Optical LED mice are almost a thing of the past these days, with most new mice using laser optics instead. The optical sensor/LED setup is still valid, though, and in the Intellimouse Explorer 3.0 has the ability to track at 9000 frames per second -- faster than many of its laser competitors. The only downside to an optical mouse when compared to a similar model using a laser is that the resolution (DPI) is lower. That means that on non-traditional mouse surfaces, you could experience errors in tracking. The more reflective the surface, the more trouble you'll have with an optical mouse. For that reason, I recommend using a good gaming mousepad for the Intellimouse Explorer. Even if you don't play many games, you'll have a much more comfortable mouse experience.
Aside from the standard two primary buttons, the Intellimouse Explorer 3.0 has a clickable, stepping scroll wheel which is ideal for first-person shooter games, but not as comfortable as a smoother wheel for everyday office work. Two thumb buttons on the left side of the mouse generally control browser forward/back operations by default, but this behavior can be changed through your operating system or desktop environment's mouse control framework. I found these side buttons to be more of a liability than an asset -- I frequently pressed them accidentally while moving the mouse to the right.
Physically the mouse is designed for right-handed people. It's also a little smaller than many later mouse models, which means that people with big hands will have some "pinky drag." In terms of weight, the Intellimouse Explorer 3.0 is as light as they get; that means less wrist and shoulder strain during extended periods of use.
The Intellimouse Explorer 3.0 is not wireless -- it is tethered to a reasonably long USB cord. That means you have to have enough room on your desktop to allow the cord to travel unimpeded. If something gets in the cord's way while you're moving the mouse, your motion will be somewhat restricted because of it.
A PS/2 adapter is included for those who can't do USB.
In Windows, all of the Intellimouse Explorer 3.0's buttons and features should work without any extra work. If you want to customize the mouse's functions, you'll have to install the included Intellipoint software.
*BSD and GNU/Linux users will not have any trouble using the basic functions of the Intellimouse Explorer 3.0 -- you just plug it in and it works -- but the side buttons may require xorg.conf modifications to work properly on some distributions. Generally the Intellimouse Explorer 3.0 can be customized through the KDE or GNOME control panels.
Microsoft made a good move in rebranding the Intellimouse Explorer 3.0 as a gaming mouse. I tried it out in Unreal Tournament 2004 and although I didn't find it quite as comfortable as my usual mouse -- a Logitech MX1000 Laser -- my accuracy was greatly improved. I don't know if I want to switch to using this mouse for my everyday work, but it's definitely got my vote for FPS gaming.
|Model||Intellimouse Explorer 3.0|
|Interface||USB by default, PS/2 adapter included|
|Price (retail)||U.S. ~$32 Buy one from Amazon.com|