I've been Catrachadas's primary PC peripherals reviewer for nearly three years and I can safely say that I know my way around showing devices pretty well. Most of the mice that crawled across my desk were high-end models, both wired and wireless. I also examined three mobile touch-sensitive mice earlier this year.
Two dozen of mice later, today I'm going to be looking at something completely different from anything I've used before. The new mobile Wi-Fi mouse from HP cuts the cable and eliminates the need for a USB dongle or a Bluetooth radio. This small pointer connects to the wireless connection of your notebook with a proclaimed battery life of 9 months.
The HP Ambidextrous Wi-Fi Mouse includes everything you need to get started: the mouse itself, two AA batteries, a quick start guide, and a driver installation CD. The batteries were tucked into the mouse with a pull tab to prevent premature discharge on the store shelf.
As with most mobile mice, the HP's new addition is a bit smaller than your standard desktop mouse. The upper deck is made of plastic with a shiny metallic blue and gray paint. Gray accents surround the mouse, while the lower half is wrapped in a non-slip black rubber material.
At the top we find traditional left and right click buttons, as well as a clickable scroll wheel that tilts left and right. The center of the scroll wheel is translucent and glows white under certain circumstances. The wheel is somewhat unique in that there are no "nicks" to feel when scrolling. This is similar to what we found on the Microsoft Laser Mouse 7000, but the difference is that the wheel has some friction. Microsoft's offer was 100% fluid, which didn't work in pretty much every situation.
In addition to the buttons on the upper deck, there is a button on each side of the mouse. Since this is a two-handed mouse, one of these will always be aligned with your thumb.
There are two large Teflon-style mouse feet on the bottom of the mouse – one on each side. The adjustable 1600 CPI laser sensor is centered in the middle of the mouse. There is also a blue connector button and on / off switch at the bottom, as well as a latch that releases the top cover and shows the location of the two AA batteries.
Pairing and software
The HP Wi-Fi Mouse only works on Windows 7 PCs, so Mac users and users of previous versions of Windows are out of luck. It also goes without saying that your computer needs a wireless LAN card. It might seem obvious, but most users won't be able to use this mouse on a desktop because the average PC doesn't come with a Wi-Fi adapter.
I installed the Wi-Fi mouse on the Maingear Titan 17 notebook that I recently reviewed. In order to use the device, you must install the driver software supplied. This process went smoothly and I was instructed to remove the battery tab and pair the mouse with the computer by pressing the blue connect button. Moments later the computer found the mouse and I was done.
The HP Mouse Control Center provides basic control over the Wi-Fi mouse. The connected device is displayed on the Buttons tab in the Control Center and you can swap buttons if you are left-handed. You can also reassign buttons to one of several presets such as cut, copy, or paste. The Wheel tab allows you to adjust the vertical and horizontal scroll speed. The Mouse tab allows you to adjust the pointer speed, provide instructions on changing the resolution, and view the current battery status.
Everything that got to this point was cheap for the HP Wi-Fi Mouse. I like the ambidextrous design, styling and fit under my medium-sized hand. The Wi-Fi connectivity is unique and worked great. It's refreshing not to have to fool yourself with a USB dongle or a sometimes unreliable Bluetooth connection. The mouse runs flawlessly and the software allows for reasonable adjustments, while the stated battery life of 9 months is impressive (we only used the mouse for a couple of weeks).
Personally, I immediately disliked something about the design of the mouse buttons. The upper deck consists of a piece of plastic. The problem here is that the click zone extends way too far back towards the palm of your hand. I've used other mice with a similar design, but they were all full-size models, so the palm of your hand sits much further back on the device.
When I use a mouse, I tend to put my palm on it. If you click and release either the left or right mouse button with the Wi-Fi mouse, the weight of your hand will hold the button down until you lift the weight off your hand. I've highlighted the active click zone on the Wi-Fi mouse in red so you can visualize the problem a little better. If you don't tend to put a lot of hand weight on your mouse (i.e., more like your fingertips – see Palm and Claw grip styles) this is probably not a problem, but a deal breaker for me.
If you're looking for a new portable mouse and don't want to be fooled with dongles or bluetooth, the HP Wi-Fi mouse is well worth checking out. Don't forget, however, that it is only Windows 7. HP lists the Wi-Fi mouse for $ 49.99, but we were able to find it on Amazon for just $ 35.