Microsoft may be best known for their operating system and Office suite, but their presence in the hardware market has been there for longer than the past decade. They’ve sold everything from web cameras and joysticks to gaming mice. While they’ve decided to discontinue with some of the hardware, they continue to focus on some key product categories such as mice. And the latest, big release from Microsoft is their new Touch Mouse.
Hands on with the Microsoft Touch Mouse
Microsoft has tried to be unique with some of the mice designs in the past. The Microsoft Arc line of mice is the perfect example. However, the Touch Mouse is different. It appears more refined and more precise.
Markings that denote the touch sensitive area of the mouse
Unlike other mice where there a whole bunch of specifications and details to talk about, there are none in the Touch Mouse. It’s wireless and it’s powered by Microsoft’s own BlueTrack technology, that has been in use on some of their other mice. The mouse, as its name explains supports touch functionality.
Apart from that, it has two physical clicks and a USB dongle that acts as a wireless receiver. There are no drivers required and the mouse doesn’t come with it. Microsoft claims that it’ll run just fine on pretty much any other OS, including older Windows Vista and Windows XP, but to be able to take advantage of the the gestures, you’re best using the mouse on Windows 7.
A little too low, perhaps
There a few shortcomings. For example, there is no middle click so you can’t directly open a link as a background tab. For an expensive mouse such as this, there are no DPI or sensitivity switching buttons either. The base has two long strips of pads that help the mouse on the surface. The weight of the mouse with the batteries makes it a little more resistant on hard surfaces.
Design and Build Quality
Microsoft has designed the Touch Mouse to be elegant, minimalistic and it’s designed for a different audience. It’s not the replacement for your everyday mouse, but something they claim will change your experience with Windows 7. We received the black mouse and its shape and feel is the first thing that strikes you.
Smaller than most mice
Firstly, it’s ergonomics. The Touch Mouse is a very low-lying mouse and is almost a centimeter lower than most desktop mice. With the two batteries in it, it’s a little heavy and also somewhat slippery, because of its low-profile design. Lifting it feels a little odd and will take a while getting used to. The forward section of the mouse has fine dots and ‘x’ markings on it. This is the area being tracked by the mouse. The entire mouse acts like a click button. One can click on the right hand side of the mouse for the right click and the left portion of the mouse for the left click.
In terms of performance, the Touch Mouse tracks flawlessly. The clicks register well and the scrolling for example, is something that comes naturally after a while of using it. It’s quite possibly more convenient than having to rotate the small physical scrolling wheel found on most mice. There are some issues, at times. For example, if you hold down the Ctrl key and you happen to move your finger over the scroll, it might zoom in and out of the document you’re on. This can be a little annoying at times.
A very basic shape and design
The rest of the the gestures work flawlessly. While actions like snap to the right, left, maximize and minimize can be done using keyboard shortcuts, there is one unique feature, which lets you view all windows in one glance. The mouse can also be used for gaming. It tracks well and it works through artificial partitions as well.
Microsoft has priced the Touch Mouse at Rs. 3,999 in India. They say that the product is made for lifestyle users and therefore, there’s a very niche audience for this product. Apart from the weight and the slippery feel of the mouse, we’re quite pleased with it. A slightly lower price tag and perhaps a charging dock and use of lithium-ion batteries would’ve done a lot for it.
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