The Wireless Mobile Mouse 4000 is Microsoft's latest travel mouse. It offers many of the same features as the Explorer Mini Mouse, but costs about £10 less. This £25 device also uses BlueTrack sensing technology, which lets you use it accurately on a variety of surfaces that a normal laser mouse can't handle. Although less ergonomic, the 4000 fixes several of the Mini's flaws, including the omission of a power-saving off switch and the right-hand-only design.
The 4000's plug-and-play hardware design makes it easy to pair it with a host computer. A small USB-powered wireless transceiver pops out from its hiding spot in the undercarriage, which also houses the power switch, as well as a slot for an AA battery. While we normally prefer rechargeable mice, Microsoft claims the mouse will work flawlessly for up to 10 months on a single battery. The top of the mouse also houses a small red LED that alerts you when battery power is low. Microsoft offers the mouse in five colours: blue, pink, green, black and white.
Microsoft includes its IntelliPoint 7 software for both PC and Mac. You'll find settings for button assignments, and scroll and click speed, as well as help files, in an easy-to-use program. If you don't have the CD with you while you're travelling, you can still use the mouse with your computer's internal settings -- no external drivers are required.
One of our major complaints with the Mini was its right-hand-only design -- its contours made it uncomfortable for lefties to use. Thankfully, the 4000 is symmetrically shaped, making it equally easy for left-handed users to scroll and click the four buttons. The entire mouse is covered with soft textured plastic for extra grip.
The scroll wheel sits between the two main buttons and moves from side to side, as well as up and down. There's one minor tactile difference between the two scroll modes: horizontal scrolling with the dial results in a tangible click as each page moves, but up and down scrolling is completely smooth, with no tactile feedback. We prefer the ratcheting feel of a click wheel for scrolling through individual pages. The smooth dial that Microsoft incorporates into its mice feels awkward. The scroll button itself is preset to activate the new Windows Vista Flip 3D overlay, in which you can quickly view all of your open windows in a digitally organised stack. As with most mice, you can reassign all the buttons with the IntelliPoint software.
Versatile and convenient
At just 103mm long and 61mm wide, the 4000 tucks easily into a laptop case or bag. The wireless transceiver can supposedly deliver an uninterrupted connection up to 9m away. The promise of cable-free trips is definitely a plus for mobile professionals and travelling Web surfers.
The technical highlight of the 4000 is Microsoft's proprietary BlueTrack technology, which combines the precision of laser tracking with the wide coverage of a standard optical mouse. The 4000 scrolls beautifully on virtually any surface, with the exception of clear glass and mirrored surfaces. This versatility should come as a relief for jet-setters who don't want to lug a mouse pad around with their hardware.
The Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 4000 is a very capable travel mouse that's well worthy of our recommendation. Convenient, versatile and reasonably priced, it doesn't leave much room for complaint.
Additional editing by Charles Kloet