The Microsoft Touch Mouse

The time came yesterday for a new mouse. The cordless mouse that I’ve been using, while faithful for some time, has been getting increasingly dicky. The rubber tyre on the mouse-wheel had stretched and scrolling and middle-clicking often yielded unexpected results and directions.

I eyeballed the digital rodentia at the local JB-HiFi store without the intent to purchase anything right away, but ended up walking out with a brand new Microsoft Touch Mouse ($100AUD). It was the largest mouse on the shelves, and my hands are large with long, slender fingers. Most of the rodentia on offer weren’t as long as my index finger, let alone comfortably large enough to rest a hand on.

Here’s the short version: Don’t buy this mouse. Do not be seduced by its apparent features and sleek curves, for it has a wicked design flaw.

The packaging for the mouse is actually beautiful and elegant design. If only as much thought had been put into the actual mouse as the packaging it came in, I would be a very happy person indeed. Regrettably, this was not to be.

In addition to left-clicking and right-clicking and moving the mouse-pointer around, the mouse features a multi-touch sensitive surface. You can scroll left, right, up or down with a gentle drag of a fingertip across the mouse’s dorsal surface (the scrolling works really nicely). You can maximise, minimise or stack windows with simple two-finger gestures. You can bury everything or expose everything with two simple three-finger gestures; and if you sweep your thumb across the rear part of the mouse’s dorsal surface, you get forward/back actions compatible with explorer and with Web-browsers and the like.

It also works well on just about any surface, from grubby old mouse-mats, to table-surfaces, paper or books.

Overall it feels just great, until you try to actually use the mouse for any productivity or gaming. Having built you up with the illusion of control, it then shatters that illusion, engendering angst, heartbreak and regret.

I mentioned left and right clicking. The mouse has no middle button. In fact, the secret to its particular and severe flaw is that it actually only has one button down in the nose of the thing. The mouse uses the touch-sensitive surface to figure out which side you’re pressing down with when you press hard enough to engage that button. That generates a left-click or a right click.

You cannot have both.

Period.

You can’t hold one, then press the other. You cannot press both at the same time. If you have a finger resting on the other surface, it might think you’re pressing the other side. It’s frustrating and not immediately apparent what is going on.

Worse, the scrolling function of the surface is still fully-engaged, meaning you tend to get scroll-in or scroll-out if your finger moves while you’re trying to hold a button down.

I loaded up an MMOG to test the mouse with, and followed that up with Fallout: New Vegas, and then Second Life. The result, in each case, was frustrating. At first, I thought it was just my unfamiliarity with the new device, but it became quickly apparent that the fault is in the way the mouse is designed. It just isn’t designed for you to ever need to hold a button down, or to need more than one button at a time.

The Microsoft Touch Mouse is (roughly) $100AUD at retail, works only for Windows 7 (not Vista or anything else) and is a complete waste of your time, money and patience.

I cannot think of anyone I know and like who would have a good experience with the Microsoft Touch Mouse, and I don’t dislike anyone enough to think of giving it to them as a gift, so I shall attempt to return this to the store in the morning.

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Categories: Opinion, Technology.



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