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The two-tone gray optical mouse in the Microsoft Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer with Fingerprint Reader set is incredibly comfortable and features Microsoft's tilt-wheel technology, which lets you scroll horizontally as well as vertically. The fingerprint reader/wireless receiver that's included is small, about the size of the mouse, and plugs into any USB port. Available on the Internet for around $70, this set is definitely worth the investment--but only if you're an IE devotee.
Once the software is installed, it's easy to get the fingerprint reader dialed in to you alone: you just log in to Windows, then touch the fingerprint sensor to register your prints. Microsoft recommends registering two fingerprints, and you can choose which fingers. After finger registration, pop-up menus instruct you to go to any Web site or program that is password-protected, then touch the fingerprint sensor with a registered finger to get the Create Fingerprint Logon prompt.
We first tried this using Internet Explorer on Hotmail.com. At the Hotmail login page, we touched the fingerprint sensor, and a window popped up. We entered a username and a password and, after clicking OK, we were prompted to touch the fingerprint sensor again and--wow--access to Hotmail. Easy as pie. However, when we tried the exact same thing with Mozilla Firefox, we weren't so lucky. We would get the fingerprint logon prompt, fill in the required password information, hit OK, and...nothing. After 10 or so attempts at logging in to different sites, we gave up. This won't be a problem for IE users, but converts to Firefox and users of Netscape will be out of luck. Microsoft has no plans at this time to support other browsers. Another minor annoyance is the ever-present light on the fingerprint reader. We found it slightly distracting whenever it was in our eyeshot. Buyers should also note Microsoft's security disclaimers, which explain that the device is for convenience, not security. The disclaimers recommend that the fingerprint reader not be used to protect sensitive information.
As for the mouse half of this duo, it is flawless. You can use the wireless mouse immediately after the fingerprint reader/receiver is installed, but to get the full benefits from this five-button mouse, you need to install the software. Doing this takes mere seconds and enables the tilt-wheel scrolling feature. The software is very intuitive and allows you to customize the buttons with a variety of commands, including back and forward on the Internet (these work with browsers other than IE).
For right-handers, the mouse is ergonomic and supremely comfortable. The plastic sides are soft and provide a smooth and comfortable resting place for the thumb and the last two fingers. Two thumb buttons are in an ideal spot; they're comfortable to click, but they're not so "convenient" that you'll hit them by accident. Adding even more comfort is the tilt/scrollwheel. It's coated in rubber, making it comfortable to grip and to move, and the wheel doesn't click or make other sounds when you roll it. The smooth-action roll does take some getting used to, and gamers or others who like to feel the wheel click may mourn the loss of the tactile scroll, but we liked the smooth action for everyday use.