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MS Introduces Optical Mouse 282

Unknwn writes "Microsoft announced today their new optical mouse, the Intellimouse Explorer. For some reason, they think that optical mice or something new. I have some Sun 3s and Sun 4s lying around which make that a joke... =) " I happen to have an optical mouse at my feet right now. Looks nice, but is it worth $75? I have had the worst luck with MS peripherals (they were gifts!), but I have friends who swear by them...Update: 04/20 03:16 by J : A "concerned" reader wrote us to say that the mouse will not require a special pad like the older opitcal mice. He also said he had a chance to play with it, and that it was quite nice. Anyone else care to share?
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MS Introduces Optical Mouse

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    (Sorry, couldn't resist. ;)

    Since dirty rollers - even with a spotless mouse pad - really annoys me, I'll probably get one of these mice. I bet it wouldn't work on a featureless surface like a first-surface optically flat mirror, but for regular surfaces with some texture (cloth, formica etc.) it should work well. Previous generation optical mice suffered from being tied to the fixed geometry of the grid - if this system approximates the marketing hype, it should work nicely.

    As much as I hate Microsoft, their mice and Sidewinder joysticks and pretty good. Now if they would just get out of the software business and stick to what they are good at...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It much better than the Sun Sparc mouse that 'works' on some surfaces... this mouse works a lot better (I know, used and tried every type including the new IntelliMouse/Eye).

    If this mouse came out by any other company than MS, I am sure no one would rip it apart so. It kind of makes me sick seeing all this childish MS bashing no matter what they do (right or wrong).

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Agreed here too. The MS bashing is getting plain silly, it's a fad almost. 'Your l337 if ya ba$h the evil empire.. whoo' good grief. They could come out with anything right about now, and you'd have someone there gripping it up, just because.

    If anyone has ever worked in end user support, imagine those people moving to the Unix world. Their lives as well as the lives of support techs become quite misserable. A great insight into this is #linux on EfNet, someone asks a question, and it's "Oh, god RTFM" or if your lucky you get a cryptic answer (from their stand point). I don't mind delving into something to learn it, but you must remember not everyone is a geek at heart. There are those types that see a machine as nothing other than a tool.

    Unix stronghold is servers, I wish more servers were run on Unix, Unix provides VERY nice features in that arena. However I do NOT wish more clients ran Unix, it just complicates their lives everytime I see it.

    It somewhat reminds me of the ameatuer radio (HAM) radio style crowd in a way. Why does EVERYTHING need to be one size fits all? Why can't we have Unix take over servers, Windows take over desktops, PDAs for the business folks, Mac's for the people that fall outside of business nor the want to learn computers too much but still do some stuff.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Keep it presentable?! Why would you want to do that? Whoever has the
    dirtiest mouse in the office is obviously the most productive. I like
    my mice dirty. But my real pride and joy is my filthy 84-key IBM AT
    keyboard, undeniably the greatest keyboard ever made by man. Geez, it's
    nearly 15 years old now, and it's made of steel. This heavy fucker can
    kill any other keyboard in the office, and it has the battle scars to
    prove it. It also proves I am the manliest dude around!
  • Coplan asks:

    if I printed out a grid that was smaller than normal, would I be able to mess with the speed of the mouse that way?

    Yes, but at the expense of stability. If I remember from when I was using a Sun3, the mouse motion gets jittery if you compress the grid.
  • The old, "dove bar" MS mice had two steel rollers for X and Y axes inside, where 'modern" mice have little plastic wheels (these were very easy to clean.)

    This was the exact same internal mechanism on the original mechanical mouse for the Indigo from SGI. I'm sure that the SGI mice were made by Mouse Systems, not by SGI.

    Mouse Systems may not still be the input device OEM supplier for Microsoft, but somebody is!

    They don't make this stuff, they just ask their OEM partner to show 'em "cool stuff', and some of it gets a Seattle marketing job... --Jeremiah

  • Do you have any idea how little power is needed for something like this? It probably uses something on the order of one or a few hundred mW, which is lost in the noise from processor, memory and hard drive in a laptop. Might matter in a palmtop, but then this mouse isn't intended to be used with palmtops.
    Then again, this is a Microsoft product, so who knows?
  • They tracked *really* well... but, my God... that was some seriously nasty looking hardware. It was like sliding around a big Scooter Pie.

    - A.P.

    "One World, One Web, One Program" - Microsoft Promotional Ad

  • You can have the best mouse in the world, but in the end... it's still a mouse. Since this is MS, innovation is of course out of the question, but I'll stick to my Wacom ArtZ II tablet and Synaptecs touchpad, thanks.

    BTW, for those of you still stuck with mice, beware; the constant arm motion between keyboard and mouse could be harmful. A good touchpad isn't near the price of one of these mice I bet; my keyboard has a great touchpad built right in, and cost $60 (one of those split keyboards).

    The tablet was of course quite a bit more, but if you're serious about digital art, you're going to have one; if not, you don't need it anyway.

  • Sun used to ship optical mice all of the time. The major downside to them was the special reflective mouse pad which they required. If that got all funky, the mouse would start to act up and become unresponsive.

    I'm not sure how these new MS mice operate, but I'm sure the surface they move across will affect how accurate they are.
  • 5 years?!? How about 15 years! I distincly remember seeing an optical mouse (with that funky mouse pad) back in 83-84 in Computerland (Medicine Hat, Alta). Can't remember what it was attached to, though.
  • Am I the only one who thinks that incorperating what amounts to a small camera and microprocessor into a mudane device like the mouse a bit of overengineering? A bit of fuzz on the rollers aside, current SIMPLER mechanical systems work just fine. Actually, a hybrid like the Logitech visually trackballs that track movement using dots on the ball seems still to be a cleaner solution.

    I guess it's a sort of cool idea, but the Microsoft corperate mindset seems to be "added complexity=innovation" with little regard to the implications of this "innovation" (=added complexity). Go figure.

  • I wonder when their "Butt Hinge" product will come to market. If you check out the IBM patent server, Microsoft has a patent of Butt Hinges!
  • First of all, there have been optical mice around, but this is one that you can get for $50 (or $75 for the version with scroll wheels and extra buttons) and you'll be able to find at most major computer stores. At the moment, it's nearly impossible to find optical mice anywhere. I'll probably get one, since I'm sick of all the dirt getting in my wheeled mouse and making it hard to move the pointer precisely, and I don't see anybody else selling optical mice at my local Best Buy.

    Anyway, Microsoft hardware in general is pretty nice. I've had no problems with the Sidewinder gamepad, and the joystick is nice as well.
  • Do a webcrawler or yahoo search for "mouse balls" (grin).
  • Posted by Assmodeus:

    what in the hell would anyone need a tail light on a mouse for?? geee! im going backwards, better watch where im going. i mean how many of us actually look at the mouse as we are moving it??

  • Posted by DiegoGuy:

    I agree with you, but to a certain point. I agree with the people who dislike Microsoft for shutting out other competition in areas where there are just plain better competitors than MS. An example of this is Microsoft making every effort to shut 3com PalmOS out of business. Let's face it folks, the PalmOS is better than Windows CE for PDA's! (I think we can all agree, right?) But when everyone is just disliking Microsoft because it's the "in" thing to do and you're somehow more of a geek, I get sick of it!

    People are wasting SOOOOOOO much time using Linux as a client system just so they can somehow think they are boycotting Microsoft just so they can tell other geeks on the Net "hey I don't use Windows so I'm more cool than you are!". The main reason I love Linux and UNIX in general is that is KICKS ASS for serving. The Internet was built on UNIX, and UNIX is still where it's at. Linux has a more stable kernel than Windows, and can do more with less hardware than Windows as a server. 16 MB ram on an NT Server? Don't even think about it. But for Linux running Apache, it would run great.

    I mean, what else is there to say? Sometimes I wonder about the Psychology of the whole MS bashing. It's almost a completely adolescent thing to do, just like when we rebelled when we were teenagers.

    Think for yourself, and use what YOU think is the best and simplest and easiest way to get the job done. At the same time, don't just use NT Servers because Microsoft brainwashes you into thinking they are faster than UNIX as webservers, because they just AREN'T. Be yourself, think for yourself, and you'll succeed in business, at home, or wherever.
  • Only the Sun3 used the 680* processor. Even the IPCs used the Sparc chip. You can generally get a Sun3 (or was that a SparcStation 3?) for a couple of hundred bucks. Unless you collect oddball computers, it's definitely not worth it.

    We still have a bunch of the old optical mice hanging around. They're kinda neat, because I hold my hand at about 45 degrees from logical north; I have to turn the gridded mouse pad, or my mouse doesn't move like I expect.

    - Tony
  • I love the Natural keyboard feel as well, but since I was first introduced to it on a Mac, I wasn't cough too enthused about buying one from Microsoft. Instead, I got one from PC Systems which has served me very well. The only problem was, when I cleaned it, I screwed something back in wrong and now the mouse pass-through cable doesn't work. But that's not their fault.

    And from comparison, it's on par in terms of quality with the MSNK, although it's not as slick looking (has three stupid buttons in the middle, I think there's a model that isn't this braindead).

    Hope that helps you, if you ever need to replace your keyboard!
  • >The next paragraph it talks about the scroll wheel... Am I missing something?

    Yes. There are two versions, the IntelliEye and the Intellimouse Explorer. The former does not have a wheel and thus has no moving parts at all.

    I'd love one if it was cordless. I just wish I'd picked up another Logitech cordless when they were having a rebate on them last month.

    P.S. Red Hat Linux 5.2, the boxed version, is less than $10 at CompUSA this week.
  • It's the horribly innovative, terribly useful middle mouse butt^H^H^H^Hwheel.
  • I wonder if the mouse is running Windows CE? :) It would be pretty funny if my mouse crashed.

    Well, even though it's a fast rate of sampling, would it not be possible to create a situation where the DSP gets confused? Could the mouse suddenly think it's being poved in a different direction?

    It would be really cool if they could minaturize the same systems the new cars have, that funky new traction control setup which detects driving/handling anomalities via momentum sensors or whatever those are called. Now your mouse would go exactly where you want it to. Just what I need for team fortress!

  • An optical sensor captures images of the work surface at a rate of 1,500 images per second, and a digital signal processor (DSP) translates changes between the images into on-screen movements.

    Just don't use this mouse on top of any sensitive documents. This thing is scanning your surface the whole time and sending the composite image to Bill.

  • I use a MouseMan marble to play Quake II and many other 3D games (Descent, Half Life, ...). It took me a while to achieve Nirvana with the controls, but here's what I've settled on for all the games:

    • Mouse in "look mode" all the time (turn and look up/down)
    • button 1: fire
    • button 2: run
    • button 3: various. In Quake II, it "zooms in", which is simply awesome for long-distance railgun or rocket shots
    • ASDF: strafe left, back, forward, strafe right respectively
    • space: jump
    • V: crouch (or slide down in Descent)
    • X: center view
    • R: various ('use' in Half-Life, 'slide up' in Descent)
    That may help. The trackball is excellent for aiming--I think it's even better than the mouse, because you don't have to move your arm--but it royally sucks for movement.
  • A few months ago, my father bought a Microsoft Phone. It's an excellent, well-engineered telephone - it even feels right in your hands, which is not something you usually see from a cordless phone. The range is great and the charger is separated from the transmitter, allowing you to put the phone away from your computer.

    Unfortunately for my dad, the phone's interaction with the computer died. The hardware is still going perfectly strong, but something in the software that communicates with the phone has gone haywire; my dad can no longer check his e-mail via the telephone or keep his call waiting lists on his computer, because, due to a software fault, the phone and computer are no longer on speaking terms.

    There's an instructive lesson here about Microsoft's strengths and weaknesses.

  • And when they're done shelving it, there will be no optical mouse. Where once there was a private entrepreneur who thought he could invent something without Microsoft acquiring it for shelving purposes, there is now one less competitor against Microsoft. The same went for clear type fonts.
  • The way I imagine an optical mouse might work without the funky silvery mouse pad is by using a printed ball, similar to what Logitech does with the TrackMan Marble. In this setup, the light sensors would track the movement of dots printed on the surface of the ball. The rollers would be optional (and not needed).

    In an orthogonal subject: Microsoft Intelligence Exploder... :op
  • I have one of the first marbles that Logitech produced and I still love it. It's much easier to keep clean than traditional mice, and the optical action of the ball is smoooooooth.
  • I use a Natural keyboard on my SGI. I like the shape, but I hate the spongy feeling of the keys, and I had to phisically disable the Windows keys (they would crash the X server).

    As for mice, I'll take Logitech over MS any day.
  • Or how about a surface with a moving image?
    Like a flatscreen tv or something.

    If it works exactly the way they say it does, one could write a program on a palmpilot or something to move the mouse for you. Just move a patterned image around on the screen to trick the mouse.

    Though why would someonewant to do that? :)
  • I dunno. I see a lot of people bashing MS hardware here and there and what they call new and where it was developed from. Guess what, the mouse is pretty basic. All of the designs for it essentially come from the same basic idea.

    I've never had a problem with a Microsoft mouse, and it's comfort is unbeat (Logitech and Kensingtons just don't fit into the palm of my hand like the MS mouse does). I have a computer that's four years old that's still using the same MS mouse that it came with. I have another computer with one of the newer wheelie deals and it works fine, too (I don't really use the wheel much, but it's still a great idea, IMHO). Of course, I treat my hardware with respect. The only trauma my mice undergo is the three day trip between school and home every summer. I do find that they have problems running over some surfaces, but all mice have these problems. A good $1 mouse pad tends to take care of this (one with that funky grain to its fabric).

    As for their other hardware, their keyboards work great. I've used other ergonomic keyboards and none matches up to the comfort of the MS one. I find it rather large and klunky (I have one of the older, non-Elite versions), but I don't care cause I don't move it a whole lot. My Linux system has a standard Dell keyboard which I use constantly, but I'm much more relaxed typing in my MS keyboard.

    A lot of people replying to these messages tend to take MS-bashing to new heights. Chiding a company that you hate for putting a tail light on a mouse is ridiculous. It was a design decision meant to appeal to the mass consumer. MS isn't targeting stuff at you and I. They're targeting it at the 70% of the world's home computer population that is clueless and likes to look cool. It's an excellent marketing decision. Flashing lights and bells have always appealed to consumer society.

    And of the 30 or so comments I saw, only two of the people had actually used the mouse. They had good things to say. One might criticize MS for their product, but at least look at it first. Otherwise, you look like a ranting/raving buffoon.
  • I never saw a Honeywell.

    But the design is the same as the good ole DECstation 3 button puck mouse.

    Two little offset wheels on the bottom. These things tracked better than anything else in the world.

    The only downside was the buttons and size were kind of bad for ergonomics.
  • They showed it off at Comdex...they even had a 9 or 10 foot tall model.....I missed Linus' speech, but I saw him on the floor, I did a double take when I realized it was him, and it was too late to say hi :(
  • Naah, Microsoft already has demonstrated input technology that uses PS/2 or USB (Natural Keyboard Elite). The market for USB peripherals is not that big yet, and they're not going to get the big OEM accounts with a USB-only mouse.

    For the record, I've had nothing but good luck with MS hardware products. Their joysticks (especially the new ones) and mice have always been of excellent quality and construction. And the MS natural keyboard elite is orders of magnitude better than those cheap $10 knockoffs when it comes to quality.
  • As in late 50's automobile vintage. Now that would be style!
  • The butt hinge? From one of my home pages:

    Microsoft has recently innovated [] and patented [] the door hinge []as part of its runnaway embrace and extend [] strategy. This is no joke! [] One step closer towards Gates' [] promised and detailed World Domination. []

    But they do make decent mice. Software, on the other hand...
  • Checking IBM's OS/2 Device Driver Pak Online [] reveals support for USB based mice, keyboards, modems, and speakers. There is even support for Micro$oft's USB Intellimouse.
  • Being a long-time OS/2 user I've been on the receiving end of their tactics for quite some time:

    • The lock on OEM's that make in impossible for them to sell non-MS operating systems and still remain competitive. I recall reading about an OEM in German that used to sell 30% of their systems preloaded OS/2, that is until they were threatened with higher prices by Microsoft. Only now with the DOJ on Microsoft's back are OEM's starting to offer alternatives such as Linux.
    • Threaten stores with the loss of discounts on MS software if any OS/2 software was sold, even if it was special ordered by a customer. By doing so the false perception of there's no software for OS/2 is maintained.
    • MS has purchased many companies with the sole purpose of removing their excellent non-MS based software offerings from the market. This has been seen in the OS/2 community as well as more recently in the Java community.
    • The continual changes to Windows 3 where the only new feature is to break software running under OS/2's Windows 3 support. (ie the many revisions to win32s.dll)
    • Their ability to manipulate the media due to ad dollars. What else could explain reviews that point out how much better OS/2 is in performance and stability over Windows, and yet the conclusion is but your better off staying with Microsoft products?

    After experiencing such I refuse to support them by purchasing any of their products, no matter how good they might be, because doing otherwise furthers Microsoft's ability to maintain their stranglehold on the market.

  • i was just reminded of my own problems by this article, i have a SUN 3/110 with no mouse and anyone who has an extra sun type three mouse and pad would be generously rewarded...well ok, resonably compensated...if they could help me out by sending it my way...i've tried all the major used hardware and junk houses and no one seems to be able to find a type three mouse for me. I guess it's time to pull out the big guns...and "ask slashdot", well sort of...
  • There's another peripheral maker out there that just opened up the specs to a lot of its hardware -- specifically their joysticks -- so that open source drivers can now be written with ease. This company is Logitech.

    This is the kind of thing I like to see, and I support the company by buying their products. The other day I went looking for a WingMan Interceptor but couldn't find it. I spoke to a salesman and explained how this new development had just made Logitech products more appealing to me and possibly other Linux users. He thanked me for the information and said he'd order a line of Logitech joysticks immediately.

    As I explained to the salesman, I've used MS Sidewinders and I think they're excellent joysticks. And as he explained to me, Microsoft is beginning to dominate the market for high-quality input devices.

    I have looked at what's happening with peripherals now and I've looked at what happened with browsers, word processors, spreadsheets, and operating systems in the past and I've drawn the following conclusion: If I choose Microsoft today, then tomorrow I may no longer have a choice.

    PS. I bought the Logitech Cordless Desktop (it was impulse shopping at its worst). I love the pros, but I hate the cons. The keyboard has a tendency to think a key is still down after I've released it. This happens mostly with the movement keys while playing Q2 (grr!). Also, the sequence ^X^S^X^C usually fails at some point. Can other cordless keyboard users tell me if this is to be expected and if there's anything to be done to improve the situation? (I've observed the 8 inch radius guidelines and am withing 1.5m)

  • I was just talking about this to a guy I know who just recently joined the Dark Side and was going through assimilation-- err, orientation. From what he told me, this mouse will work on almost any surface, besides glass and polished marble. Interesting idea... I wonder how they managed to pull that off? Optical mice of old usually had some kind of reflective grid mousepad or something similar... surely they'd encounter problems on the variety of surfaces we work on. Anyways, that's the skinny from inside... hope this provides the teeniest bit of info.

