Gadgets

Published: July 27th, 2004

I’VE SACRIFICED MY DESKTOP PC in the home office on the altar of cable management. There were just too many damned wires attached to the damned thing. A cordless mouse and keyboard probably wouldn’t have made a significant difference, but every little bit helps, right?

Enter Microsoft’s Wireless

Intellimouse Explorer, a cordless, optical mouse that runs off the USB port of your laptop or desktop. As tested, the right-handed model has a nice ergonomic fit (there’s also a symmetrical, preference-agnostic model) and a “”tilt-wheel”” — a scrolling device that incorporated both up-down and left-right screen scrolling.

It’s remarkably intuitive and very effective for spreadsheet jockeys — when it actually works. Not all applications benefit from the tilt-wheel action: If you have the temerity to run StarOffice, for example, it won’t scroll left and right. Even the IE browser I use — customized by the ISP, bien sur — didn’t support the left-right action.

That’s more than just a quibble. And quibbles there are. The wireless receiver plugs into the USB port through a three-foot cable, and is about the size of a cell phone charger — a bud that plugs into the USB port, a là Logitech’s mini-receiver, would be more in order. There’s no on-off switch for the battery-powered mouse, though Microsoft says it shuts itself down to preserve battery life. And the street price of about $80 is a bit much when there are perfectly serviceable wireless keyboard-mouse combos for less.

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