Computer mice are easy to take for granted. Very rarely do people gloat about the power of their mouse like they would about a processor or graphics card, even if they have a nifty device like the Hillcrest Labs Loop Pointer or SideWinder X3 from Microsoft. There’s nothing especially remarkable about Microsoft’s newest mouse, the Wireless Mobile Mouse 4000 ($39.95 list), but there’s also nothing wrong with it. This diminutive pointing device is a very competent mouse for people on the go. Just don’t expect to get excited about what it can do.
The Mobile Mouse 4000 shares its basic DNA with nearly every mouse of the last 10 years. Its two top buttons with clickable scroll wheel between don’t boast any new features over the standard design. A thumb button is on the left side (this is not an ambidextrous mouse) offers a slight advantage in functionality over the standard two-button mouse; it’s especially useful for switching between open windows using Windows Flip 3D. Other than that, expect a scaled-down version of the ubiquitous Microsoft desktop mice, albeit in five different colors, from Graphite to Lime Green to Berry Pink.
Tracking accuracy was never a problem with the Mobile Mouse 4000. The device uses Microsoft’s BlueTrack technology, which proved very precise on any surface I tested it on, from my desk to the fabric on my shirt. Picking up the mouse resulted in only a slight jump in the cursor before tracking stopped.
Overall, this mouse performs very solidly, despite its scant feature set. One of the more useful features for laptop and netbook owners is the extremely small USB RF receiver. It only sticks out of the USB port a quarter inch, making it easier to keep attached when the notebook is folded up and in its bag, as well as much harder to break than a larger unit. Additionally, when not in use, the receiver can be inserted into the body of the mouse for safe keeping.
Despite the mouse’s basic proficiency, there are a few features that will be sorely missed. First and foremost, the scroll wheel only scrolls vertically. It lacks horizontal tilt, a feature found in several other mice at the same price point, like the Verbatim Bluetooth Wireless Notebook Laser Mouse and the Kensington SlimBlade Bluetooth Presenter Mouse. The bare-bones design is a letdown from Microsoft, especially after the release of the company’s Arc Mouse, our current Editors’ Choice for portable mice. Though the Mobile Mouse 4000 offers an identical set of buttons, the Arc Mouse incorporates a folding design that gives the user a full mouse experience in a portable body.
Very little can be said about what the Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 4000 does; the criticism comes in what it doesn’t do. If you have to have a mouse that’s as colorful as your laptop, the Mobile Mouse 4000 will do the trick. However, most users demanding portability would be better served by the similarly priced Arc Mouse.