Apple makes a lot of great products. In fact, I’d say that the percentage of products it makes that are great is higher than that of just about any other large company. But one product it makes is absolutely awful: The Mighty Mouse.
My first encounter with one was a couple years ago when I bought an iMac and the Mighty Mouse came with it. I used it for several months before I became fed up with it and ditched it in favor of — yes — a Microsoft mouse. But I recently bought another Apple computer and got another Mighty Mouse with it. This time, I opted for the wireless Bluetooth version thinking it might be better than the wired one. Wrong. If anything, it’s worse.
Let’s go over the problems. First of all, the thing is shaped quite oddly. While it looks nice and can work for both left and right-handed users, people don’t have hands shaped like pebbles. There are a lot of natural contours on the insider of the hand, and the Mighty Mouse neglects them for a stylish look.
Second, the side buttons that you are supposed to squeeze to activate are almost non-functional. The problem is that it takes entirely too much pressure to click them. As a result, every time I click the side buttons I hear the Mighty Mouse’s plastic creak under how much pressure I’m applying — but I have no choice. In all the combined months that I’ve used the Mighty Mouse, I can probably count the number of times that I’ve actually used these side buttons because of this.
The third problem pertains directly to the wireless Bluetooth edition of the Mighty Mouse. Not only does it eat through AA batteries like no other, it simply loses the connection with my machine for no apparent reason every so often. You might not think it’s a huge deal — but just imagine being in the middle of doing something important and having absolutely no mouse support. I’ve had to learn some keyboard shortcuts just because of that. And I’ve tried it on multiple machines — same result.
Fourth, the all-white mouse gets dirty as hell. Granted, I’m a heavy computer user, but there is no reason why a mouse should be covered in grime every other day, to the point where I have to clean it. Yes, I shower, and yes I wash my hands. The thing just picks up a crazy amount of dirt, both on its bottom and on its top. And that directly relates the the device’s biggest problem.
By far the worst part about the Mighty Mouse is its top track ball. While it’s nice that the thing can move in any direction, because of that, the ball accumulates much more dirt than regular mouse scroll wheels. And once it gets clogged up enough (which you can’t see mind you because it’s all inside), it is completely unusable. The ball still moves, but nothing happens on screen. If you own a Mighty Mouse long enough, you’re going to run into this problem. Any web search or Twitter search will reveal thousands of users with the same issue.
Apple indicates the solution is easy: Take a clean cloth doused in water and hold the Mighty Mouse upside down and “vigorously” rub the ball. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesnt. But because you have to unplug or unpair the mouse to clean it, you often are stuck in a back and forth cycle of unhooking and hooking back up to clean the thing and see if it works. And even when it does work, you’re just going to have to do the same thing again in a week or two. It’s frustrating beyond belief.
And I think Apple knows the device isn’t very good. It’s been filing patents for a while now for a new type of mouse that incorporates multi-touch elements on its surface. That’s exactly what it needs, because this track ball on the top just isn’t cutting it. It’s odd that all mice in the 1990s had trackballs on the bottom, but everyone moved away from that because they would get so dirty, so quickly. But for some reason, Apple decided it would be a good idea to put the exact same type of ball on the top of the mouse.
Apple has an odd history with the mouse. Apple’s first Macintosh computer in 1984 really brought the device into the forefront as an input standard for personal computers. But as designs shifted to two-button mice, Apple for a long time refused to move beyond the one-button variety much to the dismay of its users. Finally, it relented with the Mighty Mouse — sort of — by giving users the second button functionality on a mouse that was still only one button. At least that part works fine.
I’m anxiously awaiting the future where everything is touchscreen and we don’t have to deal with mice or physical keyboards anymore. But until that day comes, the least Apple — a company which prides itself in the quality of its products — can do is give us a decent mouse with its computers. Or at least don’t patronize us by calling this mouse “mighty.”