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Apple's Mighty Mouse

Just another pretty face By Charlie White

(8/8/05) After nine years of mulish resistance, Apple has finally decided to create a mouse that not only has more than one button, but -- gasp -- contains a scroll wheel and other buttons, too. Gussied up in the typical sleek, minimalist Apple style, the new Mighty Mouse ($49) cautiously invites Apple users into the scary and highly advanced world of multi-button scroll mice, yet allows those who prefer a single button to stubbornly stay put right where they are. We plugged the Mighty Mouse into both Macs and PCs, and heres our hands-on review.

Taking a look at the Mighty Mouses shiny white bar-of-soap appearance, the only apparent difference between it and its predecessor is the small nipple that allows you to horizontally and vertically scroll around. It will be reassuring to long time single-button mouse users that as soon as they plug in the new Mighty Mouse, it operates exactly as its forebear, the oddly-named Apple ?Pro mouse. Its only when you click into system preferences in OS X that you can actually change the default programming of the mouse to let you right-click. It does more than that, too. You can program one of a variety of functions into its right-click button (or as Apple calls it, the secondary mouse button), its scroll ball and its squeeze buttons as well. The default for its scroll ball in OS X is to pop up the Dashboard containing any widgets that you might have loaded. The default for the two squeeze buttons on the sides is to activate Exposť, which dutifully reduces all your windows to fit on one screen. All these extra buttons represent a landmark in the philosophy of Apple. With this release, at long last the company has acknowledged that there is a wealth of usefulness in a programmable four-button mouse with a scroll wheel. So much for all those absurd, convoluted arguments to the contrary.

Mister Trouble never hangs around
The least troublesome feature of the Mighty Mouse is its scroll ball, which easily gets you to wherever you want to go. Its especially nice to have around in Final Cut Pro. This little protuberance has just the right feel to it, and gives you a tiny bit of resistance with a slight buzzing vibration when you move it. It feels spring-loaded, so you can push it down into the mouse, but that doesnt cause it to actually click. If you push even harder so that you can actually hear the click of the mouse, the combination of those two will invoke whichever command youve assigned to a click of the scroll ball. Video editors will love the way the ball is able to quickly scroll right or left on a timeline better than any mouse has ever been able to do. And then after youve slid right or left on the timeline, you can scroll up or down the tracks using its vertical scrolling.  

This scroll ball is Mighty Mouses greatest strength, and it rivals a trackball with its side scrolling capability. Its small rounded orb shape, anatomically suggesting various parts of the female anatomy, allows vertical and horizontal scrolling capability thats second to none. Some of our users were slightly put off by the tiny size of the scroll ball, missing the easier controllability of larger mouse wheels to which they have become accustomed. Even so, I think this is the kind of usability Microsoft had in mind when it invented horizontal scrolling a few years ago. If only there were a way to zoom in and out of the Final Cut Pro timeline using the scroll wheel, the combination of Mighty Mouse and Final Cut Pro would be a marriage made in heaven. The bottom line is, with mighty mouse its just as easy to scroll side to side as it is to scroll up and down. Excellent.

When he hears this mighty sound...
And a mighty sound it is, because when you click on the Mighty Mouse, its more of a ?clunka sound than a click. Its just too loud. Were they trying to create a mighty sound for the Mighty Mouse? I suppose if youre accustomed to the sound of Apples ?Pro mouse, the noise this thing makes wont bother you too much. On the plus side, the subtle clicking noise that comes from within the mouse when squeezing the side buttons is exactly right. Because the sound doesnt happen when the mouse is unplugged, obviously this is an electronically created noise emanating from within the mouse itself. Its exactly the sound that I wish the primary and secondary mouse buttons would make. In addition, there is a little whirring sound it makes when you move the scroll ball that is just perfect. Someone put a lot of time and thought into these sound effects, and I think theyre outstanding.

?Here I come to save the day!
But sometimes when using this device, the day isnt saved, because Mighty Mouse seems to hesitate from time to time. I noticed that sometimes I would move the scroll ball and the scrolling wouldnt start on the screen until after a turn or two. Another annoyance is those squeeze buttons, which dont offer any tactile feedback at all. The only indication that theyve been activated is that small clicking noise mentioned earlier. Sure, it could be beneficial that its difficult to accidentally click these side buttons, but you have to reach too far to get to them, and when you do, it takes too much of a squeeze to click them. Its just plain goofy. I think its a unusually weak implementation. If you had to use these squeeze buttons to save the day, Mighty Mouse, Im afraid those in peril would be sorely disappointed.  

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Related Keywords:Apple, mouse, scroll wheel, buttons, Mighty Mouse, Mac, PC, hands-on review, Charlie White


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