It's hardly a radical idea, but you wonder why no one thought of it before. Microsoft, like its rival Logitech, makes numerous mice designed for use with notebook PCs -- scaled-down devices that don't take much space in a traveler's briefcase, usually with a niche or cubbyhole on the underside to hold the cordless mouse's USB receiver so the latter is less likely to get lost in said briefcase.
However, according to Microsoft, more than a third of consumers prefer to buy full-sized desktop mice to use with their laptops, to avoid having to adjust from a hand rest to a fingertip grip when leaving the office or home. Presto, the Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 -- a full-sized, $50 mouse with a USB adapter that snaps into a bottom slot just like its miniature siblings.
To forestall any confusion among mouse model memorizers, we should note that the new mouse takes the name of the model it replaces in Microsoft's crowded lineup, the Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 we reviewed in October 2005.
The label on the mouse's bottom adds a v2.0 suffix, but it's safe to assume nobody will experience déjà vu upon seeing the 6000 in a store. On the other hand, at least on the first batch of boxes including our tester's, they'll spot a proofreading problem in the label "Desktop comfort. Moble design."
|The Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 2.0|
A Slippery Slope
Measuring a conventional 2.8 by 4.9 inches, the 6000 follows recent Redmond rodents in offering a right-hand-only ergonomic design that slopes downward from left to right as you look at the mouse from behind, so your index finger is at the summit and your pinky fingertip brushes your mouse pad or desk or airline tray table.
There's a trough or scoop on the right that feels like it's supposed to support your ring finger, though it's too shallow to hold the latter in place; it's all too easy to let that fingertip slip downward so that it, too, brushes the desktop. On the other hand, or rather the other side, there's a roomy, concave rubberized grip for your thumb.
Apart from the ring-finger quibble, we found the mouse perfectly comfortable even through long days of working overtime. Sliver-sized Forward and Back buttons (more like one long button bisected; programmable for other functions via Microsoft's software driver) ride just above your thumb atop the mouse's left edge.
As with most side-mounted Forward and Back duos we try, clicking Forward involves a much more natural flick of the thumb than the tiny but awkward up-and-back motion required to get your thumb on the Back button. In fact, when we flexed our thumb, it often hit the strip dead center and pressed both buttons, so we assigned Back to both buttons in our browser.
The 6000's scroll wheel has a smooth, seamless feel that will disappoint users accustomed to slight clicks during scrolling, but with a little practice we were zooming up and down through our e-mail inbox with no under- or overshooting a target.
The wheel also tilts left and right for horizontal scrolling through spreadsheets or zoom views of images or Web pages, though (as we've grumbled in many another review) Microsoft's driver doesn't let you reprogram left and right tilts to other functions as Logitech's does. The latter's quick sideways flicks remain our favorite Back and Forward.