With its latest peripherals, Microsoft did some digging into what its customers wanted, and, not surprisingly, what they want is an easy way to quickly access the Windows 8 Start screen. The $29.95 Sculpt Mobile Mouse has a dedicated Windows button that returns you to the Start screen just like the Windows key on your keyboard, but does this pointing device really make Microsoft's operating system easier to use?
Click to EnlargeThis is one sleek-looking mouse. The top of the Sculpt Mobile Mouse is a shiny and smooth resting place for your hand, while the sides are easy to grip, offering a soft-touch, rubber matte finish. However, the top quickly picks up fingerprints. The scroll dial is made of that same rubberized material, and makes a satisfying clicking sound when you press down so you know you've clicked on something. The Windows 8 button on the top of the mouse is easily distinguishable by the blue Windows logo.
Unfortunately, users who like side buttons like those on the Microsoft Mobile Mouse 4000 will be disappointed. If you want to go back in your browser, you'll need to scroll all the way up to the back button and click it.
On the bottom lies a compartment for the single AA battery needed to operate the mouse, as well as a power toggle and a Bluetooth button. The Sculpt Mobile Mouse is smaller than most standard-size mice, and its compact, wireless design appeals to those who want to toss it in their bag to use wherever they go.
Setting up the Sculpt Mobile Mouse is a breeze. After we secured the battery in its compartment on the bottom of the mouse and flipped the power switch, the light on the bottom of the Sculpt Mobile Mouse shined blue. We then inserted the USB dongle into our computer and waited as Windows automatically downloaded some drivers. The entire process just took a few minutes.
Click to EnlargeThe Sculpt Mobile Mouse's BlueTrack technology supposedly lets it work on any surface other than glass. We tested it out on our desk, on top of a pad of paper and even on fabric, and moving the mouse around felt extremely smooth. Even the slightest movement of the mouse registered on our monitor, and the experience felt smoother and more responsive than with our regular Dell desktop mouse.
Pressing down on the right button made a right-click, just like on our regular mouse, and we used the middle-click to activate the wheel button. All click gestures were accurate, and worked without a hitch.
The real appeal of the Sculpt Mobile Mouse is its Windows button, which provides easy access to the Start screen. By clicking the Windows 8 button on the top of this mouse from whatever app you're in, you're instantly returned to the Windows 8 Start screen, where you can access any of your Live Tiles.
Click to EnlargeThough there are plenty of ways to access the Windows 8 Start Screen using just one action, the Microsoft Sculpt Mobile Mouse provides a compelling option for users who don't want to teach for the keyboard or screen. For under $30, the sleek wireless mouse provides accurate navigation and is light enough to fit into even the smallest bag, making it an ideal companion for your Windows 8 laptop.