|Min OS X: 10.1 Requires: USB Port|
|Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer 2.0|
December 17, 2003 | Lucian Fong
Microsoft has completely redesigned it's new generation of optical mice, complete with Tilt Wheel Technology, longer battery life, a "smart" receiver, a new ergonomic body, and four colorful shells. From glancing at the new features, one might be compelled to upgrade. Inadequate battery life and dodgy receiver reception have long been complaints of wireless mouse users. Microsoft promises to eliminate those two problems, while adding horizontal scrolling and some pizzazz to the styling. But will this be enough to convince mouse connoisseurs to put their old rodent out to the pasture and spring for Microsoft's new wireless wonder?
21st Century MouseThe Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer is one of two new Microsoft mice to boast their new Tilt Wheel Technology, which integrates a horizontal scrolling function into the traditional scroll wheel. (Can it be "traditional" when Apple has yet to market one of their own?) To activate the feature, you simply tilt the scroll wheel to the left or right.
Microsoft has revised their optical sensor to use energy more efficiently. They claim that two AA batteries will power the mouse for six months, a huge improvement over the battery life in the Bluetooth IntelliMouse Explorer I previously tested.
Microsoft also touts the new "smart" wireless receiver, which can hop between 65,000 identification codes to avoid cross-talk (interference with other wireless devices). The probability of cross-talk is actually quite low, since few devices use the 27 MHz frequency band. Citizen band radios, remote control cars, and garage door openers only interfere for brief moments of time; not enough to disturb the wireless connection.
Ergonomics and StylingThe metallic blue finish of the Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer is very striking and gives it a sleek, professional look. In different lighting, it can appear as if it has the metallic gray finish. You can also choose from platinum and black leather (yes, real leather).
Despite Microsoft's claims that the Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer's body has been redesigned to be even more ergonomic than the previous model, I found it to be remarkably similar to it's predecessor. The body has a slightly squatter arch than the old IntelliMouse Explorer, but is taller than Logitech's MX500/MX700. Two recesses along the top of the mouse guide finger positioning and end in the two primary mouse buttons, between which sits the snazzy new scroll wheel. Instead of having distinct steps like their previous mice, the scroll wheel now has a completely smooth motion. Two more mouse buttons lie above the right thumb. The sides of the mouse are recessed and lined with a soft grip.