The Kensington PocketMouse Convertible Mini Wireless, available on the Internet for around $40 (as of February 2005), isn't the first mouse to attempt to transform a small travel mouse into a full-size mouse, but it is the first we've seen to actually achieve a comfortable form. The appropriately named PocketMouse Convertible uses a separate snap-on shell to expand its size, but using a small mouse in a big body does take some getting used to.
To make this device transition from a small travel mouse to its full-size alter ego, Kensington includes a USB extension cord for the receiver and, most importantly, a soft plastic and rubber shell that fits over the minimouse. The shell snaps into place and suddenly, you have a comfortable full-size mouse. The shell is soft, cradles the hand, and earns bonus points for fitting right- and left-handed users. Once you get used to the feel of a little mouse in a big body, it's very comfortable.
In its shell-less form, the PocketMouse Convertible is one of the smallest in the travel mice category. It weighs a mere 1.92 ounces (with two AAA batteries) and measures 3.25 inches long and 1.75 inches wide, making it a good size for tossing into a purse or a small pocket. Unlike the and many other notebook mice, the PocketMouse doesn't provide a place to store the receiver while on the road. Travelers can shut the mouse off to conserve battery life or let it switch to standby mode after a few minutes of inactivity; it wakes up with the click of a button. Shutting the mouse off, however, takes some mild contortions: you have to hold down the scrollwheel and press the Connect button on the bottom of the mouse, and, since the Connect button is recessed, it takes a pen or a long fingernail to press. If you do shut off the mouse, be aware that you'll have to resync the receiver and the mouse by pressing the Connect buttons on each.
The PocketMouse Convertible is equipped with DiamondEye Optical Technology, which is supposed to allow the mouse to track smoothly and accurately on any surface. Kensington couldn't provide a dots-per-inch (dpi) spec for this mouse, but in tests, it performed on a par with or worse than mice equipped with 800dpi optical sensors--it's a bit finicky on some surfaces and the cursor occasionally got lost or jumped.
The PocketMouse sports the standard left and right buttons, a scrollwheel, and a small fourth button that sits behind the scrollwheel. The scrollwheel itself is smaller than average, adding a few finger strokes to scrolling through long documents or Web pages. The small, extra button behind the scrollwheel is a nice feature--and its default function is as a Back button for a Web browser, but its positioning takes some getting used to, and it is a little awkward to click.
Guidance from the user manual for the PocketMouse Convertible is very minimal and takes you through only the basics of putting in the included batteries and syncing the receiver. It also offers some troubleshooting and usage guidelines. This is enough instruction if you're satisfied with the default plug-and-play settings, but if you want to activate the mouse's other features or customize the buttons to get the most out of this mouse, you need to install the MouseWorks software by going to Kensington's software site. Installing the software activates the horizontal scrolling feature, which allows you to scroll vertically or horizontally. To switch scrolling directions, simply click the scrollwheel.