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Mighty Mouse: two clicks down

August 4th, 2005 (08:27 pm)

Yesterday Apple introduced the Mighty Mouse. What's mighty about it? Well, it's got a little trackball instead of a scroll wheel. Also, it's got two buttons...sort of. It's really only got one button, but it can tell where you pressed, by feeling the capacitance of your fingers. In other words, somebody at Apple decided it was finally time to give up on the single-button model, but they had to save face, so they decided to (a) leapfrog the scroll wheel and (b) not give up on the one-button look. (And, of course, the possibility of using an ergonomic shape was not to be thought of.)

Now, the trackball (they call it a Scroll Ball) sounded like a good idea to me; being able to scroll around in two dimensions could be convenient, particularly on badly-designed Web pages where I have to scroll horizontally on each line (usually I just give up on those). But the capacitance trick made me suspicious--I remember the capacitance buttons of the early 1980s. Buttons that you can push just by touching, and not get any feedback, were a Bad Idea.

So today I stopped by the Apple Store in Cambridge, and tried out a Mighty Mouse. The first thing I noticed was that, if I rested my hand on the mouse, the trackball was out of reach of my fingertips; if I wanted to use it, I had to pick up my hand. (This might be an idiosyncracy, due to my bent fingers--I have the same problem with most scroll wheels.)

The next thing I noticed was that, yes, the capacitance trick worked--but only if you touched it on just one side of the mouse. If you click on the right side, while also touching on the left side, it's going to register as a left click. So, if you rest your hand on the mouse, then you have to lift your hand off the mouse in order to do a right click.

It's a failure. I really don't understand this: how does Apple, the original champion of designing computers for humans, keep managing to create mice that no human would actually want to use?

Comments

Posted by: Pooh Wei (poohwei)
Posted at: August 5th, 2005 02:18 am (UTC)

It also has a cord attached to it.

I'm patiently waiting for other Bluetooth alternatives to come out (besides the uncomfortable Apple offerings). This one from macally looks promising; I wish they'd hurry up with it.

Posted by: Who, me? (metageek)
Posted at: August 5th, 2005 02:25 pm (UTC)
Why Bluetooth?

Why Bluetooth in particular? There are lots of non-BT wireless mice that work just fine.

Posted by: Pooh Wei (poohwei)
Posted at: August 5th, 2005 02:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Why Bluetooth?

My laptop has BT and I don't want to have to plug a wireless USB receiver into my laptop.

Posted by: Who, me? (metageek)
Posted at: August 5th, 2005 02:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Why Bluetooth?

Ah, makes sense.

Posted by: metahacker (metahacker)
Posted at: August 5th, 2005 03:59 am (UTC)
keys

It does seem to be a blind spot with them. Between the "puck" mouse -- always twisting in your hand -- the "doesn't actually click" mouse, the "which way is up?" cordless mouse...it really isn't their strong point. Of course their keyboards have also sucked -- this laptop keyboard ranks up among the most injury-causing I've ever used -- so maybe it's a general input device malaise.

Maybe they need a genius HF guy to get hired and champion a new "touch n' feel" for their products.

I'll stick with my Logitech for now -- ergonomic, 9 (or 11, depending on how you count) buttons, wireless...

Posted by: Who, me? (metageek)
Posted at: August 5th, 2005 02:27 pm (UTC)
Hockey puck

I've got a hockey puck on the kids' Mac Mini (it fits their hands better), and I think I'd actually prefer it over the Mighty Mouse.

Posted by: metahacker (metahacker)
Posted at: August 5th, 2005 02:36 pm (UTC)
Re: Hockey puck
miracle

Ooh, for small hands it actually makes sense. Around here they upgraded all the labs with that snap-on puck cover some company made, just to give them some size and shape. I can't count how many times my advisor started mousing sideways and couldn't figure out what's going on.

Of course, that's kind of par for the course with him...

Posted by: C. Virtue (cvirtue)
Posted at: August 5th, 2005 06:26 pm (UTC)
Re: Hockey puck
Kids silly nose

Our kids have the same problem with the puck.

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