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Manufacturer: Apple
Min OS X: 10.3    Requires: USB Port

Mighty Mouse
September 14, 2005 | Galen Wiley

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The Mighty Mouse's most impressive feature is by far its scroll-ball. While other companies have attempted to make multi-directional scrolling work on their products before, Apple has finally done so. I found scrolling left and right on a ball was much more intuitive than having to resort to holding down the shift key and scrolling up and down. Apple has even made the scroll-ball clickable for added convenience. Unfortunately, I found diagonal scrolling particularly hard to pull off, which makes me wonder why Apple makes such a big deal about it on the Mighty Mouse's product page.

As far as accuracy is concerned, the Mighty Mouse holds up very nicely. Sitting atop a solid black surface yielded no tracking errors whatsoever. It will be interesting to see if this still holds true when and if Apple releases a wireless Bluetooth edition. Another high point is the Mighty Mouse's symmetrical design, which means that both righties and lefties will have no problem using the mouse.

The Mighty Mouse is a beautiful piece of hardware, make no mistake about that. However, its beauty is sadly only skin-deep; beneath its surface lie some subtle yet excruciatingly bothersome flaws that prevent it from ever surpassing the level of mediocrity.

While the Mighty Mouse works just fine and dandy on both Mac and Windows platforms right out of the box, Mac OS X "Tiger" users have the option of installing additional system software in order to further customize the Mighty Mouse's functions. Once installed, the software can be accessed from the "Keyboard and Mouse" System Preferences pane. By default, clicking the left and right "buttons" performs a Primary Click (mimicking the functionality of Pro Mouse), clicking the scroll ball opens up Dashboard, and squeezing the side-click buttons triggers Exposé.

Users can rearrange these functions as they see fit. In addition, each button can also be set to open up Spotlight, the Application Switcher, or any program installed on the computer. The scroll-click and side-click buttons can also be set as simply Button 3 and Button 4, respectively, for use in special programs like games, or can even be completely disabled. Users can also adjust the tracking, scrolling, and double-click speeds, as well as specify whether they want Vertical Scrolling, Horizontal Scrolling, both, or none.

Mapping commands to each button is great and all, but what about the other features that have become a necessity in today's mice software, such as the ability to have different setups for different programs, or use the buttons to help navigate websites? Sadly, Apple has omitted any and all extraneous features that may harm the simplicity of the Mighty Mouse. This leaves users to choose one of two options: deal with it, or purchase a copy of a shareware application to fill in the missing feature gaps.

Perhaps the software's main redeeming quality is its tight integration with three core applications of the operating system: Dashboard, Exposé, and the Application Switcher. Third-party software often forces you to define a keystroke for each of these in their respective control panels and then map that keystroke to a button on the mouse. With the Mighty Mouse's software, all you need to do is pull down a menu.

Obviously tailored towards less advanced users, the Mighty Mouse's software is a far cry from similar offerings currently available. Its simplified design comes at the cost of much needed functionality.


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