Apple’s Magic Mouse ReviewFeatured, Reviews, Tech — By Mike Ruest on December 24, 2009 at 3:04 pm
Uh Oh, It’s Magic, You Know?
When Apple first showed off their Magic Mouse to the world on October 20, 2009, I like most geeks who love Apple products, couldn’t wait to get my techie hands on it. In fact, as soon as I was able to, I preordered one from Amazon.com since they promised I’d get it day one. As I eagerly waited, I got more and more excited to start using this mouse. So excited that I took my wireless Mighty Mouse and began pretending it had all the cool new multi-touch features: I two-fingered swiped left and right and even imagined what scrolling would be like on a smooth flat surface versus my little trackball that usually chocked on dust.
Then the day came. UPS knocked on my front door and handed me a very small box. Opening the box I expected to find the same sleek packaging most Apple products come in; yet instead, I was met with a clear plastic case that held the Magic Mouse in so tightly – I had to pretty much pry it out of its container. Feeling somewhat cheated out my normal Apple unpacking, I went ahead and placed the mouse on my desk and immediately rested my right hand on it. And that’s when it happened. That’s when I suddenly realized that something was very wrong because I didn’t feel the magic. Why? Because ergonomically, it seemed more designed for a flat-handed robot, rather than a human hand that naturally rest in a palm-like position. That’s when I started thinking that Apple should have called their new mouse: “Mech-Mouse!”
Now before I continue my rant, let me just offer some positive comments in this review. First off, as far as the Magic Mouse being a multi-touch mouse – it succeeds. Two-finger swiping works like a charm with a very similar experience as swiping on my MacBook Pro’s trackpad. My favorite though has to be the scrolling, especially scrolling with momentum. Of all the new features, this one alone, felt magical in my hands. It should also be noted that the standard single click functioned as normal. And the two-button click worked even better than it does on the Mighty Mouse, which sometimes seems finicky as to where your second finger has to be placed.
Secondly, another positive aspect of the Magic Mouse comes in both its aesthetics and its overall feel. Looking at this thing, you’d think you were either looking at a piece of art or something from the future. Of course, this is not the first Apple product that carries this type of aura, nor will it be the last. The folks in Cupertino appear to have a knack for making the beautiful. But not only does the Magic Mouse look good, it feels good. Other than my iPhone, this is the first time I held the surface of a mouse against my face and actually enjoyed it. Don’t get any ideas here – I am not a freak. I am only trying to make the point that this thing is really smooth to the touch. So much so, you just want to rub it.
Last positive comment (if you’re still with me and not with your mind in the gutter) has to do with its tracking and movement. The Magic Mouse is very fluid and moves across the screen like it’s gliding on air. So when Apple boasts that the “Magic Mouse uses powerful laser tracking that’s far more sensitive and responsive on more surfaces than traditional optical tracking” – man, they are not lying because it’s so true. To get the same responsiveness, you’d have to buy a Razer gaming mouse.
Okay, now that I’ve gotten the nice comments out of the way, let me move on to the not-so-nice ones, which in my opinion, out weigh what works with the Magic Mouse. I’ve already been candid about the ergonomics of the mouse, but I need to expound on this some more, because it’s like the design-engineers at Apple put priority on form versus function. Frankly, this blows my mind because no matter how many features a mouse has and no matter how well those features work – if the mouse does not feel comfortable to hold and move in your hand – you’ve failed at the most important aspect of any good mouse!
I mean, who knows, perhaps the design-engineers at Apple have iPhone fever – where they are so emblazoned with all the accolades they’ve gotten over its multi-touch features – they forgot they were actually designing a mouse. Come to think about it, just because the iPhone and iTouch are flat, does that mean every new Apple handheld device needs to be? In fact, the Magic Mouse is so flat, it’s painfully uncomfortable to use for long periods of time. For one thing, you can’t just rest your hand on it. The only way you can sort of rest your hand on it, is to unnaturally flatten your hand out with your fingers spread apart. On top of which, as fluid as the tracking is with the Magic Mouse, you have to actually grip the mouse tightly with your thumb and ring-finger to just move it around. To make matters worse, because the Magic Mouse is so light, it feels like it’s going to fly right out of your hand when your moving it on your desk.
To add insult to injury, although swiping and clicking on the Magic Mouse works well, the overall shape and design of the mouse (in effect) work against these features. Let me explain. I’ll start with the simple task of clicking. Because the mouse is shaped more like a rectangle than an oval, your pointer-finger is positioned at the middle of the mouse.
This maybe okay if you don’t typically enable Secondary Click in the System Preferences. However, for those of us who do have this enabled, when it comes time to use the Magic Mouse as a two-click mouse, you have to awkwardly shift your pointer-finger and your middle finger together, just to get your fingers in position to make the right-click. This not only feels weird, it also becomes tedious and physically unpleasant over time. As far as swiping goes, while it works great, the problem comes when you want to actually move your mouse and swipe at the same time. Again, because of its rectangular shape and flat design, you pretty much have to keep the Magic Mouse in a stationary position to swipe left and right. This in my opinion renders this feature useless. I’d rather swipe on my trackpad since I can easily move the cursor around as well. In fact, it’s when I swipe on my Magic Mouse that I feel as if Apple was trying too hard to give users an iPhone/iTouch experience on a mouse.
The only other criticism I can level at the Magic Mouse is the fact that it lacks two other buttons that its predecessor had, that being, the scroll ball button and the side buttons. I can understand not being able to have something like the scroll ball button, but Apple could have easily added side buttons. Of course, since you have to pretty much apply pressure to the sides to even hold onto this mouse, I guess side buttons wouldn’t work here either.
Bottom-line, after using the Magic Mouse and wanting to love it, I went back to my wireless Mighty Mouse and thought very seriously about getting a Logitech mouse for my Mac. The sad thing is, I think Apple could have easily kept a similar design/shape of the Mighty Mouse (minus the trackball), while adding these multi-touch features to where they could have quite possibly ended up with a great, if not, pretty innovative mouse.