Review: Wireless Mouse Options

Two very different mice. (April 1st, 2011)

The Gyration Air Mouse Elite and Motormouse Classic Car Wireless Mouse offer two very different mouse solutions. While one lets you control the mouse while itís moving in the air, the other provides eye candy and a fun work space.

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Product Manufacturer: See below.

Price: $49.95 and 79.99 US

The Good

  • See below each product.

The Bad

  • See below each product.

Mice come in many shapes and colors. Today we look at two very different mice that meet your needs for a good pointing device, but deliver different features and functionality. While your Apple Magic Mouse may be all you need, it won't amuse your friends and family like the Motormouse Classic Car, nor can it control your cursor while moving through the air, like the Gyration Air Mouse Elite.

Motormouse Classic Car Wireless Mouse

Many moons ago (1991), the Suntime Company made a Corvette car mouse cover you slipped over your plain mouse. Now, you can use a car as a comfortable mouse. The Motormouse's inspiration comes not from deep within an engineering laboratory, but from a car centerpiece atop a birthday cake.

The Motormouse Classic Car looks like a well-designed scale model sports car. The details are fun and functional. The mouse ships with its own 6.5" x 4.30" mouse pad and a velvet drawstring pouch that includes an inner sleeve for extra batteries.

Red motormouse

Classic Sports Car Wireless Mouse


The rear hatch opens up to reveal the battery compartment and storage for the tiny 2.4 GHz USB receiver when the mouse is not in use. The head and rear lamps actually start blinking when the batteries are low and need replacement.

silver motormouse

Battery Compartment and USB Receiver Storage In Hatchback


When you plug the receiver into your computer's USB port, the Motormouse Classic Sports Car revs up and starts running almost immediately. The rounded style feels like a normal mouse and it fits comfortably in your hand, be it left or right or small or large. The mouse glides easily on your desk or over your mouse pad. The hood is actually the mouse's left and right buttons. The spring mechanism on these is a bit tight and you may have to press harder than you with other mice. The Motormouse's optics are quite responsive to your touch - cursor response is fast and smooth. The wide rubber scroll wheel (12 mm or .47 inches) gives you good traction while scrolling.

Blue motormouse

Blue Classic Sports Car Wireless Mouse


The Motormouse does not have an on/off switch. Instead, the mouse goes into hibernation after a period of inactivity or when you remove the receiver from your USB port or the power stops. In March 2011, the Motormouse Classic Sports Car added pink and blue to the already available red, black, and silver colors. In other countries, you can buy Motormouses that are replications of a classic Mini Cooper or a contemporary Mini Cooper S.

Mini Cooper motormouse

Motormouse Versions Available Outside North America

Conclusion

The well-designed Motormouse is fun to drive. The flashing low battery warning lights is a nice feature. You will appreciate the built in USB receiver storage as well. As a mouse, it performs satisfactorily with 1200 DPI sensitivity. With a real sports car, you pay a premium for style and responsiveness, but with the Motormouse, you get a flashy, fun input device There is no doubt that the Motormouse has great novelty value. How long the thrill lasts is purely up to you.

The Good

-Fun design.
-Comfortable in your hand.
-Built-in USB receiver storage.
-Blinking lights indicate low batteries.
-Can use rechargeable batteries.
-Ships with pouch, batteries, and mouse pad.

The Bad

-Buttons require more pressure than Apple mice.
-Clever design carries a price premium.

Gyration Air Mouse Elite

The wireless Gyration Air Mouse Elite is not your usual desktop mouse, because it leverages dimensional motion sensing technology. This enables you to hold it in your hand and control your computer by moving the mouse through the air rather than along a desktop surface, although you can do that as well. In addition to a scroll wheel and left and right controls, this mouse offers 3 programmable buttons. You can train the mouse to recognize specific movements with your hand and assign each movement to trigger a specific action.

airmouse elite

Air Mouse Elite


The package includes the mouse, a USB charging cradle, a 2.4 MHz wireless USB transmitter and a PC software CD. Inside the mouse are a gyroscope and an accelerometer, which make the mouse a bit heavier than traditional mice.

Introduction

The Air Mouse Elite was designed for the Windows PC market and subsequently introduced to Macintosh users. You have to go to the Gyration site and download the MotionTools for Mac software. The documentation only provides you with basic instructions how to install the software and use the wireless RF transmitter and pair it with the mouse. In order to avail yourself of the Air Mouse Elite's full functionality you configure it using MotionTools for Mac. There is no mouse system preference. While the interface is user friendly and intuitive, the software doesn't make use of Apple's interface design, and Gyration doesn't explain the full potential of the mouse and software. The application also appears in the Apple menu when it is open.

