Microsoft's new USB mouse, the IntelliMouse Explorer, is what we've recently come to expect from Micro-soft: It's a needlessly complex but otherwise terrific product. The IntelliMouse works like a traditional mouse, but without a mouse ball. These new rodents are optical, not mechanical; they determine motion by repeatedly imaging the surface they're sliding along and comparing successive frames. This fly-by-sight feature keeps the IntelliMouse from getting clogged the way mechanical mice do - there's no ball constantly shoving mousepad detritus up into the innards of the device.
The IntelliPoint control panel is extremely well built. You can program all five buttons painlessly. The control panel cleverly assigns a straightforward click function to at least one button at all times, preventing users from painting themselves into a corner. Users can either go with the speed assigned in the Mouse control panel, or use the IntelliPoint slider to reach the supersonic speeds Windows types favor.
The IntelliMouse's only problems stem from Microsoft's near-insatiable urge to include more features than you could want. Though the three primary buttons are well positioned and easy to use, the thumb buttons are easy to click by mistake but difficult to click by design. The ergonomic shape may appeal to right-handed users, but effectively prevents left-handed mousers from using the device. Still, once you learn to avoid the thumb buttons (or simply turn them off), the IntelliMouse is one of the best mice we've seen. -- Ian Sammis
Good News: Well-designed control panel. No mouse ball to gunk up.
Bad News: From Microsoft. It's easy to trigger fourth and fifth mouse buttons by mistake. Strictly for right-handed use.