  • The motion detection should be fun.

    Another idea: turn the mouse upside down and wave your hand across it. Voila, a mouseless mouse, at least until you need to push a button.

    There are lots of fun optical inputs to use with this thing, although it probably requires really close contact to focus correctly.

  • I had you problems until I bought a "3M Precise Mousing Surface". As a bonus you get a really good mouse-mat.

  • the Trackman Marble uses the same principle, yes. If you open it and run your finger across the little window, your pointer moves.

    The concept of using a mouse on your knee or chair arm is nothing new, i set my trackman on my knee all the time. What this new MS mouse does *not* solve is the need for much desktop real estate. The trackman takes no additional space outside of it's actual size. Any mouse that you have to move around will.

    Using this mouse on your knee will be a bit kludgey too, since most knees are not likely to be a whole screen's worth in movement.

    Oh well, perhaps and improvement on the typical mouse, but certainly not better then the Trackman.

  • Don't forget visual. If it has anything at all to do with programming, it's visual.
  • > We made mouse pads by laminating patterns we'd print on a standard laser printer.
    We just photocopied the original mouse pads. By enlarging or reducing the copy, you could change the mouse sensitivity.

    > Sun used to ship optical mice (from Mouse House or Mouse Systems) that used two wavelengths of LED
    I think it was one visible (blue stripes) and one IR (looked very pale yellow stripes). If you had the pad the wrong way round, the mouse got confused.
    I've often wondered why the Xerox style ones never became more popular.
  • Great, now the kids will have something to match their blinking, glowing tennis shoes.
  • What really gets me is that years back (think 70's) Xerox had optical mice that were capable of working on more or less any surface with a trivial amount of onboard logic and three LEDs or so. I have no idea why they didn't catch on.

    Well, except the Xerox folks seem to be completely incompetent when it comes to marketing an idea...
  • If you play quake you wouldnt say that wheel sux
    Stan "Myconid" Brinkerhoff
  • I interviewed with 3M and bought a couple from their inhouse store. Best mouse pads I have ever used. Really helps when you set the mouse sensitivity high for drawing work. But do heed the warning about placing them on highly varnished wood.
  • As informed consumers, we have to be able to see past the marketing hype of any company, however, I am getting a bit tired of Microsoft trumpeting older technologies as "new". For example, ClearType appears to be nothing more than subpixel rendering which I believe we all discussed as not being new just as this mouse is a slightly updated design on the Logitech Marble.
  • Hear, hear!

    The old IBM keyboards are all I'll use. I have a private stockpile of them that I've rescued from junked PS/2s, and every one of my machines has one hooked to it. I can type at least 25% faster on these bad boys than on newer, "soft-click" mushboards. Plus, it makes a hideous racket when you really get going...

    Not as loud as an old IBM System/36 terminal I once used, though. That thing had some sort of tactile/aural feedback relay that thunked inside the keyboard casing with every keystroke. The thing was a huge brick, and looked like a Commodore 64 (two inches thick, with deeply cupped keycaps) and weighed ten pounds. And you know what? It was the best keyboard I've ever typed on...

  • Uhhh unless it's using a DSP to correlate changes in the underlying image which requires FFTs and such, in which case, yeah, it'd take quite a special driver to move the cursor around. Unless the DSP is in the mouse. Which I doubt. I think it's a WinMouse. :-)
  • The mouse isn't using the the same method sun's mice used to track. Looks like they're taking snapshots of the surface the mouse is on(like 1500 a second) and using the differences in the snapshots to move the mouse pointer.
  • Ya, cordless. Sure. That cord's often the only thing that keeps things on my desk from being lost forever.
  • I got a demo of this mouse during a recent (but generally unimpressive) visit/tour of M$ R&D.

    A cheap CCD camera images the surface you're moving on and essentially cross-correlates the received image with previous ones, providing an estimate of displacement. A small lamp near the camera illuminates the mousepad/table/jean surface underneath.

    It works well on any surface that's textured 'enough' to see some pattern and perform the correlation. Apparently you don't need much, and it's nice to not rely on mechanical friction.

    The mouse prototype (I didn't see the product) was an impressive piece of technology; and the inventor, I have to admit, seemed like a competant, level-headed engineer.

    It was also kinda cool to see the 'mouse-eye's' (well, maybe it's belly's) view of the mousepad on a monitor during test use..

    I still have no plans to buy one.
  • Obviously not for a green PC then... think about it. If even as much as 40% of the light is reflected back to the optical sensors, then that other 60% is wasted.
    The ability of the mouse to track over any surface is a plus to loptop users. If I had a laptop, redirecting the light so as to "capture" most of it on the sensor would be in my favor. Wasted light is wasted power is shorter batter life. Reducing the expended light, and improving the reflected content saves me money in the long run. The taillight is a waste.

