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REVIEW: Think Outside Bluetooth Travel Mouse
Posted by Arne Hess - on Saturday, 04.12.04 - 07:31:45 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 22895x
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For a couple of days now, Think Outside is shipping their latest Bluetooth enabled accessory - the Bluetooth Travel Mouse and right before I left my home for the M?s conference, I received my one. Just in time to give it a reality test how it works with my Bluetooth enabled Pocket PC and Notebook. With Think Outside's Stowaway Travel Mouse you can now easily navigate your PDA just like you do with a Desktop mouse! No more lost styli or hard-to-remember keyboard shortcuts as well as a more convenient and native way to navigate.

The mouse itself is an optical mouse which means you don't have to clean up the ball inside every couple of weeks and therefore it's also working on most surfaces.

Because the mouse is Bluetooth enabled - using standard Bluetooth profiles-  you can also use it for sure with any Windows XP or Mac OS X Notebook with Bluetooth.

Key Features

  • Small but ergonomic styling for maximum comfort
  • Easily navigate PDA menus and applications
  • Includes PDA driver for Pocket PC
  • Supports scroll wheel and right button clicking
  • Support for Pocket Word, Excel, Messaging & other applications

The mouse comes with a user manual as well as with a driver CD-ROM, two AAA batteries and a pouch. All you have to do is to "load" the mouse with the batteries and you are ready to use it with your PC or Pocket PC.

According to Think Outside, the two AAA batteries last several weeks when used 3 to 4 hours per day.

On the bottom side you have an on/off switch as well as a discovery button which lets the mouse being recognized by Pocket PC and Notebooks.

On the photos below, you see the Think Outside Travel Mouse compared with a typical mid 90's Logitech mouse (with basically the same features button-wise but without an optical sensor) and the latest Logitech MX900 Mouse Bluetooth mouse (in the middle):

As you can see, the Think Outside mouse is fairly smaller than traditional desktop mice which make it on hand easier to carry on the other hand slightly more uncomfortable to use for longer.

Pocket PC
If you are going to use it with your Pocket PC, first you have to install the appropriate driver which comes on the CD-ROM since the required HID (Human Interface Device) Bluetooth profile isn't supported by no Pocket PC natively today.

As you can see on the right screenshot above, the driver say something about Mouse/Keyboard driver and that's correct. Think Outside released the Bluetooth Keyboard a couple of weeks ago (see my review here) and with the release of the Bluetooth Mouse, they combined both required drivers into one single application.
So even if you already have the driver for the keyboard installed you have to upgrade to this version to make sure both devices works in parallel with your Pocket PC (more about that later).

Installation works as always though ActiveSync and after the successful installation, you get the configuration screen on your Pocket PC:

Make sure you have turned on your device's Bluetooth and let the wizard search your mouse. As soon as it founds it, your will get this blue/red box which you have the pointer move to and telling the wizard by clicking that the mouse was recognized. Done!

Now you can customize you mouse a little bit by assigning the left, middle and right button to different events. "Mouse Click" is equal to "tap", "Launch Mouse Settings" brings you back to this configuration mode and "Context Menu" is "tap and hold".

You are ready to use the mouse and you can launch any application but you don't have to remove the stylus from the device anymore but simply use your mouse - with a pointer you are used to use from PCs.

Depending on the application you either have to press and hold the left mouse button, to get the context menu popped up (like within the Pocket Internet Explorer) or you press the right button to get the context menu (like in Pocket Words, Pocket Excel, etc.). This works pretty much the same as on your Windows PC.

The scroll-wheel in the middle can either be used to scroll up and down (pretty convenient on web sites) and you can assign another task to it and use it as a third button.

For sure the coolest and most useful se case is the combination of the the Pocket PC and the Think Outside Bluetooth Keyboard and Bluetooth Mouse. It doesn't makes so much sense to have the mouse running only while you might use the stylus for all the rest like data input.

But this combination is truly the strength and it makes your Pocket PC a kind complete of Subnotebook. I've used this combination a couple of times during the last days: on the airport to reply to a couple of E-Mail before I flew to Seattle, during the flight to write some stuff and here in Seattle. It never left me alone and here it comes to a point where the Pocket PC might becomes a real business tool for travelers who thought so far, that a Pocket PC alone isn't enough to replace a Notebook. With this combination of Pocket PC (best as Phone Edition with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support as the O2 Xda IIi above), the keyboard and the mouse I don't see real reasons anymore to carry a Notebook for shorter trips, if your mainly  write E-Mails or you do other Word or (light) Excel stuff.

Another case to use the mouse for is the combination with a Notebook. If you have a Bluetooth equipped Notebook with Windows XP Service Pack 2 it's easy going as well. If you are not using the Service Pack 2 Bluetooth implementation but another one, make sure that the HID (Human Interface Device) Bluetooth profile is supported by it.

Open your Bluetooth configuration, make sure your mouse is discoverable and let your Notebook search for it:

The rest is done by Windows XP. Select the Stowaway Travel Mouse, don't use a passkey and your are done. Within seconds, XP install the required HID drivers and you can use the mouse immediately, just like your previous Desktop and Notebook mice.

Also this combination I've used a lot during the past couple of days and it worked for me 100 %, it haven't failed a single time!

Final Conclusion

What can I say, I'm more than amazed! While I thought first "using a mouse with a Pocket PC, what a 'nonsense'", I'm now full convinced about it - as long as you use it with a keyboard (which doesn't have to be a Bluetooth keyboard for sure). It makes your Pocket PC even worthier and increases productivity factor x! Normally I've used my PC or Notebook for word processing but in this combination I will use my Pocket PC much more now for word processing or creating/replying to E-Mails. So as I said before - if you are a traveler who is mostly using the Notebook for Word, Excel or E-Mail, this combination might be worth to think about, especially because the Pocket PC stand-by/working time is way longer than the Notebook working time (if you are running both on batteries).

Also it replaced my good old Logitech mouse I've used a couple of years with my Notebooks since this combination - a Bluetooth enabled Notebook and the Travel Mouse is another dream-team. So if you came here by Google because you was looking for a Think Outside Travel Mouse review but you don't own a Pocket PC at all, I can tell you it's worth the money as well.

At least Think Outside made everything right! I was thinking about a Bluetooth mouse for my Notebook for a couple of months but I haven't found a fitting one for my travel needs since it has to be small and light enough to easily carry it but even more important it has to run on standard batteries and needs to have an on/off switch to save battery while you are carrying it. I haven't found a single mouse so far which works with standard batteries nor I haven't found one which has the on/off switch. All the Bluetooth mice I found works with rechargeable batteries - which isn't that bad - as long as you are at home. Otherwise you have to take the charger with you which is - in most cases also the Bluetooth dongle (but my Notebook already has Bluetooth). Also non of the mice I checked had this on/off switch which means you either have to remove the batteries if you are carrying it, or the batteries drains in your bag, especially if it is an optical mouse.
Power management is another keyword: if the mouse isn't used for a couple time, it switches off itself to save battery but as soon as you click one of the buttons it re-awakes - a kind of instant on within seconds. That's another clever and handy feature which proves that Think Outside really thought about the needs and requirements of such a mouse.

In North America the mouse is available directly from Think Outside for US$ 79,99. If you live in Europe, the mouse is available from several shops, listed on Mobile Point's website (the European distributor), for around 74,00 Euro.

Cheers ~ Arne

Related Links : [More Information] [Buy in N.-America] [Buy in Europe]


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