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First impressions of the Microsoft Wireless Arc mouse
Posted Oct. 30, 2009
Last Updated 11/14/2009
(FYI on alternatives like Logitech Revolution MX)



(This is just some personal comments/impressions/pix of the MS Arc wireless mouse - not a review. But I'm tempted to buy the Arc mouse if after trying (hands-on) the Apple Magic Mouse I don't like the design (as some haven't). Although the Arc's top surface makes me wonder how it will hold up to years of use/abuse that my USB Logitech mice have.
I also welcome other Arc mouse user comments - if you're using an one -let me know what you think of it. I've added another user's comments at the bottom of this page.)

I mentioned last week (after the new Apple "Magic Mouse" release) that for the first time (since the ADB days) I'd considered using (and buying) an Apple mouse after seeing the intro/videos of the Magic Mouse. However comments some have made on feel/ergonomics in some early Magic Mouse reviews have me waiting to actually try one before buying. So I'm waiting for stock (and a demo sample) to arrive at a local store. The nearest apple store here is 60 miles away. (BTW - Here's another review I saw today that comments on initial feel/fit impressions - Magic Mouse: Very cool, but flawed.)

Over the weekend I helped a neighbor update his Sony laptop to Windows 7 and he had recently bought a Microsoft Arc wireless mouse that I was able to play with. (Uses its own RF transceiver USB stub - no BT required which I consider a plus personally.)
I'd seen the Arc awhile back at a local BB store ($49.xx), but had never used one (other than handling the display model in-store). So asked if I could try it with a 17in (early 2009) MacBook Pro (running 10.6.1). I'd been using a (bought in 2003 or so IIRC) wired USB Logitech notebook mouse - the "MouseMan Traveler" model (label on the bottom literally worn off after years of use). Like many USB Logitech mice I've used for years (Mac and PC - although never using their OS X software) I had no complaints with it - and after years of use it's still working fine.

Anyway, I plugged in the Arc's (short stub) USB xcvr into one of the MBP's USB ports and 'flipped open' (to turn it on) the Arc mouse to try it. (There's a tiny Battery Status LED the bottom edge of the center 'slit' - Green when good, Red when battery low.) First thing I noticed (immediately) was a huge difference in tracking speed from the (very) old USB Traveler mouse. I had to scale back tracking speed in snow leopard mouse prefs from appx 75% to about 25%.

Although I still prefer a more "rounded" surface (taller/more rounded edge) mouse, otherwise I liked the Arc mouse - not too heavy or light, felt precise - although a bit 'sharper' on the sides/edges than a standard mouse profile. It's definitely on my short list if I don't like the Magic Mouse after trying one when a local store gets them in.
I didn't install the Microsoft mouse software for OS X and probably never would if I bought one either. (Ditto for the (dozens) of Logitech USB mice I've used over the years - I'm fine with the basic 2 button/wheel support.)

Granted so far I've only been able to use the Arc for about an hour but compared to my (granted older) Mice, the Arc seems to have a faster laser sensor and it tracked smoothly across the surfaces I use here (old rubber mousepads, a book, wood table surface).
There Arc's right/left click buttons have good tactile feedback. There's a side button on the left front edge that's not that easy to reach (have to move your thumb forward) but then I'd probably never use that button anyway. And if it was closer to the center my thumb might probably press it accidently in use. (Although that button didn't seem to do anything w/o software config.) I liked the fact the scroll wheel had a light/subtle feel of "click" detents, as does my current LX3 Logitech mouse (still working perfectly after years of use BTW). The light click feedback on the wheel IMHO is a plus for line-by-line or item by item scrolling/selection. I assume pressing the wheel down is the '4th' button. (BTW - Some owners have reported scroll wheels failing on these in the past (often after very little use) - not sure how common that is or if it's been addressed in later models.)

I've never cared to install any software for mega-button features, etc and the Arc is tempting for me - it felt fine although not as good IMHO as some larger/taller/rounded-edge mice. And now that I've been looking at wireless mice for the first time in years, I've seen some other RF models (which I'd prefer over BlueTooth) in the same price range and that feel a bit more comfortable in the hand (more rounded sides) than the Arc. I've gotten used to sharp (vs rounded) edges after years of using the MouseMan Traveler (see pix below), but still prefer the feel of a standard curved body mouse.
My primary concern on the Arc though is about the matte upper surface. (i.e. - Will be it be a grit/dirt magnet over time, will the surface wear down, etc.) I had only a short time with it and not sure if that's just matte plastic or some thin rubber surface. (See reply below on that from an Arc user.) The Arc comes with a soft case that follows that top surface trend (case is suede, which is also a dirt/lint magnet I'm sure).
I've stuck with wired USB mice for years and only owned one Wireless mouse years ago, a heavy/clunky early model that I mothballed after 1 day of use. But now I'm definitely going to get a new wireless mouse - either the Magic or the Arc (or some other RF model). If the Magic mouse doesn't feel right, I'll definitely pick up either an Arc or a Logitech (or other brand) of RF-based wireless mouse.


