BT-500 Bluetooth Mouse, by RadTech
Posted: 12-Jun-2005

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: RadTech Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: HARDWARE

Overview
When I bought my first (and so far only) Powerbook, I was really excited... until I started trying to navigate with the trackpad. The trackpad is annoying at best. I have come to tolerate it, but I'll never like it. The Powerbook is such a gorgeous piece of machinery running the best OS, yet this one ailment was putting a damper on the experience. One solution would be to use a standard USB mouse with the Powerbook, and although that's far better than the trackpad, you have to deal with the cord as well as storing and lugging a full-sized mouse around. What I really needed was something that behaved like a mouse, yet was more compact, and wireless. RadTech's BT-500 Bluetooth mouse is an answer to that need. The BT-500 is a small and lightweight Bluetooth wireless mouse that combines multi-button control with a silicone composite scroll wheel.

Features

  • Smooth tracking, maintenance-free 800 DPI optical technology.
  • 2 button control (3 if you use 3rd party software), plus scroll wheel make navigating your workspace a breeze.
  • Center button can be assigned by applications - perfect for Expose.
  • BT Class II - Supports standard HID profile.
  • 10 Meter free space range - control your notebook from across the room!
  • Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum technology minimizes interference from other devices.
  • Optimum size for using and packing - Satin rubber waist provides positive grip.
  • Power switch conserves energy when not in use.

Requirements

  • Mac OS X 10.2.8 or higher
  • Apple Bluetooth Software 1.5 or higher
  • Apple Bluetooth Firmware 1.1 or higher


Price

$54.95


Installation
I have Mac OS 10.3.9 running on my G4 Powerbook, and hooking up the RadTech BT500 mouse was a piece of cake. The BT500 does not require any software installation. It comes ready, out of the box, to work with Mac OS X. The mouse comes with two AAA batteries that easily install by sliding back the top back of the mouse. There's an on/off switch on the bottom of the mouse that you flip on, then run through the Bluetooth software that comes with Mac OS X to sync the mouse. The BT500 sync'd pretty quick, and I was instantly enjoying it's two-button scroll wheel functionality.

In Use
The RadTech BT500 Bluetooth mouse worked flawlessly in all my tests. After the initial sync with my Powerbook, the BT500 seemed to re-sync quickly each time I booted up the Powerbook. I never experienced any noticeable delays in re-syncing, and the mouse signal was always strong and reliable, providing very smooth mouse operation. It was a pure joy to not have to deal with a mouse cord.

The BT500 is an optical mouse, so it works great on any non-reflective surface. I often used it right on my Powerbook in the empty space to the right of the trackpad. It was compact enough to achieve full navigational control in a small amount of area, but it was not so small that it felt uncomfortable to grip. I believe RadTech achieved just the right balance between compactness without sacrificing good ergonomic feel. The compact size also makes it very easy for portability, fitting in just about any of the small pockets in my Powerbook's carrying case. It's also very light, weighing in at 64 grams with the batteries installed.

In terms of looks, the BT500 sports a very stylish three-color scheme. The left and right buttons are silver, with the top body a deep blue, and the base of the mouse is black. Both sides of the mouse are curved inward for better gripping and ergonomics. Changing the batteries is made very simple by sliding the top rear of the mouse back, giving quick and easy access to the battery compartment. I never had to change the batteries, however, as the battery life seemed to be very good. To help in saving battery life, the BT500 comes with an on/off switch that allows you to keep the mouse off when it's not in use. Further, it also has a smart power-saving sleep mode that activates after periods of inactivity, saving battery life even when the mouse switch is on. There is negligible delay when moving the mouse and waking it up from sleep mode. I used the included AAA Energizer batteries, but you could also use NiMH rechargeable batteries if you so desired.

Functionally, the BT500 does exactly what you need it to do. The left button is a single click, the right button is a control-click, and the scroll wheel scrolls windows and documents up and down with ease. There was no software that had to be installed, no drivers, no configuration of the mouse required. This default behavior does not include an action for the wheel button, however, and without third party add-on software, you cannot re-program the button actions, scroll wheel sensitivity, or mouse tracking. RadTech's web site indicates that there are shareware products that will allow you to program the BT500, but after spending the cash on the mouse, I think most people will be unlikely to spend more money on the mouse just to get a little bit of customization control. For most practical purposes, this mouse does everything I need it to do with the default configuration. Still, I think that it would be nice if the mouse did come with it's own customization software without having to shell out bucks for a third party solution.

Summary
The RadTech BT500 Bluetooth mouse is a compact 2-button scroll wheel mouse that works beautifully with Apple's Powerbooks and iBooks. Once I started using the BT500, I never looked back at my trackpad again. It sports a gorgeous and very ergonomic design for such a small device, and its wireless technology syncs seamlessly with any Mac with built-in Bluetooth or an external USB bluetooth module. This mouse is incredibly simple to setup, providing easy access to the battery compartment, and works right out of the box. If you want to customize the functionality, such as program the scroll wheel button, you'll need to purchase some third party software to fill the gap. Although there is a slight pause when waking up the mouse from sleep, this did not bother me at all. The sleep mode and on/off switch helps extend the life of your batteries. The RadTech BT500 packs a lot of punch in a small and compact package, delivering on the goods and making life with my Powerbook easier and more enjoyable. The bottom line is that I simply love this mouse, and I highly recommend it to any Powerbook or iBook owner.

Pros

  • Compact size for versatile use and portability
  • Stylish design with 2-buttons and a scroll wheel
  • Seamless optical operation without the mess of wires
  • Sleep mode and on/off switch helps extend battery life
  • Frees you up from fumbling with the trackpad

Cons

  • Unable to customize mouse functionality without purchasing third party software
  • Slight delay when waking up from sleep mode
  • By virtue of requiring batteries means that you should keep spare batteries around just in case


Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice