While the tablet-friendly Wedge Touch Mouse and Wedge Mobile Keyboard are attention-getters, the sedate Sculpt line of products provides a more mainstream approach to mobile peripherals. There are two devices in this line, the Sculpt Mobile Keyboard, which is essentially unchanged from its previous incarnation as the Bluetooth Mobile Keyboard 5000, and the Sculpt Touch Mouse, which is an update of sorts to the Microsoft Explorer Touch Mouse.
Since the Sculpt Mobile Keyboard offers no new features or functionality, I’ll skip that product and focus on the mouse. (OK, it does have one new feature: The Windows Key logo has been updated to the new Windows 8 logo. Happy?)
Like the Explorer Touch Mouse on which it is based, the Sculpt Touch Mouse eschews a traditional scroll wheel and instead utilizes a weird electronic touch strip that provides scrolling with tactile feedback as well as middle click functionality. (The Explorer Touch Mouse actually went a bit further and added top and bottom “buttons,” which were utilized by tapping on the top and bottom of that touch strip, respectively.)
The touch strip on the Sculpt otherwise works like that on its predecessor. If you flick your finger up and down on the strip, you will initiate a traditional vertical scroll, which works in Metro experiences as well as traditional desktop applications such as Microsoft Word. But it also provides horizontal scrolling, perfect for Metro experiences, via shorter flicks to the left and right.
The odd bit comes from the electronic nature of the touch strip. It supports accelerated scrolling (vertically only), so that the harder you flick, the faster (and longer) it scrolls. Furthermore, it has a vibration effect, like an Xbox controller, that provides a tactile feedback when scrolling. The combination of these two features is, in my opinion, particularly annoying. So I simply turn off the vibration (via the excellent Mouse and Keyboard Center software).
Physically, the Sculpt Mobile Mouse is shorter and more bulbous and squat than its predecessor, partly because it lacks the proprietary USB nubbin used by the Explorer Touch Mouse and relies on Bluetooth intead. But it’s kind of a wash as to which is the superior mouse from a hand feel perspective, and as always your best bet is to try them out side-by-side in a Microsoft Store, Best Buy, or other retail store.
Unlike the Wedge Touch Mouse, the Sculpt Touch Mouse does have a true power slider, which I prefer.
Overall, the Sculpt Touch Mouse is nothing special. I prefer a traditional mouse to this device, and prefer a real scroll wheel to the touch strip, regardless of vibration. (Which feels unnatural and nothing like a scroll wheel.) There’s no particular familial relationship between the Sculpt Touch Mouse and Sculpt Mobile Keyboard, either: The former is a medium gray color while the latter is black. Seems somewhat forced.
Ultimately, while there’s nothing particularly horrible about the Sculpt Mobile Mouse, there’s nothing particularly compelling either. I was happy to push it aside and get back to business on my Microsoft Explorer Mouse, which remains my favorite pointing peripheral.