Ultra GT Cordless Optical Mouse, by Gyration
Posted: 20-Feb-2005

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Gyration Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: HARDWARE

Overview
The Gyration Ultra GT is a cordless optical mouse that incorporates Gyration technology that allows it to be used in mid-air as well as on a desktop. Gyration's patented motion-sensing technology allows you to mouse around using natural hand movements. Alternate between desktop and in-air use to reduce fatigue and discomfort associated with repetitive motion.

Gyration frees you from the confines of your desktop with a powerful 30' radio range and no line-of-sight limitations. Gyration's high-power radio transmits data at speeds fast enough to result with smooth tracking and precise cursor movement.

With a casual flick of the wrist you can launch an MP3 playlist, surf forward or back, or adjust your sound volume. The Ultra GT comes with GyroTools software, but unfortunately the software is Windows only (will not run on your Mac). The good news is that you don't need the software. 

Features

  • State of the art gyroscopic motion sensor for use off the desktop
  • Ultra precise optical sensor for use on the desktop - no moving parts to wear out or get dirty
  • Extra long 30 foot radio range. Line of sight not required!
  • Long life rechargeable battery with convenient desktop charging cradle
  • Plug 'n play USB, no special drivers or software needed
  • Ergonomically designed for comfortable desktop and in-air use
  • 2-year limited parts and labor warranty


Requirements

  • PC running Microsoft Windows 98 SE/2000/ME/XP or Macintosh system running OS 8.0 or later
  • CD drive for GyroTools software installation
  • Available USB port

    NOTE: Gyration states that the right mouse button is not functional on the Mac since the GyroTools software is Windows only. While that may be true for Mac OS 8/9, under Mac OS X, both the right mouse button and scroll wheel are functional (just not programmable).

Price

Retail $79.95
Street Price $70 - $80

Setup
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).

In Use
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.

Summary
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.

Pros

  • 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 batteries required

Cons

  • 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


Overall Rating

4 out of 5 Mice