Reviews of Super Weird Mice:The Microsoft Arc Touch and Wedge Mouse
I'm always on the lookout for the perfect mouse. I don't think it exists, yet, frankly, but we're getting close. I've got two notebook mice I'm bouncing between while using my new ultrabook, the Lenovo X1 Carbon Touch. I'm using the Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse and the Microsoft Wedge Mouse.
I'm classifying both of these mice as "weird" because, well, they are. They aren't classic-looking mice and each one has garnered the occasional double-take from passersby. Each has an unusual design for a reason: portability.
The Wedge Mouse
The Wedge is tiny. Like, really tiny. The idea appears to have been to remove the back half of the mouse completely (the part that usually gets cupped in your palm) and instead make just the fingertips part. There's a AA battery that goes in the round part (the butt) and underneath there's a single button for on/off/Bluetooth sync and a battery door switch. Oddly, the battery door switch looks like an on/off switch also so I ended up flicking that a few times before I learned.
The Wedge is a Bluetooth mouse, and getting a good Bluetooth mouse was my goal. This Ultrabook only has two USB ports and that's one port too few. I'll often find myself with a hard drive plugged in, then want to add one more item (USB key, presenter remote, smart card) and with most mice I'm stuck because the other USB port already has that mouse's transmitter.
The mouse uses the capacitive touch technology that we're seeing in a lot of mice lately. See that vertical line that separates the two mouse "buttons?" Stroke that and it's the "scroll wheel." It feels odd initially but ends up quite comfortable. Speed of scrolling is also easily changed. There's no middle mouse button, but that hasn't been an issue for me.
My Right-Clicking Issues
Now here's an odd one. Every once in a while I do what, in my mind is a CRYSTAL clear right-click and it registers as a left-click. I've tested it. Click hard with the right and it got picked up as a left. What the heck? I searched around and found a few people in the forums with the same issue so I assumed it was a driver issue. However, I have the latest drivers. What's going on?
Well, it's actually obvious and a little funny if you give it some though. Occasionally when I right click I end up right-clicking the FAR TOP EDGE on the right. Looking at the picture below, I'm pushing with my finger ABOVE the right-side blue square. This is outside the touch area but is registered with the mouse's mechanical click. Since there's no right-touch, there's no right-click.
Stated differently, there's a touch area with clear left and right areas delimited. If I mechanical click the mouse - remember, there's just one click...the whole mouse goes down - then the mouse decides if it's a left or right by seeing where your finger is that moment. If it's on the far top edge then it can't see your right finger, so....left click from the right.
Call it an oddity, call it a design flaw, call it "you're holding it wrong." Regardless, as soon as I figured this out, it stopped happening. I just assumed initially that the touch area wrapped around the front of the mouse. It doesn't. Once my subconscious heard about this from my conscious mind, I can right-click like a champ, but it was quite confusing for a minute there. Be aware.
I thought that Bluetooth aspect of this mouse would be pure win, but even after using it for a few hours it stopped responding at least a half dozen times. I would have to lift the mouse up and put it down again. The word on the street and in the forums is that this a power management issue and that you should go into Device Manager and check the properties of the mouse and change the setting that allows the operating system to, well, turn it off. Of course, this setting is not checked and not available. The takeaway here as far as I'm concerned is that while the dream of a Bluetooth mouse is a great and valid one, it's just not ready. Whether is it's the tech or the stack or the mouse itself, I dunno. I tried an Apple Magic Mouse for a day this week and had the same issue, but worse. The Magic Mouse wouldn't go 10 minutes without just stopping - and this was with new batteries. The Wedge has turned off maybe twice a day, so enough to be annoying but not enough to kill the deal. That said, there's lots of anecdotes from folks who LOVE this mouse and haven't had this issue, so I'm assuming it's my Bluetooth driver stack.
All in all, I haven't decided if I'm going to keep this mouse. It's small, which is great. It's Bluetooth which is super great until it's totally not-great. I will give it a 7 out of 10. It's small. So, um. Ya
The Arc Touch Mouse
I love this mouse. It's darn near perfect. The only mouse I love even more is the original Microsoft Arc Mouse which is equally brilliant in different ways.
The gimmick of the Arc Touch Mouse is that it folds flat. This isn't a cute gimmick, it actually works and works well. Given that my Lenovo is so small and flat, it's nice to have this mouse slide into my backpack and lay flat against the laptop. They kind of match, too.
It arcs with a reliable and satisfying snap. The back is rubber and the top is glossy plastic.
The scroll area has a wonderful haptic feedback (that's geek for "it vibrates when you scroll with it") that is adjustable with drivers. This attempts to simulate the "scroll-wheel nubbins" that regular mice have. It's a great little feature and I appreciate it. It gives you a sense of "it's working" without having to look at the mouse.
The Arc Touch Mouse is also a very comfortable size even for my giant lobster hands. It is tiny and portable, but it supports and cups the inside of your palm in a stable and reliable way.
The only thing this mouse needs is optional BlueTooth. Instead the Arc Touch Mouse uses a nano-transceiver which I just keep plugged in all the time. When it's not plugged in, it attaches rather sturdily to the base of the mouse with a magnet. It just snaps into place and stays there. Very cool.
While it's not Bluetooth, it's absolutely reliable. I haven't had any communication issues with the transceiver and it never loses connection with the mouse.
For now, the Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse is my travel mouse of choice and I get give it a 9.5 out of 10.