Microsoft has promised us that the Surface tablet, coupled with Windows 8 will change the way we use tablets. That boldness is now translating into the company's designs. Whether it's the gorgeous Windows Phone 8 UI, the UI formerly known as Metro and the crazy keyboard case accessory for the Surface. So how are we meant to interact with all this new Redmond tech? With the new Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse, of course.
What Is It?
The Wedge Touch Mouse is a tiny little sliver of tech that rests on your desk like...well, an actual little mouse. It connects via Bluetooth and comes with a four-point scrolling system on the top of the mouse that lets you move on a vertical and horizontal axis when you swipe your finger along it. Imagine someone put a trackpad on a doorstop and you're there.
The mouse is charcoal black and divided into two sections with a thin white line, denoting the right and left click. The top trackpad gives way to a swooping edge on the rear of the mouse, while the sides of the device are adorned with a silver metallic finish
You'll power it with a single AA battery (helpfully included in the box), which you slide into the device via a secret, spring-loaded door along the thick edge of the wedge. We're not sure what it retails for yet in Australia (it's priced at $US80 internationally), but it's likely to hit shelves around the same time as Windows 8 in October.
One of the best things about the Wedge mouse is how easy it is to set up. You load the battery via the wicked-fun spring-loaded door on the side and it automatically powers up the device and sticks it into pairing mode for you. No fiddling around with button sequences to get it going with your device here. Pairing is simple with any operating system, from Windows 8 (for which it's designed and the gestures are great) through to Windows 7, Mac OS X and even Android.
Clicking is smooth and quiet on the device and the scrolling functionality on the top trackpad is really handy once you get going with it.
The Wedge is also adorable. The best thing a manufacturer can do to sell a product is to get a user to form an emotional connection with a device. Look and feel is a great way to do that, and Microsoft has found a way to get people to fall in love with a mouse like they might a thin tablet or a sexy UI. It's taken the company 30 years of designing peripherals, but now it's finally getting the "I want" factor right. The Wedge's diminutive size means it's perfect for taking around with you for use with a tablet or Ultrabook.
It's super responsive for gaming as well, which is something you normally don't get out a Bluetooth peripheral. Normally there's a few split seconds of lag between actions, which in a first-person shooter is the last thing you want.
I'd like to say that the Wedge Touch is the future of the wireless mouse, but unfortunately, it's a bit too awkward to declare it number one. It's ergonomics that let this mouse down.
Think about an ordinary mouse. You've got a curved area where you rest your hands and your fingers logically fall onto the right and left click buttons. The scroll wheel is, more often than not, in the middle of the mouse and it's dead easy to lift your index finger to scroll when you need to. It's not so easy in the Wedge Mouse world.
Because your palm has nowhere to rest, you're left dragging your wrist around on your workspace, meaning you're likely to be left with a very dirty shirt cuff and a very clean mouse area by the end of the day. Because it's a trackpad resting on the device, too, you're hesitant to rest your fingers on it, simply because your brain says don't rest your fingers on a scroll wheel. Holding your three middle fingers above a mouse can get really tiring for your hand after a few hours.
The diminutive size of the Wedge mouse will definitely put some larger-handed people off, too. I've got tiny hands and it's still a little bit titchy.
Also, Windows 8 doesn't seem to support any kind of inertial scrolling with this device. The surface area of the mouse isn't anywhere near large enough to get where you need to go in one swipe, so isn't it logical to assume that the window should keep spooling based on the strength of your flick?
You may also find yourself inadvertantly turning the device on by accident when it's in your bag or your pocket. The power button is just that -- a button. Not a switch or something that requires being held down for a specific amount of time, just something that requires one simple tap to be turned on. It's not exactly user friendly to get back to the office to find that your mouse has been on in your bag the whole time and you don't have the power to get anything done.
This Is Weird...
Make sure you remove the sticker from the bottom of the device before using it. It might have just been my device but the sticker was actually affixed onto the clicking mechanism on the thin, underside edge of the Wedge. It made the mouse click noise so loud that I was ready to put it back in the box.
Should You Buy It?
Personally? I wouldn't buy this device for laptop or desktop. I've got tiny hands, a love of cute technology and a lust for new gear, and still it's not my kind of thing. If it were a little bit bigger or you had a more obvious and ergonomically-friendly place to rest your palm and wrist, it'd be a great device, but sadly, it's not one I can recommend.
If you're a tablet user, however, this thing might just be the peripheral you need to get stuff done. When you use a tablet with a keyboard extension, you want something light and small because, presumably, you're mobile, and don't have a lot of room to maneuver. Plus, based on the keyboard case we've seen for the Surface, the Wedge mouse looks like a logical ingredient in that particular touch/traditional input soup. If you're only going to be throwing it in your bag to use when you're away from your real mouse, then the Wedge mouse is something you'll enjoy, but are you really going to pay the extra dollars for a dedicated, portable mouse? One to think on.