Review: Apple’s Mighty Mouse – Third-party USB mouse makers should be very afraid [UPDATED]

By SteveJack

I got my hands on my very own Apple Mighty Mouse today. So far, being a rather impatient type, I’ve just opened the box (which contains the mouse — with an iPod-style cord wrap that accepts the mouse’s USB connector and holds the cord when coiled —and a clear plastic sleeve which I can see holds the Mighty Mouse User’s Guide and what feels like a CD-ROM). I’ll open that stuff in a minute. I’ve unplugged my Kensington StudioMouse from the side of my Apple keyboard and plugged in the Mighty Mouse.

I understand it immediately at first touch. The right click and the left click work exactly the same as my regular old Apple Pro Mouse, but the Mighty Mouse just “knows” when I’ve right-clicked or left-clicked. It “feels” where my finger is placed. The mouse feels exactly the same right-clicking or left-clicking, no rocking or tilting to the right or left, and it feels just like an Apple Pro Mouse: same size, same shape, same mechanical click action where the whole mouse front depresses mechanically. If you click the mouse body with a finger to the left of the scroll ball, it’s a left-click; click it with a finger to the right and it’s a right-click. Simple, no thought required.

I squeeze the two side buttons, right where my thumb and middle fingers want to push and the mouse makes a faint “click” sound that’s different from the mechanical click of the right/left mouse body clicking – the “click” sound for the “squeeze” is generated from the mouse’s tiny speaker inside. It tells me my squeeze has registered. Right now, the squeeze does nothing beyond making the sound, because I haven’t opened the clear plastic sleeve and installed the software, yet.

I try the scroll ball. It makes faint “scrolling” sound that goes faster as I scroll quickly and slower as I scroll slowly; just like an iPod’s Click Wheel, it emits short clicks in succession that tell me I’m scrolling and the speed at which I’m doing it. Hold on, and I’ll open a large Photoshop image to try the 360-degree scroll ball action… Apple wasn’t lying, it scrolls in 360-degrees just fine. Clicking the scroll ball triggers Exposé just like hitting F9.

The Mighty Mouse tracks and scrolls too slowly right now, so let’s see what Mac OS X 10.4.2 Tiger’s default “Keyboard and Mouse” System Preferences let me do. Okay, as you can see below, I can adjust the Tracking Speed, Double-Click Speed, Scrolling Speed, and which button will be my Primary mouse button (good for left-handers).

Okay, now I’ll open the clear plastic sleeve. Just a sec… The little bag contains the User’s Guide, a copy of the One Year Limited Warranty and a CD-ROM labeled “Mighty Mouse Software Version 1.0.” Time to install. Just a moment…

“Read Before You Install Mighty Mouse Software.” Yeah, right. Oh, alright, I’ll do it this once:

About Mighty Mouse Software
Mighty Mouse software provides additional features for Macintosh computers with Mac OS X v10.4.2 or newer.

System Requirements
You must have a Macintosh computer with Mac OS X v10.4.2 or newer.

Mighty Mouse software delivers the following software
New Mouse preference pane
• The new mouse preference pane with additional feature selections will appear when the Mighty Mouse is connected to your Macintosh computer with Mac OS X v10.4.2 or newer.

Using Mighty Mouse Software
To install the Mighty Mouse software:
1. Double click the file called “AppleMouseSoftware.pkg”.
2. Follow the onscreen instructions.

Then plug the USB cable from your Mighty Mouse to a USB port on your Macintosh computer or keyboard to start using this software.

I’m clicking AppleMouseSoftware.pkg now… Standard installation procedure which took less than a minute. Optimizing System Performance, thankfully, took just a few seconds. It requires a Restart (there goes my uptime!) – I’ll be right back…

Okay, I’m back. God, I hate restarts. Thankfully, I do it so infrequently these days. Anyway, to give you an idea, I’d have had the Mighty Mouse’s box opened for about a total five minutes at this point if I wasn’t writing everything down. The Right Click doesn’t work right now – it’s like a one-button mouse except now squeezing the mouse sides triggers Exposé (like F9) now, the scroll ball works, and clicking the scroll ball brings up Dashboard. I’m off to the System Prefs. Now they look like this:

I can set the Mighty Mouse’s four input “buttons” to do whatever I’d like. Apple’s help states, “To set a button to open an application, choose Other and select an application in the dialog that appears. Choose Button 3 (for the scroll-ball button) or Button 4 (for the side buttons) to use your mouse with a video game, CAD program, or other application that works with a multibutton mouse. Choose Off if you want a button to be inactive.”

