Wireless Optical Mouse 2.0, Wireless Intellimouse Explorer, Wireless Optical Desktop Elite Executive Edition
IntroductionMy love of Microsoft mice is no secret. The company might make diseased and dreadful operating systems, but its mice and keyboards are just spiffy. We looked at its latest offerings, in the shape of two mice and a keyboard. I’ll start with the Wireless Optical Mouse 2.0 (WOM), which seems plain and simple. Mice have been around for as long as I have (since 1964, fact freaks) and you might be forgiven for thinking that mouse technology is mature and that there isn’t much room for improvement. You would, however, be dead wrong; Microsoft has come up with some great new features. The first, which may or may not catch on, is the side-scrolling tilt-wheel. This works like a regular scroll wheel, but can tip from side to side as well. This enables scrolling sideways, which is great for big spreadsheets, Photoshop documents and all kinds of other stuff. It works well, but only up to a point. The first hurdle is actually remembering to do it, which I’m getting used to after using it for a couple of weeks. This shouldn’t be a big problem, but the next issue could be more serious. The actual action of tilting the wheel requires a firm grip on the mouse. This action could be problematic for RSI sufferers. However, sensible use (if it starts hurting, stop doing it) will eliminate the risk. I’ve been using it without problems, but once you have RSI, sometimes even simple actions can cause problems. If you’re prone to that kind of thing, sideways scrolling isn’t for you. Smooth operator
Curiously, the big draw for me is not the sideways scrolling. The thing that had me running around the office, begging people to try my mouse was the scrolling action itself. It’s smooth. It’s smoother than smooth. Smooth scrolling technology; I can’t believe it took almost forty years to happen. The tilting wheel with silky smooth scrolling features on both mice. I’m currently using the Wireless Optical Mouse 2.0 not because it’s the best one necessarily, but because it’s ambidextrous. Unfortunately being a lefty means that I’m excluded from Microsoft’s premium top-of-the-range mice, because they’re for right-handers only. Now I understand that only representing around ten per cent of users my left-handedness is a problem for mouse manufacturers. However, I think there’s a fair chance that Microsoft will shift a quite a lot of these mice and keyboards. Surely if any company is big enough to produce lefty mice, Microsoft is. I think it’s about time it did. Anyway – enough moaning and on to the next mouse: the right hander only Wireless Intellimouse Explorer 2.0 (WIE). This mouse is really a cracker. It has all the features of the other mouse, plus a couple of thumb buttons on the side. These are perfectly placed and are great for copy-&-paste or forward and back commands. You can assign any function to any button, and even have different functions in different applications. The WIE 2.0 is silver rather than the rather fetching blue of the WOM 2.0, and I don’t think it’s quite as neat-looking. But you spend your time mousing rather than gazing at your mouse, so looks are less important than function. Despite the handedness issues, this is a king of mice. Years of designing mice have resulted, in my humble opinion, in the ultimate mousing experience. What will they come up with next? Hell for pleather
So what happens when you take the ultimate mouse, pair it with the ultimate keyboard and then wrap them both in (pretend) leather? Well you’ll end up with the… deep breath… Microsoft Wireless Optical Desktop Elite Executive Edition. I’ll just call it the MWODEEE for short. It’s great. It has more buttons than a pearly king, and it includes the tilting scroll wheel on the left side of the keyboard. Of course, it’s designed with right-handers in mind – and is, simply, the ultimate keyboard. On the top left, there are five buttons for your favourites. These can be configured to activate any function you like. If you don’t fancy the pleather (pretend leather) effect, you can save £20 by choosing the non-Executive edition. There is one thing that irritates when using a Microsoft keyboard, and that’s the horrible windows button. The software can arrange the keys so that they act in the same way as a Mac keyboard, but it’s still annoying to look at. Another minor irritant is the fact that wireless devices such as keyboards and mice need batteries. This doesn’t bother me, but some people around the office refuse to work with something that runs out of power occasionally. My wireless mouse at home can last three or four months on a set of batteries, but some people have reported much shorter times. My advice is that next time you get to the checkout at the supermarket, grab a bumper pack of AAs and you won’t have to worry about powering your mouse for a year or two.