One thing we liked was that the Explorer runs on a single AA battery, making it easy to find a temporary replacement should you forget the small AC adapter base provided to refuel the standard 2100mAh rechargeable battery.
While it can take up to three hours to fully charge the mouse, you can give it enough juice to run for a full day in a quick 15-minute charge. Microsoft says that a full three-hour charge typically lasts for three weeks.
Since Microsoft claims you can use the Explorer on almost any surface, we felt obligated to set up an obstacle course. Using a browser and Microsoft Word document to check accuracy and usability, we tested the mouse on more than 20 different surfaces with excellent results.
Paper items including newspaper, glossy white photo paper, and both plain brown and glossy corrugated cardboard all produced trouble-free, precise responses. A glossy hardcover book jacket that stymied two other optical mice in our collection was also a success.
Fabrics we tested included a cotton T-shirt, a rough towel, a Kleenex tissue, denim, and carpeting, with the Explorer handling each with no loss of accuracy. Among nonstandard surfaces commonly found in homes and offices, we tried a variety of wood including laminate flooring, rough pine board, and coated pressboard. There was no discernible difference between using these and an actual mousepad.
Just for fun, we tried Styrofoam, a plastic container lid, a round fireplace log, the arm of a leather office chair, Lego, and a plastic bag. All worked very well, except the Lego which was too bumpy to make it worth using as a mouse pad (not a big issue, since we're pretty sure Lego won't be the surface of choice for most users).
The Explorer Mouse also worked beautifully on smooth and textured frosted glass and on ceramic tile. (Again, clear glass and mirrored or metallic surfaces thwart any mouse's optical scanning of movement from one frame to the next).
So much for clean -- how about dirty surfaces? We happily scooped old ashes out of the fireplace and sprinkled them onto our desk. The ashes did not interfere with mouse movement at all. We had the same results when coating the desk with a finer layer of chalk dust. Clearly, the Explorer is an attractive option for those working in a dusty workshop or garage.
If you have no mouse space at all, you can use your lap, arm, face, head, or even massage your neck and shoulders with the Explorer Mouse. It took some practice to adjust to surfing the Web with a back-scratcher, but it really can be done.
In short, we found Microsoft's claim to be true: The Explorer really does work on virtually any surface.
The Explorer Mouse is an innovative peripheral with a stylish design. When the novelty of trying to make it work on every surface in your home or office wears off, chances are you'll still be pleased with the mouse -- it's comfortable to hold, it offers excellent tracking and scrolling, and it's easy on the wrist. Plus, that sexy blue glow will match many desktop systems' tower LEDs.
The fact that you can take it with you and use it on just about any surface is icing on the cake. Hmm, we haven't tried cake yet ...
Adapted from Hardwarecentral.com.
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