Review: Magic Mouse

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Short version: The Magic Mouse is everything that anti-Macists hate about Apple: It’s twee, too smart for its own good, and initially unusable to the uninitiated. Sadly, even Mac fanbois will feel the same way.


Not so Magic
I gave the Magic Mouse a fair shake. Heck, I even gave the Mighty Mouse a fair shake. And, like its older brother, the Magic Mouse promises you the world but falls far short, creating a strange vortex of suck that will frustrate and deter the average user.

First, a note on my current mousing habits. I’ve used a Logitech MX Revolution for about six months now and I’m hooked on its dual scroll wheels and various buttons. I am, obviously, not Steve’s target market. However, I’m happy to try any mouse for a few days and I often find that my hand and work-style changes to match the idiosyncrasies of the pointing device in question. I’m sure if you gave me a mouse shaped like a carrot (or just a carrot) I could get used to mousing on it. Sadly, if you give me a mouse the shape of an orthopedic shoe insert, I’m going to have a little trouble.

The mouse’s much vaunted multi-touch surface is a gimmick. At best you can do a two-finger swipe left or right to scroll through files and pictures or change from browser tab to browser tab. One finger, wheel-less scrolling is odd in that it adds momentum (you can turn it off) that will spin you past your desired point with an errant flick of your finger. There is no pinch or twist and you’d have to do something like a Vulcan salute to do a pinch or spread on this thing anyway since your thumb and ring finger always have to be clutching the mouse.

This brings us to the second point: you can never let go of this thing. The mouse resolution is very low so you have to pick it up often to get across a large screen (I have two screens, so it takes about three lift and moves to get the mouse over to the other screen). And you’re supposed to hold it with the afore-mention crab-grab with your thumb and ring finger and perhaps the pinkie. The mouse is too small for my man-hands to grab and cover so there’s always a bit of space between the surface of the mouse and the palm.

This all adds up to a frustrating departure from standard mousing procedure. While I’m sure some of you consider this the Delicious Mouse of Happiness, I just can’t wrap my head around this odd device.

Insult to Injury
Best of all, even if you install a fresh copy of Snow Leopard you can’t use this mouse without installing a specific mouse update. This isn’t explained at first so you flail at the mouse like a penitent until the update comes down the pipe. This is explained in the tiny, tiny twee little manual.

Bottom Line
I’m down with trying new things. I just ate ossobuco for the first time recently and that has marrow in it. However, as Sascha Segan pointed out, Apple seems to focus all their negative energy on making the worst mice known on the planet and then using delightful adjectives like “Mighty” and “Magic” that slowly become ironic.

If you do any serious mousing at all, avoid the Magic Mouse.

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