|Min OS X: Not Supported Requires: USB Port|
March 27, 2000 | Jason Sims
An advertisement Iíve seen for the Microsoft IntelliMouse Explorer has two photographs of the mouse. Under the picture of the top side of the mouse (with its curvy, smooth, silver and gray surface), it reads "Studio 54", and under the picture of the bottom of the mouse (transparent plastic with red lights glowing on the circuit board and the little IntelliEye lens), it reads "Area 51". I mention this because I think this is a great description of the mouse; itís a perfect blend of style and technology.
The IntelliMouse Explorer is indeed one of the finest-looking mice available, but what truly makes it stand apart from the others is the IntelliEye optical tracking technology. A tiny digital camera takes 1,500 snapshots every second of the surface beneath the mouse, while a DSP compares these snapshots to determine the movement of the mouse cursor. All computation is performed in the mouse, so there is no performance hit on your computerís processor.
Sounds good in theory, as many things do, but in reality itís every bit as good as they say it is. The IntelliMouse Explorer tromps the competition in smoothness and accuracy. It also works on just about any surface, eliminating the need for a mouse pad. No ball and rollers means you donít have it clean it out every so often either (although you will definitely still want to clean off the pads once in awhile). Graphic artists will love it for the new level of precision it enables in such programs as Photoshop and Illustrator, but here at IMG weíre here to talk about what this mouse does for gaming. Is the IntelliMouse Explorer the ideal gaming mouse? Aside from a rather annoying conflict between the IntelliPoint software and InputSprocket, the answer is yes.In addition to silky smooth movement tracking, the IntelliMouse Explorer offers four buttons and a scrolling wheel (which can also be pressed down as a button, for a total of five). The scrolling wheel is so useful that I can confidently say that this is an essential feature that every mouse should have. Microsoftís IntelliPoint software (the Mac version of which is based on USB Overdrive, a shareware control panel that allows you to use pretty much any USB mouse or joystick on your Mac) lets you assign different functions to each button for each application. Itís not as versatile as Kensingtonís MouseWorks software (still the king of mouse software as far as Iím concerned), but itís very good and certainly provides more than an adequate level of customizability.
Fans of first-person shooters like Quake III Arena and Unreal Tournament will benefit the most from this mouse. The smooth and accurate tracking of the IntelliEye technology really pays off when it comes to firing at moving targets in a fast-paced environment. This level of precision isnít as essential for other types of games, but itís still nice to have. Even those who donít play first-person shooters will appreciate the multiple, programmable buttons of the IntelliMouse Explorer. The buttons can be set up to click, command-click, shift-click and option-click in games like WarCraft II and StarCraft, for example, which lets you auto-assign default commands, add and remove units from groups and re-select groups without touching the keyboard. Just about any type of game can benefit from the multiple buttons on this mouse.