Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I Never Thought I'd See the Day...
Posted by Sam at 3:20 PM

Today, Apple Computer released a multi-button mouse. Never in a bizillion years did I think that I would be alive to see a multi-button mouse from Apple. Never.

News of this sort is not revolutionary in any way - there's got to be thousands of multi-button mice on the market today, all purporting to be better and more innovative than the next - news like this is however, the stuff of legends. Historically, Apple has maintained (vehemently) that a single-button mouse is the best, most efficient, and most Mac-like option. One of Apple's main arguments in this matter was that it forces the software to be more intuitive. If the user has less clicking options, the software is forced to be smarter, forced to understand the user's input better, and forced to be more efficient in design. While this is all well and good, Apple's reluctance to stay current in this type of computing standard is not necessarily unexpected, but definitely stubborn... almost to such an extent that it seemed to have become a point of pride.

The mouse itself, questionably named "Mighty Mouse," has a whole slew of new/different/innovative technology stuffed underneath it's glossy white shell. As near as I can figure, there are no buttons (in the traditional sense) on this mouse. It would appear that the clickable "button" area has been replaced with more of a touch sensitive surface. Only time will tell if this will be effective and comfortable.

Instead of a linear, up/down scroll wheel, Apple has introduced a clickable 360 degree scroll ball. The usefulness of this feature is immediately apparent. So often, scrolling up and down is simply not enough. Again however, this is not a brand new notion. I've seen similar devices in mice for years. Although, to my immediate recollection, I have never seen a trackball/mouse combination.

The final notable nuance of this pointing device is the inclusion of "force-sensing buttons" on the sides of the mouse. Out of all the new features of the Mighty Mouse, these seem to be the most ambiguously described. (Force-sensing buttons? I can't help but feel that Lucas had a hand in naming this feature. Or, maybe that's what those blinking nubbins on Darth Vader's chest plate are: Force-sensing buttons. Anyway...) It seems that these two buttons act only as one singular button. The mouse is squeezed together in the middle in order to activate this button. Simultaneous pressure against both surfaces will trip the button's function. Again, we'll have to wait and see as to whether this proves to be comfortable and effective.

In addition to this surprise release, it's equally as surprising that none of the Mac rumor mills picked up on this before the official announcement. Maybe the idea of Apple and the multi-button mouse controversy was a lost cause and tired subject. I know when I read rumors of Apple releasing a multi-button mouse, I dismiss them almost instantly as being nothing more than wishful thinking. This morning was no different. I had to go to Apple's home page to validate the news. Another surprise: No bluetooth? Come on... where's the bluetooth version?

The Mighty Mouse is listed on the Apple Store for the modest price of $49.00. That's not bad. In fact, it's quite tempting. I think I'll hold out for the inevitable release of the bluetooth version though. However, if the local Apple store has them in stock, it might be worth a road-trip in that direction. Not to mention, my coffee flavored, punk rock, belle works in that area. Sigh...

UPDATE: The Mighty Mouse does actually click. The touch sensitive area on the button surface simply tells the mouse which button you're clicking... which is good. I was a little frightened by the idea of a click-less mouse. Anyway, c0nsumer managed to get her/his hands on one today. Check out the mini-review. I'm sure more will follow.

Comments: 2 | Post a Comment | Permalink

you know..i dont think its a matter of how many buttons there are on this mouse...its very clear that apple is using this as a first step(with those clever force buttons) to dominating the world through the development of telepathic-user-friendly computers and software. That's what i call blue tooth.

Comment By bryan on August 02, 2005 6:12 PM

I don't know how excited I am about a mouse that is....10 years behind the times, functionally. Sure, it's got a cool way of going about that functionality, but does that make up for the fact that it is pretty much a standard two button mouse.

The ball is kinda interesting. That does seem to be an improvement over standard scroll wheel.

I say, if I were looking for a new ambidextrous mouse, I would certainly try it out.

Comment By Blackwatch on August 03, 2005 8:21 AM

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Sam Who!?
Sam is an amazing and humble guy. Once, he rushed into a burning building, up six flights of stairs to save a kitten from certain death. He speaks eight languages, has mastered three varieties of martial arts, is a wine expert, and is a pulitzer prize winning author. Sam is an international heart-throb who prefers a quiet evening at home knitting afghans for the homeless, to the go-go, glitz and glamor of the party scene. I think the day he won the silver medal for ballroom dancing at the 98 olympics was the happiest of his life. Pretty impressive for a guy who never finished the 8th grade. - Carrie, 04
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