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The Not-So-Mighty Mouse

November 20th, 2006

I love the new 24-inch iMac I got. My only complaint is that I can’t turn the brightness down enough, but there are workarounds to that, and everything else about the main body of the machine is fantastic. The wireless keyboard is excellent (except that I still haven’t gotten used to the Delete key not being at the top right, but that’s a training issue). Overall, it’s probably the best computer I’ve ever had.

MghtymsExcept for the mouse. I am seriously thinking of ditching the damned thing.

When I bought the Mac, I opted for the wireless keyboard and mouse. I do not regret going for the wireless option; I think the “Mighty Mouse” would be even worse with a wire. It’s the other “features” that annoy me, which add to the reputation Apple has for making sucky mice.

When I got it, I wanted to give it a chance, and at first, my impressions were actually good. For the first week or so, I enjoyed it, ascribing its problems to adaptation errors.

The scroll ball (instead of a scroll wheel) was too tiny for my tastes, but I did like the fact that it can scroll omnidirectionally. But now the danged thing is dropping out, making it hard to scroll; when I scroll down, it usually goes but sometimes has no effect, before suddenly cutting in again, leading to over-scrolling. A few days ago, scrolling down didn’t even work at all, until I knocked the mouse against the desk, which brought it back–never a good sign.

And even without a mechanical malfunction, the improbability of scrolling exactly up or down leads to side-scrolling to the right, shifting the content on the left out of view. At the very least, the scroll ball takes getting used to.

But that’s the least of my dislikes. The all-in-one seamless surface leads to problems with clicking. Apple opted for rocking the body of the mouse to discern between left- and right-clicking. But all too often, this doesn’t work right. Maybe two or three times a day, a right-click registers as a left-click, and vice-versa. At first I though I was clicking wrong, but then I paid closer attention and realized that I was not, and sometimes I had to push on the far side of the mouse to get the correct click to register. Bad design. When I right-click a link to open a web page in a new tab, I don’t want to find that I’ve left-clicked and loaded the new page in the same window, or a new window, either of which would require backtrack and correction.

And the side buttons? A horrible idea. Apple placed a “third button” on both sides of the mouse; you press inward with your thumb on the left and another finger on the right to activate the button. You either have to use your weak ring finger to apply more force than it’s used to, or you have to reposition your hand to use your index finger, either way in a manner that is inconsistent with moving and manipulating the mouse as normal, making a click-and-drag a messy, uncomfortable, and haphazard affair.

I know that Steve Jobs has a psychological problem with a mouse which is not seamless and pretty, and demands that the Apple mouse be aesthetic in a certain way. And I like good style–except when it interferes with functionality. That should be the tipping point, but Jobs can’t handle that for some reason, and that’s what has led to Apple having crappy mice.

So when I go back to the U.S., I’m going to be looking for a new mouse, caring a lot less about how it looks than I do about how it works.

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  1. Paul
    November 20th, 2006 at 11:08 | #1

    It’s a little surprising to me how often people will ignore the things that make the biggest difference in how we use computers.

    The three main things we use are the physical items- the keyboard, the mouse, and the monitor.

    The CPU inside the box? Yes, we see the effects of the flaming-fast Core Duo versus the old 486, but in practical terms we don’t really deal with the CPU that often. We’ll sometimes obsess over spending another 50 or a hundred bucks on a fancy-gee-whiz CPU that’s got a tad more clock speed than the next price level down, but when it come to spending good money on the part of the computer we touch every time we use it, we sweat it over just a couple of dollars.

    Anyway, my input on a mouse is simple- Microsoft’s Intellimouse Optical USB. I love it so much I’m on my second one; the first one finally got too much gunk inside the scroll wheel and I had to pitch it.

    I use a wired version because… well, no reason, other than it works just fine for me. The optical part, of course, is a requirement these days. The scroll wheel works great. It’s got the side buttons placed just right (well, for my hands, anyway) to go forward or back when web browsing.

    It is, in short, a perfect mouse, IMO.

    Yes, I know it’s from the Evil Empire, but deal with it and take a look at it. :)

    Seattle, WA

  2. November 20th, 2006 at 11:28 | #2

    My url is here.

    Just a quick thought, have you changed your mouse pad? When I first got my wireless mouse (not a Mac one though, although my computer is) it was sticking and just not scrolling well. I noticed that on the bare table it worked much better. I picked up a very smooth mouse pad next time I was out and it worked much better.

    It won’t help the clicking problem, but might help the scrolling one…..

  3. Luis
    November 20th, 2006 at 11:37 | #3

    Helen: I think I know what you mean–the surface of the desk can interfere with an optical mouse’s ability to track correctly, but that is with the movement of the mouse itself, while the scroll wheel is independent of this, and only affects how the scroll bars in a window work. But thanks!

    BTW, you guys must have me on an RSS feed to get the articles and respond to them so quickly!

  4. November 21st, 2006 at 00:12 | #4

    I have the wired version of mighty mouse and haven’t had any of the problem you mention. In fact, I love it and it’s one of the best mice I’ve ever used. Must be because my hands are relatively small. The only thing is that sometimes the left/right clicks don’t work when my fingers are out of place.

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