Apple Magic Mouse Reviewed

Posted October 31st, 2009 at 11:11 PM by RHochstenbach

Apple has always been known for their unique mice. To date, the have all had just one button, and were designed to be user friendly. The last mouse released by Apple was the Mighty Mouse. It had a soft scrolling ball, buttons on the side (to activate Exposé), and one button that could sense with which finger you are pressing it. Now Apple comes forward with a new mouse: the Magic Mouse. We have it, so it’s time for a review!

apple-magic-mouse

Design

The first thing you’ll notice about the Magic Mouse is the lack of distinct buttons on the mouse. As you look closely, it has a plastic multi-touch trackpad at the top. The bottom is completely cast in aluminum. There’s an on/off switch and an aluminum cover that holds two AA-batteries. It has a relatively long length compared to other mice, yet it’s thinner than most.

Magic Mouse 1 Magic Mouse 2 Magic Mouse vs. Mighty Mouse Magic Mouse compared to the iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch Magic Mouse compared to the iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch 2

Impressions

Handling

Due to the thin design, I found it’s harder to hold — especially in the beginning. A mouse usually has a shape that naturally fits into your hand, but the Magic Mouse doesn’t. It has an almost flat surface, but that’s required if you like multi-touch. You can get used to it with effort, but the lack of supporting your hand could be painful if you find yourself using it for long periods of time. Designers and other people who are using the mouse for large parts of their day should consider a more comfortable mouse.

Surface Tracking

The Magic Mouse is fitted with a high quality laser. It beats about any other laser mouse I’ve seen, including the Logitech MX Revolution mouse. It tracks on many surfaces, even on transparent surfaces like glass. This virtually eliminates the need mouse pads. However, keep in mind that the tracking surface should be clean, as the mouse ‘collects’ every bit of dirt. I had to clean the mouse after using it for only 15 minutes.

Scrolling

The Magic Mouse uses ‘momentum-scrolling’. This means that you can use the entire mouse to scroll horizontally and vertically. You can either do this in a slow pace, or flick through a large page or list just like on the iPhone and iPod Touch. It doesn’t always go as smooth as on the iPhone, but certainly comes close. Scrolling is much easier now, and doesn’t bother your fingers like if you were using a scroll wheel all the time.

Batteries

The Magic Mouse runs on AA batteries. Just like the Wireless Mighty Mouse, you can use either one or two batteries. One battery runs out faster, but decreases the weight of the mouse. You can’t recharge the batteries of the mouse with a cradle unfortunately, but the batteries won’t run out as fast as with a traditional wireless mouse, so this won’t be an issue for most users.

Gaming

Is the Magic Mouse suitable to play games? In a word, no. The problem with the Mighty Mouse and now with the Magic Mouse is that it can sense with which finger you’re pressing the button. It can detect either left or right, but not both. So when you’re playing a game that requires the mouse (shooters), you usually need to aim with the right mouse button and shoot with the left button. This just doesn’t work. With gaming you’re also using the mouse all day, which could hurt as explained above.

Buttons and Gestures

The Magic Mouse only has one tactile button. This one resides below the trackpad. As said earlier, it can sense with which finger you are pressing the button, and can then perform the requested operation. Scrolling is done by making strokes with your finger in either horizontal or vertical direction. Doing this with two fingers to the left or right allows you to browse back and forth between the last visited pages in your browser. The Mighty Mouse had the options to activate Dashboard when pressing the scroll ball, and Exposé could be activated by pressing the two side buttons of the mouse. The Magic Mouse can’t do this, which is disappointing. I felt they could at least enable this with three and four finger gestures — or something like that.

Conclusion

The Magic Mouse is the latest mouse from Apple. The multi-touch features are innovative compared to the other mice that are on the market today. Only the Logitech Air has a competitive mouse with multi-touch, though it can’t compete with the stunning design of the Magic Mouse. Scrolling through pages works great, especially through large pages. The handling is something you need to get used to, but I recommend you go to your local Apple Store or reseller and take the mouse for a spin before making a purchase decision. This is especially true for people with physical disabilities, as it’s not really RSI-friendly. The other downside is the lack of buttons or gestures to launch Dashboard or Exposé, which need to be activated with the keyboard or with one of the other features in Mac OS X.

Pros

  • Design
  • Weight
  • Momentum Scrolling
  • Multi-Touch

Cons

  • Leaves your hand feeling painful after handling all day
  • No buttons or gestures to activate Dashboard or Exposé

Rating

Apple Magic Mouse | 4 out of 5: HardwareForums.com Recommended

Apple Magic Mouse | 4 out of 5: HardwareForums.com Recommended

Relevant Links

Comments

6 Responses to “Apple Magic Mouse Reviewed”

  1. Sniper on November 1st, 2009 8:43 PM

    Considering the surface is touch sensitive, I guess it would be possible to add dashboard/expose functionality in the future? E.g. pressing certain areas of the mouse

  2. RHochstenbach on November 2nd, 2009 9:36 AM

    In theory this could be possible. In the mean time, you could use the Active Screen Corners feature in Mac OS X to map Exposé and Dashboard to a screen corner and activate it by moving the mouse pointer into that corner.

  3. Sniper on November 2nd, 2009 8:38 PM

    looks like someone has got expose/dashboard functionality working http://theappleblog.com/2009/11/02/how-to-enable-expose-and-spaces-for-the-magic-mouse/

  4. Sniper on November 21st, 2009 4:42 PM

    its got even better http://blog.boastr.net/ need to buy one myself soon :)

  5. Alec on June 20th, 2010 8:30 AM

    As great as it looks, I couldn’t stop using my MX Revolution, it’s just too good, but I have been keen on having a play with one of these, lucky I’m buying my folks a new iMac this week – so I finally get to see what all the fuss is about.

  6. RHochstenbach on July 18th, 2010 10:05 AM

    I’ve been using the MX Revolution before I got the Magic Mouse. I have to admit that the MX is much more comfortable when using mouse-intensive applications or playing games.

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