Microsoft's updated Wireless Laser Mouse 7000 is geared toward people hoping to alleviate wrist pain commonly symptomatic of cheaper, generic mice. It features 2.4GHz wireless technology, a rechargeable battery, and built-in access to Microsoft Vista's new Windows Flip 3D. We're going to bite our tongues regarding the recent popularity of notchless scroll wheels since that's more of a user-specific preference. While the Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 7000 ($69.95) delivers on its promise of an accurate, responsive, and comfortable navigation experience, you can get Logitech's superior MX Revolution mouse for roughly the same price.
The body of the Wireless Laser Mouse 7000 is exactly the same as its mobile-friendly counterpart, the Wireless Laser 6000, save for a few minor differences. The colors are inverted, so the 7000 is black with silver-chromed trim, certainly lending itself to more of an executive look than the 6000. They're both the same size and conform to your hand with relative ease. Even though it's not quite as ergonomically minded as the Microsoft Natural Wireless Laser Mouse 6000, the curves of the 7000 casing shape to your hand in such a way that your forearm, wrist, and fingers form a straight line. This eliminates wrist contortion and the awkward positions associated with classic mouse shapes. The new alignment might feel odd at first, but after using it for two weeks, we're happy to report that the 7000 feels very comfortable, even after a long day's work.
Unlike the Wireless Laser Mouse 6000, the USB dongle on the 7000 model doesn't clip into the bottom of the mouse. There's still no reason why you couldn't throw the 7000's dongle in a bag and hit the road with a full-size mouse. The 7000 also makes up for the lack of a snap-in dongle with the way it recharges using a flat charging cradle and an AC adapter. The mouse connects horizontally to the cradle via a two-pronged connector on the mouse's underside. A LED on top of the mouse turns green when it's fully charged. Our review sample lasted about two weeks of daily use before a message popped up on the screen to let us know that the mouse needed recharging. We recommend that you install the software on the included disc to receive this bonus reminder. A full charge takes about 10 hours, but the 7000 accepts a standard AAA battery as well if you need to use it in the interim. You can also turn off the mouse to conserve power via a slider switch underneath the unit.
For the other features of the Wireless Laser Mouse 7000, you may not share our dislike of its notchless scroll wheel, but whether you prefer stepped or smooth scrolling, Microsoft loses out to Logitech here. By notchless we mean that with a flick of your finger on the 7000's scoll wheel, you can send the cursor down the entire length of the page with no resistance whatsoever. This is definitely progression from the older style wheels that had tactile notches that clicked to indicate the movement of specific fractions of a page. Call us sticklers for the classics, but we much prefer the satisfying clicks of a notched wheel. Pinpointing in Google Maps, for example, is an exercise in finger yoga as you ever so slightly attempt to zoom in a notch. This style just feels too sloppy for our purposes. Regardless of your preference, the best solution overall is the clickable fly wheel in the Logitech MX Revolution that lets you toggle between free and stepped scrolling with a simple press. This design has been out for more than a year and Microsoft has yet to offer a better alternative.
Like most mainstream mice, the Wireless Laser Mouse 700 has five configurable buttons: two on top, two on the side, and the center dial also doubles as a button. The side buttons are recessed into the higher plane of the mouse and are easy to press with the side of your thumb. If you have Microsoft Vista, the dial button and the forward button on the side of the mouse are set to engage "Flip 3D" and "Magnifier" by default. Read more about these features in our Vista review, but we have a feeling you'll want to reassign those buttons to different functions. The forward button also engages screen magnifier in Mac OS X. One thing to note, however, is that the center button is very sensitive and consequently difficult to press without accidentally scrolling up or down (another thumbs down for notchless dials). The dial itself lets you scroll vertically and horizontally, thanks to a side-to-side tilt function, as is becoming more and more common lately. As with all Microsoft mice, the included software lets you reassign the buttons to navigation or as a shortcut to a program.
The 7000 is a non-gaming mouse that tracks at 1,000 dots per inch, performing well in day-to-day use. We didn't notice any lag time on start-up or inaccuracy as the battery died--the 2.4GHz wireless range remained precise and smooth up to 30 feet from our desk before the irresponsiveness kicked in. At that distance, you'll probably have trouble seeing 12-point text on the screen before you take issue with the range.