Apple Mighty Mouse: Hands On Review


I can't believe that Apple finally made a two-button mouse! With a middle button and scroll wheel functionality no less! Cool beans! As soon as I saw the news this morning, I decided to make a quick trip down to the Palo Alto Apple Store and snag one for a quick review - it's a good thing I went early, they only received 10 of them and I bought the second to last one. With California tax, the cost was $50.96, quite a premium over the roughly $15 I paid for the black Microsoft scroll-wheel mouse it's replacing, but hey, it's a cool Apple product, right? I knew I'd be paying a premium for this stuff, and this mouse is pretty innovative.

I've got pictures of the entire mouse swap (or should I say "switch?"), though it really wasn't that complicated. First I fetishistically checked out the California Designed box:


Then I got a knife, cut the tape, opened up the box and took it out, gleefully comparing it with the ugly black MS mouse it's replacing:


Then I checked out the directions, which told me to put the CD in the drive after plugging the mouse in, so I did the swap and popped in the CD. (I had to fight against years of Windows experience there, usually you install the software *before* plugging your new device in).


I then went through the install process, and flipped through the rest of the 3 page "manual" while I was waiting, discovering that according to the instructions, the Mighty Mouse is only supported on OS X 10.4.2 Tiger and Windows. Interesting!


Okay, so now everything is installed, so I explored the options a bit - it turns out the default options make the mouse seem like an old one-button mouse, with added functionality for Expose and Dashboard. A quick exploration of the settings and I was able to change it so that the mouse acts like a normal scroll wheel - pressing the right side of the mouse activates the secondary button (the right-click) and the middle "button" activates the middle-click. Perfect!


Okay, now it's time to actually play with the mouse itself! I tooks some pics of what it's like in my hand, and next to an iSight so everyone can see it's generally the same size as the other mice.


So, after all that, how does it work? Well, it's different! I guess I didn't read the Apple page about the Mighty Mouse very closely, because I didn't realize that that nub you see is actually a *scroll ball* which moves in two directions! It definitly gives you some tactile feedback, which is nice. I was afraid that it'd be too smooth, but it gives off a slight "click click click" sound when scrolling, and with each tick a small movement of the page. I loaded up FireFox and my website to test and it works great, I also opened Preview and zooomed way into a picture and tried the left-right movement as well and that also works - no diagnol though, it's one direction or the other at a time (and you can turn these on/off in the settings as well). I'm pretty used to the BIG scroll wheels on most mice, so this will take a little getting used to, but it definitely works as advertised.

There's no other moving parts besides the main clicker. I'm not sure what sort of magic Apple put into this thing, but it detects left, right and middle clicking accurately, even though there's no other buttons. It's pretty wild. What's amusing is that I used a one-button mouse for a while when I first got my Mini, and I kept "right-clicking" using that mouse and obviously nothing happened. The same movement, and the same feeling on this mouse actually causes a right-click event - it's very cool. The middle click also works (fantastic for multiple tabs in Firefox - and a deal breaker if it wasn't there), and again, there's no moving parts in the middle click, you simply press down on the scroll ball and a middle click happens.

The side buttons take relatively heavy pressure to activate, which is good. I had another Microsoft Mouse with extra side buttons for a while which drove me nuts because they were so sensitive that I was always going "back" (if you know the mouse I'm talking about). I don't think that'll be a problem with the Mighty Mouse - you really have to press the buttons to activate them.

Finally, Apple seems to have improved the mouse tracking speed! W00t! This to me is a serious reason to buy this mouse - I've had to install custom software for the other mice I've used to get a decent mouse speed, but I've got the settings not at full-speed and it's a nice comfortable acceleration. Maybe this isn't the case (something else might be going on instead) but I can see a noticable improvement over Apple's one-button mouse.

All in all, if you're the type of person that always throws the included Apple mice into a corner and buys a two-button mouse instead, but don't like sullying up your beautiful Mac with third party hardware, this is the mouse to have. It looks awfully nice next to my Mac mini, I have to say.



Update: When using Firefox, moving the scroll ball left and right is the equivalent to going back and forward. This is a neat feature, but the ball can be touchy, so I may end up turning this off. Also, as has been reported, right or middle clicking requires you to remove your other fingers from the mouse. I've had a few mis-clicks because of this, but it's nothing so bad that I won't get used to it quickly.

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