Jetplane Review: Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 8000

Posted on Jul 27, 2008 in Reviews

I know a lot of Mac users have been looking for a decent bluetooth mouse for some time now and for whatever reason most manufacturers fail to get some essentials right. Most competitors are either designed only for travel use, lack an on/off switch or gobble through batteries like there’s no tomorrow. (Or in the case of the Apple Wireless Mighty Mouse, they have a scroll-ball that gunks up after a few months of use and is impossible to clean!)

For some years now Microsoft has made pretty decent peripherals and surprisingly enough their Mac support is usually not bad either. The Wireless Laser Mouse 8000 is no exception: Aside from rugged good brushed-metal looks that go great with a Mac Pro or Macbook Pro, the mouse can also be customized to your hearts content using the powerful Microsoft Mouse preference pane. But before we get into details, here’s a rundown of the main features that drew me to the Wireless Laser Mouse 8000:

 

Features:

– Bluetooth, so you can use your Mac’s internal bluetooth device

– Laser sensor

– Rechargeable battery and charging station

– 4-directional scroll wheel

– Additional programmable buttons

The Hardware

The mouse itself is pretty stylish. The back sports an elegant brushed metal plate that also has the advantage of keeping hands cool. The mouse has just the right size for my average-sized hands and is very comfortable, even after extended periods of use. The only gripe I have in this department is that the right function button is a bit awkward to get to.

I’ve seen some complaints about the scroll wheel button being too “stiff” in other reviews, but whilst it isn’t as easy to click as my previous mouse, it’s by no means hard either. The horizontal scroll feature is quite useful in apps that use a timeline-based interface (think Garageband or Final Cut Express) and vertical scrolling feels great.

The USB bluetooth adapter is a little on the bulky side, but since nearly all Macs have bluetooth built-in, I think most readers will probably not bother with that anyway (and yes, this mouse does work with the internal bluetooth radio as expected!)

The charging station is a little on the large side and comes with another smallish power brick, but that drawback is very much outweighed by the fact that I’ll no longer need to hunt around for batteries every few months! Microsoft include a single rechargeable 2100mAh GP brand-name AA battery in the box. The fact that it uses a AA means you can pick one up anywhere, should you ever need to replace it.

Finally I’d like to point out the On/Off switch. A tiny detail that is often omitted, but especially if you’re taking the mouse with you, the lack of a switch can mean the mouse is constantly switched on in your bag, draining its batteries. Kudos Microsoft!

The Software

Microsoft includes OS X drivers on the bundled CD and installation was fairly straightforward. Alas, in typical Windows style a reboot was necessary after installation, presumably because a Kernel extension is installed as part of the driver suite, which lets the Preference Pane override some of the standard OS X mouse preferences.

Getting everything set up and recognized was fairly straightforward: A press of the button on the bottom of the mouse put it into pairing mode and OS X’s Bluetooth device setup utility found and paired with it right away.

As you can see, there are a plethora of configuration options and you can even set specific shortcuts and options for each Application you use:

Wireless Performance

So far I’d say my impressions have been mostly positive: The mouse is fairly accurate and only occasionally does it seem to “jump” a bit when tracking. It’s only slight, but I will say that it doesn’t feel quite as accurate as my old wired mouse, but it’s usually good enough to not be noticeable. However: Gamers and designers who need exact pixel accuracy would probably disagree with that last sentence and may want to look elsewhere.
Microsoft recommends using the bundled bluetooth receiver for best performance and accuracy, but I honestly couldn’t tell much of a difference either way. I will however note that in addition to the mouse, I also usually have my Apple Wireless keyboard and Airport connection switched on (and all devices share the same 2,4Ghz frequency spectrum). However, I repeated some tests with other 2,4Ghz devices disabled with similar results.

The scroll wheel works very well and the accelerated scrolling feature seemed to find just the right balance between speed and scrolling accuracy.

In everyday usage, I’ve enjoy having the left extra button assigned to exposé and the right one to OS X’s “Command-Tab” application switcher. A quick tap of the right button immediately switches apps, or you can see all running apps by holding down the button.

Battery Life

So far I’ve hardly had to recharge the mouse at all, despite it being used fairly extensively at my desk. The mouse sits firmly on the charging station and also has a battery life warning light that will come on when you are running low. You can also check the current battery life in the System Preference pane, which is a nice touch.

Overall:

If extreme accuracy is a very high priority for you, look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a sleek, decent-sized bluetooth mouse that doesn’t require a dongle and feels just as much at your desk as it does on the go, the Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 8000 is a pretty good bet.

Pros:

+ Decent wireless performance

+ Great looks and size

+ Long-lasting rechargeable battery and charging dock included

+ Laser-accuracy

+ On / Off switch

+ Horizontal as well as vertical scrolling

Cons:

– Occasional jerkiness due to bluetooth connection

– Slightly difficult to reach additional right button