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Using the Arc Touch

The Arc Touch mouse uses Microsoft’s proprietary BlueTrack Technology which makes it extremely accurate. In Figure 7, you can see the blue light that is transmitted from the mouse when it is on.

Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse ReviewFigure 7: The blue light

The Arc Touch works on surfaces that other mice often find difficult. In our testing, whether the surface was rough, glossy, hard, or soft, the Arc Touch worked. We were even able to use it on a table cloth that would have bunched up with any other mouse. Microsoft says that it does not work on clear glass or mirrored surfaces, so we were surprised to find that it worked quite well on some (but not all) glass surfaces.

The 2.4 GHz transceiver connects wirelessly right out of the box and had a great range. We were able to move more than 25 feet (7.6 m) from it and still have the mouse tracking.

At first glance, you might think that the Arc Touch has no buttons, but in fact, it does have a left and right mouse “button” area which can be depressed. This is on either side of the silver strip that is shown in Figure 8. The area that can be depressed to simulate a button press starts near the line in the middle of the silver strip and goes to the front end of the mouse.

Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse ReviewFigure 8: The Arc Touch controls

The biggest problem that we found with this mouse is that the further away from the edge you are, the more difficult it is to press. The sweet spot which is the easiest to press is very near the front edge of the mouse. While this is fine for those with average to large hands, it can be a problem for people with small hands and/or short fingers. Some of us found that we could not comfortably rest our palm on the desk and have our fingertips reach the front end of the mouse to press the buttons at the same time.

The silver strip is a touch sensitive area that mimics the scroll wheel on a regular mouse. It is haptic so it vibrates when you touch it. It also emits a low scrolling sound when you use it. The entire process has a very fluid feel to it. You have to get used to what long and short finger strokes will do, but after you do, it works quite well. As you work with the scroll strip you find that it has added functionality. For instance touching the top of the strip will act as a Page Up command. Touching the bottom will perform a Page Down. “Flick” the strip while scrolling and the scrolling speeds up to get you through a document quite quickly.

One nice thing about the Arc Touch is that it can be used with either the left or right hand with ease. The buttons and scroll areas are customizable through Microsoft’s IntelliPoint software. If you are using Windows 7, when you plug in the transceiver, it automatically detects the mouse and installs the proper driver as well as the IntelliPoint software. If you are using an older version of Windows, you can download the IntelliPoint software the Microsoft website. You can change the left and right button performance as well as the performance of the scroll bar and the middle tap area. The middle of the scroll bar has an indented line that can be felt with the finger so it can be easily found to be used as a middle tap area.

Microsoft states that this mouse will work with Windows XP (except the 64-bit version), and all versions of Vista and Windows 7. We found that it also works with the Mac, but does not have all the functionality that the IntelliPoint software offers.

Under normal use, the batteries in this mouse should be good for more than six months. It certainly helps that the mouse can be flattened to conserve battery power. Although in a few weeks use, we never saw this, the documentation states that the green light will change color when the batteries start to wear down giving you a warning to go out and purchase some new AAAs.

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Sandy Berger, respected computer authority, journalist, media guest, speaker, and author, has more than three decades of experience as a computer and technology expert. Her eight books include: How to Have a Meaningful Relationship with Your Computer, Your Official Grown-up's Guide to AOL and the Internet, Cyber Savers –Tips & Tricks for Today’s Drowning Computer Users, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Better Living through Technology, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to the Internet, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Gadgets & Gizmos, Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Health & Wellness, and Sandy Berger’s Great Age Guide to Online Travel. Sandy’s newspaper column, magazine articles, feature stories, product reviews, and computer tips can be found at her website, Compu-KISS.