If you spend a lot of time at your PC, a good mouse is very important.
If you’re a PC gamer, a good mouse is even more important. Gaming mice are specifically designed to be ergonomic; they’ll fit comfortably in your hand for extended periods of time. Gaming mice usually have a myriad of programmable buttons and switches on them, too, allowing you quick access to functions you use regularly. Along with other bells and whistles, gaming mice often have RGB lighting and a bunch of features you’ll probably never use. To top it all off, they’re generally pretty expensive – and pretty ugly. Where does that leave you if you want something a little more understated and simple?
Microsoft has attempted to answer that very query with the relaunch of its IntelliMouse.
If you’ve been using PCs for most of your life, chances are you’ll have encountered a Microsoft IntelliMouse at some point. First introduced in 1996, its standout feature was the scroll wheel. Later editions of the IntelliMouse introduced optical technology instead of being controlled by a ball (ah, remember those?). Of course, those are very basic, standard features today, so why has Microsoft decided to bring back the IntelliMouse? Well, to bring some simplicity back to the premium mouse market.
Classic design, modern technology
The Classic IntelliMouse has the same shape and outer design as the IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0, the last iteration of the mouse from 2003. But as Microsoft’s Devices Design Manager, Simon Dearsley explained in an interview on the Windows Blog, “underneath the hood it’s all brand-new technology”.
He’s right – the Classic IntelliMouse certainly doesn’t feel like a 15-year old design. It’s striking in its plainness, and its only additional functions are two programmable buttons on the left-hand side. For most users, that’s more than enough. In a market saturated with mice with full number pads, inexplicable buttons and switches, they can be offputting. I certainly have no use for them. My own mouse has five extraneous buttons on it that I’ve never once touched. The Classic IntelliMouse has been stripped back to basics, and care has been put into its design where it counts.
Dearsley thinks it’s the shape and form of the IntelliMouse that makes it stand out. “The shape was originally sculptured by hand by some of the most experienced mouse designers in the world, which has proven to last the test of time,” he says in the blog. “We felt we should honour this design in the new Classic IntelliMouse and focus on performance updates.”
It is comfortable to use. It’s fairly large, as far as mice go, fully fitting my medium-sized hands. But it’s shaped just right; there aren’t any severe curves or grooves – it sits naturally under your palm. It’s about all you can ask for in a mouse, really.
The simple design means that any changes you need to make to the mouse, including adjusting the DPI, need to be done with a piece of software. Free to download from the Microsoft website, the Mouse and Keyboard Center allows you to programme each of the mouse’s buttons as well as alter the cursor speed to your taste. By default it’s extremely sluggish, but once you’ve got the software installed you can change the DPI up to 3200. It’s not as high as top-level gaming mice, but it’s more than enough for most users.
Not for everyone
That said, the Classic IntelliMouse isn’t going to suit everyone. Chances are, if you’re already used to a fancy, over-the-top gaming mouse, the IntelliMouse’s stripped-back design isn’t going to cut it. But if you’re looking for an upgrade to a standard mouse and don’t want gaudy bells and whistles, this is definitely worth giving a go.
It’s elegant and understated, with just a single light at the front to give it some detail. It’s comfortable to use, and it’s as precise and responsive as you could ask for. There are a couple of caveats, however; having to download a separate piece of software to adjust DPI is a minor annoyance, and it doesn’t have a braided cable, which is something I expect to see in premium products. They’re minor problems, though. If you want a simple, ergonomic mouse that’s suitable for gaming, then I don’t think you can get much better.
Microsoft Classic IntelliMouse retails at £39.99/$39.99. Buy now from Amazon.