Last night I stopped by the Apple store in Century City to check out the new Mighty Mouse. I don’t think I’ll get one. They got pretty fancy, but they neglected a major component of interaction: feedback.
What they did was take the old unibutton mouse and add touch sensors to the front half to detect which side you’re trying to click. The thing is the left side overrides the right side, and it’s touch-sensitive, not pressure-sensitive. So if you’re touching the left side at all, it counts as a left click. The actual clicking is exactly the same as with the old mouse, so you can’t tell by feel whether you’ve achieved a left-click or a right-click.
The ball is an interesting idea, though it was a little flaky, especially with horizontal scrolling. Although I couldn’t hear the noise it made with its little speaker, it also has a sort of buzzing feeling as you scroll. I think this is the one exception to the mouse’s overall problem with tacticle feedback.
I had gotten the impression that the ball is also clickable, but when I tried it I found myself clicking the whole mouse. Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to work, but since neither of the two machines with Mighty Mice actually had the software installed I couldn’t tell for sure. But even if it is supposed to work that way, I don’t think I like the way it feels just like a regular button click.
The “force-sensing buttons” (what other kind is there?) on the side seemed to take a lot of force to activate, which is presumably because they still also function as the part you grab so you can move the mouse without releasing the button. I think this dual function is a bad idea. Plus, again, there’s no tactile feedback at all, and I couldn’t hear the speaker unless I held it up to my ear. If I had one of these mice, I’d probably never use the side buttons.
This seems to be a mouse that was designed for use in very quiet environments. Quieter than your average Apple store, anyway. I’ll wait and see what Apple comes up with in their next mouse… though that doesn’t happen very often.
Currently I’m using a Logitech MX500 on my desktop Mac at home, and I’m happy with it. It has plenty of buttons that are well-placed, and it has a good feel to it. The only problem is every time I restart the machine, I have to re-set the mouse tracking.
My first third-party mouse was the Kensington Thinking Mouse, which was great for its time. I was hoping they’d make a scroll wheel version, but the fact was that fitting four buttons and a scroll wheel in the tip of a mouse just wasn’t going to happen. Instead they made the Mouseworks Mouse, whose slanted button design was kind of awkward, and the fact that the leftmost button was “button 1″ was a real pain in situations where you couldn’t reassign it. I have some not-so-fond memories of playing Diablo 2 with that mouse.
On my PC, I currently have the Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer. It’s pretty good, but I’m not fond of the “smooth” scroll wheel. It’s that tactile feedback thing again. The smoothness may feel nice, but it doesn’t tell me anything about what I’m actually doing. I prefer the “notched” feel of regular scroll wheels, because I know how far I’m going. This is especially useful when you’re doing something besides scrolling a document, like click-scrolling to switch applications, or switching weapons in UT2004. It’s another case of getting fancy while actually removing important functionality.