Thread: Magic Mouse
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cwa107

 
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It's OK. I would be happier if they would expand the driver functionality, but it looks like there are some third party utilities starting to trickle out.

I wrote this review for the Mac-Forums blog, but since we're having issues with it, I might as well post it here:

For quite some time now, I've longed for a mouse that duplicated some of the features of the trackpad on my MacBook Pro. The trackpads on Apple laptops are truly awesome compared to generic PCs. I love being able to tap with two fingers for a right click, or tap with a single finger for left. And zooming and scrolling work wonderfully well too. So, when Apple quietly announced their new Magic Mouse, I was excited. I read a few early reviews and thought this new mouse would be the answer to my prayers. Credit card in hand, I swooped onto the Apple website and was probably one of their first customers to order one.

The mouse took quite awhile to arrive - in fact, it didn't ship until a full 7 business days after the order, although it was still in-line with the 'ships in 5-7 business days' estimate on the site. When it did, I had a fight on my hands with FedEx Ground to actually deliver the thing. Needless to say, even such a thing as a mouse requires an "indirect signature", meaning that you or one of your family members must be home to sign for it. And picking it up at a depot is not an option with FedEx Ground/Home Delivery - or so I was told. The moral of this little anecdote is that if you're normally not home on a weekday, you might want to have it shipped to another location.

With that said, when the mouse did finally arrive, it came well packed in foam blocks. Apple uses a polycarbonate clear plastic shell that contains the mouse, a page of documentation and warranty information, and a pair of AA Energizer batteries pre-installed inside the mouse. Interestingly enough, the packaging is very similar to what is used for the iPod Touch, and might even serve a dual-purpose as a rugged carrying case.

The mouse itself is larger than I envisioned - it has roughly the same lateral footprint as a desktop mouse, but it is very low profile. Unlike a lot of the mice at this price point, it does not conform to your hand. Instead, you grasp the sides of the mouse with your thumb and pinky finger, while using your pointer and middle fingers to do gestures and clicks. I found it to be more comfortable than a notebook mouse, but not nearly as nice as my trusty old Logitech MX1000.

The base of the mouse is aluminum, and sports a single switch and LED status light. There is also a latch to release the battery door, which turns out to be a razor-thin sheet of aluminum as well. The top of the mouse is the same clear polycarbonate we're accustomed to seeing on Apple mice, with a white color panel beneath it and a very subtle Apple logo. Aesthetically, it is a cool looking device, which seems to prompt plenty of questions when used in public. Although the plastic part is pleasant enough to rest your fingers on, I didn't find it to be that great of a surface to do gestures on. If your hands are sweaty, the surface can be somewhat tacky and certainly not ideal for sliding your fingers across. If I had designed this mouse, I would have used the same kind of material that was used for my early 2008 MacBook Pro's trackpad. Otherwise, this mouse has a nice heft to it and is comfortable to rest your hand on for the most part. I noticed another reviewer commented on how easy it is to click the mouse just by resting your hand upon it - I did not have that problem. It works at least as well as the Mighty Mouse that preceded it.

Installation goes just like any other Bluetooth device. You simply add the device with the Bluetooth Assistant. After that, the mouse was immediately recognized and tracked well. Left and right mouse clicks worked just fine, but scrolling was disabled. Tracking was a bit jerky at first, but I hadn't yet adjusted the settings in Steermouse (a third party mouse driver I use for my Logitech m555b). So, I fired up Software Update and lo and behold, the special Apple Magic Mouse 1.0 update was on tap for download. That update installed quickly, but once it was done, I noticed the tracking speed was cut by about 1/4. I now had to do huge arcs across my desk to get the mouse to go across my 1440x900 display. So, I opened up the Mouse preference pane and jacked the slider all the way to the right for tracking. There was a definite improvement, but it felt like I was using the old Commodore Mouse I had on my C=64 back in the 80's when I was using GEOS - completely unacceptable for a modern, high resolution display. So, off to Google I went, knowing that others were probably experiencing the same thing.

Sure enough, in addition to a thread I had been looking at on Mac-Forums, I also found a number of threads on Apple's own support forum. As it turns out, there's a number of hacks you can make to try to fix this. The best I found was a tiny little freeware System Preferences pane called "Zoom Mouse". With Zoom Mouse installed, I used its own tracking slider to adjust to "OS X Crazy Fast!!" (their wording, not mine) and this yielded an acceptable, but still a little slow, tracking speed.

Now that I had the tracking issue mostly sorted out (and please Apple, fix this with 10.6.2, will ya?), it was time to test scrolling. On the Magic mouse, you can use any combination of fingers to scroll in any direction. Simply put, it works well - and if you flick your finger, it interprets the momentum to scroll on its own. This is the best scrolling solution I have seen to date and will certainly be familiar and welcome for iPhone/iPod Touch fans. Another feature is the ability to go forward/back by swiping left and right with two fingers. This works OK, but is not particularly natural and is not something I see myself using. Finally, if you're an old Mighty Mouse user, say 'sayonara' to Expose controls on the mouse, because they don't exist on this one. My hope is that the third party developers (like Steermouse) step up to the plate and deliver more functionality. With Multitouch sensors throughout this device, it should be way more capable than this 1.0 version seems to be.

Clicking should be very familiar to Mighty Mouse users. Push down on the mouse to left click - and yes, you do have to lift your left finger and push down on the right side for an alternate-click (this is interchangeable in settings if you happen to be a 'lefty'). I assume this limitation is because the touch surface isn't capacitive, but if it is, I see no reason why Apple couldn't fix this in firmware.

Another impressive attribute for this mouse is its Bluetooth connectivity. Unlike many other Bluetooth mice, this one does not suffer with any wake-up lag, nor does it have a problem connecting upon power-up. It works exactly the way you'd expect any old RF mouse to work, which is impressive because many other mice do not.

A lot of people have asked about an ETA for a Windows driver for this mouse, and as usual, there has been no word from Apple. So, if you use Windows via Boot Camp, the mouse will be limited to very basic functionality (i.e. left and right clicks, no scrolling). A dedicated driver will be needed to make it work completely in Windows. Now, if you use Windows in virtualization (i.e. VMWare Fusion, Parallels Desktop or VirtualBox), this won't be a problem since the host supplies the mouse functionality.

I have to say that overall, my impression with this mouse is positive. I want to love this mouse, because I love the idea of some of the touchpad functionality being integrated into a mouse. I also love the overall design and aesthetic qualities. But when I write a review, I always ask myself whether I would be willing to recommend it to a friend or non-technically savvy colleague - and I have to say that in this case I doubt I would. I think with some driver enhancements this mouse could be stellar, but it's just not ready for prime time right now. In my opinion, I believe this device was rushed out the door to garner some Apple-related buzz around the time of the Windows 7 release. If that was the goal, then mission accomplished - but if Apple really wanted to design a useful mouse that is both comfortable to use for hours on end, while setting itself apart from the competition with features that just aren't available on any other, then it fails. Other mice do what this one does, albeit with buttons and wheels. It's just a shame that Apple isn't more open to end-user testing and feedback before they release such a premium priced product.

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Why you would buy it...

* You love pretty devices on your desk.
* You're a gadget freak.
* It's made by Apple, and you must own everything that Apple makes.

Why you wouldn't buy it...

* There's some bugs related to tracking that need to be worked out.
* You use Windows often and need a fully functional mouse.
* Comfort is paramount in choosing a mouse.
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