    I still think that mice should have feet!!! (Honeywell circa 1992)

    Time flies like an arrow;
  • I could really use that postscript file!!!
    If you still have access to it, could you send it to:

    I know this is the wrong place to ask this, but I cannot seem to get your e-mail address :-(
  • On my mouseman plus the wheel can be clicked and functions JUST like a third button.
    I would think that the trackball version would do the same.
  • If I remember there were 2 reasons that I did not buy one(and I REALY HATE dirty mouse balls!):
    1: You had to use the drivers that came with the mouse, and it was incompatible with some games because of that(at least that is what the reviews in the game mags said.)
    2: Only 2 buttons.

    P.S. there were older mice with wheels on the bottom, but on those the wheels were virticle(spelling) and at right angles to each other, and had sharp edges(I have actually used one of these and they worked quite well, though you would have never thought they would frome the design.
    The honeywell mouse has the wheels mounted horizantally to the table with just a slight tilt to the axel, the tilt being angled 90deg from each other(not from the table, only about 5 to 10 deg from that)
  • Your girlfriend and a glass of water huh? Likely story.

    It sounds to me like someone was trying out one handed typing at the porn sites!

  • Mice: I had a magic point mouse, liked it for its low profile and light-touch buttons. Had some serious weight too. The MS mouse buttons have too hard a touch for me. Mouse wheel is nice, I use it to scroll in netscape and emacs. Whichever one I use, I'm always de-crudding it or it gets bumpy as a country backroad. The ball retainer ring on the MS mouse is a nice touch. MS Trackball is horrid, the buttons are in the *wrong* places, and that one needs constant de-crudding, once a day it seems. I now have a Logitech MarbleMan+, which uses a spotted ball and an optical tracker. Crud doesn't affect the tracking, just offers some resistance to pushing. De-crudding involves flicking the crud off the posts. I love it.

    MS Natural Keyboard: the new model I hate. Tiny arrow keys with a diamond shape -- blech. Function keys that look like they belong on a laptop. Had an old one, the feel of it was nice, the touch on it was no mac keyboard (those have very nice key feel). Fed it a beer one night and it died even after attempts to clean it. I stick with el-cheapo $10 generic keyboards now.

    MS SideWinder joystick: The twist was innovative, but I rarely use it (got better torso positioning with the keyboard in mechwarrior, only use it for wing commander because its sucky flight model forces me to use it). One of the springs on it snaps loudly when I move the stick in a circle, though it doesn't seem to affect positioning. The throttle on it is flimsy, inaccurate, and worthless. And nothing ever seems to use those four extra buttons. The force feedback model looks nice, but I've seen better and more forceful FF joysticks out there, I'll give MS's a miss.

    Overall, it's pretty much average.
  • You can still get one of the old MS Natural keyboards, if you wanna do a little digging. Due to an unfortunate combination of my girlfriend and a glass of water, mine was ruined last week, but I bid on a new one on eBay, got it for 52.02 (a buck less than mine cost me originally) it's brand new, and on it's way to me now.
  • You can bet that this MS mouse will be USB and drivers will be available for Windows only.
  • That's why Microsoft is one of the most profitable companies in history - they have very well defined "upgrade" paths - even though they really aren't upgrades.

    Its a free country - you're free to be as stupid as you want. If people want to buy, who am I to stop them?
  • my experiences w/ Sun's optical mouse have made me avoid them.

    *Special mouse pad is far too fussy for human contact ( must clean almost daily or cursor develops a mind of its own)

    *There's no resistance to them, I suppose I prefer some feedback from a mouse.

    *Sorry, but Sun system's mice are anti-ergonomic. Right up there with the pitiful i-mac mouse.

    *Do you need yet another device to send power to?

    MS, again wants to be your 'one stop shop', buying technology from some young upstart and selling it as its own. As a lefty, I hate MS for insisting on providing computer makers with 'righty-only' mice. Kudos to "Dell" for shipping a Logitech symetrical mouse now.

    I love my trackball....I'll wait for Kensington or Logitech to take a crack at optical mice.
  • This tells you how old I am...

    It's pretty bad when the mouse on my computer has more processing power than my first computer (early '80s). It sounds like MS's newest mouse blows away my 2nd and maybe 3rd computers as well!

  • Well, it may be a good product, but they definitely deserve slagging off for the self-glorifying, blow-your-own trumpet text of the announcent. I know this is a press-release, but the greatest innovation in mouse-technology in 30 years? Come on...
    The red glowing underside sounds cool tho' ;-)
  • My track ball is optical, its awesome, it glides and it needs cleaning... once every few meals with greasy finger foods... (like the MS super mouse wouldn't need to be cleaned then?)

    I don't understand the innovation... (should I spray paint my trackball silver to learn more?)