In order to pair your mouse, you plug the transmitter into a USB port and press its button to find the mouse. If you have a wired Apple keyboard with numeric pad, you cannot plug the receiver into it initially because of the recessed USB port, which covers the pairing button. Consequently, you must reach behind your iMac, plug in the transmitter, and then pair it - somewhat of an inconvenience. Interestingly, once paired, you can unplug the receiver and plug it into the keyboard, and it works flawlessly.

RF Receiver

Air Mouse Elite Receiver in Mac Keyboard

Operation

When you place the Air Mouse Elite on a desktop, it operates like other wireless mice. Unlike other mice, you can hold it in your hand and manipulate the cursor when you press a button on the bottom of the mouse, and move it around. It is not necessary to sway your hands widely to move the cursor across the screen. The Air Mouse Elite is responds well to a subtle flick of the wrist.

airmouse elite

Air Mouse Elite Bottom


There is a practical ergonomic consideration when using the Air Mouse Elite. With a normal mouse and keyboard arrangement, you slide your hand off the mouse and move it to the keyboard. With the Air Mouse Elite, in order to type with both hands, you must put the mouse down and move your hand onto the keyboard. I found this two-step process inconvenient and annoying. Yet, as a presentation device, the mouse functions well.

You can leverage the Air Mouse Elite's advanced programming in one or two ways - you can either click on one of several buttons or you can move your hand in a particular fashion that the mouse recognizes.

airmouse elite

Move Your Hand to Move the Mouse

The Mouse in Air

You can assign one of over 40 actions to the three programmable buttons. These include opening an application, controlling sound volume, and navigating between sites. Associating a button with an action is fairly straightforward - if you want to program your left button to always go to your homepage, then you can simply open the Internet tab and drag the homepage icon from a drop down menu onto the image of the left button.

airmouse elite buttons

Airmouse Elite Buttons


You can simultaneously assign a different action to the same left button for the multimedia tab - for example, volume down or mute. MotionTools applies actions across similar types of applications, for example Safari and Firefox.

airmouse elite buttons

MotionTools Button Configuration

In Air Gestures

In addition to clicking on one of the 3 mouse buttons to select an action, you can move your hand in a particular way and the mouse responds. There are 4 basic motions or gestures that are simple swiping movements - left, right, up and down. You can associate each with the same specific actions assignable to one of the three mouse buttons. For example, you can use a left swipe to open mail or a right swipe to open Adobe Acrobat. There are also 4 secondary gestures, based on diagonal movements. You can create multiple profiles, each with its own combination of gestures and actions.

Motion Tools buttons

MotionTools Gesture Configuration


I tried to create a custom gesture; a clockwise twist as if I was tightening a screw with a screwdriver. Unfortunately, this customization never worked - every time I tried it, the MotionTools software just closed.

Range and Charging

While Gyration claims that the Air Mouse Elite has a range of 100 feet, I did not test the mouse at that range, but did test it at a distance of approximately 30 feet. The button and gesture commands worked perfectly at that distance.

You can rest the mouse in the provided USB powered charging cradle to recharge when not in use. If you forget to place the mouse in the cradle, not to worry - the mouse was still fully operational after 5 days without being placed in the charger.

Conclusion

The Gyration Air Mouse Elite is quick and responsive. It is easy to control, as if you are holding a baton or wand. You do not need to wave your hands in order to move the cursor; simple wrist movements suffice. It is comfortable to hold and you can use it in either your left or right hand.

While the MotionTools software is easy to configure and provides a level of flexibility and performance far beyond the average mouse, it has an odd interface. This program is ported over from the PC software, but the company assures me, they are working on a mouse system preference. When you want to quit the program, they use an Exit command, instead of Quit. In addition, they include no directions to remove the software; but you can toss the application in the Trash, even though it looks like a menu item. The biggest problem you will find is not in how it works, but appreciating all of its features. The company needs to do a better job of documenting and explaining what this device offers.

If you usually sit in front of your computer and don't move around, this might not be the best product for you. If you need to control your computer from a distance, or point when making a business presentation, or relaxing on your couch, the Gyration Air Mouse Elite is a great solution.

The Good

-Works hand held in air.
-Extensive feature customization.
-Works over long distances.
-Well suited for presentations.

The Bad

-MotionTools documentation weak.
-Mac software not included.
-USB Dongle engage button inaccessible when plugged into keyboard.
-No uninstall instructions.

by Barry Michelson and Ilene Hoffman


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