on February 11, 2009
I'm a bit of a mouse enthusiast, so when Microsoft released the new Explorer and Explorer Mini mice, I had to try them.
To the point, Microsoft has a very, very solid mouse in the Explorer Mini. By far my most favorite feature is the solid feel and ergonomics of the mouse. I find it to be more accommodating to my right hand than the Logitech VX Nano Cordless Laser Mouse for Notebooks (Black), which is arguably the amongst the best mice in its class. Probably the most notable feature is the new BlueTrack technology that lets this mouse operate on a wide array of surfaces. I tried the mouse on a multitude of surfaces and it performed admirably on most surfaces.
As with most optical/laser mice, the BlueTrack Explorer Mini has problems with highly reflective surfaces, like polished wood, glass, and/or mirror surfaces. Since I never would work on such surfaces, this shortcoming is not too big a deal. However, if your desk is made of a reflective material and you do not plan to use a mouse pad, the Explorer Mini might not be the right mouse (no optical mouse would).
The mouse has the basic left and right click buttons that depress with a slightly shallow, yet satisfying "click". The scroll wheel is continuous (i.e. no bumping or ridges texture feels while scrolling) and silent in operation. The Explorer Mini has forward and back page buttons which just do not feel "right", there is not enough of a tactile feedback.
The wireless dongle is smaller than a typical USB drive, and feels like it is made of cheap plastic. I question the durability of the dongle for long term use. It can be stored under the mouse in a little grooved area. However when stowed in this fashion, the dongle sticks out from the flat mouse bototm.
All in all, as a direct competitor to the Logitech VX Nano, Microsoft has released a solid performing, and great feeling mouse. You really cannot go wrong with the Explorer Mini. Ultimately it's the feel of the mouse and its versatility on a wide array of surfaces that allows me to recommend it as a great all-purpose mouse.
+Quiet, continuous scroll wheel
+Satisfying feel of right and left mouse clicks
+Mouse feels solid
+BlueTrack Technology lets you track virtually on any non-reflective surface.
-Dongle has "plastic" feel and flimsy
-No accommodations for southpaws
-When dongle is in "storage mode" it sticks out from underneath the mouse
-The two thumb buttons don't feel right
*I haven't had the mouse long enough to make a judgment on battery life, but generally these kind of mice using (2.4 ghz frequency) last longer than blue-tooth based mice
*UPDATE* After about 5 months I'm still using the original battery. I am very confident that it would easily last many months more.
*Competitive prices with competing brands like Logitech's VX Nano (also a great mouse)
on January 11, 2009
I have a full drawer of mouses from both Microsoft and Logitech. The closest comparators should be Mobile 8000 by Microsoft and VX Nano by Logitech. Mobile 8000 was very expensive($99, but not anymore) because of its innovative magnetic charging along with 1GM FM. However, these features seems not so favorable and its battery life(2/3 days)is just too short even you can charge and use it simultaneously. So a lot more people use VX Nano, even it does not has forward and backward buttons(they are hard to reach on Mobile 8000 anyway) and designed for both hands, which means it is not ergonomic. This blue light mouse fixs all the problems.
1. Perfect shape(ergonomic) and size(similar to VX Nano).
2. Quite Long battery life(4+months)(Microsoft never exaggerate about battery life as I know). I hate rechargable because of power core/adapter, charge base, and additional wire. Once a battery lasts 4 months, who really care to replace it.
3. Somewhat better tracking than 8000 and VX nano even on normal surface. I dont move mouse on carpet anyway.
4. Whenever its receiver taken off the mouse from the bottom or waken from sleep, beautiful blue light around the mouse at base would be glowing. Well, it is nothing to do with functionality. But it is a nice touch. There is a button controlling it. I touch it sometime just for fun, even that will shorten battery life.
5. Backward and farward buttons are easy to reach because of longer and closer to your thumb than 8000(it is impossible to make it big for mini mouse). VX Nano does has any.
6. Buttons are very quiet when you click on them except the middle one. But that is very commn.
7. Personally I favor its smooth yet some resistant scrolling over logitech's very loosing wheel, which could cause opposite directional move at the end of scrolling
1. It is heavier and less balaned weight than 8000 because of AA instead of AAA.
2. The usb receiver could be a little bit shorter, like VX nano.
I don't think $50+ is pricey comparing VX Nano. Well, if you think so, just wait a while.
