Apple Magic Mouse review: Apple Magic Mouse

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.

The Magic Mouse incorporates a standard laser sensor that can track on nearly every surface. We say nearly because it's impossible for such devices to work properly on cloth and shiny surfaces such as glass, mirrors, marble countertops, and high varnish wood. Logitech recently introduced a new kind of glass-tracking technology called Darkfield that lets its mice maintain a reliable signal on fully transparent glass, carpet, pant legs, and so on. The feature is not as big of a deal as Logitech and Microsoft would like you to think (Microsoft reports that only 7 percent of mouse users were interested in tracking on glass), but we're disappointed that Apple is still clinging to older laser technology.

Features
Multitouch gestures set the Magic Mouse apart from the competition. The multitouch user area is spread across the entire surface of the mouse, so you can swipe your finger anywhere and expect the same results. Aside from the two main buttons up top, you can also use a single finger to scroll 360 degrees anywhere around a Web page, photo, or document. Swiping two fingers horizontally across the top surface lets you quickly navigate forward and back on the Web or while in video playback. Unfortunately, you can't pinch your media as you can on an iPhone, but you do get a basic zoom feature by holding down the Control key on the keyboard while scrolling up and down the shell with one finger. You can also achieve this function with a keyboard on any Mac by toggling the "Universal Access" setting in Preferences. Finally, Apple's momentum feature senses the speed of your drag and adjusts the corresponding action intuitively.

Our take on the Magic Mouse's multitouch functionality is bittersweet. We like that vertical scrolling on the mouse acts almost exactly like a scroll wheel, except for the obvious fact that you don't get the precision of notched scrolling. Regardless, a simple flick of a finger can send the scroll bar flying down a page and it's easy to stop by simply tapping once again. The capability to pan 360 degrees is also incredibly useful and the most similar to using an actual touch pad, but our main issue lies with the two-finger swipes.

Up until this review, we simply used the forward and back buttons on the side of our Logitech mouse, but navigating through Web sites using the Magic Mouse is considerably more awkward, especially if you use your index and middle fingers as advised by Apple. Additionally, if you don't have a uniform grip on the sides of the mouse with your thumb, ring, and pinky fingers, the shell can easily get away from your hand--this is why a touch surface with no hard buttons just doesn't make sense on a mouse.

Our last complaint with the Magic Mouse is that the software doesn't let you reassign the actions of your finger swipes. In other words, you can't tell the mouse to open a program or stop playback by swiping two fingers across the surface. The custom preferences for the Magic Mouse includes check boxes to turn off the secondary click, momentum scrolling, and screen zoom, as well as options to alter tracking, scrolling, and double-click speed, but it doesn't make sense to trade in our Logitech MX 1100 with nine customizable buttons, a ratcheted/free spinning scroll wheel, and an advanced sensor for an Apple-branded accessory with none of the same features.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Type Apple Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later
  • Type Mouse
  • Wireless Technology Bluetooth
  • OS Required Apple MacOS X 10.5.8 or later
  • Form Factor External
  • Type mouse
  • Movement Detection Technology laser
  • Connectivity Technology wireless
  • Form Factor AA type
  • Compatibility Mac
About The Author

Justin Yu covers headphones and peripherals for CNET. When he's not wading through Web gulch or challenging colleagues to typing tests, you can find him making fun of technology with Jeff Bakalar every afternoon on The 404 show.