Genius Pen Mouse Review
By Sandy Berger on April 21, 2011
Although the computer mouse was revolutionary when it was introduced back in the 1960s, there are times when it simply cannot perform today’s computer tasks. Drawing tablets and pens have been the answer for detailed computer work, but they are expensive. So when the folks at Genius sent us an inexpensive Pen Mouse that doesn’t require a tablet, we were happy to take a look.
The Genius Pen Mouse comes encased in a plastic box with a colorful red and white insert, as shown in Figure 1. Although some plastic boxes are difficult to open, this one opens at the top and slide off easily, as shown in Figure 2.
Inside the box you find the pen itself, a small USB receiver for the wireless functionality, a small, thin mouse pad, a clip, two pen tips, a mini-CD with software, a black travel case, and a small User’s Manual, as shown in Figure 3. One AAA battery is also included.
The Genius Pen, shown in Figure 4, is well-designed with the section that is placed on the surface being slightly thicker than the back end of the pen. At 0.64 x 0.83 x 5.24 inches (16.25 x 21 x 133 mm), it is about the size of an ordinary pen.
The Genius Pen has a battery door that slides off easily to reveal the place to insert the AAA battery, as shown in Figure 5. Even with the weight of the battery, the Genius Pen Mouse feels well-weighted and comfortable in the hand.
After putting in the battery, you simply insert the tiny 2.4 GHz USB receiver into a USB port on the computer and install the software from the included CD. The pen works with Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7. The USB receiver is only 0.75 inches (19 mm) long, so when it is inserted into the computer’s USB port, it is almost flush with the computer. This is a good thing, as it minimizes the risk of the receiver breaking off when being transported in a laptop.
Figure 6 shows the tip of the pen with its red laser light. Pressing down on this tip simulates the left-click of a mouse.
Other mouse functions are controlled by the two buttons shown in Figure 7. Pressing the button nearer the tip of the pen is like right-clicking a mouse. Pressing and holding the other button while moving the pen tip on a surface scrolls up and down.
The Genius Pen Mouse is quite stylish. It both looks and feels good in the hand. The controls are well-placed and easy to reach. The pen can be set to be right- or left-handed and you can also choose between two different positions for holding the pen. Figure 8 shows the software screen where you make these choices.
The sensitivity of the pen can also be changed. With the software on the screen, just press the pen tip down and hold the right mouse button simultaneously for five seconds. A red box will appear showing the current sensitivity setting. The default setting is 800 dpi. If you continue to hold down these two buttons, the pen will cycle through the dpi settings and you can choose 400, 800, or 1200 dpi.
It would have been nice to have these instructions on the screen, but instead we had to search for them in the User’s Manual. Although the small manual contains 54 pages, it gives the instructions in 27 languages, meaning that each language has only about two pages of instructions. Not only are the instructions minimal, but the type is so small that we found ourselves reaching for a magnifying glass to read it.
Although set up was easy, using this pen is not. The pen itself is quite sensitive so there is a steep learning curve. The tip is sensitive to pressure making it very useful in editing photos and drawing programs when you want to vary the density and thickness of the lines or brush strokes.
We found it best to lower the sensitivity to 400 dpi while we practiced. Also, although there are two positions for holding the pen, both require some getting used to. To get a good left-click representation, you must press down without pressing on either of the buttons, but you must have your finger in position to press those other buttons when you need a right-click or a scroll. This is doable, but it requires plenty of practice.
Like other laser devices, this pen will not work on glass or on a mirror, but it worked fine on our desktops. At approximately 4 x 4.75 inches (101.6 x 120.6 mm), the included mouse pad is small. It is also very thin, about as thick as two sheets of paper. The mouse pad, however, is nicely textured and has a backing that makes it stick to any flat surface. We found the mouse pad very functional and using it definitely helped with the control of the pen.
Although the pen’s tracking was responsive, the right-click and scrolling functionality was sometimes delayed or seemed unresponsive.
Expect to spend some time with this device to get good at controlling it. We practiced for more than a week before we felt even somewhat comfortable with it. We didn’t find it useful for everyday computing or gaming, but for specialized uses like drawing, it will get the job done.
The User’s Manual also gives a brief explanation of how to clean the lens if it becomes dirty. There was no indication of how to tell if the lens is dirty. Also, included with the pen are two pen tips and no instructions are given on how or when to use these replacements.
After a month’s use we didn’t think we needed to clean the lens, but we decided to run through the procedure anyway. The clip that is included in the box is used to lift the lens cover and pop it off to clean the lens. Then the cover needs to be replaced. Dealing with such a tiny part was quite difficult.
The main specifications for the Genius Pen Mouse include:
While the Genius Pen Mouse is very sturdy and stylish, it can be difficult to get used to and at times, erratic to use. The documentation is poor and cleaning the lens is difficult. If you can get past these drawbacks, it is an inexpensive option for tracing images, editing digital images, digital painting, note taking, or for electronic signatures.
We hope to see the Genius Pen Mouse continue to be improved as we think that with a few changes, future versions could be very useful.