One thing that’s apparent immediately is that even setting the Tracking Speed to it’s highest setting is too slow for my taste, so let me try USB Overdrive X 10.3.9, even though notes on the USB Overdrive site state, “I am fully committed to supporting Apple’s new toy in the USB Overdrive. I’ll release an update of the USB Overdrive as soon as it’s ready, which shouldn’t be long.” I don’t care — I need faster tracking — I’m installing even though I’ll have to Restart again…

They weren’t kidding, USB Overdrive didn’t speed up the Mighty Mouse’s tracking speed. Why Apple is so stingy with the maximum tracking speed is beyond me! I’ll live with it this way for now. It’s not terrible, just not optimal. I want it to be just a tad faster. If anybody has a fix for me now, please let me know! My wrist and I thank you in advance.

So, how’s the mouse itself? Pretty much transparently intuitive. It’s accurate and you just start using it and it works like you’d expect it to work. The programmable buttons work well and they’re physically in the right places. As for the tiny scroll ball’s size: I love it! It’s not too small and, unlike the Kensington’s scroll pad, I’ll be using the Mighty Mouse’s scrolling abilities. It just works. I would like to have had the side button squeeze require a little less squeeze to activate and it would also be nice if one could adjust the volume of the mouse click and scroll feedback; it’s a little difficult to hear over the fan in this test system (an “ancient” Power Mac G4/450).

Is it worth the $49? Yes, it is. Even though I loved the Kensington StudioMouse, I already know that this is the mouse I’ll be using from now on. This is more than I’d hoped for when I asked for an Apple-designed multiple-button scroll mouse back in June 2003, so thanks, Apple, for finally freeing Mighty Mouse to save the day! Third-party USB mouse makers should be very afraid.

[UPDATE: August 3, 11:14am EDT: Thanks to many readers, I downloaded MouseZoom to see if I could speed up the Mighty Mouse’s tracking speed. It works! Thanks to everybody who clued me into this solution. MouseZoom is a Mac OS X Cocoa pref pane which speeds up your mouse cursor movement in Mac OS X. It does the same thing the Apple mouse control panel does – just higher. More info and download link here.]

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.

Advertisment: Order your Apple “Mighty Mouse” now from the Apple Store online!

Related articles:
Apple introduces multi-button ‘Mighty Mouse’ with ‘Scroll Ball’ for Mac and Windows – August 02, 2005
Apple’s new ‘Mighty Mouse’ provides audio feedback for clicking and scrolling – August 02, 2005
Apple’s mythical two-button mouse – March 19, 2005
RUMOR: Apple may soon debut two-button mouse – March 15, 2005
Apple’s Pro Mouse is truly a joy to use… for about five minutes – May 29, 2004
The time has come for Apple to ship a two-button scroll mouse standard – June 09, 2003
Should Apple reconsider the one-button mouse? – October 23, 2002

68 Comments

  1. Most reviews go through these nauseating into steps then begin to formulate an opinion about the subject.

    This article publishes the nauseating steps in greater detail than the actual review.

    Wow, gotta love online journalism. I believe a high school newspaper even has an editorial staff.

  2. I like these “play-by-play” reviews. After all, this is exactly what new Apple Mighty Mouse owners are going to go through, so it’s the best kind of review IMHO.

    Thanks, SteveJack – I now know exactly what to expect when I buy mine tomorrow. Great review.

  3. Unlike some, I appreciate the detail – most reviews just give an opinion, but with this article I can see exactly how SteveJack arrived at his opinion. A mouse is something you have to use constantly all the time – it is very important! I’m buying a Mighty Mouse!

  4. >theloniousMac: IT’S A FRICKING MOUSE!

    Yeah! But this is Apple, so there are obligatory articles of excitement.

    I love how the article talks about…

    If you click on the left side of the mouse, that’s a left click. If you click on the right side of the mouse, that’s a right click.

    This mouse *IS* a breakthrough!

  5. >theloniousMac: IT’S A FRICKING MOUSE!

    Yeah! But this is Apple, so there are obligatory articles of excitement.

    I love how the article talks about…

    If you click on the left side of the mouse, that’s a left click. If you click on the right side of the mouse, that’s a right click.

    This mouse *IS* a breakthrough!

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