Bluetooth Pilot Mouse, by Kensington
Posted: 13-May-2005

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Kensington Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: HARDWARE

Overview
For those that prefer a two-button scroll wheel mouse with their Mac, and want to take advantage of Bluetooth wireless technology, Kensington brings us the PilotMouse Bluetooth Wireless. The Pilot works with Bluetooth-enabled computers and up to 7 other Bluetooth devices, all in a wireless range of up to 30 feet. The PilotMouse uses DiamondEye optical technology that provides high speed acceleration and tracking. The PilotMouse features left and right buttons, as well as a scroll wheel. The design includes contoured form and flexible rubber grips. It requires two AA batteries to operate.

Features

  • Provides secure, interference-free performance with Bluetooth enabled computers and up to 7 other Bluetooth wireless devices.
  • Contoured form and flexible rubber grips combine to create the most comfortable mouse ever built.
  • Works within a wireless range of up to 30 feet for maximum freedom.
  • DiamondEye optical technology provides unmatched acceleration control and ultra-high speed tracking.
  • Works out of the box with PC or Mac.
  • Blue and silver mouse with two buttons and scroll wheel.
  • 5-year warranty and free technical support.


Requirements

  • Any Bluetooth-enabled Mac
  • Mac OS X 10.1.5 and higher


Price
$69.99.

Installation
The Pilot Mouse Bluetooth comes with two AA batteries that you must install for the mouse to operate. There is an easy battery compartment on the bottom of the mouse that makes it a snap to install the batteries (no tools required). You Mac must have Bluetooth enabled for the mouse to communicate with it. As with any Bluetooth device, you simple use the Bluetooth panel under OS X to sync the Pilot with your Mac. There is an easy to push "sync" button on the bottom of the mouse that you use during the syncing process. In my test, the Pilot synced to my Mac immediately, and the mouse was operational without any configuration. By default, the left button is a single click, the right button is a control-click, and the scroll wheel performs scrolling action in Mac OS windows. However, if the default configuration does not satisfy you, you can install the
Kensington MouseWorks software to further refine the configuration to meet your needs.

In Use
The very first thing that caught my attention when I first grabbed a hold of the Pilot Mouse Bluetooth were the rubber grips on both sides. The material has amazing grip and comfortable to the touch, and the way that it's slotted rather smooth provides further gripping control. Both sides are slightly indented which also enhances grip strength on the mouse. In terms of grip, this is one of the best designed mice I have tested (wired and wireless alike). The left and right buttons are made of the same rubbery material, but smooth rather than ribbed. This provides a good feel for where the buttons are without having to look at the mouse when using it. The scroll wheel also uses this rubbery material, and with its smooth mechanical operation, provides excellent control for scrolling. The ergonomic features of this mouse are fantastic.

In addition to ergonomics, the Pilot is easy on the eyes. It sports a very stylish silver and dark blue design, and is solid in feel. For those opting for the Apple-style translucent theme, you will not find that with the Pilot. Translucent theme aside, the Pilot is great eye candy, and looks right at home with my Mac system.

With a device such as a mouse, stability is of crucial importance. After weeks of heavy use, I never experienced a loss in signal. It was just as reliable as any wired optical mouse, only there were no wires to fuss or get tangled up with. I was very impressed with the stability. That said, users not familiar with Bluetooth mice should note that when your system goes to sleep, is shutdown, or even if the screen saver kicks in, the mouse experiences a pause when waking or booting up the system. With a non-Bluetooth wireless mouse, you typically don't experience those sync pauses during wake. On the other hand, a non-Bluetooth wireless mouse requires a wired base station, which requires a USB port and a place to put an extra piece of hardware.

In a few cases, I had to re-sync the mouse after a reboot. I didn't expect that, but it was easy enough to run through the Bluetooth sync process to bring it back on-line (but this does mean that you need to keep a spare wired mouse nearby to complete the process).

In terms of function, the Pilot provides the critical functions that I look for in a mouse: two buttons, a scroll wheel, and optical technology. There are a couple of things that could improve the Pilot. I would have preferred an on/off switch so that I could turn off the mouse when it wasn't in use. Without a switch, the mouse is always "on", searching for a signal, and putting slight wear on the batteries. The Pilot also does not include side buttons, which I like to use for Command-Left and Command-Right functions. It does, however, allow you to program an extra function for when both mouse buttons are pressed, as well as the scroll wheel button.

