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Microsoft ARC Mouse review: Microsoft ARC Mouse

Microsoft ARC Mouse

Rich Brown Former Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness
Rich was the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Before moving to Louisville in 2013, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years in New York City. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D printing to Z-Wave smart locks.
Expertise Smart home | Windows PCs | Cooking (sometimes) | Woodworking tools (getting there...)
Rich Brown
2 min read

It took us a few minutes to realize what Microsoft's new Arc Mouse is all about. The collapsible design at first suggested that it's both a full-size mouse and a notebook mouse in one product. We were confused as to who would want such a thing. Upon playing with it, we realized that there's actually some smarter design going on here. The unique shape and button-layout does present some usability issues, but overall, the $60 Arc Mouse may be the best solution for those looking for a full-size, travel-friendly mouse.


Microsoft ARC Mouse

The Good

Unique appearance; collapsible design saves bag space and secures wireless receiver; easy to set up.

The Bad

Side button hard to use with a standard mouse grip.

The Bottom Line

Microsoft's Arc mouse is almost as functional as its form is pleasing. The travel-friendly features make perfect sense, and in general, it's a serviceable mouse for Macs and PCs. Only a few minor design issues hold it back.

The benefit of the Arc Mouse is not that it works as a "notebook mouse" when you fold it in half. Indeed, the power to the mouse cuts out when it's folded, so it won't work in that mode at all. Instead, folding the Arc Mouse makes it more generally travel-friendly. First, it reduces the size of the device, cutting its length by more than a third. But there's also a small, magnetic cradle on the underside of the tail portion that folds in, to hold the mouse's thumbnail-size USB receiver. When the mouse is collapsed, the tail portion secures the receiver, ensuring that you'll have all of the necessary pieces together when you take the mouse out of your bag.

In its uncollapsed state, wherein you actually use the mouse, the Arc Mouse is not quite as clever. It works well-enough as a basic two-button scroll mouse, but the extra left-side button complicates things. If you hold a mouse in a standard grip, with your palm resting on the tail-edge, it becomes impossible for your thumb to reach the Arc Mouse's side button without contorting your hand. Situating your palm on the top of mouse (aka claw grip) solves the problem, but at the expense of precise cursor control. Holding the mouse thusly, we actually had to think about positioning the cursor over Windows' familiar close, "minimize," and "maximize" icons.

We agree that's a minor quibble. The side button isn't exactly crucial, and the core "mousing" functionality works as you'd expect it to. We also like that setting up the Arc Mouse is so simple. After you insert the three, Microsoft-provided AAA batteries, you plug in the USB receiver, wait for Windows to recognize the mouse, and reboot. Mac setup is even easier, as Mac OS X found the mouse as soon as we plugged the receiver in. For its intended purpose as a travel-friendly input device, the Arc Mouse does exactly what it's supposed to.


Microsoft ARC Mouse

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 7