Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)

Review: Microsoft Arc Mouse

Microsoft Arc Mouse

Microsoft Arc Mouse

Travel mice are, by definition, something of a niche product category. Not everyone needs that extra bit of mobility that one provides, and many are quite satisfied with the track pad on their laptops. Some of us, though, just aren’t as productive with a track pad as we are with a mouse, and I fall firmly into that category.

Given that I’m in China, and won’t be back in the US until August, the prospect of only using a track pad for that period, even the huge one that my unibody MacBook boasts, was unacceptable. What’s a nerd to do? For me, the answer was pretty simple, as I’d already been mulling over the potential purchase for a few weeks. My choice was the Microsoft Arc Mouse. Here’s why:

Arc Mouse; AA battery included for scale.

Arc Mouse; AA battery included for scale.

Portability: Size and weight are necessarily some of the most important characteristics to consider when purchasing a travel mouse – they’re the very reason you aren’t just taking along any old mouse, right? I’d already decided to pack as light as I could for this trip, so there was no way I was taking the mouse + wireless receiver from my Logitech S510 desktop combo. The Arc mouse is an absolute beast in this category, anyway: by my admittedly rough estimation, it only weighs perhaps three or four ounces, and when folded up has dimensions of around 3″ x 2.5″ x 1″ (LxWxH). The majority of that weight comes in the form of the two AAA batteries that power the mouse. As an added bonus, the wireless receiver is a very small USB nub that can be conveniently stowed on the underside of the mouse by using magnetism.

Wireless Receiver

Wireless Receiver

Feel/Ergonomics: The Arc mouse is very comfortable, and fits my hand rather well. I’ve found that the low weight takes a little while to get used to, but it’s not a serious concern. Three teflon pads on the bottom of the mouse allow for smooth motion, even when not using a mouse pad. The scroll wheel moves easily, but maintains noticeable “clicks” as you rotate it. A button on the left side of the mouse can be used for side-scrolling or faster wheel-less scrolling. Perhaps an inch behind the scroll wheel is a recessed battery life indicator that lights up whenever you open the mouse, though to this point I’ve only seen it glow green.

Tracking: I’ve found the tracking and sensitivity to be very good, both in OS-X and in Windows 7. The Arc uses an invisible laser optic, and performed well no matter what surface I threw at it, from wood to paper to plastic to the blanket on my bed. Range was also quite good – it worked smoothly from the opposite corner of my room, a distance of about twenty feet. On Microsoft’s website, it claims a supported range of thirty feet.

Price: I bought my Arc at a major electronics retailer for $49.95. It’s not a huge bargain, but it won’t break the bank, either. As the product remains on the market, you’ll probably be able to catch it for cheaper at times.

Overall: This mouse is a winner in my book. I’ve yet to encounter any sort of problem with it in a little over two weeks of heavy use. The only possible improvement I can think of, other than a slightly lower price, would be if Microsoft were to update the Arc to include their new BlueTrack technology, which is supposed to track smoothly on any surface ever invented in the whole wide world.


March 9, 2009 - Posted by | Tech | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Great review!

    I saw this thing a couple of months back and was both horrified and intrigued by the curvature. These photos make it look a little less dramatic, though, and all the more tempting for when I go travel this summer. May have to pick this one up.

    Comment by Matt | March 23, 2009 | Reply

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