The Mouse BT, by MacMice
Posted: 5-Aug-2004

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: MacMice Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: HARDWARE

Overview
The Mouse BT is a Bluetooth wireless mouse from the good people at MacMice who brought us "
The Mouse". Like the Mouse, the Mouse BT is designed to look and feel much like the original Apple mouse, but it incorporates two buttons plus a scroll wheel. In addition to that, the Mouse BT sports an aluminum color instead of the white color that the Mouse comes in, and is completely wireless using built-in Bluetooth technology.

Requirements

  • Any desktop or notebook computer with active Bluetooth
  • Mac OS 10.2 or later

I am testing the Mouse BT on a Bluetooth enabled Powerbook running OS 10.3.4.

Setup
The Mouse BT did not come with any software, wireless base station, power cords, or USB cables. What you get is the mouse with two AA batteries. The beautiful part is, that's all you need. Installing the batteries is easy (the bottom of the mouse comes off and snaps back on quite easily). To make the mouse ready, you flip the small switch on the bottom of the mouse from OFF to ON. The mouse will not work, however, until you sync it with the Bluetooth of your Mac. To do so, you press and hold the "connect" button on the bottom of the mouse for 10 seconds, then go into your OS X Bluetooth preferences, select "Pair New Device", and follow the simple on-screen prompts. Within seconds, your Mouse BT is operational. The syncing is a one-time setup operation.

In Use
The Mouse BT worked flawlessly in all my tests. By default, the left button performs a single click, and the right button performs a control-click. The scroll wheel performs up and down scrolling for documents and web pages, and the default scroll wheel sensitivity felt pretty good. The scroll wheel button makes use of the native OS X 3rd button functionality, which, for most applications, does nothing (some applications, such as Maya, do take advantage of this). Basically, the Mouse BT works pretty much as you would need it to work, right out of the box.

MacMice did an excellent job at designing the split shell such that the mouse maintains the image of Apple's mouse, but provides you left and right buttons and a scroll wheel. The combination of optical technology and Bluetooth technology means that there are no moving parts and no cables to interfere with your workspace. I found the movement of the mouse to be quite stable in all my tests. I've used wireless mice before, but with the Bluetooth mouse, you don't have to worry about a powered base station.

For those who like Apple's design, but need or desire two buttons and scroll wheel functionality, and are also looking for wireless technology, this mouse gives you exactly what you have been hoping for, all in one package. Some people discard the Apple mouse not just because of the single-button operation, but also because they don't find the straight thin design or plastic casing ergonomically pleasing. For those who don't appreciate the ergonomics of Apple's mouse, the Mouse BT will give you the same experience and you may not be satisfied. Then again, with the additional functionality and wireless technology, you may learn to appreciate the ergonomics in trade.

The Mouse BT does not come with software, and there is no software on MacMice's web site that allows you to program the mouse. If all you are looking for is the standard left and right button actions along with scroll wheel action, there is really no need to program the mouse. However, if you want to program the wheel button, you will not be able to do that with the Mouse BT. According to MacMice, Bluetooth devices are still in such a flux that MacMice is not confident in delivering a static driver product for the mouse at this time. Personally, I like to program the scroll wheel button for performing a CD-ROM eject, which is not an option with the Mouse BT. Likewise, I also like to program the mouse buttons to perform different actions in different applications, so without any software, that is also not an option.

One of the reasons you might want to re-program your mouse buttons for different applications is for playing games. The one game I play on Mac OS X is Halo, but it is currently installed on my G4 which is not Bluetooth enabled. I did not bother installing Halo on the Powerbook, as MacMice is very explicit in stating that no current Bluetooth wireless mouse is up to the task of real-time gaming. They have heard from many buyers of BT mice who have been extremely disappointed at having bought their new mouse for gaming, only to find out that it wasn't up to the challenge. I commend MacMice for being up front about the state of BT mice with gaming. However, while the majority of Mac users may not be total gamers, most of us have at least one or two games that we like to entertain ourselves with from time to time.

Summary
The MacMice Mouse BT is an optical wireless two-button scroll wheel mouse that operates on Bluetooth technology. The Mouse BT is truly a marvel of design. The one-piece upper shell provides the appearance of the Apple mouse, while the subtle split in the shell provides two half surfaces acting as left and right mouse buttons.
After the simple Bluetooth setup, the Mouse BT worked just as expected, no software required, and no wires to tangle up your desktop. In all my tests, the Mouse BT performed reliably, with no noticeable connectivity issues. I did not have a chance to test it with any games, but MacMice does recommend not using a BT mouse with real-time gaming. The lack of software does prevent you from customizing the mouse for different applications or programming the scroll wheel button. All in all, I was very pleased with the Mouse BT. If you are looking for a stylish Apple-themed mouse that also sports two buttons, a scroll wheel, and Bluetooth wireless technology, the Mouse BT is the only mouse that provides all of these features. This is a new mouse, and is not yet available to the public, but MacMice expects the Mouse BT to hit the market in late September, 2004. When it does arrive, I highly recommend checking it out.

Pros

  • Stylishly themed like the Apple mouse
  • Provides two-button and scroll wheel action
  • Optical and wireless (no moving parts, no tangled cords)
  • Smooth and reliable mouse action

Cons

  • No software to customize buttons
  • Not recommended for real-time gaming
  • Those who do not like the feel of Apple's mouse may not appreciate the ergonomics of the Mouse BT


Overall Rating

4 out of 5 Mice