The Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 5000 is an attractive, contoured mouse that combines the precision of laser optics with a shape that fits both right- and left-handers. However, the ambidextrous design is a mixed blessing: it's not overly comfortable for either hand, and button placement is awkward. For left-handed users with limited options, the $49.95 Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 5000 is a good, relatively inexpensive option. However, right-handed users will be better served by a contoured mouse designed for righties, such as the Microsoft IntelliMouse Explorer or the Logitech MX1000.
The Laser Mouse 5000 works with both Windows and Macintosh PCs and connects wirelessly via an included USB receiver. The mouse works as a plug-and-play device, but to customize the buttons and settings, you'll want to install Microsoft's IntelliPoint software, which is included on a disc. This software adds a tab to your regular mouse control panel. From there you can select buttons and customize them from a list of functions and tasks. You can customize the standard left and right buttons, the two buttons on the sides of the mouse, and the clickable four-way scrollwheel.
The mouse has a clear laser, so there's no red light as with most laser and optical mice, and it tracks at a healthy 1,000 dots per inch (dpi). That's great for any standard or professional task, although too low for many gamers, who may want up to 2,000dpi, as seen on the Logitech G5.
In our tests, the Laser Mouse 5000 wasn't ideally comfortable, and the plastic surface was noticeably slippery--the hand felt like it was struggling to stay on the mouse. Both of the side buttons are mounted for thumb use, which makes accessing the button opposite your thumb difficult; we found it easiest to press with the inner side of the third finger. We didn't notice any tracking errors or lag in our tests, though the Laser Mouse 5000 doesn't live up to Microsoft's claim of a six-foot wireless range; we got only three feet in our tests.
Support options for the Laser Mouse 5000 aren't as clear as they should be. The user manual doesn't say how long the warranty lasts, but if you dig around the software's help files, you'll find that it's an enormous five years--four years more than the industry standard. Someone should tell that to the tech support people, who, when reached by phone, said it had a 90-day warranty and received free support for only 90 days. If you're feeling lucky, you could try to navigate Microsoft's Byzantine support site, which offers FAQs and articles.