Review: Macally iceMice

Some of the best designs are evolutionary, not revolutionary (September 30th, 2002)

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Product Manufacturer: Macally

Price: $39

The Good

  • Great shape, lightweight yet very solid, smooth & glossy feel, very stylish

The Bad

  • Relatively expensive, presumably old sensors are annoying

We in the computer enthusiast community seem to thirst for computers and peripherals that are newer, faster, have bigger numbers, or just seem better, appealing to a sense of "Dirty Harry"-like machismo. But, as Dirty Harry said, "A man's got to know his limitations." MacAlly is a company that knows its limitations, and that's a good thing. Some of the best designs (like the iMac, for example) are evolutionary, not revolutionary.

MacAlly has on its hands some very nice mice that complement Apple design, while featuring three buttons and scrolling functionality. The iceMouse and its little brother (pun intended), the iceMouse Jr. are made of frosted clear plastic, but they take cues from earlier MacAlly mice.

It's evident that Macally's classic iSweet mouse shape is a winner, as they've poured a lot of time and effort into ergonomics and styling. The iceMice are relatively compact, yet still provide exceptional comfort and solid feel, replicating the iSweet.

It might be a little cheesy that Macally opted to retain the "removable jacket" design from its iSweet-style mice on the iceMouse, but veteran iSweet users may find it interesting to play with color combinations on a new iceMouse; the iceMouse's clear "jacket" is interchangeable with previous color accessories from the iSweet and iOpti mice.

Visually impaired

The optical sensor on the Macally iceMouse line seems quite dated. Neither Logitech nor Microsoft use first- or second-generation optical technology now; they've moved on up to high-resolution sensors capable of tracking fast movement. This isn't a problem for most users or even gamers who don't play shooter games requiring high mouse sensitivity. However, keeping up with relatively rapid movements isn't something the IceMouse mice are exceptionally good at performing. From what we can tell, the iceMice aren't much advanced from the iOpti mice.

Build quality and ergonomics

Macally mice are as solid as mice come. Their clear, plastic bottoms are very tough, and they're very well put together. Thin, clear, two-foot cords are long enough for reaching around to the left side of an iBook for right-handed users, for example, and they're short enough not to produce gobs of desk clutter for those with iMacs or portables. Tower users might run into trouble if their keyboard doesn't have free USB ports (i.e. Apple Pro Keyboard, Apple USB Keyboard), though.The iceMouse Jr. offers deep finger grooves and a very defined click, perfect for mobile users, and the iceMouse combines a very smooth, aesthetically pleasing design with medium-tension clicks. Both mice have solid wheels, and are very comfortable in-hand, partially because of their glossy texture.

Conclusion

The sensor, one of the most integral aspects to an optical mouse, was a disappointment. Admittedly, both mice are exceptionally stylish and comfortable, but I would have liked to see Macally use up-to-date optical technology in their otherwise-stellar mice. The Macally iceMouse Jr. is a very competitive offering for mobile users, and the iceMouse is still simply one of the most comfortable mice I've ever felt, but at $39 with the lower resolution optical sensor, the iceMice don't stand out of the crowd. For $10 less, the Logitech Wheel Mouse Optical with an 800-dpi sensor and an acceptable design is appealing. If these mice had been armed with a higher resolution sensor, they'd be killer, five-star input peripherals. Some gamers beware, but for non-gamers and day to day use, the MacAlly iceMouse is right at home on your Mac's desk!

by Sean Yepez


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