Mini-mouse eases notebook navigation

What's your favorite notebook navigation device? Is it a touchpad, track point or track ball? For those of you answering "none of the above," read on.

Atek Electronics Inc. recently introduced a mini-mouse that works with any PC-compatible notebook. And we do mean mini — this mouse is only 1 inch wide and 2.5 inches long. It's called the Super Mini Optical Mouse.

The mouse is small enough to use on the wrist rest area of the notebook, an advantage when in crowded airplanes or when the notebook is on your lap while in a taxi, train or airport lounge.

And when you do have a flat surface to use, there is no need for a mouse pad or nonslick surface because the mouse is optical. It works on nearly any reasonably flat surface except glass, mirrors and surfaces with certain types of complex color or graphic patterns. It even works on blue jeans.

The optical technology records about 1,500 motions per second, resulting in extremely smooth operation (no cursor skipping!). Because it has no moving parts like typical roller-ball mice, it's maintenance-free. If dust or dirt becomes lodged on the optical sensor, it can be blown away or wiped off with a soft cloth.

The size also offers mobility, of course. It weighs practically nothing and can fit in a small corner of an overstuffed notebook carrying case. The mouse features the standard two-button design most people are used to.

Conveniently, the Super Mini Optical Mouse requires no special drivers or software when used with a PC-based system. It uses standard Microsoft Corp. Windows mouse drivers, so you can just plug it into your notebook and start using it.

Using the mouse takes some getting used to because of the small size. Obviously, you can't rest your entire hand on it as you would a traditional mouse; instead, it just takes a few fingers to operate. Since the mouse operation is so smooth, it requires only a light touch to maneuver. After only a few minutes, we were comfortable with the feel of the device.

This mouse is not for everyone, though. People who don't mind touchpads and track points will find it superfluous and difficult to use. But the purpose of this mouse is not to replace a regular mouse; it's for people who find traditional notebook navigation cumbersome, difficult or even painful, as some track points can be after prolonged use.

A handful of testers tried the mouse in the FCW Test Center, and those who disliked track points and touchpads universally loved it. Negative reactions to the device were inversely proportional to people's comfort with the traditional notebook navigation tools.

The convenience of the Super Mini Optical Mouse comes at a cost, though. The mouse is available through GTSI Corp. for as low as $50 (the price varies by reseller), which seems high con.sidering that a standard-size two-button optical mouse typically costs around $20.



* USB version: Windows 2000, XP, Me, 98; Mac OS 8.6 or higher

* PS/2 version: Windows 2000, XP, Me, NT 4.0, 95/98


2.5 inches long and 1 inch wide


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