updated 03:50 pm EDT, Mon October 6, 2008
Microsoft Mini Mouse
Every laptop user needs a built-in trackpad to control the pointer on the screen. While trackpads are adequate when traveling, they're not always as convenient as a separate mouse. If you prefer using a mouse over a trackpad, you could carry an ordinary mouse with you. However, a mouse designed for a desktop computer may be too large and the long cord may be a nuisance to untangle and plug in each time. For a special mouse designed for traveling, consider Microsoft's Explorer Mini Mouse.
This product is slightly smaller than a regular mouse (3.82 inches long vs. 4.33 inches for Apple's Mighty Mouse) and includes a wireless transmitter that plugs into the USB port of your computer. A single AA battery (included with the product) powers the device up to four months. The wireless transmitter can even snap into the bottom of the mouse, keeping the two items together so you can't lose either one. Pack this whole thing into the included pouch and you're ready to toss it into your laptop's carrying case.
The wireless transmitter has a range of approximately 30 feet. Like most mice, this one includes a left and right button along with a scroll wheel that even tilts from side to side for horizontal scrolling. In addition, this device includes two non-standard thumb buttons on the left side (suitable for right-handed users).
To take full advantage of these additional thumb buttons, you'll need to install the included IntelliPoint software, which lets you assign different functions for all of the buttons including the scroll wheel.
The IntelliPoint software even gives you a choice for how to control the mouse pointer speed. If you use the standard System Preferences, the pointer moves like any other mouse. If you use the IntelliPoint software's preferences, you can choose from a wider variety of pointer speeds for greater control.
For greater customization, you can modify the functions of every button on this mouse. While you'll probably want to keep the functions of the left and right buttons the same, the additional thumb buttons let you define your own shortcuts, such as opening Dashboard, cutting a selected item, or mimicking a double-click.
Perhaps the most revolutionary feature of this item is its BlueTrack technology, which allows for accurate movement of the mouse across any surface including carpets, granite, or wood. Instead of forcing you to take a mouse pad everywhere you go, this item simply adapts to any surface you can slide it on, even your own pants leg if necessary.
If you want a mouse for your laptop, this $79.95 Explorer Mini Mouse may be suited for frequent travelers. Its ergonomic shape, wireless transmitter, and ability to handle any surfaces makes it ideal for use in all kinds of environments. One possible problem is that the thumb buttons appear on the left side of the mouse geared for right-handed users. If you're a left-handed mouse user, you can still press these two additional thumb buttons, but they may not be as comfortable to use. Despite this possible problem, the Mini Mouse can be a laptop user's best companion on the road