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Microsoft Optical Mouse by S+arck
Date: September 20, 2004
Reviewer: Michael Brim
Score: 6/10
   Before I start this review, I'd like to thank Julie from Microsoft for providing TechFreaks with this product to review.

Microsoft Optical Mouse by S+arck
Silver and Navy.
Microsoft Optical Mouse by S+arck
What's up with his hair?

   Computer mice have become more advanced over the years, transforming from the simple corded two-button balled mouse to a behemoth featuring no wires, twenty optical lasers, and an assortment of buttons that no one will ever amount to use them all. Each new advancement brings a new technology, new features, and, most importantly, new (and strategically placed) buttons. With the newest addition out of Redmond, it appears Microsoft has taken a step back to create a simple yet appealing mouse for the common user. Teaming up with world renowned designer, Philippe Starck, Microsoft has created a mouse with appearance the top priority. Will a simpler mouse appeal to the average computer user? Could Microsoft possibly have a trick up their sleeve that will make the Starck ideal for gamers and precision graphic designers? Let's find out.

Microsoft Optical Mouse by S+arck
Top View
Microsoft Optical Mouse by S+arck
Turned On

Microsoft Optical Mouse by S+arck
Side View
Microsoft Optical Mouse by S+arck
Turned On

Microsoft Optical Mouse by S+arck
Roll Over. Good Mouse!

   Today I review the Microsoft Optical Mouse by S+arck. Note the + in place of the t, if Philippe really wanted to be elite, he'd go the full nine-yards and would change his name to 5+4|2(|<. The S+arck mouse comes packaged in a well presented casing: the border a metallic silver, a clear plastic displaying the S+arck mouse against a crisp navy background, and the S+arck mouse, the focal point of the packaging. Microsoft knows how to market to the customer. The S+arck mouse features a hemispherical design, meaning it can be comfortably used by both left and right hand users. The mouse is a light shade of silver and contains a lighted strip that runs length wise around the entire mouse. There are two versions of the mouse, the only difference between the two is the color of the strip, one is blue, the other orange. The bottom of the mouse retains the light silver color with the blue center strip running North-South through it. In the middle of the mouse is a red optical light which blends very well with the existing silver and blue. The S+arck mouse glides effortlessly on four white Teflon feet on all mousing surfaces I tested: Xtrac Hammer, EverGlide fuZe and a regular cloth mat.

Microsoft Optical Mouse by S+arck
Lights Out...
Microsoft Optical Mouse by S+arck
...Guerilla Radio

   All aesthetics aside, the S+arck mouse surprisingly only features two buttons and a scroll-wheel. The left-click and right-click buttons encompass ~75% of the left and right portions of the mouse and while it appears there are two side buttons, they are actually pieces of plastic that somehow "add" to the design. The lack of buttons come as a huge blow as internet browsing was almost painful, no back button really struck a nerve. Other than the lack of a back button, no complaints with web browsing, let's see how it fares during an intense game or two. Button configurations in games deal almost completely with the keyboard (minus using the mouse to aim and fire), so two buttons shouldn't really hold back the S+arck mouse. The mouse was surprisingly impressive and precise; it isn't an easy task gunning down people with a rail gun, but the S+arck mouse made it easier. Unfortunately, the S+arck mouse would sporadically dart to the top-right or bottom-left corners of the screen. I experienced this problem with all three mouse-pads and in both Quake III: Arena and Unreal Tournament 2004, so this probably is an isolated case.

   There is no doubting that the Optical Mouse by S+arck is very elegant and stylish, but other than looks, the S+arck mouse fails to bring anything new to the table other than a designer's name. Two buttons and a scroll-wheel is no longer acceptable, at the very least there should be a third, side button. The performance of the S+arck is good; it is very responsive and accurate. The only problem I ran into was the every-now-and-then dash to the corner of the screen. In a press kit Microsoft included with my S+arck mouse, it answered any questions. Will there be another revision of the S+arck mouse or will there be another designer mouse? Microsoft hasn't officially confirmed or denied anything right now; they're currently "testing the waters." Will there be a cordless version of the S+arck? No, the lighted strip would cause the batteries to drain very quickly. The only solution I could possibly see to a cordless version of the S+arck was if there was a charging base, similar to the MX700. Computer enthusiasts aren't known for their stunning fashion sense and designer items, so the thought of sacrificing features for looks probably isn't going to go over well. To common users, especially left-handed ones, this mouse deserves a decent amount of consideration.

Pros: Cons:
  • Stylish
  • Finally a mouse lefties can use
  • Two Buttons
  • Sporadic darts to corners of the screen.

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© 2004
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