IntroductionIt's 20 years since the Mac turned the mouse from something that squeaked and nibbled cheese into an everyday computer peripheral. The Mac's first mouse was a pretty boxy affair, but it wasn't radically changed until 1999 when Agilent Technologies had the bright idea to replace the hairy underside ball with a small, red light-emitting diode.
Apple's first optical mouse - introduced in July 2000 - is still the Mac's little mover, available for £39. A £59 wireless model came out last year, but apart from the Bluetooth connection, it remained largely the same in form and function.
They may be nice-looking, but Apple's mice suffer from the company's early decision to stick to just one clickable button. Luckily third-party mouse makers offer many Mac-compatible mice loaded with more buttons including the once-tried-never-given-up scroll wheel.
I've owned mice with more buttons than I have fingers, but I've never trained myself to use more than two and the scroll wheel. If Apple would only add a second button and a scroll wheel to its lovely optical mouse, I'd have no need to look elsewhere.
That's where MacMice's grandly titled The Mouse (right) comes in. It looks and works just like Apple's white mouse (and is also available in aluminium), and it has three-button/scroll-wheel functionality. The scroll wheel is one of the smoothest available - as good as those on Microsoft's recent mice. If you like the look of Apple's mice but simply must have a scroller or more than one button, The Mouse is a great alternative. As it has just three parts that touch the desk, it also gets a lot less mucky than the Apple mouse.
PowerBooks and iBooks don't ship with a mouse - but if you use a laptop for long periods of the day, a mouse will save your finger and trackpad from wearing out.
If you frequently travel with your laptop, a smaller-size mouse is in order. Three new Mini mice from IO Gear cater for most needs.
There's a wireless model that operates over standard radio waves rather than requiring a Bluetooth connection. The trouble with wireless mice is that the batteries run out quite quickly. So all credit to the IO Gear version that recharges its batteries via a simple USB cable. Setup is simple. Charge it, press the connect buttons, and plug in the dongle. Keep your desk tidy, however, as you could lose this under a stray piece of paper.
IO also has a mouse (below) that features a retractable cable so that, while not wireless, it is less prone to cable clutter. It also has a 32MB memory module that's perfect for carrying round files such as PowerPoint or Keynote presentations or just pictures of loved ones.
If you want a no-frills alternative, the wired USB mouse is plain and simple - although it does offer the chance to switch resolutions if the 800dpi is too whizzy for you.