The default configuration of the Pilot is probably fine for most people. This configuration makes it much easier, as there is no software required to install or configure. The default settings provide a single-click left button, a control-click right button, and a scroll wheel that scrolls through documents. For those that want to change these settings, you can install and use Kensington MouseWorks software.

After installing MouseWorks, it shows up as a new preference pane in your System Preferences. The preferences provide options for programming the buttons, scrolling controls, click speeds, and mouse acceleration. By default, you are allowed to change the settings for the left and right buttons, as well as the function for pressing both buttons.


Kensington MouseWorks preferences


The scroll wheel button is set to "Swap Scrolling", and cannot be changed by default. However, if you go under the "Scrolling" tab and uncheck the "Wheel Button Changes Scrolling Direction", then come back to the "Buttons" tab, you can then re-program this button for something else. If you decide to keep the wheel button as a scrolling swap, what it does is swap the direction of the scrolling of the wheel. The wheel normally scrolls vertically (up and down) which is typically what you use the scroll wheel for. Performing a scroll swap changes the scrolling to horizontally (left and right). I didn't find this action to be desirable. There are some mice that support left and right scrolling by using a tilt wheel, and while I think that is more intuitive, I find that I rarely used it as well. Instead, I went ahead and programmed the button for a different action (and was glad that the option to do so was provided).


MouseWorks Scrolling options


In addition to changing the default button actions, you can also create settings for specific applications. This is a major advantage to this software, a function that many other mouse suppliers do not provide.
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, and that game is heavily mouse driven. The more game functions I can program into the mouse the better. To do so, I just click on the "Add..." pop-up menu next to the Application Settings prompt, choose the Halo application, and then set the buttons to game specific tasks.

If the performance of the mouse does not meet your lifestyle, you can alter almost any aspect of it. You can change the scrolling speed, the click speeds, and the mouse cursor speed (including fine tuning functions). MouseWorks is one of the best mice configuration programs I've worked with.


MouseWorks Acceleration options

The only thing MouseWorks did not provide, unfortunately, was the ability to program a button to Eject Disk (something that I like to use for my wheel button). Logitech's software, while far less versatile as MouseWorks, actually provides a unique function for "Eject Disk" that can be assigned to a button. Other mouse software that I've used provides this functionality by defining a "keystroke" for a button, and assigning the F12 key to the keystroke (the OS X function for ejecting a disk). Logitech's implementation is better than the F12 key because the disk eject is immediate. Using F12 you must hold the button, so it's not as immediate. While MouseWorks does provide the ability to assign keystrokes to the buttons, it's method of collecting input precludes the ability to assign function keys that OS X controls. In other words, when typing the keystroke to define, when pressing F12, instead of assigning F12 to the button, it actually ejects the disk (and MouseWorks never receives the keystroke). Hopefully this will be fixed in a later version (and I have my fingers crossed that they will use Logitech's method by including a specific function for Eject Disk).

Summary
The Kensington Pilot Mouse Bluetooth Wireless is a fully programmable 2-button scroll wheel mouse that works great on Mac OS X. It sports a very stylish shell, and with the rubber ribbed side grips, it is one of the best ergonomic designs I've experienced. It's super easy to use, and works great right out of the box without any software. For those that prefer to customize their mice, you have the option to do so with Kensington MouseWorks, one of the most versatile mouse configuration programs I've used. You can re-program all the buttons, including functions for the scroll wheel button and pressing the left and right buttons simultaneously. It also supports separate configurations for specific applications, which is great for gamers. Although it includes many options for button assignments, including keystrokes, it is unable to accept FKey assignments for keys that are OS X controlled (such as F12). As can be expected with a Bluetooth mouse, you can expect pauses in Bluetooth syncing after a system wake-up, and I had to re-sync the mouse after a reboot. Overall, I found the Pilot Mouse to be one of the finest Bluetooth mice on the market. If you are looking for an upgrade to a Bluetooth mouse with fully programmable multi-button and scroll wheel functionality, I recommend the Pilot Mouse.

Pros

  • Stylish and ergonomic design
  • Extended functionality with two buttons and scroll wheel
  • Buttons can be reprogrammed
  • Mouse can be configured differently for different applications
  • Optical and wireless technology (no base station required)

Cons

  • Must re-sync after a reboot, and slight pause after system wake-up
  • Unable to program OS X FKeys (such as F12) to button keystrokes
  • No on/off switch
  • Need to keep 2 AA batteries nearby for when the batteries die


Overall Rating

4 out of 5 Mice