Product Review: Page (1) of 1 - 09/07/05 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at page facebook

IOGear 5-Button USB Laser Mouse

Optical mouse with scroll wheel By Dave Nagel
Summary: IOGear's 5-Button USB Laser Mouse is, as its name suggests, a five-button optical scrolling mouse. Targeted toward home and office users, it offers instant access to Microsoft Office applications. This functionality requires driver software, which is not included (or available anywhere as of this writing) for the Mac, despite this product carrying two Mac logos on its packaging. In fact, it will operate only as a two-button scrolling mouse on the Mac, unless you happen to have a third-party tool like USB Overdrive to get the additional buttons to work. It also purports to be usable on "virtually any surface, including glass," but, in our tests, this proved not to be the case.
Recommendation: 1 out of 5
Users: Targeted toward Microsoft Office users, but can be used by anyone
Platform: Limited functionality on Mac OS X, full support for Windows
Price: $39.95
More information:

Save your receipt. That's pretty much the best advice I can give anybody purchasing IOGear's new 5-Button USB Laser Mouse. And for Mac users in particular, I have some additional advice: Read the fine print. Even though the Laser Mouse boldly sports a Mac logo on its packaging, the device does not, in fact, offer full five-button functionality for Mac users. Nor does it offer some of its other advertised functionality, such as instant launching of Microsoft Office software.

Features: 1 out of 5
The Laser Mouse purports to be a five-button optical mouse with a couple of differences. The first of these is pre-configured instant access to Microsoft Office applications, with the ability to customize the instant access feature via software. This may be fine for Windows users, but, as I've mentioned, this mouse's extra buttons aren't accessible on the Mac (without a third-party utility like USB Overdrive to get it working), and there's no Mac software included with the mouse, so there's no customization of the buttons.

So, if you're on a Mac, the mouse operates just like any other two-button mouse with a scroll wheel, owing to the fact that Mac OS X has built-in right- and left-click functionality and the ability to recognize a scroll wheel. No drivers are required for that. So, basically, if you're on a Mac, you're shelling out $40 for a two-button mouse that has extra buttons that you can't use.

However, that fact aside, there is one advertised feature of this mouse that kept me interested beyond its driverless limitations, and that's its claim to be usable on "virtually any surface, including glass." That is just a fantastic claim, especially for those of us who work on shiny surfaces and don't want to use a mouse pad in order to get our optical mice functioning with any degree of accuracy.

How well does it work?

Performance/reliability/quality: 1 out of 5
Well, not so well, as it turns out. The Laser Mouse uses something called a Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser (VCSEL) to light up the surface on which the mouse is being used. This VCSEL's light reflects from the working surface and diffuses into a speckle pattern, which is supposed to be advantageous for tracking accuracy as compared with traditional LED surface light sources. Well, that may or may not be the case, but what is certain is that, at least in my tests, this technology did not allow this mouse to be used with any degree of accuracy on some of the surfaces I tried, including a glass-top tray. The mouse felt jumpy when it was being moved around on many shiny surfaces, and, in fact, when it was set on a glass surface and left alone, the cursor actually continued moving around.

The QuickTime movie below shows this phenomenon. Remember, the mouse itself is perfectly still. The movement is being introduced by whatever false movement the mouse's sensor is perceiving.

So that's annoying. Obviously I wouldn't normally test an optical mouse on glass, but this is one of the Laser Mouse's advertised features, and it did not live up to this claim.

Overall: 1 out of 5
I can't help but be disappointed with a peripheral that carries a Mac logo on its packaging and doesn't offer full functionality on the Mac. It would be easy for a Mac user to be fooled into buying a Laser Mouse, only to discover later that the features advertised in the product's online materials and packaging aren't available for the Mac.

For Windows users, obviously this is no big deal. But then there's the clincher: It's not even that good at what it's supposed to be good at. It's supposed to work accurately on "virtually any surface, including glass." But it's spastic on glass--even sometimes when it's sitting still--and it feels a little jumpy on other shiny surfaces.

So, in short, there's nothing about this mouse that I can recommend.

The IOGear 5-Button Laster Mouse is available now for $39.95. For more information, visit

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Related Keywords:laser mouse, optical mouse, iogear

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