GBM Shortcut: The Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse
The Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse is now available at most retailers for $69.99. As far as a mouse goes in my view it is not a bad alternative if you need a mouse that is relatively compact for your bag or you pocket with one exception. I’ll get to that in a minute.
The design is unique in that the mouse comes out of the box flat. You actually give the mouse its arc by bending the device. You hear a click when you do so that almost sounds like you’ve broken something but that’s not the case. This action also turns on the mouse and its blue laser optical technology. I used the mouse on various surfaces and it tracked well regardless of the surface it was running across.
The Arc Touch Mouse connects up to your computer via a small USB dongle that is looking for a signal from the mouse. Depending on the form factor of your laptop or notebook or whatever this tiny little dongle will either hang out on the edge or sit flush. That one issue I spoke about earlier has to do with the dongle. First, I’m not a fan of dongles in any form. They are too easy to misplace when traveling. Second, Microsoft’s solution for storing this dongle (when not plugged in) is a magnetized surface on the bottom of the mouse. You stick the dongle on the underside of the mouse and it looks like it will hold. The only problem is that when you slide it into a pocket in a coat or a bag the dongle can very easily slide off if there is any jostling or friction. At least that’s the case in my testing. I think this was poorly thought out.
As to the touch in the name, the mouse has a center strip that gives you both some haptic and aural feedback when you are using that strip to control the mouse. You can configure the three designated areas for touch controls (top, middle, and bottom of that strip) to do whatever you wish it to do. Those controls are then activated by taps or flicking. Note that you can also touch either area to the left and right of the center strip for clicking as well. Flicking your finger up or down the center strip can send a web page scrolling up or down Tapping any of the three areas can activate the controls you’ve configured. This all works reasonably well, although you’ll need to get used to aiming your fingers a bit to get comfortable.
If you’re looking for a travel mouse, this might be worth taking a look at, although it is a tad expensive in my view. It feels solid and durable even with the bending of the mouse to turn it on and off.