With each passing year, notebook computers constitute a greater percentage of overall computer sales. Soon, for many folks, their only computer will be their notebook computer. One of the disadvantages of a notebook compared to a desktop is their inferior interface. Keyboards are cramped and have limited key travel. They never have a mouse. To control the cursor, they have either a pointing stick or a touchpad interface (or in a few cases, both). Personally, I greatly prefer the touchpad, but both options have their proponents.
Many newer touchpads have a scrolling function built in. Homebodies and road warriors alike use their notebooks ever increasingly and they seek both comfort and ergonomics, not to mention trying to avoid RSI (repetitive stress injury). This is why users need a portable mouse. These tend to be smaller than a standard mouse in order to make them convenient to carry around. I chose to focus on wireless mice because they are the newer products with the latest technology. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first attempt to compare these products against each other in such a fashion. As usual, here at LIVEdigitally.com we set the bar just a little higher.
Just a note of caution: None of these wireless mice (or any other wireless anything) should be used on an airplane. You probably don’t have enough room for a mouse anyway with those cramped tray tables. If you did, than you would need a wired mouse to comply with airline regulations. In other words, don’t blame me when the Flight Attendant is reporting you the Sky Marshall for mousing at 40,000 feet.
How does one compare wireless rodents against each other? It’s not like we can race them and see who is fastest as can be done with processors or hard drives. Before examining the first mouse, I decided on the following areas for a comprehensive and fair analysis:
- Size of mouse and wireless receiver
- Comfort in use including moving, clicking and scrolling
- The traveling ‘kit’, namely if the mouse and receiver fit together, and whether or not there is a case included
- Size of the transceiver and if it blocks other USB ports (they are often crowded together on notebooks)
- The accuracy of the optical tracking mechanism across a variety of surfaces
- The wireless performance including range of device, and potential for interference with wireless networks, other mice, and 2.4 GHz cordless telephones
- Ease of setup and included documentation
- Potential for left handed use
- Battery life, and low battery indicator
By the nature of the item being tested, some of the above criteria are more subjective then objective. In many cases, where appropriate, I solicited opinions from informal focus groups as well (thank you to my coworkers). The mice were tested with their included batteries, all were disposable alkaline technology. Only one manufacturer stated a battery life, however all mice made it through the testing on their original batteries.
- Logitech V500 Cordless Notebook Mouse
- Belkin Mini Wireless Mouse #F8E825
- Kensington Pocket Mouse Micro Optical Wireless Model 72237
These cordless, optical notebook mice represent a lot of technology in a compact and portable package. Thankfully, all three mice did function as advertised, and lived up to their expectations. While any of the mice will get the job done, with each increase in price comes a corresponding increase in features. By figuring the budget, you can calculate how much mouse to buy, and if the features will meet your needs. These mice are ideal for the user who desires a more elegant solution for interfacing with their notebook on an extended basis. None will make you toss your desktop mouse, but all are close substitutes for making life on the road much more comfortable.
Without further delay, the mouse that will find room in my laptop bag is the Logitech V500. While there is a price premium on it, its set of standout features makes it my able companion on the road. The choice was not easy, and the Kensington unit was a very close second.
Who should buy each mouse?
The Logitech V500 is great for the business professional on the road who demands the best. This is the mouse to take out in Japan to go over the spread sheet and intimidate your colleagues.
The Belkin Mini Wireless Mouse would be a solid choice for a female student on a limited budget. I suggest female because its small size is a better match for her smaller hands.
The Kensington Pocket Mouse is a nice match to a small business owner. Its combination of features at an affordable price point is good for this type of user.
Special thanks to the manufacturers for supporting this comparison.