360-degree navigation wheel enables scrolling in all directions
Media navigation pad controls iTunes tracks
Receiver tucks into battery slot for easy storage
Inconvenient navigation placement
No mute button
Scroll ball is not a button
Scroll ball is hard to control
At only three quarters of an inch high, the Kensington SlimBlade Media Mouse was made for the traveling music lover. This sleek, wireless laser mouse, which comes in black or deep wine, is small enough to stuff in a bag and tote around. With its standard left- and right-click buttons and a unique 360-degree scroll ball that lets users easily navigate pages in any direction, this mouse is designed to be extremely user friendly. While the 360-degree feature allows you to scroll right to left on pages as well as up and down and diagonally, the ball does not act as a third button to give you Expose features. The mouse also has a 2.4GHz wireless receiver that works from up to 30 feet away, letting users control their computer from anywhere in the room. The receiver tucks neatly away inside the mouse’s battery slot when not in use.
The most unique feature of this mouse is actually hidden on the gadget’s underside. On the bottom of the SlimBlade Media Mouse is a navigation pad that allows users to control their media player of choice. Similar in design to the iPod shuffle, the navigation pad allows you to control the volume, move to the next or previous track, and play and pause the audio or video. By placing the navigation pad on the bottom of the mouse, Kensington has avoided the problem of users bumping those buttons during normal use, but it is somewhat of a hassle to turn the mouse over when you want to hear the next track of the album you’re listening to. It also would have been nice to include a mute function in the navigation pad, but the Pause button serves the same purpose. Be aware too that in order to switch menus in iTunes, you have to use the traditional side of the mouse—so to switch from music to video, you have to turn the mouse on its right side.
Another handy feature Kensington included is a sleep function. This turns the mouse off when the computer goes to sleep, allowing the mouse’s two AA batteries to last up to six months, according to the company. The mouse also features a battery life indicator that lights up green when the batteries are good and red when the power is getting low.
While this mouse is not billed as ergonomic, I found its curved structure very comfortable to use. And while the documentation states that you need to install the drivers to use the 360-degree functionality and media controls, the mouse worked as advertised right out of the box. (Kensington includes a CD, and has a driver available for download on its Web site.) However, the scroll ball was perhaps a bit too easy to use: it turned so easily and I found myself scrolling sideways in documents when I didn’t want to.
Macworld’s buying advice
Kensington’s SlimBlade Media Mouse is great if you’re looking for media control and sleek design in addition to basic mouse functions. The lightweight, slim body is great for travelers. It performed to my expectations and the novelty of the navigation pad is something I will appreciate endlessly.
[James Wickboldt is Macworld’s editorial intern.]
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