Apple Magic Mouse review: Apple Magic Mouse

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3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

2.5 stars 7 user reviews

The Good Sexy design; vertical scrolling works like a physical scroll wheel; pairs easily with Mac computers; ambidextrous.

The Bad Awkwardly narrow profile; doesn't work with Windows PCs; laser sensor not as advanced as Darkfield and BlueTrack competition; horizontal swipes don't feel as natural as thumb buttons; can't customize swiping functions; no pinching.

The Bottom Line Apple's new wireless Magic Mouse gets a sleek makeover and even has multitouch controls, but it's better as a portable laptop companion rather than a full-size desktop accessory. The swiping gestures add interactivity to Web browsing and media, but the awkwardly narrow single button design leaves us reaching for better mice from Logitech and others.

6.7 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 6.0

Apple's latest pointer, the Magic Mouse, is included with its new iMac desktops, but you can purchase it separately for $69. Just don't confuse it with the Mighty Mouse, because although they're the same price, the differences end there. The Magic Mouse gets an aerodynamic face-lift and also supports application-sensitive touch gestures. New users should expect to spend awhile adjusting to the narrow shape and "buttonless" design. We suspect that many Mac users will hail the Magic Mouse and its multitouch functionality as the first in the next generation of input devices, but we still prefer the Logitech MX 1100 that gives you a more comfortable, sculpted shape, more customizable buttons, a combination scroll wheel, and a more versatile sensor for only $10 more.

Design
In terms of simple aesthetics, Apple has again succeeded in producing a beautifully designed product that still retains the classic Apple stamp and silhouette. The exact dimensions aren't on Apple's Web site, but we measured it at 4.5 inches long by 2.3 inches wide by 0.5 inch tall. Compared with the Mighty Mouse's oval shape, the rectangular Magic Mouse is definitely smaller, overall, except for its weight, which gains a few ounces because of the two AA alkaline batteries that power it. The design initially brought images of Microsoft's Arc Mouse to mind, although Apple's flatter design almost makes the mouse appear to sit flush with the top of your desk.

The clicker itself is ostensibly buttonless with a smooth, white top shell that blends naturally into the silver undercarriage. The only visible mark is a near subliminal gray Apple logo that sits at the bottom of the mouse to quietly send wonderful Apples flying through your dreams at night. Underneath, the mouse is almost as bare, except for a latch that spans the length of the undercarriage that covers the batteries. There's also a power switch to shut off the mouse as well as an indicator light, and it even goes into battery conservation mode while not in use for an extended period.

We've only set aside our older Logitech and played around with the Magic Mouse for a day now, but we're already suffering from separation anxiety. As was the case with Apple's previous mice, the Magic Mouse feels as if it's carved out of a lump of aluminum. While that does wonders for its looks, its comfort and usability also suffers.

The Magic Mouse's slim profile is just too close to the table to use efficiently and we found ourselves struggling around the narrow form to find a comfortable position for our fingers. Granted, its uniform shape easily accommodates both left- and right-handed users, but the average mouse jockey will certainly find the lack of ergonomics disappointing and maybe even painful after eight hours of work. The lack of two physical buttons is irritating, as usual with Apple mice, but you can go through the preferences to enable the right button and swap the left and right buttons.

The Magic Mouse connects to computers via Bluetooth, but it only works with Apple computers running Mac OS X version 10.5.8 or later and you must install the Wireless Mouse Software update 1.0 that comes included with OS X version 10.6.2. We tried to pair it with a Windows PC and it didn't recognize the mouse. That said, the process to connect it to a Mac is almost hands-free; our new 27-inch iMac automatically discovered the mouse, displayed a small icon, and we were ready to go.

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