Monday, April 3, 2006

Micro Innovations Wireless Optical Mouse

Rating: 2 out of 5
Pros: Attractive design, good range, inexpensive
Cons: Horrible battery life

I was never a big fan of wireless mice, as the thought of my batteries dying in the middle of a game left me a little uncomfortable. I had always loved the thought of it, no cord to tangle around and get in my way... so I asked for a wireless optical mouse for Christmas last year. I was presented with this Micro Innovations (model PD950P) to play with. Upon destroying the package (oops) I recovered the micro wireless optical mouse, the PS/2 receiver, a 3.5" floppy with the driver on it, a user's manual and a warranty information card.

First thing to do is connect the PS/2 receiver to an available PS/2 port on your computer. The manual suggests you shut your computer off first, but really it don't particularly matter. The manual also suggests you install the drivers from the included floppy diskette, but Windows XP and SUSE Linux both detected the mouse and it worked just fine without them. You need to install two AAA batteries, which are not included. Flip the mouse over, remove the little door and put them in. The final step is to press the big round button on the receiver, which will make the little green LED blink. Then you grab a pen or pencil and push the little button on the underside of the mouse. This synchronizes the mouse to the receiver.

The PS/2 receiver has a four foot long cord, and the mouse itself has a six foot range from the receiver. The four foot cord leaves you plenty of room to place the receiver somewhere out of the way. The six foot range of the mouse is more than sufficient to use the mouse anywhere around my computer, on either side of my monitor. I haven't had any problems with electrical interference from my speakers, cordless telephone, monitor, etc; so I'm pretty happy there.

The receiver measures about three inches by an inch and a half and is about an inch tall, while the mouse itself measures about five inches by two and a half, and is about an inch and a half tall. The mouse weighs about a pound with batteries installed. The matte black finish is fairly attractive and there is a silver plastic piece that goes up the center of the mouse and encircles the scroll wheel. It's symmetrical design allows the mouse to be used by right or left handed people equally.

It's a standard three button mouse, with the scroll wheel acting as the third button. The two main buttons are built into the mouse body, so the mouse is smooth completely across the top, save for the silver plastic piece that goes down the middle. The scroll wheel clicks a little as you scroll it, but it's not too loud and it still scrolls pretty smoothly. The two main buttons are actually a tiny bit louder than the scroll wheel button.

The 800dpi optical sensor is pretty good, it scans the desktop at up to 2300 frames per second. The mouse works fairly well on my desk, which has a smooth, light colored wood grain surface. Only occasionally do I notice the pointer jump across the screen randomly, but that could easily just be me picking the mouse up off the desk to move it instead of sliding it. I've got a bad habit of doing that...

The battery life is every bit as bad as I thought it would be. I used a couple of high capacity rechargeable Duracell batteries in the mouse. They were the same batteries I use in my digital camera, and they were fully charged. The mouse worked fine for about one week, and then the batteries died. The computer was turned on the entire week, so it may not seem so awful (though it still seems bad to me) but the mouse shuts itself off after about ten minutes to conserve battery life, so it really didn't get that much use. If I ever try another optical mouse, it will be one with a cradle charger so I can leave it to charge every night when I go to sleep. This replacing batteries once a week just isn't going to cut it.

The mouse has a lifetime limited warranty, where Micro Innovations will, at it's option, either repair or replace a defective mouse at no charge. Of course "no charge" means for parts or labor, you still are expected to pay to ship it back to them, and you have to enclose $5.95 shipping and handling for them to return it to you. By the time you pay shipping both ways, you're better off just tossing it in the trash and buying a new mouse, as it's about the same price anyway.

System requirements include an IBM compatible PC, Microsoft Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, an available PS/2 mouse port, and an available 3.5" floppy drive.

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