    I like not having to even move my arm... only my thumb...


    PS i do acknowledge the interesting idea of not having to use a patterned mouse pad...(wonder how it's done)
  • They claim that these mice will work on any surface, not just the weird silvery optical mice pad the old optical mice required... plus they look sorta neat and have extra buttons... and extra buttonses is good.

    I dunno, i hate m$ as a software company, but i have to admit the hardware of theirs that i have used is decent...

    course, i'm a cheap bastard and am happy enough with my current mouse that i wouldn't actually buy one of them thingums...
  • After dealing with limited space in my apartment, I decided that my regular mouse wasn't going to cut it and bought a trackball mouse. I love this thing! It uses a little black and red ball, tracked optically, so there's no risk of mechanical clean it I just pop the ball out of the socket, blow out the dust, and pop the ball back in. The buttons on either side (this is a two button model) make it pretty easy to emulate middle button action...just click with my third finger and thumb simultaneously. The only problem that I have is if I drop the mouse, the ball sometimes falls out and rolls away...hard to find with my paper-strewn floors...other than that I have no complaints about it.

    (NB- Logitech didn't pay me for this endorsement, but I'll gladly take money from them :))

  • Does anyone remember the Honeywell mouse? I have had one of these mice for six years without any type of cleaning. From what I remember it is mechano-optical (two-disks on the bottom replace the ball). This mouse is great because it can be used on almost any surface; it can even be used upside down :)
    Too bad no one bought them... eventually the design was sold to another company(kensington, I think).
  • Actually the mouse was designed by Honeywell but they sold their design/rights to Keytronic after trying to market the design(with limited success) for a year or two.
  • The Logitech TrackMan Marble series has been doing that for quite a while now.
    I have the original TrackMan Marble sitting on my desk right now, the best mouse device I've ever used! :-)))
    I think M$ has done something new (maybe... there IS some chance that they might have) and the way they are marketing it, it sounds like it just takes a picture of the surface it's on and compares it to the last shot taken.
    The only problem I see with that is... what happens when you run out of deskspace and have to pick the mouse up to get more room to move?
    If it takes 1500 pics/s then it'll be able to tell you're moving it... hmm.. maybe they *did* steal logitech's technology.

  • Why? It's the "because I can" factor at work. :)

    Seriously, though... That's an interesting idea. I've got a Palmpilot Pro, I can dig up one of those old Xerox optical mice, and I can prob'ly learn the SDK for Palmpilot...

    Maybe it can be a summer project. :)
  • Well, technically, the mouse buttons themselves move, but I think that's being a bit too picky.

  • ActiveIntelliDirectVisualCJX++++
  • by BJH ( 11355 )

    If I recall correctly, USB Macs include a very basic USB driver in ROM (true ROM, not the "ROM-in-RAM"), which allows for key commands, etc., before the system loads.

  • Right on. I'm using the IBM AT click-clack keyboard with the red trackpoint clitty. Certainly the best PC keyboard ever made (and still retails for $200 or so).

    $10 PC keyboards seem to lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. It's my secret hope that the companies foisting these will get hit with a class action suit.
  • I have yet to find a keyboard/mouse combination as good as my MS Natural Keyboard/IntelliMouse Pro. I had the original IntelliMouse for two years and I never had a problem with it. The IntelliMouse Pro is even better, I love the design of it.. it is quite a bit higher than the original IntelliMouse and seems to be more comfortable. However, it looks like the Explorer might replace the IM Pro as my mouse of choice.
  • Well see... Now you can just tape something on the
    bottom... There is always room for fun.

    Until they start running on GPS they can't stop the mouse fun ;)
  • Do they still put the 6 key on the wrong side? I can't tell because all of their ads now have a person's hand conspicuously over that part of the keyboard. :)

    I do use their mice though.

    What I would really like is a mouse that is the same shape, but made of marble with ball berrings for the glide (instead of the little plastic strips) and one really big one for tracking. If it was smooth enough I think it would be a really nice feel.
  • Bashing MS because they took the concept of optical mice and improved upon it is senseless. Sure, Sun has been using optical mice for years. I used one back in college, and my company recently aquired a new Sun E250 server. The newer mice tracks on a desktop, the older one required a metallic pad like others in this thread have commented on (it did not track well on the desk). But the Sun mice are horribly uncomfortable, do not have a wheel, and do not have 5 buttons. Bashing MS in this case is like bashing Ford or Honda because they improved the fuel efficiency of the gasoline engine. The general concept, a gasoline engine, is nothing new. But they made it more efficient, which is better for the consumer. As for style, take a look at this picture [] for a jpeg of the new mouse. All opinions on physical beauty are subjective, but this rates pretty highly with me. Is the Intellimouse Explorer worth $75? Tough to say without trying it. I wouldn't have thought I would have paid for the original Intellimouse, but the time saved and comfort of using the wheel in nearly anything convinced me.
  • Well, thier price of 50$ for a 'regular' mouse is pretty darn good considering some ball mouses M$ makes cost 70$.
  • Since when was reintroducing technology a quantum leap??? Improvement yes. I think I'll give a quantum leap to airplanes, a new fangled thing called the BiWing, two wings for more lift...
    And this whole no mouse pad, lets see you keep it clean.
    LOGITECH is the only way to go.
  • ... And they announced to support Linux ... Now if they would just create a driver for the touchpad on their natural keyboard.
  • The mousepad was not really necessary. When I was working with the old Motorola powered Sun3 and the SPARCstation1/2 I had some PostScript files which would produce the grids for the optical mice. You just printed out a page and used it as a very thin mouse pad when the original one got lost.

