Hands-on review: Microsoft Touch Mouse

Summary:Watch out, Magic Mouse. Microsoft has a new mouse rolling onto desks this week.

Not to be confused with Microsoft's other mouse, the Explorer Touch Mouse, shipping this fall, the slightly more simply-named Touch Mouse is touted as a more advanced peripheral.

SET-UP

Before you even consider buying this device, know that the Touch Mouse is especially optimized for Windows 7. Mac users need not apply. Technically, the device is somewhat supported by Windows Vista and XP, but the only touch gesture supported is center scrolling. Thus, it's not really worth it to spend they money on this mouse if you don't have Windows 7.

Included in the box with the Touch Mouse are two AA alkaline batteries, the USB receiver and a USB extension cord for anyone using this mouse with a large computer tower and for some reason you can't just use the USB receiver by itself. Unfortunately, Bluetooth is not a connectivity option here.

Setting up the basic mouse functions (meaning getting the mouse to work yet without the multi-touch features) is extremely simple. It's a plug-and-play operation as I just plugged the receiver into an empty USB slot on my computer, a little message popped up spotting new hardware, and I was ready.

The next part is downloading the additional software online, which is essential considering the whole purpose of buying this mouse is because of the multi-touch gesture support. The user guide said that I should have been automatically prompted to download the necessary plug-ins, but that didn't happen. So it was time to point the mouse to the browser window to Microsoft Software Downloads.

Finding, downloading and installing the drivers was done within a matter of seconds.

USE

For reference, I don't normally use a mouse with multi-touch gestures. I don't even like using the touchpad on my MacBook Pro. I prefer to use a regular click mouse at all times.

So it took me a little longer than it might for others to get used to the Touch Mouse. As a regular mouse (without touch abilities), it worked seamlessly and fluidly. Although it felt a little larger when compared to the Wireless Mobile Mouse 3500 series, I definitely appreciated the sleek, ergonomic design.

As for the touch gestures, I definitely had to look over the guide. While some were intuitive (i.e. scrolling), other gestures, such as when using two or three fingers to manage windows and the desktop respectively, were not. For the  most part, everything went smoothly, but I definitely recommend anyone who buys this to hold on to the user's guide and learn all of the different gestures (there are over a dozen) before recycling it.

In terms of different uses, I found the Touch Mouse to be more responsive and helpful when browsing and doing word processing. However, I found it to be a little harder to control when editing photos, so I would not recommend this device for designers.

With this USB receiver, the Touch Mouse can work within a 10-foot range, giving users greater flexibility if they need it when moving around, using this mouse during a presentation, etc.

AVAILABILITY

The Touch Mouse is already available for pre-order, and it is expected to be released on Thursday, August 11.

Priced at $79.95 with a 3-year limited hardware warranty, this is definitely a high-end accessory that makes one question how much they really need and/or want to pay for a mouse. Microsoft promises that that this device "helps you get more done in less time," which could be the case over a long period of time. However, it still felt like the same amount of time to me.

Nevertheless, this is definitely one of Microsoft's better answers to Apple products, and if you're into using multi-touch gestures for navigation, then you won't be disappointed.

For a look at some of our hands-on reviews of other Microsoft mice, check out these posts examining the ultra-portable and flexible Arc Touch Mouse and the budget-friendly (yet corded) Express Mouse.

Related:

Topics: Hardware, Microsoft

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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