Andre's Blog
Perfection is when there is nothing left to take away
Microsoft Arc Mouse

I have been using Microsoft Modern Keyboard with Fingerprint ID for almost a year now and I am quite happy with how it feels in every-day use, so when I saw the weird-looking Microsoft Arc Mouse next to it on the shelf at the Microsoft Store, I thought it would be a nice replacement for my old beaten-up Microsoft Comfort Mouse 6000. However, sometimes a weird-looking thing is just that - a weird device that is hard to use.

The Microsoft Arc Mouse was not cheap and cost me $99.99 CAD at the store in March of 2020. Microsoft since dropped the price on it to $74.99 CAD, which is still quite a steep price for a two-button mouse with scroll function.

The mouse looked quite good at the store and felt natural in my hand when I tried it at the store, but on my desk I started feeling lack of something to grip on soon after I started using it. I guess trying things out while standing at the counter doesn't quite compare to when you are sitting at the desk. However, I decided to give it time and soon enough I learned to grip it by the thicker front part and it wasn't that bad.

Microsoft Arc Mouse

The mouse operated mostly as expected at first - left and right buttons clicked and moving fingers across the front of the mouse scrolled the content of the screen. It was quite nice that it could even scroll horizontally - something that a regular mouse cannot do without pressing the Shift key on the keyboard.

The first surprise came when I tried to tap the front pad to emulate the scroll wheel click and nothing I tried worked - double taps, two-finger taps, three-finger taps and so on. It took a Google search to realize that I have to install Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center in order to activate the scroll click function.

The Mouse and Keyboard Center app revealed that the scroll click is disabled by default. It was odd that Microsoft would disable a useful feature by default, but as soon as I started using it I realized why.

The scroll click was emulated with a three-finger click. Yes, a click, not a tap - you must keep three fingers on the front pad of the mouse and make a click for it to be considered a scroll click. As long as the mouse senses three fingers on top, even a left mouse click is interpreted as a scroll wheel click. This immediately made the comfortable hand hold I just found unusable.

That is, you can comfortably hold this mouse between your thumb and either the little finger or the ring finger, but in the former case the mouse misinteprets all clicks as scroll wheel clicks because there are three fingers on the mouse at all times, and in the latter case in order to do a scroll wheel click you have loosen the grip on the mouse in order to move the ring finger on the front pad, which is not only an awkward hand movement, but it also ends up moving the mouse pointer on the screen because the ring finger was holding the mouse in place.

I patiently tried to learn this new move for a good hour, but soon experienced the new hurdle, as sometimes the scroll click would just stop working altogether and it took turning the mouse off and on to get it back.

I tried to use the mouse without the scroll click to see if I can still keep it as a fancy meeting mouse, but the left and right click buttons required too much pressure to click, so when I needed to click and drag, I had to hold them down with much more effort than a regular mouse would require, which made the friction against the mouse pad surface much greater, uncomfortable and less precise. A couple of times I even lost the dragging target because I accidentally let go of the left button while dragging.

As far as other things are concerned, the mouse takes two AAA batteries to operate and turns on and off by bending and straightening out. Something clicks inside when this happens, so I'm not quite sure how long this mechanism would last, but I didn't use it enough to verify. In the straightened position it can comfortably fit in the shirt pocket, but you have to be careful carrying it in the back pocket and place it so that it bends in the right direction in case if you sit while the mouse is still in the pocket.

This mouse would be a good conversation starter and may be usable in meetings if you treat it as a plain two-button with a scroll and simulate the scroll wheel click with the left button and the Ctrl key, but as an everyday mouse for general use it is not worth even half of what Microsoft is asking for it. If it wouldn't be the month of COVID-19, this mouse would be back at the Microsoft Store before I even finished this post.

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