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Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse

Microsoft was one of the first manufacturers to introduce an optical mouse as well as a scroll wheel – something we all take for granted these days. It comes as no surprise that Microsoft is also throwing their name into the touch-sensitive input device market with their Arc Touch mouse.

The Arc Touch mouse is by far the “most innovative” of the three mice we are showcasing today. The black device features a soft rubber material on the palm area and glossy black plastic for the mouse buttons. The touch-sensitive strip is silver in color and lies between the two mouse click buttons where a traditional scroll wheel would reside. A green LED is positioned below the touch strip that serves as a power on indicator.

On the bottom of the mouse are two large horizontal mouse feet, a battery compartment that holds two AAA batteries and a BlueTrack Technology laser that operates at 1000 DPI.

One of the innovative features of the Arc Touch can be found on the bottom of the mouse. A magnetic strip is built into the base of the mouse and is used to hold the 2.4 GHz receiver during transport, ensuring you won’t lose it in transit. This works surprisingly well as the magnet is more powerful than I anticipated.

In addition to the Arc Touch mouse, you will receive a 2.4 GHz USB receiver and instruction manual.

At first glance the Arc Touch looks a bit unusual and certainly doesn’t seem to fit its name. That is, when the mouse is lying flat and turned off. To turn the mouse on, you “fold” the mouse into an arc shape until it snaps in place. The process is really neat and feels a bit like you are breaking someone’s spine. Once in the arc position, the mouse comes to life. The green LED turns on briefly to indicate the mouse is on and the blue laser on the bottom lights up. To turn the mouse off, simply force it back flat.

To pair the Arc Touch mouse with your computer, plug in the supplied USB receiver and follow the on-screen instructions. These will guide you through the process of installing Microsoft’s IntelliPoint 8.0 software.

Settings for the Arc Touch can be found under Windows’ Mouse Properties and pretty much cover most any setting you would care to adjust.

During testing I found the Arc Touch to be a really nice portable mouse. Despite its unusual design and arc shape, it’s surprisingly comfortable to use and doesn’t have that inexpensive feel of the Eclipse. If you have large hands you will likely find the mouse more difficult to use, but I didn’t run into any real issues with my medium-sized mitt.

I tested the range of the Arc Touch using the same method as I did with the other two mice. I was able to fully use the mouse across the full diagonal distance of my living room – a good 20+ feet. The mouse was still smooth and responsive on the screen, making this a good option for HTPC use.

The touch scroll pad was also much better than the one found on the Eclipse mouse. It’s really hard to describe how it operates, but there is a tactical feel and audible click noise as the mouse is scrolling. Yet, there are no visible moving components. It feels as though the touch surface is really thin and there is a mechanical wheel under it. It’s certainly different than anything else I have experienced on a mouse.

The Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse sells for $45 and is well worth the asking price for such a versatile, functional and outright cool mouse.

Pros:
  • Good aesthetics
  • Most comfortable of the round-up
  • Good Range
  • Good touch sensitive system
  • Folds flat for easy transportation
  • Magnetic USB receiver holder
Cons:
  • Folding mechanism has the potential to wear out over time
  • No thumb buttons