Many tech pundits have already started drafting an obituary of the computer mouse like the one above, but let's be clear: we think the death of the mouse is greatly exaggerated. In fact, we're so convinced the mouse isn't dead that we've been testing some of the best on the market for the last couple of months. Click on below to find out why we think the lowly mouse has more than a few good years left, and which ones out there deserve your attention.
Sure, the mouse may one day perish to fancy new touch operating systems and better multitouch hardware, but that's just not the computing world we currently live in. Let's start with the biggest issue: terrible trackpads. Readers of our laptop reviews are certainly not strangers to the fact that many systems – big and small -- are riddled with quite unsatisfactory trackpads. Sometimes, like with HP's ClickPads, that's a result of poor multitouch software that attempts to try and enable more finger gestures but ends up ruining the basic navigation experience -- we often wonder if anyone uses some of these laptops before shipping the out. Other times, it's simply the result of uncomfortable and poor hardware, like with Dell and Gateway's newest systems which can be so frustrating and physically painful to use that there's no other option than to reach for an external mouse. That's not to say some trackpads aren't close to perfect – Lenovo's dimpled ThinkPad surface and Apple's aluminum multitouch touchpad are two of the best -- but even then there are some that find flat surfaces uncomfortable for long periods of desktop navigation.
The state of computer navigation
No matter how you slice it, Windows 7 and Mac OS X are still very much mouse-based operating systems.
So yeah, the mouse isn't close to being buried; heck, it isn't even on life support. And there's also the little fact that external mice are actually pretty great, and can do more than ever before with improved shortcut options and scrolling functionality. We've spent the last few months testing some of the more advanced mice on the market, so mosey on down to see how they perform.
The newest mice reviewed
Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX ($80)
The MX has a scroll wheel between its right and left clickers with a shortcut button below them, as well as up and down arrows on its left side. We had no issues configuring all those on a Mac or PC with Logitech's Control Center software. Hands-down, our favorite part of the mouse is the shortcut button, which is preset to activate Windows Areo or Apple Expose. We also love that the scroll wheel can be pushed in to change from a click-to-click scrolling to hyper-fast scrolling, but the latter option doesn't have quite enough precision. The Anywhere MX also has Logitech's Darkfield laser tracking technology, which allows it to be usable on most surfaces. That's no lie, either – it worked just fine on carpet, a glass table, and on rough title flooring.
Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX
Microsoft Explorer Mouse ($79.95)
The Explorer is Mac and PC compatible, and there were no hiccups configuring the two narrow buttons on the left edge and the scroll button. But we're not fans of the mushy scroll wheel -- it really should have a clicking option for easier control. On a mouse of this size we'd also expect a few more buttons; we're not talking 16 more buttons like the WarMouse Meta, but just a few more so you have the option for a few shortcuts. Despite those drawbacks, the Explorer's still a solid choice for those that are looking for living room or kitchen mouse, as it did work on virtually every surface we slid it on.
Microsoft Explorer Mouse
MadCatz Eclipse TouchMouse ($59.99)
There isn't much of a learning curve when it comes to using the touchpad. When we paired the mouse with our MacBook Pro it recognized the pad as the scroll wheel, and dragging a finger up or down was quite responsive. We couldn't get the other TouchGestures working on a Mac, but when we connected it to a Lenovo ThinkPad we were able to swipe left and right on the pad to move forward and backwards in Internet Explorer. Not a bad trick, but oddly, the basic sensitivity on the mouse had to be turned all the way down to achieve normal speeds on both the Mac and the ThinkPad. Unlike the Logitech and Microsoft, the Eclipse can't sail over carpet, but it held its own on a mirrored table.
MadCatz Eclipse TouchMouse
Razer Imperator ($79.99)
It's annoying that the Imperator doesn't come with drivers, but it's easy enough to download them from its support site. (Quick note: no matter how much mice may evolve, we're convinced that mouse drivers will always be more frustrating than they really should be.) Either way, on both Mac and PC laptops we were able to easily adjust the Imperator's sensitivity and acceleration, as well as configure the five shortcut buttons. Sure, the Imperator was built for gamers, but it happens to be one of our top picks when it comes to good old fashioned comfort.
Apple Magic Mouse ($69.00)
That being said, we do really like the responsiveness of the gestures, especially the single-finger scrolling and two finger forward / backward swiping. If anything our major issue is that Apple's mouse doesn't allow for enough gestures. But there's always BetterTouchTool, a free program that enables almost anything you want, including the ability to customize three finger Expose, and single / two-finger tapping.
Apple Magic Mouse
The computer mouse lived longer than many ever anticipated.
Yep, that's going to be the first line of the mouse's obituary. One day we may navigate every computer with a glass multitouch trackpad, or by simply by touching the screen, but today and for the foreseeable future we're living in a world of subpar trackpads and cursor-based operating systems. We'd love to see laptop manufacturers focusing more on trackpad usability, and we're hopeful that Apple and Microsoft are hard at work making their operating systems much more touch-friendly, but until then we'd suggest keeping that Logitech MX or Razer Imperator in hand and well fed.