Dave Moss reviews Microsofts IntelliMouse and the
||IntelliMouse Explorer (5/5)
Welcome back to tech talk, the column for
all thats hot and new. This month is devoted to one companys offerings.
If you are a Mac user
as well, you neednt feel left out as both mice can be plugged straight into that USB
port on your Mac keyboard, and all you have to do then is download the software for them
from the Microsoft Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/mouse. Go to the Download
Drivers menu after selecting the mouse you are using, and click on the Mac drivers
One of the most important items we have to use with a modern GUI, is of course the humble
mouse and one of the best mouse manufacturers in the world is Microsoft. The Microsoft
Mouse II was probably one of the best mice ever made, and the introduction of the wheel
only helped to enhance its status. Microsoft has a range of mice now that covers just about any mouse
work you might like to try out, and I have two of them here at this moment. Both use the
brand new Microsoft IntelliEye technology, and both come with the latest version of
Microsoft mousing software, IntelliPoint 3.0.
Where they immediately differ is that one of them sports an extra two buttons on the left
side, is silver and dark grey, and has a transparent red undercarriage. What they both
have in common is that neither one has a mouse ball, relying instead on IntelliEye
technology to make sure your cursor goes where you want it to.
The eyes have it
IntelliEye is an optical sensor, attached to an 18 MIPS processor that analyses the 1,500
pictures sent to it by the tiny CMOS digital camera that also lurks inside these mice. The
result of those calculations means you get a mouse that Ive found to not only be
deadly accurate, but also to be dead boring to clean, mainly because now that the ball has
gone, you dont need to.
The only caveat is that because the sensor is optical by nature, you can confuse it if you
put it on a patterned or glass surface, but apart from that it seems to work on just about
anything, including trouser legs, which will be a great boon for those of us who abhor all
the pointer devices on portables, and prefer to travel with a mouse for company.
The ergonomics of both mice are excellent. You will all know how good the Microsoft Mouse
II (now called IntelliMouse) is in ergonomic terms, so the Explorer was going to have its
work cut out for it in order to try and match or even surpass it.
The Explorer is larger than an IntelliMouse and takes a little while to adjust to, but it
didnt take me long to become very comfortable with it indeed. This has a lot to do
with the fact that it just slips so naturally into your palm you almost forget its
there.Without the mouse ball to catch on anything, the mouse felt incredibly smooth. The
wheel had also seen some improvement, with a series of tiny ribs making scrolling an even
better experience than it was before.
Interestingly, under Windows 2000 RC2, I was able to plug both mice into the USB ports on
my system (they both come with PS/2 adapters as well), and use whichever mouse I felt like
placing my hand on. For those who would prefer to use one device for gaming, and one for
working, that is rather handy, however dont try this with Windows 98 because it gets
upset and reboots before you even get into Windows.
Compare and contrast
Both mice come with IntelliPoint 3.0, which irritatingly refuses to install under Windows
2000 (Can we have a patch please, Microsoft?), so I had to test the programmable buttons
on the IntelliMouse Explorer under Windows 98. By default, the two buttons on the left
hand side are set up to emulate the Back and Forward buttons on your browser, but you can
easily change them to do something else using the IntelliMouse properties dialog.
The action on the Explorer is much lighter than that of the IntelliMouse with IntelliEye,
despite its larger proportions that might have led you to think it wouldnt be. In a
rapid consumer poll conducted at home without irritating any pedestrians, my wife decided
in two seconds that she preferred the Explorer to the IntelliMouse both in terms of size
and shape, and also of feel and so she made off with it.
In the meantime the IntelliMouse version will do me just fine, especially as I do most of
my work under Windows 2000, and thus cant take advantage of the extra two buttons on
the Explorer yet. Lovely job Microsoft, and a 5 Star rating for both mice, but please
hurry up with the software upgrade.