Microsoft's Arc Touch mouse has been available for some time now, but it's still a rather evolutionary peripheral. Here's a hands-on review.
The set-up process is extremely easy. This wireless USB mouse is a plug-and-play operation with the option of installing additional software to customize the buttons. However, that's not really necessary as most of the preset controls are very intuitive.
First, I installed the included pair of AAA batteries into the reverse side of the mouse. When I folded the palm rest into an arc, then the blue LED light turned on signaling that the device was turned on. When it's flat, the light shuts off and the battery power is conserved. Then, I placed the USB receiver into an open USB port on my computer, and voilà! Ready to roll.
The curvature on the Arc Touch is designed so that the mouse is more comfortable to hold for longer periods of time. It certainly was comfortable, especially with the soft, rubberized grip on arc of the mouse. And considering it flattens out and is so thin it could slip into pants pockets, this accessory is highly portable.
Equipped with BlueTrack technology, the Arc Touch worked fine on glossy, soft and hard surfaces. I tried the Arc Touch on my mouse pad, directly on my desk and even a magazine. The glossy surface was the hardest to maintain control, but that's stretching it a bit. The mouse still did what I wanted.
The most innovative feature (aside from the arc design) on this wireless peripheral is the touch panel for clicking and scrolling. The basic ideas of a mouse are all still there: spaces for left and right clicking along with a scroll wheel. It's a bit strange to go from traditional clicking and tap-to-click, but after a few seconds, it becomes natural. It's also far quieter, although there's still a scrolling noise, which is probably just there for effect.
Otherwise, this is just a mouse that does its job. I'd recommend it for those who travel with computers often and want to use a mouse instead of the laptop's touchpad and anyone who likes the latest fancy, cutting-edge gadgets. I also find it easier and more appropriate for computer users doing processing, programming and web browsing. Graphic designers, photo editors and such users might find doing editing with a touch mouse as easy as doing the same work on a laptop touchpad. Personally, I find it much harder to do such editing on a touchpad, and I feel the same way about the Arc Touch.
The Arc Touch retails for $69.95 and is available now. That's a bit pricey for a mouse, especially a wireless USB model without Bluetooth support. But the pricing is still on par with Apple's Magic Mouse.