It's a calculator. It's a wireless mouse. It's a Bluetooth numeric keypad. It's... really bizarre. Canon's X Mark I Mouse Lite takes everyone's favorite desktop rodent and tries to make it all fancy like, filling that wasted space below the mouse buttons with a calculator -- monochrome LCD and all. Except that the unused space below the mouse buttons isn't wasted at all -- it was designed for resting palms, not poking fingertips. The result is a mediocre mouse paired with a mediocre calculator, for $60. Sadly, it's not nearly as elegant of a solution as it may appear to be, and after a couple days of use, we were ready to switch back to our boring old single-function mouse. So what exactly left us so unimpressed? Jump past the break to find out.
Canon X Mark I Mouse LiteSee all photos
Ignoring the rather large full-function calculator taking up two-thirds of the X Mark I's front face, the mouse itself is rather boxy and oddly flat, lacking the curved top that makes other mice much more comfortable to use. The mouse pairs with your Mac or Windows machine using Bluetooth, which is also how your computer will recognize entries from the numeric keypad, located just below the left and right mouse buttons. There's also a scroll wheel with click functionality on the front, and a recessed Bluetooth pairing button on the back. Below the pairing button, you'll notice a dual-mode power button, with positions for "PC" and "Mac." Both positions worked just fine when pairing with our MacBook. The mouse is available in black or white, and is powered by a pair of AAA batteries -- there's a compartment just to the left of the pairing button.
If you have average-size hands, half your palm will float freely over the numeric keypad. Not 'hey look, we're on top of the world' freely, but rather 'it's really about time I had somewhere to rest' freely. We didn't get tired using the mouse, necessarily, but we definitely longed for a smooth, curved face on which to rest our sweaty palms. As a mouse, it felt accurate and fairly responsive, though not as smooth as the standard mice we've become accustomed to.
Like most desk jockeys, we spend a fair amount of time doing random calculations. A $12 receipt plus a $17 receipt equals a rather unpleasant $29 roundtrip in a taxi for a meeting across town -- that kind of thing. We usually use a software calculator for this brain-busting basic math, however, and found it more convenient to continue doing so even with a shiny new 10-digit calc sitting right there in the middle of our mouse. When we did use the combo cruncher, we found it more comfortable to lift up the mouse and place it directly in front of us, rather than repositioning over the mousepad. Since we often do calculations and move the cursor simultaneously, we found it awkward and counterproductive to use the device as both a calculator and mouse.
Considering that you can buy a calculator for a dollar in some parts of the world, a $60 calc better get the job done at least as well. Fortunately, it does, but that doesn't exactly leave us impressed. The Mark I (a very, very distant cousin to the Mark II) does pull off a pretty neat trick: tapping the "KP" button (for KeyPad) forces the mouse out of calculator mode and into numeric input device mode, letting you type numbers on the mouse just as you would on a standard numeric keyboard. This may be an acceptable option if you don't have a dedicated number pad nearby, but with small, crowded keys, you're not going to enjoy using it for long.
As you may have ascertained, we're not really sold on this hybrid mouse / calculator concept. Half-baked or not, we just don't see the point. We imagine that this was a fun little project for Canon's design team, but we'll be sticking to our separate mouse (and virtual calculator) for now, and forever.