Microsoft Arc Mouse: So awesome, and so wrong

I’ll admit it: I’m addicted to “mice”.


What I really mean to say is… I’m always on the lookout for the best possible mouse (pointing device) out there.  When something seemingly revolutionary like the Microsoft Arc Mouse comes along, I want to check it out.  And so I ordered one for my workplace.

The packaging for the Arc Mouse is very nice, and more or less what you’ve come to expect.  It also ships with a driver CD, carrying case (pleather-ette?), two AAA batteries, and the mouse itself.

“What’s the deal with this mouse?”, you might ask.  Well, as you can see from the picture above, the Arc Mouse is fairly unique.  First of all, it’s wireless and ships with a very tiny receiver that folds into the mouse itself for easy storage.  Secondly, the Arc Mouse – when unfolded – has very little in the way of surface contact.  Essentially, the very front and the very back of the mouse touch your desk like the St. Louis Arch… but smaller and easier to use with a computer. 🙂

The Arc Mouse has a nice, matte finish that doesn’t slide away from your hands.  Very nice.  It’s really a very attractive, eye-catching piece of technology.  The top two buttons click nicely, with a decent amount of feedback.  The wheel feels solid and works fine as a 3rd button, though the “spinning” mechanism is of the older, more common ‘click-click’ style.  Essentially, it has a “ratcheting” feel that I’ve since moved past.  Many mice these days, including my current Microsoft Notebook Laser Mouse 7000, have a free-spinning wheel that is so much nicer to use.  It’s difficult to go back once you’ve moved away from the “ratcheting” style wheel.  Finally, the Arc Mouse has a 4th button on the left-hand side, which is typically reserved for a “back” click.  Are you a “back button user”?  If not, then disregard these comments, because they won’t matter to you.  If you are, though, then you’ll want to pass on by the Arc Mouse and find a different solution.

Let me explain.

Years ago, many companies began shipping the “5-button mouse”, which featured the standard top two buttons, a clickable wheel, and a button on each side of the mouse.  Microsoft’s IntelliMouse Optical is a great example of this, and is still a very good mouse.  A bit more weight and better finish could make it the mouse-to-beat for low-cost offerings, but I digress.  The 5-button offering quickly took off for me (any many others), since it allowed for 2 additional, programmable buttons.  Their default state, however, remains my favorite: back and forward.  In a browser window and want to return to the last page you visited?  Instead of moving your mouse to the “back arrow”, just click the back button on your mouse!  Want to move forward again?  Just click the forward button on your mouse?  Quite honestly, it’s faster, more accurate, and less stress on your mousing hand.  (I may have just coined the phrase “mousing hand”, by the way.  Or not.)  What does this have to do with the Arc Mouse?  Well… this mouse also features a 4th button – the left-hand side of the mouse only.  No worries, as I use the “back” feature way more often than forward.  The problem is, the 4th button on the Arc Mouse is placed way too far forward to really be of any use.  Instead of a slight movement to click “back”, you literally have to shift your entire hand to reach the 4th button!  Sad to say, others have commented on this fact as well, so it’s not just me or how I’m holding the mouse.  That button is incorrectly placed, and I really don’t understand why.  It grieves me.

The Microsoft Arc Mouse is really a nice piece of hardware, though a bit spendy at $49.  If you’re looking for a sturdy, fun-to-use, eye-catching, portable 3-button mouse, then cast your eyes toward the Arc Mouse.  However, if you are, like me, a “back” button user, then kindly move along.  There is nothing to see here.

Hmmm.  Perhaps the new BlueTrack mouse will be nice?!


4 Responses to “Microsoft Arc Mouse: So awesome, and so wrong”

  1. 1 Matt Swann January 8, 2009 at 1:02 am

    That’s a pretty piece of hardware. MSFT does a nice job on input devices… I love my Laser Mouse 6000 (bought a couple for home and one for work).

    The free-spinning mouse wheel always disorients me a little, though… last time I tried it I felt like the amount of window movement per degrees scrolled on the wheel wasn’t always consistent. I much prefer detents.

  2. 2 yipcanjo January 8, 2009 at 5:01 am

    You don’t find the Laser 6000 to be *too* big, eh?

    Anyhow, I do like the feel of the free-spinning wheel, though it’s not perfect. As you mention, it can sometimes seem (or actually be?) inconsistent in how much movement takes place on the screen. Also, I’ve had one or two programs — Open Office — that really didn’t scroll well with the free-spin action. Seemed like a driver issue, but everyone else on that box worked fine!

    Anyhow, the new Explorer Mouse (& Mini) w/ BlueTrack look really great, albeit a bit pricey.

  3. 3 Matt Swann January 17, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Ah, I hadn’t realized that there are two models of the Laser 6000… wired and wireless

    I have and love the wired model — you’re right, the wireless 6000 looks much too large.

  4. 4 Clare Trejo May 28, 2010 at 11:58 am

    If I had a dime for every time I came here! Superb read!

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