New Mouse in the House!

slimouseFeeling better, I decided this weekend to go shopping. For me, that means electronics stores. At the local Circuit City, I bought the Kensington SlimBlade Presenter Mouse. I became aware of it from this jkOnTheRun post. There James Kendrick, who I regard as a guru in all things mobile, said it best:

“The ThinkOutside Bluetooth Travel Mouse has been a good workhorse for me but more and more recently I have been thinking of replacing it.  While it’s nice to have a wireless Bluetooth mouse since I use so many different mobile devices it’s quite a pain to have to re-pair the mouse all the time when I switch gadgets.  It slows me down to be sure.  I also have been thinking that it would be good to have a mouse that was thinner since I use so many thin gadget bags with narrow pockets and the ThinkOutside, while small, is too thick to fit in a lot of these pockets.”

The SlimBlade Presenter mouse is not a Bluetooth mouse. Instead, it uses a small USB wireless dongle shown in the picture. One problem I have had with USB wireless dongles is they are very easy to lose. However, this wireless dongle can be stored inside the mouse when the mouse is in your gadget bag rather than being used with a computer.

Another problem I’ve had with both wireless and Bluetooth mice is battery life. I carry batteries with me, but by the time I use them, sometimes they’re out of juice. But Kensington quotes a 6 month battery life. Kensington also has built in a couple of battery saving features. First is auto sleep; when your computer goes to sleep, so does your mouse. Also, storing the dongle inside the mouse for transport automatically turns off the mouse, further saving battery life. But of course, batteries do run low eventually. The mouse has a battery indicator which turns red when that happens.

The mouse is easy to set up. I plugged in the dongle and the mouse was instantly recognized. The mouse seems very responsive so far. The scroll wheel enables vertical scrolling, and tilting the scroll wheel left or right enables horizontal scrolling.

But what about the word “Presenter” in the mouse’s name? Pressing a button toggles the mouse between mouse mode and presentation mode. There is a backlight that cues you that you are in presentation mode. In that mode, the scroll wheel enables you to go forwards and backwards, such as in a PowerPoint slide presentation. I tried it and it worked great. This is a very useful feature since while presenting (or in my case teaching) I don’t have to lean over the laptop and find the appropriate key to press. Tilting the scroll wheel apparently has no functionality in presentation mode. 

The mouse comes with drivers which apparently are necessary for the tilt wheel functionality, and perhaps also the presentation mode; the documentation isn’t very clear on this. I installed the software with no issues.

According to Kensington, the mouse and its software will work on XP, Vista and Mac OS X (10.2.8 and up). So for those of you who own both Windows and Mac laptops, you can easily use this mouse with both.

With these features, this mouse is relatively expensive, for a mouse that is. I paid $49.99, but if you look around, you probably can get it for about $10 less.

Criticisms? The software doesn’t appear to have an update feature, and also doesn’t appear to be available on Kensington’s website. Additionally, the manual is sparse, and the online help seemingly non-existent. Then again, there probably isn’t a lot of need for help; this device is pretty simple to use. But these criticisms are relatively minor. At least so far, I really like this mouse!

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