I suppose I am a bit of a mouse enthusiast. Not in the ‘5000000 dots per inch sensor, engraved LED skull and crossbones design” sort of way, because I am neither a competitive gamer or a 14-year-old boy. It’s more of a wider interest in how the same essential concept – a plastic lump we move around on a desk in order to move a cursor – can be evolved, occasionally with a side order of aesthetic interest. I see something I like the shape of, or, sometimes, buy the marketing BS of, and suddenly I become obsessed with owning it, and certain that it is the answer to any number of imagined control and comfort woes.
My cupboards are stuffed with old mice, some bought, some inherited, provided for review. There are wired ones and wireless ones, laser ones and optical ones, Bluetooth ones and ones with a terrifyingly tiny dongle, ones covered in angles, ones smooth like bread rolls. There’s even one, somewhere, that has a tiny fan inside it, intended to keep my hand cool during particularly intense bouts of online shooting or accounting.
I can’t think of a particular one which has meaningfully improved my computing life, but every once in a while the itch gets me and I end up with a new rodent for a while. I can never bring myself to get rid of the older model, though. I grow to trust every mouse I use, and so every new one carries some fear that it will ultimately prove less comfortable, less responsive and I’ll need to revert back to that which my palm knew best.
Right now, I’m impatiently expecting delivery of a Microsoft Arc Touch Bluetooth, which I’ve absolutely convinced myself is necessary in order to use my laptop while I’m out and about. It’s Bluetooth, so no wires and no dongles. It’s got a touch-surface and scroll ‘strip’ so it’s all techno-efficient with swipes and gestures that I will try once and never again. Most of all, it folds flat so I can carry it around in my laptop’s carry case without the unthinkable strain of a full-size mouse making an unsightly bulge in it.
There is more chance that my life will be improved by a dust mote landing on my left earlobe while I sleep than it will by this mouse. But, as is so often the case with me and technology, I spent a couple of days absolutely convincing myself that I needed it, then furiously searching for the best possible price. (In this case, that involved buying one secondhand from America, as even with postage to the UK it’s half the price of buying nationally). That I’d go and work out the house so much more if I had a more portable mouse.
It’s bollocks, of course. I just wanted a new toy, and the double-whammy of the Arc’s flattening gimmick and a touch-sensitive strip rather than scroll wheel got under my skin. I well imagine that I will find its unusual shape and unothordox controls ultimately infuriating, and in a couple of weeks it will go in the drawer and ultimately be replaced by whatever the next thing that proclaims it’s solved the mouse problem is. If I’m smart, I’ll eBay it the second I feel dissatisfied by it, because there are more mooks like me out there, and the sooner I sell it, the sooner I’ll get my money back.
Of course, with the laptop problem due to be 100%, definitely, definitively solved the moment the postman arrives, now I find my attention is turning to the mouse attached to my desktop, which has been there for an almost unprecedented 18 months now. It’s a Logitech Proteus G502 something. It’s got changeable weights and tweakable LED colours. It’s a really good mouse: fairly comfortable, very responsive. I can’t think of anything else I could realistically ask of a desktop mouse. But… it looks angular and boring, but also a bit embarrassing in its spikiness. The back/forward buttons aren’t the best shape either.
I definitely need a new one.
Help me. Please, help me.
This post was originally published to the RPS Supporter Program.