Yappermouse review: Yappermouse

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The Good Decent optical mouse. Good speakerphone mode.

The Bad Have to download drivers. Sometimes won't switch modes. Only works with Skype. Handheld mode looks quite ridiculous. Local pricing is a bit costly.

The Bottom Line The Yappermouse delivers on its promise of being a mouse that talks, although it'll only talk to the Skype network. It's not without its flaws, and we'd like to see a slightly lower local pricing model, but if you need a speakerphone for travelling and can handle looking a bit ridiculous, it's not a bad buy.

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It's easy enough to believe in many things mouse-related. A mouse that roars? No problem. A mouse that runs a billion dollar entertainment empire? Not a worry. Even an invisible mouse is conceivable, albeit a little hard to see. But a mouse that talks? That's a tough sell, but its the exact marketing pitch that Yappernut, makers of the Yappermouse, have taken with their combination optical mouse and Skype phone. It's pitched clearly at the travelling Skype user who doesn't wish to carry around a separate headset for Skype calls -- although quite how many of them would want to use an external mouse and not just a notebook glidepad or touchpad is open to debate.

The Yappermouse itself most clearly resembles Apple's line of mice, in that it's a mostly oval mouse with no real concessions to ergonomic usage. In most mousy respects it's a very ordinary two button mouse with a scroll wheel and an optical sensor on the base, connected via USB cable only. Then again, nobody in their right mind is going to buy the Yappermouse purely as an optical mouse.

The first thing you'll notice about the Yappermouse when you remove it from its plastic packaging is that there's no driver disc of any kind. That's fine if (for your own peculiar reasons) you did just want it to work as an optical mouse. Any modern operating system can handle the Yappermouse's mousing functions out of the box, but when you want to get vocal, you'll have to head to Yappernut's site and download the drivers. Except that they're not drivers that are just drivers; they're bundled with a Skype answering machine software called Amy, available free from the Yappernut site. It somewhat makes sense for a product designed for online telephony to offer downloadable drivers, but at the same time it'd be nice to have a physical driver disk for when the site's unavailable, or simply if you're on a capped download plan.

Running Amy will automatically launch Skype, as well as enabling the Yappermouse's talk features. Both will run in the background until you receive or initiate a Skype call, at which point the mouse will "ring" softly and vibrate, although both features can be switched off in the Yappermouse control panel. The Yappermouse works as either a hands-free speakerphone or as a handheld phone, and switching between the two modes is managed by holding in the scroll wheel button for a number of seconds.

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