Microsoft’s Arc Touch Mouse is a variation of their original Arc Mouse. Though they are similar in name, they are quite different. The original Arc Mouse was reasonably popular so following that up with such a different mouse was risky. I’m not so sure that it will become as well-liked as the original Arc Mouse did but it is sure to find some fans.
- Folds flat for easy storage
- Tiny nano wireless transceiver
- BlueTrack Technology tracks very well
- Very stylish
- Touch scroll works well
- Battery rated for 6 months
- Awkward ergonomics
- Finding sweet spot for left/right buttons takes practice
When I received the Arc Touch Mouse, I was pretty surprised at how small and thin the box was. When I opened the box, I was further surprised at how thin the mouse was. It was nothing like I’d ever seen or used before. I have several desktop mice and a few mobile mice but the Arc Touch Mouse is definitely the most unique and stylish of them all. But did all that glam translate into a functional, usable mouse?
It took me about an hour to get used to the form of the Arc Touch. As you can see from the photos, the approximately 5″ long flat mouse bends to create a curved surface to support your palm. The part of the mouse that curves is covered in a soft neoprene-like material. I think the reason why it took me so long to get comfortable with this arc form was because I was used to having my ring and pinkie fingers resting on the side of most mice. In the Arc Touch however, I had to find some place else to put those fingers because of the open space. Placing those fingers underneath the mouse helped with the grip so that is where I ended up putting them most of the time. While I did eventually get used to it, I didn’t find it nearly as comfortable as regular-shaped mice. I could see myself using it for a couple of hours a day, but a full work day wouldn’t be very comfortable.
Microsoft’s BlueTrack Technology works very well on a variety of surfaces, including those that have historically proved challenging for optical and laser mice. The Arc Touch has two gliding feet at the surface contact points and glide very easily. I’ve read that the sensor’s DPI is 1000, which if true, is quite good for a mobile mouse.
TOUCH & BUTTONS
The Arc Touch, at first glance, appears to have no physical buttons at all. The left/right button areas are flat, as is the space between them where the scroll wheel is usually found. It turns out that the only surface that has a touch sensitive interface is that gray rectangular strip in between the left/right buttons. And yes, there are physical left/right buttons. The touch surface is primarily a scroll wheel replacement. It does not support gestures but works very well as a scroll wheel replacement. Slide your fingers up and down in order to scroll the page. Additionally, you can tap the very top or the very bottom of the touch surface to scroll more lines at a time. With the Intellipoint software, which you have to download because it’s not included in the box, you can also program the center tap to perform other functions, like Back. I chose to program it for Back because unfortunately, the Arc Touch does not have a physical Back button. I personally cannot stand mice without a back button but in this case, the programmable tap worked pretty well. The two buttons that the Arc Touch does have, left/right click, worked well when you could find the sweet spot. Unfortunately, the actual button doesn’t run up far enough so you have to readjust your grip to move your fingers further down the mouse to find the sweet spot.
Ooh, I almost forgot. You can also turn on the touch “flick” feature which allows you to flick the touch surface to scroll faster. This is functionally similar to how Logitech implemented “free-spin” in their well-designed hyper-scroll wheels. Microsoft’s version of it on the Arc Touch works awesome. I was able to scroll through an entire 72 page PDF document in 4 “flicks.” You can also adjust the vibration feedback from the touch surface to give more or less feedback. I chose to decrease it by a lot from the default setting. I like the touch scroll wheel surface so much, that I am hopeful that Microsoft includes in more products. I would love to have it available on a full-sized desktop mouse.
The Arc Touch uses a nano transceiver, which is ideal for use with laptops and netbooks. It’s so small that you can leave it plugged in without fear of it breaking. When not in use, the transceiver can be stored magnetically underneath the mouse. I had no problems with the 2.4GHz wireless mode, even though I used it near my wireless router. Range was good as well. I walked 10 feet away from my computer and it worked flawlessly.
The Arc Touch takes 2 AAA batteries, which are included. Microsoft rates battery life at up to 6 months. My past experiences with Microsoft mice make me believe it’ll fall well short of that. I would guess probably closer to 4 months but it obviously will depend on usage. Straightening the mouse automatically turns it off, which will help extend the battery life.
The Arc Touch looks much more stylish than the original Arc mainly because it’s sleeker. This design choice obviously required sacrifices. The original Arc was bigger and felt more comfortable. Additionally, the original Arc had a physical back button. The Arc Touch also does not come with a carrying case, even though the original Arc did. Lastly, the Arc Touch is backed by a 3 year warranty.
The Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse is an interesting mouse. The touch strip replacement of the scroll wheel is implemented very well but the overall ergonomics isn’t ideal for long mousing sessions. Fortunately, the unique form factor is useful for travel. I don’t think that the Arc Touch will appeal to a large group of people but it might be a very good solution for frequent travelers who value space over all else. If that’s you, then have at it.
Available from Amazon.com.