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Product Review: Apple Mighty Mouse

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Apple finally released a… another one button mouse? Yes, in August 2005 Apple introduced the Mighty Mouse — “amazing powers at your fingertips.” They even licensed the name from Viacom.

This summer we got new Intel-based iMacs at work, each with a Mighty Mouse. I was so delighted to see one “in the flesh” and put it to good use. Having a two button mouse from Apple is something that is a long time in the making.

I get a lot of work done with Apple computers and products, but the only thing mighty about this Mighty Mouse is the mighty crappy execution. The touch-sensitive buttons do not work reliably.

But before I get into what is wrong with this mouse, lets take a look at what Apple got right: at least it isn’t a hockey puck.

For years, Apple has not added a second mouse button in fear that their users would be confused. I myself have never understood this, and always go with a third-party solution from the likes of Kensington, Logitech, or Microsoft.

In their infinite wisdom, Apple decided to put no divider indent between the left and right sensor area of the mouse. Now if that is not confusing, I do not know what is. Yes, that is right, this mouse does not have buttons, it has sensors.

I have gotten over the touch-sensitive mousing, but with no divider indent on the mouse face, I never know if I will get a left or a right click. What makes this worse is the erratically sensitive touch sensors.

Sometimes when I try to perform a right-click, I get a left-click. The reverse, unfortunately, comes with exactly the same result.

This happens all to often to be construed as user error. I work in a fairly fast paced production environment — a daily newspaper — and this mouse is not suitable for my daily life of InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator.

I found out from a friend that to accurately get a right-click, you must take your finger off of the left-click sensor. I find this to be true, but even after discovering this all-but Apple trade secret, my general level of frustration while using this product has not gone down one bit.

It is also too much to ask to re-learn how to use a mouse. No one lifts their left finger off of the mouse to perform a right-click. Apple should have thought of this when designing this very “touchy” input device.

All I wanted was a multi-button mouse from Apple — one with actual buttons. Give me at least two buttons and a scroll wheel. Make it the same size/shape as the Pro Mouse, and be done with it. Why get all fancy?

The Mighty Mouse has nice features no doubt. The side “squeeze” buttons are a nice touch, but nothing revolutionary. These work about as well as trying to use the right-click sometimes, however.

These side buttons would have worked out better had they been touch-sensitive, ironically. Instead they are force sensitive, and it just takes too much of a squeeze for it to register.

The 360-degree scroll “nub” is the best part of the mouse. Being able to scroll left and right is an enormous boost to productivity. Being able to lock movement to the four cardinal directions would have been a nice check box in the preferences. You also gain the fourth button press on the Mighty Mouse by pressing the “nub” down.

I am getting used to the scroll “nub” though, it is my favorite aspect of the Mighty Mouse.

The software works great. You can plug the Mighty Mouse into any Mac (if you are running at least 10.4.2) and it is recognized, the buttons instantly customizable. It works in Windows 2000 and XP, though It does not ship with software. You would have to use the standard input driver in Windows to configure the Mighty Mouse.

The price is a little high, but this is an Apple product, so that is to be expected. The wired Mighty Mouse costs $49.99, and the new wireless model is $69.99. To be fair, the wireless (Bluetooth) Mighty Mouse uses laser tracking, which is a nice improvement over the first model.

You will find much better mice from Kensington, Logitech or Microsoft. All of which will cost less, and outperform the Mighty Mouse. White acrylic aesthetics are not worth $50 to $70, especially when you factor in the loss in productivity because of the off-the-mark button pressing.

Every aspect of the Mighty Mouse is rock solid, all except for the one thing that matters most. I need to be able to feel with my fingers where the right button is. And when I click on what I think to be the right side of the mouse, (even when I look at the darn thing) and still get a left-click, that is one of the most frustrating experiences in a fast-paced, deadline sensitive, environment.

Needless to say, I am back to using the $10 no name two-button mouse at work, and back to right clicking without the frustration.

I have used Apple products for over 20 years, and I have never seen something this useless come out of Cupertino. Sorry, Apple, but I have gained no amazing powers from your Mighty Mouse.

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About Ken Edwards

  • http://bryanmckay.com/blog Bryan

    I’ve been using mine for several months (since it was first released) and haven’t had a single problem like the one you described.

  • http://spatulaforum.blogspot.com/ Nik

    I agree totally, these new mouses are terrible. They put one on my computer at work and after one day I told them to give me back my old mouse.