FYI/Update: - I had several readers suggest the Logitech MX Revolution RF wireless mouse ($79.99 at OWC), which has a rechargeable battery and side scroll wheel that even the later Perf. MX version (darkfield, list $100) doesn't have. I do like the profile of that mouse. Here's a pix:

Revolution MX

(BTW - I returned my Magic Mouse for a refund and bought the MX Revolution. I like it a lot but haven't yet tried the latest Logitech software for OS X. A bit leery after past experience years ago... but have installed software for it in Bootcamp/Windoze.)


Here's a snapshot I took of my wired Logitech LX3 mouse (used w/iMac primary work machine for years), the Logitech MouseMan Traveler and the Microsoft Arc (Wireless) Mouse. (I photoshop'd in the pix of the Arc folded for comparison.)

mouse comparison

Here's an angle view of the 3 mice (shows the Arc design better)

angle view

Here's a pix of the Arc bottom with the USB stub xcvr stowed underneath:

Arc underside


Are you using an Arc Mouse? If you're using an Arc mouse (especially if for some time now) - let me know what you think of it. (Pros/Cons etc.)

Reader comments on the Arc:

"Hi Mike, I've been using a Microsoft Arc Mouse with my 24" iMac for about 9 months and have been really happy with it. Generally I work with Photoshop and various web programs, along with page layout programs, and there really hasn't been anything that the Arc Mouse hasn't handled. Normally I use the mouse about 2-3 hours per day.

Let me address some of your concerns:

- Some reviews (before I purchased) suggested that the scroll wheel wears out after just a few weeks. I haven't had that issue. Although it was a lot 'clickier' when I first got it, the scroll wheel has quieted down and it still works fine. I do not use the scroll wheel as a click.

- I have not configured any M$ software for it. All settings are through the Mouse control panel. Yes, it is pretty sensitive and I also scaled down the tracking. There are also no programmed buttons for it (stock configuration). Mine only has 3 buttons--left, right, and one small one on the left side. By default it works Exposé. (that button didn't do anything in 10.6.1 here but didn't change any config/prefs during the short time I used it.-Mike) That small button is a little difficult to reach, though. (MS/pkg notes 4 buttons - but I think the "4th button" is the scroll wheel (when pressed down?)-Mike)

- The top rubberized area (where the fingertips go) shows very little wear. It also does not show dirt. At least, this is with the black version...I'm pretty sure the optional red/red version of the Arc Mouse would show much more dirt and wear eventually.

- My computer desk is wood, and the plastic feet on the bottom of the mouse glide easily across the surface. In fact, it picks up quite a bit of crud and I find myself cleaning it off a few times a week. They are also holding up very well, with no visible signs of wear.

- I'm averaging about 3-4 months with the battery life. You definitely have to remember to fold up the mouse when you're not using it...if you don't, battery life drops down to about 2 weeks. I've been using Energizer rechargeables, and as with most rechargeable batteries, when they die it's all of a sudden. So I keep a pair of standard alkaline AAA batteries on hand as a result and pop them in while the Energizers are recharging.

- I have a wired Kensington Iridio mouse for my Powerbook and have not yet used this mouse on the road, but the folded portable size is certainly attractive. The receiver fits SO perfectly under the iMac's aluminum keyboard--it's totally invisible.

I've used nothing but Kensington mice for over two decades before I got the Arc Mouse. In fact I've still got an ADB trackball, and have used their USB trackball for about 10 years with various Macs. The last Kensington mouse that I bought (Bluetooth) was good but very bulky and unwieldy--not to mention a total battery hog--and therefore it was not the wireless solution I'd hoped for. After trying out the fit of the Arc Mouse at a local Staples store and finding that it indeed fit very comfortably in my hand, I was able to snag one from Amazon for a mere $34 shipped. It was money well spent--no regrets at all.

I've gotta hand it to Microsoft...they've always built a decent mouse but this one is really stylish on top of the solidity. If you're comfortable with the shape of the mouse in your hand then you'll enjoy its effortless use daily.

I'm not really intrigued by the Magic Mouse, nor am I tempted to get one, but eventually I'll try one out just to see what the fuss is about. For now I can't imagine a better mouse for my daily personal use than the Arc Mouse.
Hope the info helps!
-Eric"




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