Kensington PocketMouse Pro Wireless (a.k.a. Rodentia Tailessia)
Company: Kensington Technology Group
As recently as February 4th, I was visiting an Apple Store in Denver, CO, with my brother and three sons (on our way to Steamboat Springs for a week of skiing) and happened upon Kensington’s latest rendition of their PocketMouse product. In fact, the Apple Genius who was giving us a tour of the store, noted that it had just arrived that very day!
Now I had been looking for a “portable” mouse to go with my Titanium 1Ghz PowerBook for several months and I had considered several. What I really wanted was something wireless but more portable than the current crop with their cumbersome RF receivers with lengthy USB cords. I was about to compromise and purchase one of the mini-mice with retractable cords, but something held me back, and I am glad I waited.
The first thing that caught my attention with the PocketMouse Pro Wireless was the packaging! I could see everything, including the size of the mouse and the fact that the RF Receiver was so tiny! In fact, it is stored inside the mouse when not in use!! This medium sized, 2-button mouse with scroll wheel (not really a mini-mouse, but actually large enough to suit most small to medium hands as an all-purpose mouse) has a hinged door released by a small, oval button on the top, which stores the RF receiver. The receiver is ingeniously designed to be able to swivel on a hinge, once inserted into a USB port, such that when used with a PowerBook or iBook, it can be out of the way of obstructing adjacent port access. The mouse is powered by two AA batteries found under the mouse shell, which is released by a spring-loaded, slotted latch on the underside of the mouse. A coin or thumbnail will suffice to turn the latch counter-clockwise about 45 degrees to release the back, which then pops off revealing the battery compartment.
With the batteries installed, and the RF receiver inserted into an available USB port, the user need only press a small button on the end of the RF receiver’s antenna to activate the initialization with the mouse, and you are off and running. Mac OS X works fine with two button mice, and many apps support scroll wheels natively, so the Kensington Mouseworks software is not really necessary for casual, every day use in Mac OS X. But if you are familiar with Mouseworks and what it can do, you will want to try it out. I use a number of applications that benefit from custom mouse controls, such as ArchiCAD and Photoshop, plus I like to have the ability to press two buttons at once for custom menus with various applications.
I have been using a wireless mouse from Logitech for the past year, and while I like the wireless feature, I did not think it practical for a mobile laptop user such as myself due to the fact that the mouse needed a bulky RF receiver in order to function. Kensington has met this challenge admirably with the PocketMouse Pro Wireless. Having been a happy Kensington Mouse user for many years, I was pleased that this latest edition behaved well and, with the freely downloadable drivers, gives me the much needed customization I require when navigating 3 large screens filled with diverse applications.
Two things hold me back from giving it a perfect score. The scroll wheel/button is not as fluid as I’d like it to be, requiring a bit more pressure to activate than I think is necessary. Secondly, fit and finish isn’t quite up to the standards I feel a $50 mouse should have. With all the parts that hinge or pop-off, it has a kind of loose feel to it, which I expect might grow as the mouse is used extensively over the coming year. Having just purchased this mouse a week ago, I am not aware of any issues with battery life. My Logitech wireless mouse needs the batteries replaced about once every 5-6 weeks. I use rechargeable NIMH batteries, so it’s not really an inconvenience, as I always have several spare sets nearby. And in a worse case scenario, how difficult is it to find a couple of fresh AA batteries?
If you are a mobile power user who prefers to have a mouse available rather than work with a trackpad, and especially if you are needing a mouse that can be used in either left or right hand, I’d highly recommend the Kensington PocketMouse Pro Wireless. You might find it suitable as your all-purpose mouse, but for mobile use, it really shines. Kensington makes a solid product, they offer excellent customer support, and have been staunch Mac supporters for a long, long time. Whether you boot up in Mac OS 9 or Mac OS X, I feel this is the best wireless mouse on the market for the mobile user. In fact, I’ve given my Logitech wireless mouse to my eldest son to use with his iBook and I am using the Kensington PocketMouse Pro Wireless as my only mouse …at least until Kensington decides to come out with a Bluetooth version of their Studio Rodentia to go with my next PowerBook 17 inch! Based on my current assessment, I may opt to buy a few more for my other two sons to use with their iBooks! Hey, Kensington, how about a model in Crystal White?
MacMice Rating: 4 out of 5