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Manufacturer: Microsoft
Min OS X: 10.4    Requires: USB Port

Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 8000
May 21, 2007 | Bryan Clodfelter

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In the past few years, the explosion of wireless technologies like Bluetooth, Wi-Max, and Wi-Fi have greatly prolonged the life expectancy of the average doodad in the vicinity of today’s tech-laden geek. Accordingly, the number of gadgets rocketed into electronic oblivion on the wings of a snagged cable has dropped dramatically. From a consumer standpoint, the war to free users from their self-inflicted Lilliputian bondage seems to be almost won, which makes the presence of the few devices that remain corded all the more frustrating. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 8000, which makes use of Bluetooth wireless technology to try to finally sever the mouse’s tail—perhaps the most ubiquitous artificial fiber invented in the 20th century (the omnipresent AC power cord notwithstanding). As anyone that’s experimented with wireless mice in the past knows, there are three monumental roadblocks that must be overcome on the path to success: power consumption, weight, and latency. The obvious question is whether or not Microsoft, out of the plethora of hardware vendors, has produced a wireless mouse that we can recommend to users of all shapes and sizes without tacking on a paragraph of fine print.

Looking Blue? Fear Not!
Although Bluetooth accelerated out of the gate more slowly than an octogenarian with ankle weights, now that it’s up to speed, this wireless technology seems to be finding its way into new devices with startling rapidity. The most commonly-found revision of Bluetooth, 2.0+EDR, is designed to provide low latency (on the order of ~25 ms) 3.0 Mbps connections at distances of to 10 meters. To put that in perspective, Bluetooth’s latency is less than one-half that of the 27 MHz technology commonly found in yesteryear’s mice and keyboards, and it provides over a thousand times the throughput. While the lion’s share of Bluetooth’s bandwidth is unnecessary for a simple mouse, it does lift the bandwidth ceiling high enough to make it possible to connect one of today’s high-resolution laser gaming mice (which alone requires more bandwidth than the 27 MHz specification offered) and a few other devices without worrying about devices fighting for attention.

Design Characteristics
With its sleek, multi-tone silver shell and ambidextrous shape, the Wireless Laser Mouse 8000 looks impressive. It’s also the most solidly built mouse to come out of Redmond; the staunchly unyielding plastic practically begs for a Mythbusters-esque trial of durability, but I couldn’t bring myself to put such a pretty (and expensive) piece of electronics to the test. Featuring Microsoft’s trademark tilting scroll wheel, breezing through documents is a trivial matter, and what’s better, you can do it all day without worrying about burning through batteries thanks to the included rechargeable battery and straightforward docking base. When the battery does run low, a multi-color LED built into the top of the shell glows bright red, letting you know that it’s time to park the mouse. Unfortunately, as Calvin (from Calvin & Hobbes fame) wisely said, “a good compromise leaves nobody happy,” which is more often than not the case with ambidextrous mice. Whether you’re a righty or a lefty, the Wireless Laser Mouse 8000 initially feels a little strange to the touch due to grooves for your thumbs on both sides. Along the same vein, the thumb button placement is disconcerting—they’re squirreled away so high that the idea of using these buttons is not a pleasant one (try touching the tip of your thumb to the side of your index finger’s knuckle, and you’ll get the idea). Finally, despite having only one AA battery, the Wireless Laser Mouse 8000 is only one ounce lighter than its plump, older brother, the Wireless Laser Mouse 6000. While this considerable heft shouldn’t bother most users looking to replace a corded, consumer-grade mouse, hardcore gamers looking for a mobile solution might prefer something lighter.


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