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computer mouse

Jun 21st, 2009 12:03:25 am - Subscribe

Accessory powerhouse Logitech is getting into the computer-mouse market with the new MX Air, a rechargeable cordless mouse that can control a computer's cursor just by being moved through the air (when placed on a flat surface, it works as regular laser mouse). At $149, it's not the cheapest mouse on the market, not even the cheapest gyroscopic mouse, but it adds plenty of media-friendly features, such as playback and volume controls that work right out of the box. The MX Air isn't for everyone, and takes a little getting used to, but we're convinced that many users would be happier unshackling their mice from the desk.

Accessory powerhouse Logitech is getting into the gyroscopic-mouse market with the new MX Air, a rechargeable cordless mouse that can control a computer's cursor just by being moved through the air (when placed on a flat surface, it works as regular laser mouse). At $149, it's not the cheapest mouse on the market, not even the cheapest gyroscopic mouse, but it adds plenty of media-friendly features, such as playback and volume controls that work right out of the box. The MX Air isn't for everyone, and takes a little getting used to, but we're convinced that many users would be happier unshackling their mice from the desk.

The Microsoft Explorer Mini Mouse made its debut last year alongside its big brother, the Explorer. At just $60 ($20 less than the Explorer), the Mini model retains the same BlueTrack sensor that lets you use it accurately across a variety of surfaces that a normal laser mouse just can't handle. The only big differences are the smaller footprint and the nonrechargeable AA battery that powers the mouse and its USB receiver. The mouse isn't perfect, and lefties get the cold shoulder once again, but its accuracy and convenience make the Explorer Mini Mouse one of the most ideal travel companions to have in your luggage.

The highlight of the Explorer Mini is a proprietary technology that Microsoft calls "BlueTrack." BlueTrack combines the precision of laser tracking technology with the wide coverage of a standard optical mouse to let you use it on virtually any surface. This versatility should come as a relief for jet-setters who don't want to lug around a mouse pad around with their hardware--now you can mouse on a variety of tabletops, carpets, and other rough or reflective textures. While these surfaces present a problem for traditional mice, the Explorer Mini scrolls beautifully across all of them. The one exception we found is glass. In that case, the cursor became erratic, moving very slowly at times and jumping across the page at others.

mouse, and you get one in the box to start you off. The Explorer Mini's plug-and-play design also allows for incredibly easy setup with both Windows and Mac OS: just pop the USB 2.0 receiver off the bottom, plug it in, and the mouse will automatically install the drivers you need to get going. Unfortunately, the only way to turn off the mouse and save battery life is to take out the USB dongle and stick it back into the Explorer Mini itself. In other words, you can't just leave the receiver in your computer and slide a switch on the mouse to turn it off.

There are a lot of reasons why you may want to move your mousing out of the standard 2D, flat-on-the-desk mode. For computer users with persistent hand and arm pain caused by poor ergonomics or repetitive motion (sometimes called mouse arm), gyroscopic mice like those in the Gyration line have been good solutions, letting users lift the mouse up off the table and control the cursor by moving the mouse through the air. Later on, home theater enthusiasts also discovered gyroscopic mice, and these devices have become a popular, if not exactly common, choice for controlling the functions of a Media Center PC from the living room couch.

The MX Air is aimed clearly at the home theater market. Besides left and right mouse buttons and a touch-sensitive scroll panel (replacing a traditional scroll wheel), the computer mouse includes a dedicated Play/Pause button that works in most media-playing apps, and a volume button. When the mouse is on a desk, the Volume button mutes and unmutes the sound. When you pick up the mouse in your hand, hold down the Volume button and move the mouse to the left or right, and a volume meter will pop up on the screen, allowing you to raise and lower the volume with a wave of the hand. Logitech's included driver software lets you reprogram these buttons as well.

The mouse has a built-in rechargeable battery, and sits in a small recharging dock when not in use. A tiny RF receiver, about the size of a USB memory key, plugs into a USB port on your system.

It takes a good 24 to 48 hours to get used to, but trying out a gyroscopic mouse can be an eye-opening experiment for any desktop or laptop user.

The MX Air is aimed clearly at the home theater market. Besides left and right mouse buttons and a touch-sensitive scroll panel (replacing a traditional scroll wheel), the usb mouse includes a dedicated Play/Pause button that works in most media-playing apps, and a volume button. When the mouse is on a desk, the Volume button mutes and unmutes the sound. When you pick up the mouse in your hand, hold down the Volume button and move the mouse to the left or right, and a volume meter will pop up on the screen, allowing you to raise and lower the volume with a wave of the hand. Logitech's included driver software lets you reprogram these buttons as well.

A single nonrechargeable AA battery powers the mouse, and you get one in the box to start you off. The Explorer Mini's plug-and-play design also allows for incredibly easy setup with both Windows and Mac OS: just pop the USB 2.0 receiver off the bottom, plug it in, and the mouse will automatically install the drivers you need to get going. Unfortunately, the only way to turn off the mouse and save battery life is to take out the USB dongle and stick it back into the Explorer Mini itself. In other words, you can't just leave the receiver in your computer and slide a switch the mini mouse to turn it off.

It takes a good 24 to 48 hours to get used to, but trying out aon gyroscopic mouse can be an eye
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