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Mouse/Presenter Combo Simplifies Your Travel Gear

Despite terrible documentation, this solution is a winner.

Joel P. Bruckenstein, 05/08/2008

If you're like me, the number of peripheral you carry around in your laptop bag has increased over time. At a minimum, I've usually got a wireless mouse, cordless presenter, chargers, batteries, and memory keys with me. On occasion, that list expands to include converters and other various necessities.

Each advisor's toolkit will vary, but two constant companions should be a travel mouse and a cordless presenter. Why? More than 75% of the advisors I know tell me they are more comfortable working with a mouse rather than the typical laptop touchpad. Since travel mice are inexpensive and lightweight there is not excuse to travel without one. As for cordless presenters, most advisors give presentations on a regular basis to individual clients or to larger audiences. Having your own presenter means that you will always be prepared, and that you will familiar with the equipment that you are using.

For the last few years I've been content with my Logitech Cordless Optical Mouse Notebooks and my Keyspan Presentation Remote, but the Microsoft Wireless Notebook Presenter Mouse 8000 might soon replace both when I travel.

The Microsoft Wireless Notebook Presenter Mouse 8000 offers a number of advantages over my current equipment. First of all, it is a single device. That means one less thing to carry, but since my current presenter and mouse are small and weigh next to nothing, that is not a big issue for me. Of greater importance is the fact that I only need to carry one set of replacement batteries. Currently my mouse uses AA batteries and my presenter uses three-volt "button" batteries. The former are readily available; the latter are more difficult to acquire in an emergency. The 8000 uses AAA batteries, which are almost as common the AA variety. Other niceties include an on/off switch to conserve power (not all mice have them, but both this one and the Logitech do) and a hard plastic shell that protects the mouse in transit.

The scarcity of USB ports on travel laptops makes the Presenter Mouse 800 even more attractive. While some of the new large laptops include four USB ports, older laptops and most new ones in the portable and ultraportable categories typically have only two USB ports. My current mouse and presenter each require that a unique transceiver be attached to a USB port in order to use the device. If I attach the mouse and presenter concurrently, I will not have an open USB port. Usually I only use one at a time, but that still only leaves one open USB port for other peripherals.

The Microsoft Wireless Notebook Presenter Mouse 8000 includes a Bluetooth USB transceiver, and Microsoft recommends you use it, but if your laptop has built-in Bluetooth, as mine does, you can connect through your built-in Bluetooth, thereby freeing up both your USB ports for other devices.

As for the mouse itself, I think you'll like it. Although smaller than the large desktop mice I favor, this one is similar in size to my current travel mouse. It is both comfortable and accurate plus it is loaded with features. In the mouse mode, there are four buttons: the two standard buttons and two smaller ones on the sides of the mouse. The standard buttons work as you'd expect them to. The right side button launches a magnifier window, and the left one can be used as a back button, but these are just the defaults. The included software allows you to program any of the four buttons to perform a wide range of tricks. The scroll wheel in the center is capable of four way scrolling--either up and down or side to side. The latter capability is particularly helpful when working in large spreadsheets. Clicking the scroll wheel launches the instant viewer, displaying all of the open windows on your desktop at once.

Depressing a little button under the scroll wheel toggles the presenter mode. This deactivates the mouse buttons on top and activates the presenter buttons on the bottom of the unit. When you press the button a little window pops up to remind you which mode you are in. The presentation capabilities of this device are basic, but sufficient for most. There's a forward and back button, volume up and down buttons, and a pause presentation button. The presenter also includes a laser pointer.

In addition to travel duties, the Microsoft Wireless Notebook Presenter Mouse 8000 could find a home in many advisory firms' conference rooms. More and more firms have large screens in their meeting rooms, and they use them not only for presentations, but also to work within applications during both client and staff meetings. The Microsoft Wireless Notebook Presenter Mouse 8000 is perfectly suited for this type of environment.

If you are thinking that the Microsoft Wireless Notebook Presenter Mouse 8000 sounds too good to be true, in a sense you are correct. Microsoft's bizarre packaging of the product and the lack of documentation show an utter lack of respect for their customers. The package includes a CD with Microsoft's IntelliPoint software version 6.0, but you are not supposed to use it. Also included in the package is a green piece of paper that instructs the user not to use the CD, but rather to go to Microsoft's Web site and download version 6.02 of the software, which has since apparently been displaced by version 6.20. Talk about confusion! Why include the CD at all? If purchasers fail to read the warning, they will install the wrong software. If they take the warning literally, they could still end up with the wrong software. Not very impressive.

Want to use your computer's built-in Bluetooth capabilities? Don't look to Microsoft's documentation for help. There is nothing useful to be found. Here's the information Microsoft should have provided for those who want to use their computer's built in-Bluetooth transceiver:

Turn on your mouse/presenter, then push the little button on the bottom of the mouse next to the on/off switch. The power light will then alternate flashing red and green. Once that happens, your Bluetooth hub can "discover" your mouse. You then launch your computer's Bluetooth software and select "connect to new hardware". The computer should recognize your device and load the appropriate software. The mouse/presenter will then work fine.

Another possible negative is range. The Bluetooth device should have a range of up to 30 feet, more than sufficient for most needs. Some non-Bluetooth presenters can operate from a range of 60 feet. If range is an issue for you, you might want to pass on this one.
Finally, Mac users need not apply. This device is designed exclusively for Windows. It is compatible with both Windows XP (SP2) and Windows Vista.

Despite some of the worst documentation I've seen in recent years, I still strongly recommend this mouse/presenter. Installation is not as convenient as it should be, but if you can get past that, I'm confident that you will enjoy this mouse/presenter. It is a very capable mouse, and it is more than sufficient for most advisors' presentation needs. At a street price of about $60, it is a bargain.

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