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Everyone is different when it comes to notebook pointing devices. I get on fine with the little trackpoint set into the keyboard of my notebook; some people hate it. Many get on equally fine with the trackpad found on many other notebook PCs, while others (like me) hate them. So, if you have to use a notebook with a pointing device you don’t like, you might want a mobile mini mouse. Or, even if you get on well with your pointing device, you might sometimes have long projects to complete with the notebook; and you might think that the built-in pointing device just isn’t good enough. That was my position. I like my notebook, and use it quite happily (I am writing this opinion on it); but I faced the prospect of several days work in a row using it. So I bought a mini-mouse. The Targus USB Mobile Mini Mouse (yes, that is its real name) is delightfully compact, as you would hope, and almost too simple to describe. It is black, tiny (3.3" x 1.6" x 1"), has two black oval buttons, no wheel, and a black cable connecting it to the USB connector. The whole thing claims to weigh 2.4oz, and the cable is about 35" long (which turns out to be ideal, at least for me, using a notebook with the USB socket on the “wrong” side of the PC). Installation was trivial, and so is the documentation. In fact, I have never seen user instructions for PC hardware so short. It’s a few sentences which boil down to “plug it in, wait for the installation wizard, then press enter several times”. That’s it – nothing else at all. Well, if you need instructions on how to use a two-button mouse… Of course, the geniuses at Targus felt bad about printing such a short user manual, so they found a way to make it long: they repeated the instructions in 5 other languages… The mouse works. That’s what matters. It is really tiny, and if you position your hand to operate
the buttons with your finger tips, its too small for comfort. Instead, I lie my hand over it, drape the fingers down naturally, and the buttons are just right for the knuckly part of my fingers. If you are left-handed, you might want to check though, as the buttons are decidedly asymmetric. The mouse works. I know, I already said that. The question is for how long will it continue to work? Obviously, I bought it for mobile use. That means packing and unpacking it, in my briefcase full of crumbs and what-have-you – hardly mouse-ball friendly. I’ll be intrigued to learn how well my new rodent stands up to this. At least the ball can be removed for cleaning, just like with a full-size mouse. Really, this mouse should come with a small carrier, to protect it and to give me an easy way to keep the cable neat. An alternative is the Mitsumi Freestyle mouse, which is optical and has no ball to clog up; but at time of writing (November 2000) they are simply unavailable in the UK. Oh, and did I mention, this mouse is cheap? I bought mine in a travel shop at an airport, supposedly (but not truly) tax free, and it only cost £17.02. That’s a lot better than the £29 or so you can pay on Tottenham Court Road for an equivalent product; and I think that makes it the cheapest worthwhile laptop accessory there is. I’ll score it four stars; it would have five if it had a wheel and if it came with a little carry case.