The Mobile Memory Mouse 8000 represents a fundamental shift in laptop mouse design. Most previous portable mice were just smaller versions of larger desktop products, usually with creative methods of stowing the cord or wireless transceiver inside of the mouse's body. The Mobile Memory Mouse 8000, by contrast, was totally re-thought; it was engineered to be a laptop mouse from the ground up.
The wireless transceiver is about the width of a stick of gum, shorter overall than the same, and about 1/4" thick. It is revolutionary in two ways: It doubles as a 1GB flash memory stick, and it can connect to the mouse through a detachable wire in order to recharge the AAA battery. The wire is magnetically attached, so there are no mechanical parts to break or wear, but the contacts can become oxidized over time.
The included AAA battery is rechargeable and replaceable. It's accessible through a panel in the bottom of the mouse, where the 2.4Ghz/Bluetooth mode switch and Bluetooth broadcast button are also hidden away. Flat against the bottom of the mouse in the center is an on/off switch.
Interestingly, the Mobile Memory Mouse 8000 can switch between standard 2.4Ghz wireless and Bluetooth wireless communications. This is particularly advantageous on systems that have a Bluetooth transceiver, but do not have any available or easily accessible USB ports.
The scroll wheel is smooth, and offers little resistance; it doesn't move in clickable increments like on most mice. The wheel also functions as a clickable third button, and tilts to scroll sideways on operating systems that support the optional control software to enable extra features. There are two extra back/forward Web navigation buttons on the left side of the mouse, though they are difficult to use because of the device's small size and weight.
Speaking of size, the Mobile Memory Mouse 8000 is about half the size of most desktop laser mice. That means that it's not terribly comfortable to use, but it is highly portable and comes with a nice black carrying case. You can easily put this mouse in your pocket or computer bag without having to sacrifice space for other necessary items. In terms of shape, the MS Mobile Memory Mouse 8000 is thick, and slanted upward toward the base of the user's fingers. This means that primary control of the mouse is done in the center of your hand, and your hand's weight rests on the mouse surface or table -- not the mouse itself.
To get all of the mouse features to work -- specifically the sideways scroll and extra button -- you need to install the IntelliPoint mouse software in Windows XP and Vista. Linux users will not have any trouble using the basic mouse functions, but any features that require the IntelliPoint software will not work.
The Microsoft Mobile Memory Mouse 8000 was not usable in OpenBSD 4.2, though the memory stick did work, and the mouse itself did appear to be recognized by the system on a basic level. It's possible that some extra configuration work could solve this problem, but I was not able to get it working within a reasonable amount of time.
Putting it to the test
The first thing I noticed about the Mobile Memory Mouse 8000 was that it was surprisingly comfortable to use. Laptop mice are generally pretty awkward to hold and operate, but the unique -- some would probably say ugly -- shape of the Mobile Memory Mouse 8000 makes it much more hand-friendly. Despite that, it's still not appropriately ergonomic, and with extended use will not be as easy on the hands and wrists as a modern, full-size desktop mouse.
The high-definition laser tracks reliably on improvised surfaces such as countertops, paper documents, briefcases, and manila folders. This is a step above optical and rollerball mice, which have trouble operating smoothly on anything other than traditional mousepads.
Switching between Bluetooth and 2.4Ghz wireless technologies is totally unnecessary for most people. I can think of few scenarios in which Bluetooth would need to be used over the standard wireless technology, and given that it's a hassle to set up a Bluetooth connection and the fact that so few laptop computers have a Bluetooth transceiver built in, I'm unable to explain why Microsoft felt that this was a necessary feature in an already impressive mouse. Still, if you're looking for a Bluetooth mouse, this one will work well.
The detachable cord is only necessary to charge the battery. Its magnetic connectors are really cool -- they just pop into place on the bottom front of the mouse and on the back of the USB transceiver, and you can go on using the mouse as it's charging. I suspect that the contacts could easily become corroded over time, making charging inconsistent, but you can clean them with a swab and rubbing alcohol if necessary. Contact oxidation is a problem for all rechargeable mice; this one is no exception.
Overall, I liked the Microsoft Mobile Memory Mouse 8000, and would definitely add it to my laptop bag. It's a little pricey as a standalone mouse, but if you add in the fact that it also doubles as 1GB of portable storage, the cost is a bit more easily justified. Add to that the fact that anything involving Bluetooth automatically costs more than identical products that use conventional wireless technology, so all things considered, $83 isn't really all that expensive.
|Model||Mobile Memory Mouse 8000|
|Interface||Wireless with included USB transceiver, or Bluetooth with a third-party transceiver|
|Price (retail)||U.S. $83 (Buy it from Amazon.com)|