|Min OS X: Not Supported Requires: USB Port|
|Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer|
October 10, 2001 | Tuncer Deniz
Look around my desk and you won’t find an Apple mouse anywhere. In fact, I don’t think I’ve used an Apple mouse in over five years. Sure, I’ve tried out the new Apple optical mouse, and while it’s a vast improvement over the original “hockey puck” mouse, it still lags far behind in terms of functionality from other offerings available in the market today.
What you will find on my desk is a Microsoft IntelliMouse Explorer, introduced over two years ago. Having the distinct honor of being the first "popular" optical mouse—one that uses an optical sensor instead of moving parts—the Explorer featured a super sleek and comfortable design with five programmable buttons and a scroll wheel.
Now Microsoft has unleashed what is arguably the most comfortable and technologically advanced mouse available. Dubbed the Microsoft Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer (WIE) (now that’s a mouthful), the new mouse looks similar to its older sibling, but offers some subtle yet important enhancements.
Wireless = FreedomThe most obvious new feature is the addition of wireless. Working in tandem with a receiver that plugs into an available USB port, the mouse and receiver can be positioned up to six feet apart. And thanks to the two-channel radio frequency (don’t use it on airplanes), the receiver can be placed out of sight.
Microsoft has also updated its optical technology. While most optical mice capture between 1,500 and 2,000 frames per second, the WIE snaps frames at an amazing 6,000 per second, delivering smoother and more accurate cursor movement. Microsoft also claims that this enhanced optical technology allows people to use the WIE on more surfaces than ever before. But, be forewarned: you still can’t use the mouse on glassy or reflective surfaces.
The WIE operates on two AA batteries, which Microsoft claims will last several months. Although I’ve only had the mouse for a few days, I do have a Logitech MouseMan Wireless Mouse that easily lasts for 2 to 3 months, depending on the amount of use. Microsoft has incorporated some neat power saving features that help conserve battery life. For example, the mouse engages the optical technology only when you touch the mouse and puts the mouse into "sleep" mode when you remove your hand. The mouse will also go into “sleep” mode when you lift the mouse off the surface.
ErgonomicsMicrosoft has also updated the design of the mouse. In comparison to the original IntelliMouse Explorer, the WIE is a touch smaller, more curvy, and slightly heavier.
The first thing you’ll notice when you place your hand on the mouse is that there is a small “groove” for your thumb. After using the original Explorer mouse for so many fears, I found this “groove” a little awkward, but after a while I did get used to it.
I also noticed that while my entire hand fitted comfortably on the original Explorer, my pinky was left out in the cold on the WIE. Being the manly man that I am, I do have rather large hands with thick fingers. This is not that big of a deal, but if you have extremely large hands, you might have trouble getting used to this mouse. Then again, if you have large hands and find the Apple Optical Mouse comfortable, then you’ll have no problems with this mouse. To each his own.