Monday, November 16, 2009

Apple Magic Mouse

For the last few months I've been locked in a struggle with my wireless Apple Mighty Mouse. At first, it worked wonderfully. Great feel, great looks, awesome functionaltiy; typical Apple product.

But now after almost a year of heavy use, it's having issues. The biggest issue is the scrollball. When it works, it's rad; ultra-precise 360-degree scrolling. Problem is, the ball gets covered in gunk and starts to seize up. So, I can scroll up, but scrolling down does nothing as the ball fails to make positive contact with the mechanics that make it scroll. I tried a couple tricks that worked for other grumpy users but nothing lasted more than a couple days before I had to try again.

"Just clean it out, lazy." I wish I could! In order to clean the Mighty Mouse you have to pry open the case, use a screwdriver that looks like it came from a dollhouse, then delicately remove the scrollball and sensors and clean them off rather carefully. Oh and make make sure you put it back together properly, then hope the case didn't crack from prying it open. Never mind that by doing this you are voiding your warranty, in case you care about that sort of thing (I don't). Long story short, it's a total PITA.

So, Apple released a couple weeks ago the replacement to the Mighty Mouse the Magic Mouse and I was all for it. This mouse is revolutionary in that there are no moving parts. There's no scrollball on the top or bottom, it uses a laser to track movement and the entire surface of the mouse is one giant button. Scrolling is accomplished using Apple's favorite technology multi-touch. You simply slide your finger forward and back, left and right to navigate a document, photos or webpages. Even cooler is that multi-touch allows you to use 2 fingers to swipe left and right, to go forward and back in the browser of your choice and to navigate through photos or albums in iTunes. Very, very cool.

Cousin Itt approved...

What I think of It
Well, I've only been using it for a couple days but I'm completely hooked. It's a very low-profile mouse, standing maybe 3/4" tall and about the width of a credit card. If you place it on top of an iPhone it just barely fits in the footprint and is about 1/4" taller. The uber-dorks that are nit-picking complain that the ergonomics of the mouse are poor if you have larger hands, but I have larger hands and I don't have any issues. But remember, these are the same guys that play WoW, possibly attend ComicCon's and live for shooting anything and everything down that they can get their hands on.

Your Magic Mouse is anything but magic...I find it unappealing in every way.

From a functionality standpoint, the mouse is brilliant. Scrolling is silky smooth, the multi-touch gestures to move forward and back work amazingly and become super intuitive within minutes. The button press on the surface is far more tactile and offers you much more feedback than the Mighty Mouse, which due to its very curved surface felt weak and you needed to press a bit harder or with a deliberate press at times if you weren't in the right areas on the mouse. Magic Mouse is flat, which I'm sure helps that out quite a bit. Right-clicking is just as easy as left clicking you just have to press on the right side of the surface; easy enough.

Nothing's perfect, so here's what needs some work.

There's no 3rd button. Probably my favorite functionality of Mighty Mouse was the ability to assign a function to pressing down on the trackball. I had this setup to open up Expose, which made navigating different windows very quick and easy. See, OS X is different from Windows in that each open window is not treated individually. So, when you Alt+Tab (command+tab in OS X) instead of seeing each and every open window you only see each application open. So, if you have 4 Firefox windows open, by command+tabbing to FF you simply go to the last FF window you had open. Expose shows you EVERY open window and I'd just click the scrollball and be navigating all open windows. I really miss that on Magic Mouse. So now, I've got to use screen shortcuts or the keyboard to perform that function and that's a bummer.

Past that, no gripes. It's assumed that Apple will be releasing updated software in the future so that various other multi-touch functions can be used such as pinching or 3-finger swiping and it would be cool if that functionality was available right out of the gate but not surprising they opted to do it later down the line. Haters are having a field day with this one; what a bunch of tools.

If you have a Mac and can run OS X Leopard or Snow Leopard, this mouse is totally worth it. If you're a PC user, you better read up on what functionality works on the mouse and what applications are supported as this is most definitely an Apple targeted product.

The Verdict

All in all, this mouse is rad. With no moving parts I'm not concerned about the scrollball getting gunked up, which honestly is the ONLY reason I left the very capable Mighty Mouse. I love the looks though I don't work in an architecture or design firm so that's not as important to me. It fits my hand, the functionality is top notch and I'm looking forward to using this mouse from now until Apple releases their next mouse :)

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