Where touch-capable mice were a curiosity in Windows 7, such a device offers a more natural experience with Windows 8, thanks to this system’s deeply ingrained multi-touch functionality. And sure enough, for those without touch-based screens—i.e. most people today—the next best thing is using a touch-capable pointing device. The humorously tiny Wedge Touch Mouse is such a device.
Like the other new Windows 8 devices Microsoft is unleashing this year, the Wedge Touch Mouse is a Bluetooth-capable peripheral, and doesn’t ship with a USB dongle of any kind. This is good, since one of the downsides to otherwise superior mice like the Microsoft Explorer Mouse, is that they use a proprietary dongle that eats up a USB port. (This is particularly bad on some Ultrabooks, which often come with only two such ports.) But it also means you’ll need a Bluetooth-equipped PC to use it. This will be an issue for some.
Detection is simple in Windows 8: Just use the Devices interface in PC Settings.
If you’ve seen the Wedge Touch Mouse, you’re probably aware that there’s an interesting controversy around its design. And it’s arguably the most ludicrous looking mouse I’ve seen this side of the original iMac’s “hockey puck” mouse, which was indeed a crime against humanity. This thing isn’t just small, it’s hilariously small.
That said, it’s a fine pointing device for casual users, and one that uses Microsoft’s excellent BlueTrack technology for accuracy and near-ubiquitous surface compatibility. I’m not going to turn to the Wedge Touch Mouse the next time I need to crop an image exactly in Photoshop, but then that’s not exactly the target market for this device either. At TechEd New Zealand, which I’m currently attending, Microsoft has very studiously set up this mouse, and its Wedge Mobile Keyboard counterpart, which I’ll review soon, with Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets. And when used with these likewise small and highly mobile devices, the Wedge Touch Mouse almost starts to make sense.
Where this peripheral really shines, however, is in its simple and intuitive use of touch. Looking at this tiny thing, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s simply two buttons and a laser encased in any impossibly cute package. But the top surface of the mouse is touch-capable, and you can use it to scroll. Not just up and down, but also left and right. That latter scrolling type is particularly well-suited to Windows 8’s Metro experiences, many of which expand past the edges of the screen horizontally.
To scroll in a more traditional fashion, say in the Word application I’m using to write this review, you simply glide your finger over the surface of the Wedge Touch Mouse in an up or down gesture. This works exactly as expected.
But you can also scroll left and right, again typically in Metro experiences. (I couldn’t get it to work in desktop applications like Excel, for example.) This, too, is very natural: Simply brush, or flick, your finger across the surface of the mouse, either to the left or the right.
Anyone expecting more advanced gesture support will be disappointed: The Wedge Touch Mouse supports four way scrolling only, essentially replacing the scroll wheel on a traditional mouse with gestures. And then the two buttons: That’s it.
One other weirdness to this device is that the on-off switch—which doubles as a Bluetooth pairing trigger when held down long enough—is just a button. So I assumed it could easily be triggered if you toss the mouse in a bag. But Microsoft says that the mouse goes into a lower power “Backpack Mode” when your PC or devices is hibernating or shut down. So this will supposedly not be an issue.
Speaking of buttons, there’s a second button on the bottom for undoing the clever battery cover, which hides a tiny (of course) AAA battery.
If you value style over functionality, or simply want a cute mobile mouse for occasional use with a Windows 8- or RT-based tablet or other device, the Wedge Touch Mouse is about as small and light as they come. You won’t, however, want to use this mouse regularly, especially if you have large hands like myself.
Next up: Wedge Mobile Keyboard