Microsoft Surface Precision Mouse Review

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Editors' rating:
The Pros

Comfortable grip; Sensible software; Adjustable scroll wheel

The Cons

Laggy; Expensive; Lacking extra features

Verdict

With a laggy connection and an unambitious feature set, the Microsoft Surface Precision mouse costs a lot, but doesn't offer much in return.

The Microsoft Surface Precision Mouse is, to put it simply, Microsoft's answer to the Logitech MX Master Mouse. Like the MX Master, the Surface Precision is a $100 productivity mouse that connects via Bluetooth, and offers a few extra buttons and software options. Unlike the MX Master, however, the Surface Precision is not very good.

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Oh, it's not irredeemably bad. The Precision Surface mouse is comfortable to hold, the software is sensible (if you can find it) and setup is a snap. But the wireless connection is imperfect, one of the extra buttons feels superfluous, and it simply doesn't offer as many options as the MX Master. Unless you're rocking a Surface Book and absolutely, positively need the official Microsoft mouse to go along with it, I can't think of a compelling reason to pick up a Surface Precision mouse.

Multiple times per day, the signal would lag perceptibly, taking valuable seconds for my cursor to catch up with my commands.

The Surface Precision looks a lot more like a gaming mouse than an office mouse. It's got an ergonomic, curved design, a protruding thumb rest, and a bunch of extra buttons. There's a left and right button, of course, and a clickable scroll wheel between them. Beneath that, there's a button that changes the scroll wheel's resistance. This is a useful feature, depending on whether you need to scroll slowly through a document or quickly through web pages.

On the side, there are three buttons: two larger ones (forward and back, by default) that flank a smaller one in the middle (Windows 10's Task View, by default -- the same thing you get if you click the little rectangular logo next to the magnifying glass on the bottom of your screen). The bottom of the mouse has a button for Bluetooth syncing, as well as an on/off switch.

You might be surprised to learn that that's all your $100 will net you. The MX Master, by contrast, has a secondary wheel for horizontal scrolling, touch-sensitive gesture controls on the thumb rest and a 2.4 GHz wireless dongle (in case your computer doesn't have Bluetooth, or in case Bluetooth simply doesn't work as well in your setting).

The mouse is comfortable to hold, and the extra buttons are useful, but there's a definite air of "that's it?" to the whole proceedings. Even the Surface Precision's appearance -- a uniform dull gray with only a tiny Windows logo to break things up -- seems to be going out of its way to be unremarkable. It's preferable to some of the more garish gaming mice, I suppose, but a little aesthetic flourish never hurt a gadget.

Connectivity Issues

The most important feature of the Surface Precision is that it's wireless -- which is why it's a big problem that the wireless features don't work as well as intended. I used the Surface Precision in a busy office environment for about three days, and while it usually performed well, "usually" is not interchangeable with "always."

Two or three times in an 8-hour day, the signal would lag perceptibly, taking valuable seconds for my cursor to catch up with my commands. I experienced this problem on two different Windows 10 computers, a Lenovo IdeaCentre Y700 gaming desktop and a Dell Latitude 7270 laptop.

One of my colleagues had the same experience when he took the mouse home and used it for a day with this ThinkPad T440s (also running Windows 10). During 12 hours of use, he experienced three to five incidents of lag.

Granted, the Surface Precision mouse is for productivity, not gaming, so while the lag was always annoying, it was never catastrophic. Still, my experience was one of infrequent-but-obnoxious lag -- something I have not encountered with comparably priced wireless mice from Logitech, Razer and SteelSeries.

MORE: Best Alternatives to Microsoft's Surface Pro

Software

The Precision Surface also works with the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center -- if you can find the software. For whatever reason, it's not available on the official Microsoft Surface Precision Mouse website, and I had to sift through about two pages of irrelevant Google results before I found it buried in the corner of a support page. Even once it's installed, it's not easy to find; the Windows search feature does not recognize "Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center," or any combination of those words.

Once the software is up and running, though, it's pretty good. While the Mouse and Keyboard Center is about as bare-bones as they come, it lets you program each of the buttons for both Windows in general and specific programs. I was particularly fond of the DPI settings, which let you adjust the sensitivity in actual dots-per-inch rather than a general "sensitivity" slider, as the MX Master has.

You can also pair the mouse with up to three different systems and change between them by pressing the Bluetooth button on the peripheral's underside. The MX Master allows only two, so the extra connectivity here could be helpful if you have to manage an additional system.

Performance

Other than the persistent lag issues, the Precision Surface seems up to the challenge of everyday productivity tasks. I used it with Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Chrome, Firefox, Spotify, VLC, Paint and other common Windows programs, and found it could handle whatever task I could throw at it. The extra buttons were useful, and the DPI adjustment was a far sight better than you get with most productivity mice.

Microsoft also estimates that the battery life on the device can last up to three months. While I obviously can't test it for that long, it at least seems to be in the right ballpark -- provided you remember to turn the gadget off when you're not using it. Recharging the device takes a few hours on a standard micro USB cord, which is not much of a hassle, considering how infrequently you have to do it.

MORE: 'Doppelganging' Attack Evades Antivirus, Hits All Windows Versions

Bottom Line

While the Surface Precision is a competent wireless productivity mouse, that's about the highest praise I can give it. The lag is annoying and, frankly, surprising; the feature set pales in comparison to its closest competitor. That the MX Master came out two years ago and looks, feels and performs better than the Surface Precision in every way is nothing short of staggering.

Yes, it's comfortable and wireless, but so are a number of other mice -- especially if you look in the gaming space, where, these days, you can find plenty of mice that look right at home on an office desk. For $100, it offers remarkably few unique features, and at least one major annoyance.

Accessories Type Mice
Battery Type/Life Rechargeable lithium ion batteries
Size 3.06 x 4.83 x 1.7 in.
Weight 4.76 ounces
Company Website https://www.microsoft.com
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