Although I absolutely love new computer gadgets, I tend to be a bit slow when it comes to replacing items like the keyboard and mouse. To me, these things are like tennis shoes or a pair of jeans – they need to be broken in good, before you’re really comfortable with them. However, my maple-syrup stained keyboard had reached the point where it was more “broke” than “broken in”, and my ancient mouse had somehow become haunted, moving around on its own volition. It was time for something new.
After shopping around for a bit, I finally decided on the Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 4000 package which includes the Wireless Comfort Keyboard 4000 and the Wireless Laser Mouse 5000. In this review, I’ll concentrate on the features of the mouse.
Wireless and Laser (4 out of 5)
I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time talking about the wireless and laser features of the mouse. There’s nothing extraordinary here, but there’s nothing bad either. The one nice thing about buying the mouse and keyboard as a package is that only one USB port is needed for the shared wireless receiver.
Although some others have mentioned problems with this, I’ve had absolutely zero problems with getting a wireless signal, and the mouse receives commands just as fast as a standard non-wireless device. Well, sure, there’s probably some measurable difference in speed here, but it’s certainly not noticeable when using the mouse. Plus, unlike my old mouse, this one actually waits until I tell it to do something before it actually does it.
Magnifier (4 out of 5)
Although this wasn’t a huge selling point for me, I did like the idea of having a magnifying option on my mouse for those times when I wanted a quick close-up view of part of a web page, but didn’t want to be bothered with using the browser zoom features. I also thought it would be great for people with vision problems when using applications that didn’t come with a standard zoom option.
All in all, it is a pretty nice feature. As you can see in the screenshot to the right (click the image for a larger view), activating the magnifier forms a box around the mouse pointer that enlarges everything within the area of the box. By default, the magnify option is associated with the right side button so it is fairly easy to click on and off.
Five (Four?) Customizable Buttons (3 out of 5)
In addition to the standard left, right, and wheel buttons, the Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 5000 also has left and right side buttons. Using the IntelliPoint software that comes bundled with the mouse, you can customize the commands assigned to each button.
As I mentioned in the previous section, the right side button is assigned to the magnifier, and this button is very accessible. In fact, it’s so easy to click on this button that I’ve almost thrown the mouse across the room a couple of times. At first, I thought I would just have to get used to the button placement and, eventually, I would stop accidentally clicking it while navigating the mouse.
After several hours of use, I was still clicking the button by mistake at least once every couple of minutes. I ended up opening the IntelliPoint application and just disabling that button completely. If you already have purchased the mouse and are having the same problems, this process is very easy. Once you open the software, go to the Buttons tab and you’ll be able to change the default button assignments. Just pick Disabled for Right side button, and your sanity will return shortly.
In short, even though the device is advertised as having five customizable buttons, my particular mouse will only have four since I plan to keep that right side button permanently disabled because of its awkward position. Still, that’s one more button than I’m used to, and I might even think about re-assigning the magnify command to the left side button. Then, I’d still have that functionality without the annoying side effects.
Can Be Used in Left Hand (5 out of 5)
The ambidextrous design of the Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 5000 was something that caught my eye right away. Although I’m predominantly right-handed and only “borderline” ambidextrous, I still use my left hand for a lot of common activities, one of these things being mouse operation. However, I hate buying a mouse that’s solely for left-handed use, because there are many times when I prefer to work with the mouse sitting to my right due to space considerations.
In this category, the mouse design is top-notch. I have no problems using it with either hand, and the additional wireless feature of the device makes it easy to move the mouse back and forth from one side of the keyboard to the other.
Price and Overall Rating (4 out of 5)
On its own, the Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 5000 lists for $49.95, but you can pick up the Wireless Desktop Laser 4000 package with both keyboard and mouse for $79.95. It’s not hard to find these items cheaper, though, if you take the time to shop around.
Although I’m still a little twitchy when I think about that right side button, I’m pretty happy with the purchase and overall quality of the device. I like being able to customize the buttons, and I absolutely love the design.