I double checked the VX Nano mouse. It has forward and backward buttons, but located at the left corner on the top, not the right side.
on March 6, 2009
I thought I'd never buy another Microsoft mouse and was with Logitech for life. Howevr, I've been getting annoyed recently with the tracking on the VX Revolution I have. When it's on a less than reliable surface, like the arm of a suede couch, it sticks too much for me to coninue using it. I saw something at a tech store about MS's new Bluetrack tech and since I had an Amazon gift card, decided to try it out.
So the main feature: the tracking. it tracks flawlessly on every surface I've tried so far: couch, carpet, canvas bookbag, denim jeans, even a glass end table. The VX will not track at all on the glass, does poor on the canvas, not too bad on the rest. I really am impressed.
I have large hands and love the feel of the VX vs most other notebook mice that are just too small. MS beefed up this design and while it's not spot on to the VX design, it's pretty darn close. If it were a little bit bigger I'd be set.
The look of the MS mouse is pretty sleek. It's more futuristic loking than the VX, which is more sleek and mechanical looking. The blue glow is also a neat touh as opposed to the red lasers out there. You don't see the blue except for when the mouse is off of a surface or when you first power the mouse up. Very neat look but isn't distracting either.
The only other gripe I have about the mouse is the scroll wheel. Maybe I'm used to the VX and it's super-free scroll wheel, but this one feels a bit stiff. It gets the job done and maybe I just need to break it in a bit or get used to it more. Really a very minor gripe.
I couldn't slam the mouse for minor size complaints (probably fine for most). If you need a new mouse, get this thing. You won't be disappointed.
on November 4, 2009
I really wanted to like this mouse since it has some great features, but there are some issues that are deal-breakers. Testing was done on Mac OSX 10.6:
* Quiet clicks - this is a very quiet mouse, the clicks are muted and elegant. It's leagues and miles quieter than any other logitech mouse.
* Ergonomically comfortable - the mouse feels comfortable, the buttons are well placed.
* Good build quality - Among other things I liked the metallic scroll wheel, it does feel solid.
* Short battery life
* There is a noticeable loss in tracking accuracy. I noticed this immediately coming from a wired mouse. For example when moving something around, the cursor would skip randomly. It may not immediately obvious but it's there.
* The scroll wheel feels very smooth to the touch, but it's rough on the screen. Scrolling slowly should appear smoothly on the screen but it doesn't. The scrolling feels blocky in motion (ie it scrolls in big steps). Furthermore I found the scrolling acceleration very uncomfortable. I tried lots of settings and I even installed 3rd party controllers but no luck.
* The middle button requires too much force to push, it's not comfortable for periodic use. The smooth scroll wheel also interferes since it slides too easily while trying to click. It's also the loudest click, by a 3x factor.
* Poor friction design: the bottom of the mouse has some rough edges which get "stuck" on a textile surface. So when I try dragging an icon with the mouse, this scratches the surface which feels very uncomfortable. This never happened before with several other MS and logitech mice I've used.
* The receiver is too big for regular use. Microsoft does make smaller receivers that can be left plugged in your laptop, why not include it with this mouse?
* To turn off the mouse one needs to plug-in the USB receiver below the mouse. This is inconvenient if one uses this mouse on a desktop machine, or if you don't move your laptop too often.
* Blue light around mouse shows up at startup but then turns off. The product photos are misleading, the mouse doesn't glow when in use.
* The scroll wheel's left and right button states can not be customized, they can only scroll left and right respectively. I wanted to configure "Back" and "Forward" which would have been great for using on a browser, but it's not possible on Microsoft's software.
Unfortunately the cons outweigh the pros, I can not recommend this mouse. I really liked the concept and it had huge potential at being a winner, but there are some major issues that need to be addressed.
While the Mini Mouse's transceiver is not as small as that found in Logitech's Nano, Microsoft's device is still a pretty good Laptop mouse to carry along and, as far as I can tell, it performs equally well at home, even as a desktop mouse, eliminating the need for the connecting wire. Its size and shape makes it perfect for smaller hands but, even though the long time user is going to be my 12 yr. old guy, I didn't experience any major discomfort while using it myself for the past couple of days.
Microsoft's claim that the Mini will work on almost any surface appear to be true. The mouse performed very well on a regular pad, on a polished wood desk, on granite and on the very dark titanium top of my laptop. Performance was acceptable on my jeans but, when lifted up in the air strange things may happen.
