The Kensington Bluetooth PilotMouse Mini…

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Submitted by Scott:

I have been asked to contribute a review of my portable mouse. I have been using this mouse for about 1 year now, so it is definitely not “new” to me. All the better, I suppose, as I can give a very accurate review.

I have been using Kensington’s products for a long while now, and I have always been happy with them. When it came time to find a mouse appropriate for use with my Powerbook, Kensington was my first choice, and their Pilotmouse Mini Bluetooth mouse seemed perfect for my needs. After a year with it, I can give it a definitive “thumbs up.”

When looking for a portable mouse, I had a few criteria that I wanted met. I wanted something small enough to be portable, but not so small that it was awkward or difficult to use. Also, I definitely wanted to take advantage of my onboard Bluetooth connectivity.

The Bluetooth PilotMouse met all of these criteria. It has a very nice “heft” to it, it is quite solid, and it is partially sheathed in soft, textured rubber. This gives it a nice grip and feel in the hand. Rather than being re-chargeable (something that I have sometimes found to be more of a nuisance than a boon), it uses standard AA batteries. It has left and right buttons, and a clickable scroll wheel.

Best of all, it is supported by Kensington’s “MouseWorks” software. For those of you who have never used it, MouseWorks provides seamless, fully configurable integration with OS X for their mouse products. Using Mouseworks, it is possible to create custom configurations, on an application by application basis, for any of Kensington’s mice. Mouseworks also unlocks the ability to use a mouse’s “chording” ability to add an additional configurable click (“chording” is when both the left and right buttons are pressed simultaneously). The only problem I have had with MouseWorks is the fact that I had to wait about a month after moving up to a (Intel) Macbook Pro for the Universal Binary version.

Connecting the mouse is a snap. Once it has been paired to a Mac, it can be re-connected simply by turning it on (a small switch on the bottom of the mouse), then clicking any button. It takes a couple seconds to be recognized by the Mac, then it is ready for use. If it is not used for an extended period of time, it will go to “sleep.” When this occurs, or if it is turned off, it will disconnect from the Mac, and a message to that effect will appear on the display.

I have found that the tracking with this mouse can sometimes be a little “flaky.” I don’t know if this is due to the mouse, itself, or if this is common to all Bluetooth devices. To be sure, it is only noticeable when gaming, and I have not noticed it when using the computer for more normal tasks. When this occurs, I have noticed “jitteriness” and a general lack of fine cursor control. Removing the mouse from whatever surface it is on, then replacing it usually clears this up.

Speaking of surfaces: I do not bother carrying any kind of “mouse pad” or other surface on which to use the mouse. If I have my Macbook on a desk or table, I use that desk or table. Most times, however, I just use the surface of my Macbook Pro’s topcase. I have a 17″ Macbook Pro, so there is just the right amount of space there, below the keyboard and speakers, and to the right of the trackpad. At first, I was very concerned about the possibility of wear on my topcase, but it seems that this concern was unfounded. I am not going to recommend that anyone use this area as a “mouse pad,” but I will say that I have been doing so for about a year now, and I have seen no wear or discoloration.

Before I finish with this review, I want to talk a little about mouse useage, in general, with Mac portables… It might seem that the presence of Bluetooth connectivity and the availability of portable, compatible, and configurable mice means that anyone with a Mac portable needs one of these devices. I feel very strongly that this is far from the truth. In fact, I have found that the only time I use my mouse to any extent is when I am gaming. At all other times, I find that proper use of the trackpad, along with a healthy repertoire of keyboard shortcuts, makes for a much simpler and more productive experience. My hands are in better position to use the keyboard, and I get around the GUI more smoothly. Certainly, it is easier to point the cursor and manipulate menus using a mouse, but this is more than counterbalanced by the need to reach for the mouse, then go back to the keyboard. If you are considering the purchase of a portable mouse merely for GUI manipulation, think carefully. You might be better served learning to use all the available tools and shortcuts. Obviously, if one is using a Mac portable in “clamshell” mode while connected to an external monitor and keyboard, a portable mouse is a must.

In summary, I heartily recommend this mouse. If you must have a zillion buttons, it is not the mouse for you. If, on the other hand, you want a mouse that feels great, works very well with OS X, and is completely configureable, this is the mouse for you.

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