The Wireless Intellimouse Explorer 2 is a wireless optical mouse with 5 programmable
buttons and a tilt scroll wheel. The latest Explorer 2 model sports a new design
with comfort enhancements and new styles. The Explorer 2 uses Microsoft's IntelliEye
optical technology, and provides an advanced ergonomic design. The tilt wheel lets
you navigate quickly through documents, using accurate tracking and both veritical
and horizontal scrolling. The wireless transmitter is USB, and easily hooks up to
(and it powered by) any USB port on a Mac.
The new Explorer 2 design adds grip support, finger grooves, and a curvy shape. The
new styles come in "Night Vision", "Immersion", and "Groovy"
(see picture). This review is of the "Night Vision" special edition. These
styles are all limited editions, and therefore may not be available by the time this
review is published. A quick search on Amazon, however, does show a variety of Explorer
models available, such as the "Platinum" and the "Cobalt Blue".
The "Platinum" edition retails for $55, but is currently being sold on
Amazon for the inexpensive price of $16. You can still pick up the "Night Vision"
from a few sources, including Amazon's Marketplace (there were 3 available last I
checked, ranging from $29 to $49).
- 5 Programmable Buttons
- Designed by ergonomic
experts for your comfort
- Side-to-side scrolling
- now you can scroll horizontally as well as vertically
- Smooth scrolling
- feel the unique wheel glide smoothly as you scroll through documents and web pages.
- Application switching
- easily move between open applications by pushing down on the scroll wheel.
- Ergonomic design
reduces problems associated with repetitive stress
- Features high-definition
wireless laser wireless technology and tilt wheel for superb precision
- Offers four-way scrolling
for greater efficiency and comfort
- Magnification feature
lets you expand sections of your document
- Unique stand-by mode
saves battery power
To use the Wireless Intellimouse Explorer 2 (WIE2), you need to install the mouse
driver that comes with the mouse. You then plug the transmitter device into an available
USB port and locate it somewhere out of the way. Then it's just a matter of installing
the batteries into the mouse (batteries are included), and you are off and mousing
without any wires. Using the Microsoft Intellimouse software, you can further refine
the functionality of the mouse. Setup was very simple.
Wireless Intellimouse Explorer 2 - "Night Vision"
The WIE2 is far superior to the WIE in terms of looks and ergonomics. The WIE2 sports
a very stylish design, with a curved wavey shape that contours nicely with my hand.
The mouse I reviewed is black, with smooth sides, a textured back, and the two main
buttons are made of a rubbery plastic providing excellent grip. The optical feature
allows the mouse to work without any ball (which of course means no cleaning and
no sticking balls). It includes two top buttons, a scroll wheel "tilt"
button, and two side buttons. Like the regular Explorer, the Wireless Explorer has
it's two side buttons on the same side (the left side). The placement of the buttons
on the Wireless are an improvement over its predecessors, but I still prefer to have
my side buttons on oppositie sides (it feels more intuitive to me).
With the more contoured design of this mouse, the entire grip and feel of the mouse
is very nice. The tilt wheel provides even better scrolling action than the standard
scroll wheel, as you can program the forward and backward scrolling to scroll vertically,
and you can program the left and right tilt to scroll horizontally. The only thing
that did not excite me was the movement of the scroll wheel. Typical scroll wheels
have scroll markers that provide subtle bumps in the motion of the wheel. The WIE2
wheel has no such "bumps". It's glide action feels more like pulling an
object through some very thick goo. This may provide better precision for those looking
for absolute precision, but for me it felt sluggish, almost like it's stuck.
As already mentioned, the WIE2 is both optical and wireless. That means no wires
to restrict movement, and no wires to get entangled behind the keyboard or beneath
the desktop. The WIE2 uses a base station to transmit all movement and button signals,
and the base station relays the signals to the computer through its USB connection
(either to the computer's USB port or a USB hub). This is not the same thing as a
Bluetooth mouse, which communicates directly with your computer (no base station
required). However, with a Bluetooth mouse, you have to set up synchronization, and
I have found that Bluetooth mice fall out of sync from time to tim. The WIE2 and
base station provided a consistent and reliable connection, so the mouse was always
With a device such as a mouse, stability is of critical importance. After weeks of
heavy use, I found that the signal between the mouse and its base station was extremely
reliable. I placed the base station in two different places for two different tests.
In one test, I set the base station on top of the desk (next to the USB hub), and
in the other test I set the station on the floor down by the power strips (near the
back of my G4). In both tests, I was very impressed with the stability. It seems
that the throughput on the mouse has been improved since the original WIE.
As with all the Microsoft mice, setting up the mouse preferences is done using the
Intellimouse control panel that comes with the mouse. I was easily able to adjust
the settings on the mouse, including changing the functionality of the buttons and
tilt wheel. You can program the tilt and scroll both, or just one and not the other.
The great thing is that you can program it differently for different applications.
This is a nice feature that is not included with all mouse drivers.
Microsoft IntelliPoint software - Programming the Buttons
The control panel is very intuitive,
providing controls over mouse movement, buttons, precision, and most other mouse
functionality you might want to manage. The one thing I could not do, unfortunately,
was program the wheel button action to perform an Eject Disk. Other USB device drivers
often provide that as a special action. The alternative is programming the button
to F12, but the F12 method of ejecting the CDROM tray requires holding down the key
for a small amount of time (versus immediate).
Microsoft IntelliPoint software - Wireless Technology
A couple of other problems with the
- When using settings for other applications,
there is no way to default the settings to the global settings. You have to manually
change each setting to match the global settings.
- In OS X, Finder is no longer a selectable
application, and the software does not support establishing Finder-specific settings
(e.g., ClickLock would be a possible Finder only setting).
Since the WIE2 is not powered through the USB cable, power must be supplied through
another means. Microsoft chose to use two AA batteries, and the batteries are included
with the mouse. Battery consumption seems to be greatly improved over the WIE, because
after weeks of use, the signal strength of the batteries still showed full strength.
One problem that the batteries do pose is the extra weight in the mouse. Switching
from a wired no-battery mouse to a mouse with installed batteries, you will notice
the extra weight. As time goes by, however, you do get used to the heavier feel.
Over time, I noticed the weight less and less.
The Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer 2 is a smart, well-designed optical mouse. It
feels good to use, and functions extremely well. If you used the original Wireless
Intellimouse Explorer, this second edition is a superior product, both in design
and function. The grip and texture of the mouse is excellent, and the tilt action
of the scroll wheel is a nice addition, providing both vertical and horizontal scrolling
action. The software is very flexible and easy to use, although it did not include
a preset action for Eject Disk. The wireless aspect is great, as it frees your mouse
up from wire entanglement. You do need to be concerned about having backup batteries
in case the batteries in the mouse die, but in my tests the batteries remained on
full signal strength for a long time. The batteries do add an undesirable drag weight
to the mouse, but not so much as to deter productivity. With its optical technology,
wireless connection, stylish design, extra buttons, and tilt scroll wheel, the Wireless
Intellimouse Explorer 2 makes a wonderful addition to any Mac system.
- Stylish design
- Excellent texture
- Optical and Wireless
- Good battery life
- Vertical and horizontal
- Can be programmed
differently for each application
- Need to be concerned
with battery replacement
- Unbalanced weight
due to batteries
- No preset action
for Eject Disk
- Base station adds
another piece of hardware to your workstation clutter
4 out of 5 Mice