As I stated already, this mouse was named 'Mini' for a reason. It's not minuscule, like the little USB devices that are found in cheap 'laptop and travel' kits but it's significantly smaller than a 'full size' mouse: less than 4" in length, about 2.5" at its widest. The shape is nicely sculpted to allow for a comfortable grip with your thumb and and your middle finger.
Given that there are two extra buttons that are supposed to be operated with the thumb and to its overall asymmetric shape, this mouse is specifically designed for RIGHT-HAND use. I do not know if a left-handed version is available.
As far as buttons are concerned, besides the 2 expected right/left buttons, and the scroll wheel, you also get 2 additional buttons on the left side, operated with the thumb. By default, the button close to the tip of the mouse will magnify when pressed while the other button can be used to 'go back'. The scroll wheel will do the normal up/down scroll but it could also scroll left/right when nudged that way with your index finger and clicking on it can be configured to perform some other function - the default seems to invoke the 'flip 3D - switch between windows' function in Vista.
The top surface is mostly shiny plastic but the right side is a ruberrized texture for a better grip.
The transceiver and be snapped into the bottom of the mouse which will turn it off completely as opposed to it just 'sleeping' when not in use. For transportation or long-term storage a balck velvety 'pocket' comes with the mouse.
Finally, just for show and to impress those who may be watching, the mouse glows a bright blue from underneath for a fews seconds when picked up after a period of 'sleep'.
The Mini can be used 'as is' - plug the transceiver in an USB port and start using it - or it can be enhanced and customized with Microsoft's IntelliPoint app, used to configure nearly all of Microsoft's pointing devices as well as others - it recognized my ThinkPad's UltraNav TouchPoint device, for example.
Through IntelliPoint it's possible to customize each of the 4 buttons and the scroll wheel, pick your favorite pointers and the way they behave and so on. I will post a couple of IntelliPoint screenshots.
As I stated already, the mouse is ready to use even without software installation.
Once you insert the AA battery (provided) and plug the transceiver into a USB port, you are in business. Software installation off the provided CD is a matter of additional minutes.
As far as I can tell, there's no way to check the battery status and the only way to actually turn the mouse off is by snapping in the transceiver - there is no on/off button or switch. The mouse appears to be going to sleep if not used for a minute or so and it will wake up quickly when moved. There are no statements on expected battery life but, given that all you need is a cheap AA, this is not a major concern.
It's probably worth noting that the transceiver operates at 2.4 GHz. I didn't notice any interference with anything around.
Microsoft claims that the Mini should work on computers running Microsoft Vista/XP or Mac OS X v 10.2x-10.5x. I only tested it on XP and Vista.
Be very careful when taking the mouse out of its package because you may get a plastic cut which is not unlike a paper cut. Unless my copy was atypical, this is one example of bad, careless and frustrating, bordering to unacceptable. Besides the sharp plastic edges that had to be dealt with, the thin multi-language manual looked already 'used' and - I couldn't believe it - the software CD was there 'naked', unprotected and already scratched with little bits of the carton electro-statically attached to the surface. I don't know who does quality control for this product but, hopefully, mine was only one bad example, not the norm.
I am very pleased with this mouse operation and I would have kept it if my hands were smaller. Any right-handed person who doesn't have big hands should find the Mini a good choice for a wireless mouse. This would have been a 5-stars but I will take away one for the packaging which bordered on unacceptable. I simply couldn't imagine that MICROSOFT, a SOFTWARE company would agree to have a CD holding Microsoft's own software thrown into the box, vulnerable to dirt and scratches.
on February 2, 2009
I've had this mouse for the better part of a month, and I'm very happy with it.
It's on the same Eneloop battery I started with, and going strong.
The mouse is a weird size in my opinion - a tad big to really be a the ideal notebook mouse, but not as big and comfy as the Explorer sans mini. That said, the extra bulk in my bag doesn't bother me when I pack it with my 15" laptop. With a netbook I prefer the little Dell bluetooth mice.
Button placement is fine. The fwd/back buttons stay out of the way, but are pretty easy to reach if needed. The scroll wheel's a little on the squirrelly side, but it get's the job done. I actually prefer the horizontal toggle to the trackball I have on my mighty mouse.
