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A quick look at the Logitech Couch Mouse M515, Verbatim Go Ergo , Microsoft Explorer Touch and Microsoft Touch Mouse

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Logitech Couch Mouse M515 ($39.99; www.bestbuy.ca) Logitech has solved the problem of mousing on irregular surfaces in impressive fashion with the Couch Mouse M515. This smallish, lightweight mouse – which uses one of Logitech’s tiny “unifying” transceivers that allows multiple compatible devices to connect via the same wireless dongle – can track on almost anything, save clear glass and polished, reflective surfaces. I tried using it on a pillow, my knee, and a jumble of furry couch blankets, and watched, amazed, as my pointer glided quickly and precisely across the screen. The tracking sensor is sealed away inside the base, leaving no opening to collect dust, fuzz, or grit, and the edges of the mouse are rounded to make sure they glide smoothly over fabric without getting caught. People who aren’t down with laptop trackpads and spend a lot of time computing on the couch will have a tough time finding anything better.

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Verbatim Go Ergo ($34.88; www.walmart.ca) Verbatim’s wireless ergonomic mouse, which features a back that rises and gets broader toward the front, is mostly unremarkable, save for an unusually deep, rubberized indention designed to provide a resting place for our stubbiest digit. I’m not sure how this makes the mousing experience more ergonomic (perhaps Verbatim’s engineers were responding to a heretofore unrecognized epidemic of thumbs calloused from years spent sliding across desktops), but a side effect of the indentation is that it keeps the thumb unusually – and, as it turns out, handily – close to the forward and back buttons on the mouse’s edge. Keep in mind that this mouse’s asymmetrical design makes it suitable for righties only.

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Microsoft Explorer Touch ($49.95; www.microsoft.com/hardware) Slightly smaller than Microsoft’s Touch Mouse, the Explorer Touch is appropriate for on-the-go computing. Microsoft’s BlueTrack tech combines with a gently curved base to let it track easily on all sorts of irregular, non-traditional mousing surfaces (think sofa cushions and bedclothes). The real draw here, however, is a responsive touch scrolling strip that gives users the option to ratchet-scroll with slow finger movements or use a flick to go sailing down long documents and web pages. Left and right scrolling is accomplished by moving your finger sideways. Haptic feedback – tiny rumbles inside the case – accompanies scrolling actions to provide satisfying assurance that the mouse is functioning as commanded. Interestingly, I found the Explorer Touch easier to use and more precise than its much pricier, technologically advanced brother, the Microsoft Touch Mouse.

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Microsoft Touch Mouse ($79.95; microsoft.com/hardware) The lack of a scroll wheel makes the Touch Mouse feel foreign. So, too, does the absence of discrete left and right buttons. Traditional mechanical controls have been replaced by a multi-touch pad that runs about two-thirds the length of the mouse’s back. Even with a tutorial it took a couple of weeks for me to become comfortable with the Touch’s distinctive one- and two-finger command gestures. Their are also frustrations: No matter how calmly and steadily I moved my index finger, documents, pictures, and web pages tended to jarringly jump location rather than scroll smoothly. Plus, while the Touch never failed to recognize a left-click or a double-click, I found I often had to tap a second or third time to accomplish a successful right-click. Needs polishing, wait and see whether Microsoft’s engineers can refine the technology in its successor.

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