For Windows 8 users seeking a change from track pads and touch screens, the Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Mouse may be the perfect peripheral. Complete with a dedicated Windows button for zippy shortcuts and a soft, curved design optimized for comfort, is it worth the $39.95? Read on to find out.
Click to EnlargeMicrosoft's Sculpt Comfort Mouse feels exactly how it sounds. With soft corners and a glossy, smooth top, the mouse is pleasing to both the touch and the eyes. In the center of the device, right underneath the scroll wheel, is a Microsoft logo, and on the left hand side you'll find a blue Windows button that stands out from the rest of the mouse's black body.
The Sculpt Comfort Mouse's most noticeable physical attribute is its curved shape. There's a slight indent on the left side made specifically to fit your thumb, making it easy to tap the Windows button when necessary.
On the mouse's underside, you'll find a power switch and a button that syncs the accessory to your laptop. Unlike the top of the mouse, its bottom is constructed from a hard, matte plastic that makes it easy to navigate on any surface.
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Click to EnlargeSyncing the Sculpt Comfort Mouse with our Windows 8 notebook was a breeze. Near the back of the mouse, you'll find a small button that loosens the top plate so that you can remove it and insert batteries. After placing the two, included AA batteries inside the slots, you're ready to sync the mouse with your computer.
It's important to remember that this mouse operates via a Bluetooth connection, which means you'll need to use a notebook that's Bluetooth compatible. While this may be limiting for some, it also means you won't have to worry about keeping track of a dongle.
To pair the mouse with your computer, flip the power switch on the bottom of the mouse and then hold down the button in the center until the blue light flashes. This should happen almost instantaneously. From there, a light in the back of the device will flicker green and red to alert you that the device is ready to be paired with a computer. If you're using Windows 8, simply head over to the Settings menu and select Change PC Settings. After choosing Devices from the left menu, click Search for Devices and the Sculpt Comfort Mouse will appear. It took us only moments to get the mouse up and running on our Windows 8 notebook.
Click to EnlargeThe Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Mouse is smooth, responsive and intuitive. When navigating across the Windows 8 desktop, our cursor responded instantly, with no lag, and we found horizontal scrolling to be seamless and natural.
The Comfort Sculpt Mouse's BlueTrack Track won't work on glass or mirrored surfaces, but we found that it functioned properly on just about every other material. We had no problem zipping across the Windows 8 Start screen when using the mouse on a lace dress, a cushion or a leather-bound book.
Click to EnlargeThe Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Mouse is tailored to work with Windows 8-specific gestures, and we found that each of these actions worked smoothly during our testing. Pressing the blue Windows 8 button tab along the side of the mouse allowed us to switch between the Windows 8 Start screen and our most recent app.
If you want to scroll through all of your recent apps, you can continuously swipe up on the blue touch pad to cycle through each program. If you don't feel like navigating through full-screen versions of your currently open apps, swiping down on the Windows button will pull up a sidebar of open programs. With each gesture, you'll feel a slight vibration to let you know that the mouse is responding to your command.
The Windows 8 interface is designed to cater to horizontal scrolling rather than vertical, and the Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Mouse is designed to fit this orientation. You can tilt the scroll wheel to the left or right to move the page horizontally, just like you normally would to scroll up or down.
For those using Windows 7, pressing the Windows touch tab will launch the Start menu. Swiping down on this blue Windows button will move you forward in your browser, and swiping up will navigate backwards. Naturally, you can scroll vertically by rotating the scroll wheel up and down like on any other mouse, and you can also move from left to right by tilting the wheel from side to side.
Unfortunately, there's no pinch-to-zoom gesture for either OS, so you'll still have to use your touch screen or track pad for that.
Click to EnlargeThe Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Mouse has a premium, yet comfortable feel that makes it a worthwhile accessory for Windows 8 devices. For $39.95, Microsoft's mouse is a reasonably priced peripheral that will give you nearly all the shortcuts and gestures you need to zip through Windows 8.