    And it was even possible to use the LCD display of a wrist watch as a mouse pad. We had one customer where we removed the mouse pad so that they were not able to do any damage to the software that was running. So one of the guys working new the workstation figured out that he could move the mouse by using his watch as a very small mouse pad. So we got rid of the mouse completely :-)
  • Too bad, though it does look cool, I can't help but hope it doesn't catch on. Stick the optical technology in an ambidexterous mouse and I'm sold.

    Lefty rant:

    The curvy mice are bad enough, and then you make the left button bigger, and now the buttons on the side! Too much.

    And don't tell me I can get lefty version. I and many others work in a shared environment. And I'm not going to start carrying around my own personal mouse.

  • That's pretty 'leet. I must admit, I've never heard of any of the optical mouse pads before. In theory, if I printed out a grid that was smaller than normal, would I be able to mess with the speed of the mouse that way? I'm sure there's an easier way to do it with software...but this is a curiousity question.
  • Those Mac mice (the round 'pucks' that ship with the translucent G3s) suck long and loud. We've installed about 25 of those G3 systems since they became available and all but 2 of them have come back with notes that read "Can I get my old mouse back? This one [profane oral/fecal action]."

    I was personally a little surprised, since most of the digital artists and other creative types that get 'em usually think anything Apple does merits something along the lines of a Nobel Peace Prize.

  • Yes, the old IBM PC keyboards, and even some of the not-that-old ones, are outstanding. Excellent tactile AND aural feedback. Obviously a product of the same people who made the Selectric such an excellent typewriter.

    I salvaged four from our computer junkpile, and got enough keycaps to make two functioning keyboards. They're PS/2 era (given the PS/2 plugs), but still far better than any other PC keyboard I've used.

    Now if I could manage to use a DEC VT100 keyboard and maybe the LK201 keyboard that goes with my VT320 usable on a PC system I'd be in heaven.

  • It doesn't say on their site, but is the IBM 347x terminal keyboard actually compatible with PCs? Do the non-PC function keys generate usable scancodes?

    It's huge, and I think it would make an excellent keyboard..
  • I don't see how it'll work in these cases either. A surface with sufficiently high optical variance is probably required.
    But I guess it should be possible to work with most real surfaces, like paper, which are actually quite rough on a microscopic level -- which means that the camera on the mouse must be of quite high resolution.

  • a "Butt Hinge" wtf is that?
    it sounds kinda perverted.

    MS Butt Hinge
    i donno, sounds somehow fitting.
  • no kidding
    I like Logitech stuff
    they are nice product names
    "Mouse" "Keyboard" "TrackBall"
    i owned 4 MS mice (job gave them to me) and a MS natural keyboard, all broken in exact 3 months.
    I wouldnt buy a MS thing even if it was good.
  • actually the new MS mouse sucks shit
    no linux support?
    no buy.
  • how about water? eh? eh?
    bet it doesnt work there!
  • > a digital signal processor (DSP) translates changes between the images into on-screen movements

    Question is, where is the processing done? If in the mouse, that may help explain the price. But my guess is that some processing will be done by the computer its attached to. After all, what if a service pack^H^Hbugfix is needed for it?

    This may be the first mouse to require a pentium to use.

  • Sun optical mice needed a special cross-hatched mousepad to work. The new MS mouse claims to be able to use any surface at all, your knee included.

  • Optical mice were developed at Xerox (PARC maybe?) in the dark ages (before TCP/IP, somewhere around the late 70s) and used a set of three LED receivers to determine which axis movement occured on. I use to run them over my jeans, plaid shirts, and fake wood-grained desktops with no problems. We made mouse pads by laminating patterns we'd print on a standard laser printer.

    Sun used to ship optical mice (from Mouse House or Mouse Systems) that used two wavelengths of LED for horizontal and vertical movement detection. Those mice required a special mirror-like aluminum pad with stripes that matched the LED's colors.

    Sun's mice were shipped long after Xerox had a vastly superior and much simpler product; Xerox could have owned the mouse market along with everything else if they'ed had their act together.

    I wouldn't be surprised if there was optical mouse development prior to Xerox; many people were working in the area at the time.

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?