My faithful(ish) Wireless Intellimouse Explorer has been giving me some grief recently. Even with new or fully charged batteries as the power supply, it randomly decides that the LED is going to flash like mad, not read the surface, and stop my cursor dead in its tracks. Very very annoying when trying to use Kmail to read an e-mail – I can navigate with a keyboard quite well, but it’s still bloody annoying. As a contrast, my corded Intellimouse Explorer (generation 1 or 2) has never, ever given me grief. It’s over 5 years old, a fair chunk of the paint has been worn off, and it works absolutely brilliantly. I may not like Microsoft’s operating systems much, but they do make (or used to make) some very decent hardware.

So I wandered over to PCWorld today, and browsed their mouse selection. It’s a bit stunning to see how many are wireless. You can get your basic mouse – two buttons and maybe a wheel in corded. You can get your superfast Logitech MX 518 gaming grade mouse corded (at the low low price of 50 quid). Everything else on display (well, box display) is wireless. Or cordless to use Logitech’s term. What on earth happened to the wired Intellimouse Explorer, currently in generation 4 if Microsoft is to be believed? Do they not sell?

I figured I’d give Microsoft another chance, and acquired a Microsoft Wireless Optical Mouse 5000 (high definition technology, magnifier and tilt wheel – yeah baby!). Oh yes, PCWorld used to let you play with mice in the store, see which ones fit you hand and so on. Not any more. That sucks. Paid with the debit card and went back to work. Got home this evening and carefully unpacked the mouse in case I’d have to return it.

Problem 1: It jitters worse than my older WIE. Much worse. Unuseably worse.

Problem 2: The mouse wheel feels like goo. There is no other term I can think of that adequately describes the absolute lack of tactile feedback from the mouse wheel. I’m a Model M keyboard type of person – I like solid feedback that tells me the mechanical unit has performed an action. Goo that leaves me wondering if I actually just scrolled the wheel or not is not a good thing.

Problem 3: Tilt wheels are useless for me. I use my index finger to scroll the wheel. I’m used to being able to apply a bit of pressure because the wheel only goes forwards, backwards and down. Simple. With the tilt wheel, when I wasn’t trying to work out if I was actually scrolling forwards, I was trying to work out if I just went sideways. That goo feedback in the wheel is just horrible.

So it’s going back tomorrow. I’m getting my money back, and I’m going to find a nice generation 2 Intellimouse Explorer on eBay. I don’t care if it’s used, and has no paint. So long as it tracks and clicks accurately, I’m not complaining.

Mice. The electronic type.
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