Street Price $70 - $80
The Gyration Ultra
GT comes with Windows-only software, so Mac users simply ignore the CD. The unit
comes with a receiver, a charger, and the mouse. The receiver you plug into an available
USB port and set it anywhere that is convenient for you. It does not have to be on
the desktop (I placed mine under the desk on top of my G4 case). The charging unit
must be plugged into an AC outlet, and the mouse sits on the charger quite comfortably.
You have to give the charge a few hours to charge up the mouse, but once charged,
you're good to go. Since the mouse is stored on the charger, it will always be charged
the next time you want to use it (unless, of course, you do not keep the charging
unit plugged in).
The first time I tried
using the Ultra GT, it was a real trip. Typical mouse usage has you in the frame
of mind that you need to hold the mouse down on a surface. Controlling the mouse
is based upon either contact with the surface (for mechanical "ball" mice)
or reflecting off of a surface (as with the optical mice). Even the trackball mouse
is sitting stationery. So when I first picked up the Ultra GT to try and use it in
mid-air, it felt a little bit awkward. It's kind of like spending your whole life
with your feet on the ground, and then gettings wings to fly. Even though you have
the wings, you're still thinking that your feet should not leave the ground.
The Ultra GT Mouse unit
Once I got used to the idea that I could wave this mouse around in mid-air, I moved
into the next stage of the "Ultra GT newbie". I was just plain giddy about
the whole experience. With the Ultra GT hooked up to my iMac downstairs, I would
sit on the sofa watching TV, and by pointing the mouse at my computer, I could navigate
whatever program I wanted to, as long as no keyboard entry was required. I could
open a document, print it, and then file it into a different folder. With it hooked
up to my G4 in my bedroom, I could lay in bed while reading, and use the mouse to
control iTunes, perhaps to adjust the volume, or pick a different song or playlist.
Controlling Your Mac from Mid-Air
The way the mouse works
is through its special motion sensor. The mouse has a trigger so that you don't accidentally
do something every time you move the mouse, whether in the process of picking it
up, or inadvertant twitching. The trigger makes it so that your actions are deliberate.
Pull the trigger, and the mouse is live, sending your every movement, so that if
you move the mouse to the left, the cursor on your screen goes to the left, if you
move to the right, the cursor goes right, and same goes for up and down, or any combination
of directions. The left and right buttons and the scroll wheel, on the other hand,
are always live, whether the trigger is pulled or not. Once you get used to it, you
find that this mouse is really quite easy to use, and pretty intelligent. For instance,
you don't move the entire mouse to the left to trigger the left action. You keep
your arm and wrist stationery, and simply pivet the mouse to the left, and the cursor
goes left. It's really quite amazing, and ergonomically beneficial to your wrists.
Does it live up to the 30' distance and the no line-of-sight required? Absolutely!
I placed the receiver behind the computer, and stepped around the corner, as far
as I could go (probably closer to 20'), and the mouse worked perfectly. There was
no dropped signal, no jerky mouse movement. It was smooth and consistent behavior
no matter how I used it.
Beyond the novelty of controlling your mouse navigation from mid-air, and perhaps
messing with someone who may be at the computer that the base station is hooked up
to, what other reason might you want to use this? Controlling the computer from my
bed is a nice treat. I could navigate through iTunes, and when I'm ready to go to
sleep, I don't even have to get out of bed to shutdown the computer. I can use the
mouse to do that for me. It's also a relief to take the pressure off of my wrist,
as even with wrist pads, my wrists get a bit stiff from long periods of computer
activity. This mouse is also perfect for those presentations where you have your
computer hooked up to an overhead projector. I simulated this action by pointing
the device 45 degrees to the left, as if pointing at a screen where the image may
be projected. I then moved the mouse relative to the screen, and the movement on
my computer screen was spot on, as if the computer was actually on the wall that
I was pointing at. Just for kicks, I pointed the mouse 180 degrees away from the
computer, and it controlled the mouse navigation just as smooth and as accurate as
when pointing directly at the computer. The sensor technology is simply amazing.
The remaining question would be, what if I need some precision mouse work that mid-air
movement is just not appropriate for? Place the Ultra GT mouse down on your mouse
pad, or any surface that an optical mouse would work on, and the mouse behaves exactly
like an optical mouse. It's thin design makes it just as ergonomically sounds as
the Apple mouse that comes with your Mac system, only this mouse also has the right
button and scroll wheel (I've almost forgotten what's it's like to live in a single-button
world, but I do know that I could never go back). Granted, my Logitech optical mouse
is more comfortable to me for standard mouse activity than the Ultra GT, but between
the Apple mouse and the Ultra GT, I think the GT wins hands down in terms of comfort.
And when you add the right button and scroll wheel mouse, and then throw in the unmatched
feature of being able to lift the mouse in mid-air and still have extremely stable
control of mouse navigation, this is simply an amazing piece of technology.
There are two "hidden" buttons under the front of the mouse called "Channel"
and "Teach", but I found that they were not necessary to use the mouse
as needed. They may be related to the Windows software (see next paragraph). Likewise,
there are three LED lights on the front of the mouse receiver for "Num",
"Caps" and "Scroll", but these lights were never lit no matter
what state my keyboard was in. There was a light on the side of the receiver for
status, and it lit everytime the mouse was in use.
As mentioned earlier, this mouse comes with Windows software, and there is no Mac
software available on the vendor's website. The positive side is that it's that much
easier for Mac users to set it up. The negative, of course, is that you don't get
to program the mouse to do exactly what you may want it to do. The right button is
by default a single click, the left button is a control-click, and the scroll wheel
simply scrolls documents up and down. You don't get to have it do different things
in different applications, and the scroll button does not perform any action. For
most users, this is probably all you need, but some of use do like the ability to
customize our mice.
The Gyration Ultra
GT mouse is a marvel of mouse technology, allowing you to perform mouse navigation
wirelessly and from mid-air. It uses pivot action motion sensing with a trigger to
support deliberate action, and also sports two buttons and a scroll wheel. Whether
you are pointing at your computer 10 feet away from the comfort of your bed, or standing
at a 45 degree angle pointing the device at a presentation screen, the mouse accuracy
was smooth, consistent and reliable in all of my tests. For precision mousing, you
can place the mouse down on your desktop and use it just like a normal optical mouse.
The mouse does not have Mac software for programming it, so for Mac OS 8/9 users,
you'll only end up with a single working mouse button. Mac OS X users will have both
the left and right buttons and the scroll wheel action, but not the scroll wheel
button. The mouse stores in a convenient cradle that keeps the mouse charged, so
you don't have to worry about replacing batteries, and the mouse receiver is powered
by your USB port. If you have absolutely no need for mid-air mouse control, this
mouse may be a bit pricey for you. For those that can take advantage of mid-air use
for home convenience and/or for presentations, you'll get that feature plus a fully-functional
and ergonomically sound optical two-button scroll wheel mouse, all in one package,
at a very reasonable price.
- Amazing motion sensing
technology for mid-air mouse control
- Smooth and reliable control
regardless of angle or line-of-sight
- Ergonomic two-button
scroll wheel mouse design doubles as desktop optical mouse
- Wireless operation, no
- Does not have Mac software
for programming the mouse
- For those with no mid-air
mouse control needs, a bit pricey
- Scroll wheel button does
not function on the Mac
- Right button and scroll
wheel does not function for Mac OS 8/9 users
4 out of 5 Mice