The optical tracking is better than any I've used, and is spectacular if you're stuck sitting on the floor.
I was surprised that I actually ended up using the pouch. It's a nice neoprene case with a magnetic closure. I usually don't like the added bulk, and as the usb nub fits in the base of the mouse it seemed completely superfluous, but for some reason my bag feels more organized with the pouch, and it makes the mouse easier to find by touch.
I would prefer that the mouse were more compact. A smaller mouse would have been well worth the portability, but otherwise I can't think of anything to keep me from recommending this mouse.
on June 16, 2016
This mouse is small and designed to be used with a laptop, BUT I am actually using it with my desktop and I LOVE it !
I have big hands too but I noticed with all the previous bulky desktop mouse I used before that they make my wrist tired/sore after a while, because I wasn't only sliding my mouse all over the pad, but also frequently lifting it to re position it all the time. So the weight was a factor for me. This small and not so heavy mouse work awesomely on that side. No more wrist pain!! :D
The GOOD point:
- Mouse feels solid and has a perfect ergonomic shape and size, even for a big hand.
- Backward and forward buttons are fully programmable (also with macro) and easy to reach because of longer and closer to your thumb than with most other mouse.
- Buttons are very quiet when you click on them except the middle one, where you have to press with some more force to trigger an action (double click in my case).
- Whenever its receiver taken off the mouse from the bottom or waken from sleep, a beautiful blue light around the mouse at base would be glowing for a few seconds. It is nothing to do with functionality, but it is a nice touch.
- Quiet, continuous scroll wheel that feels really smooth and do not makes clicks sounds at all, like most of other mouse I have tried.
- Using this mouse since more than 3 years now and all button are still quiet and still works like a charm.
- Windows 10 100% compatible! Matter of fact I don't even think you need this mouse's drivers when used with Win10.
Only negative sides of it noticeable so far:
- Yes the battery tend to not last too long (around a month), especially if you use this mouse intensively every day like I do. However, using those lithium AA batteries (available on Amazon) the mouse has amazing battery life again (increasing by one or two more month under intensive use).
- The silver painted surface on plastic body gets erased with time and movement of fingers over it (I use this mouse since more than 3 years now). This only happens on the side of the mouse's body and not the button themselves though, which are still silver even after +3 years of use and probably million click.
- This mouse isn't produced any more so its price went up dramatically now. Quite a shame since I really wanted to buy a new same one, once mine will finally give up (it still works fine after 3 years, but since it's a awesome product I just wanted to stick to it for now).
on February 25, 2009
I was wandering around the local electronics story looking at all the new gadgets when I discovered this mouse. I was surprised to see that this blue track technology worked on carpeting, granite, rough surfaces, and shiny surfaces. I tried out how it felt to my hand. It was great, just the kind of mouse I need. My old laptop mouse is an old Microsoft mouse and was ok. I use my laptop on the couch and use the arm rest as my mousing surface. After long periods of surfing my hand would be very sore from the old mouse, it was just a tad too small. This new mouse is excellent. Fits my hand perfectly, it runs on my couch's armrest with no problem, the snap in receiver is shorter than my old mouse. And this mouse came with a mouse house! Nothing fancy, but a nice little pouch to store your new mouse and keep it shinny and new. I can't give this mouse enough stars. I like it so much I'm seriously considering getting the larger mouse (desktop size) for my work computer.
on May 5, 2014
I love this mouse. It works on practically every surface and has a very quick response. I hesitate to give it 5 stars only because it drains the AA battery too quickly. Unlike my previous mouse that requires battery change very infrequently, this mouse requires battery change practically every month or two. And there is no off switch to conserve battery power. You literally have to take out the battery when you are not using it to save power. Otherwise, works very nice.
on July 1, 2013
These mice are so amazing!!! I only have a few cons about it.
- They don't last very long, I have had THREE of these die on me, and im on my FOURTH right now.
- The Dongle needs to be smaller, I know there older dongles, but really that big?
- The battery life is about 1-2 months, if you constantly turn on and off your mouse to show off that AWESOME Blue underglow. :)
- Microsoft WILL GIVE YOU A REFUND (within 1yr of the defect), Thats why I keep buying them :)
- THE BLUE UNDERGLOW!!!!!
- Very quiet buttons.
- Tilt scroll and side buttons are great.
- Good fit in the hand, and I got George Forman Hands.