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Manufacturer: Microsoft
Min OS X: Any Version    Requires: USB Port


Optical Mouse by S+ARCK
October 21, 2004 | Scott Turner


Click to enlarge
"Evolution, not revolution."

This statement fittingly describes the S+ARCK optical mouse from the Apple Pro Mouse. For those who have grown up on the Mac's one-button mouse pedigree and are finally ready to be weaned off it and into the productive world of two-button mice, the S+ARCK may be just the mouse you need. For everyone else, including hardcore, already two-buttoning gamers, they may be a bit dissapointed, but that may be what Microsoft is aiming for with the S+ARCK.

At Least it Glows
Microsoft is well known for its high-quality mice and keyboards. The S+ARCK mouse, however, drew inspiration not only from Microsoft's reknowned hardware design team, but independent designer Philippe S+ARCK. While it's not my place in this review to criticize S+ARCK's design abilities, I believe I can draw a direct correlation between his broad, try everything post-modern design attempts and this mouse's construction.

The mouse features shiny, solid silver surfaces which are shaped in an almost spitting image of the Apple Pro Mouse, at least by general contour. The major difference is the solid-color design scheme (it lacks any translucency,) and a glowing blue or orange stripe that runs the back of the mouse. A decent, non-ribbed scroll wheel is also at the front of the stripe and is decorated in matching iridescent color. The mouse is split into two halves by the stripe, each hemisphere either the left or right-button, and when your hand is perched on top it arches with the back of the mouse, unlike the Apple Pro.

There is nothing wrong with this mouse's ergonomics, but neither is there anything that really deserves commendation. There are no curved surfaces for better grip, save for two small pads where your thumb and picky rest, but they do little to support your hand. The buttons are firm enough, but are too smooth. Frequently when mousing for extended periods or in a furious gaming session, my hand would get sweaty and start to slip on the smooth surface of the mouse. I never felt perfectly comfortable with the mouse in hand, as it had a tendency to feel like it was about to come out of my grasp. The mouse's optics was relatively accurate, but it would sometimes mis-read and skip on my desk surface if I moved it too quickly or at an odd angle.

The S+ARCK's lack of either Windows or Mac software was not as big a detraction as its ergonomic mediocrity. Indeed, there really is no purpose for such a simple design. The mouse does come with an amusing instruction pamphlet that consists mainly of diagrams aimed at correcting poor posture and mouse usage. "Eat a balanced diet and get adequate rest...Learn to manage stress. One way to reduce stress at work is to plan your work area and schedule so that noise and distractions are kept to a minimum." Um, thanks Microsoft. Maybe I should be thanking Phillipe.

"It's Po-Mo. Post modern? Weird for the sake of weird!"
As an Apple Pro Mouse "two button upgrade", the S+ARCK mouse was perfectly acceptable. I imagine it would fit both a left and right-handed user similarly, and in a Macintosh office where you need to keep a Macintosh asthetic but also get work done with a two-button, scroll-wheel mouse, the S+ARCK fits the bill. An inexpensive, 35 dollar price point helps, too.

But what of the Mac gamer, likely the person who's reading this article? Unimpressed. While you'll save money with the S+ARCK, and the mouse will certainly last, it just didn't provide the buttons, software, and ergonomic support that I'd want in a dedicated gaming mouse. Maybe you'll find this suits you fine if you split your time between work and play, but for the majority of us, our money would be better spent on a dedicated Microsoft gaming mouse, or on one of the many mouse vendors who cater to the Macintosh, such as Logtiech and Kensington.

I liked your espresso machine design though, Philippe.

Pros:
Good Price Point
Fits Left and Right-Handers Equally
Neat Look

Cons:
So-so Ergonomics
No Software, PC or Mac
Not many buttons or features
Occasional skipping



Optical Mouse by S+ARCK
Manufacturer: Microsoft




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