Microsoft IntelliMouse Explorer

URL: http://www.microsoft.com/mouse/explorer.htm

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Rating: Excellent!

Review:

That good ol’ desktop rodent that you constantly shove around on your desk for some point-and-click action has been around for decades now. Its main function is to translate the movement of the mouse on the desk into cursor movement on your screen and to execute commands and launch programs, making your computing experience a lot easier by letting you point-and-click instead of having to type like a madman.

But let’s face it: Not much has changed in the basic design of the mouse over the years. Sure, there was an extra button, a wheel for convenient scrolling, and that’s about it. Microsoft has put some thought into improving the mouse and came up with the most excellent Intellimouse Explorer.

What makes this thingy so most excellent? It still just points and clicks, right? Yes. If it wouldn’t point and click anymore, it wouldn’t be a mouse anymore – that hasn’t changed. But this puppy, uh, mousy has a great combination of features.

The most innovative thing about it is the fact that it does not use a trackball anymore that mechanically tracks the movement. This has been replaced with an optical sensor called the IntelliEye. It reads the surface underneath the mouse at a rate of 1500 times per second to track movement. The advantage of this is that there are no more parts to clean. I’m sure you all have more than once taken the ball out of your mouse and cleaned the rollers after your mouse started acting up or stopped responding. This annoying task is now a thing of the past.

Another advantage of this new optical tracking system is that it is not dependent on friction anymore like the old trackball. This means that you don’t need a mouse pad anymore. Hell, you don’t even need a desktop anymore because it will track on carpet, your pant leg, anywhere.

The IntelliMouse also offers an impressive number of buttons, five to be exact. Of course it has the traditional left and right-click button. Between those sits a wheel for convenient scrolling, which can be depressed to serve as a button. Then there are two buttons on the side within easy reach of your thumb. Each one of these five buttons is programmable, you can choose your preference from a looooong list of options such as Copy, Paste, Page Up, Page down, Minimize, Maximize, Show Desktop, Escape, Backspace, Close, Stop, Refresh, and many more.

One thing that might seem weird at first but really grows on you fast is the shape. It is rather large and feels big in your hand compared to most traditional mice. But after using it for just a little while it actually turns out to be a really good fit and very comfortable.

The IntelliMouse comes with a USB connector, but also includes a USB-to-PS2 adapter so that you can plug it in either way.

Lastly, of course, we gotta have some eye-candy. It has a stylish sleek silver surface with gray buttons which give it a futuristic look and make it look even more advanced than it is. But the cherry on the cake is the red light underneath it. When the mouse is connected and properly recognized by the OS, a red light illuminates the underside as well as a small logo at the end. As I said – it’s eye-candy, but it looks cool. Check it out:

After using it for a week I am very pleased with it. The big thumb button that is set by default to function as the Back button is a great help for web addicts like me. The tracking is flawless, even when using the mouse for some wild action such as Quake 3 and Half-life.

The retail price of $69 is a little steep for a mouse, you have to decide for yourself whether it’s worth it to you or not. Either way, it makes for a great mousing experience.

Submitted by: Alex

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