution.

Both sets have their advantages. Logitech’s Cordless Desktop S 530 Laser for Mac is very Maclike in its appearance, and has a bunch of keyboard-based controls that are helpful, such as controls for ITunes and IPhoto. The mouse feels right and its scroll wheel is certainly adequate, tilting from side to side as well as scrolling up and down, as are the two real buttons.

A similar range of movement is found on the Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop for Mac, with the tilt-and-scroll wheel a useful feature. Two extra buttons on the left side can be configured for faster Web browsing and other features, such as a one-button magnifier that brings a screen into close focus. Though ergonomic, the Microsoft product is the least “Maclike” in its look, but there’s something to be said for comfort over aesthetics.

Read Mark Kellner’s Technology blog, updated daily on The Washington Times’ Web site, at https://www.washingtontimes.com/blogs.

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