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Kensington Mouse in a box Optical Pro

Author: Brain
Posted on: 4/15//2001
Sponsor: Kensington
Discuss: In the forums

Tail Wagging
After all the tail wagging Rover did when he got his first optical mouse, I just had to see what all the Hooplah was about. A few weeks later I happened to find someplace that had the Kensington mouse on sale, so I decided to check it out for myself.

What Was In The Box?
How the hell would I know? I opened the box and took out the mouse (and the adapter). That's all I wanted, so I took it and buried it in the backyard like any self-respecting dog would do. Too bad I didn't have the urge to relieve myself while I had the grave dug-up for whatever else was in that box.

Physical Description
It has 4 buttons, plus a click-able scroll wheel in the center. It also has a USB connector with a PS/2 adapter. The PS/2 adapter is needed for anyone who does not have USB support (Win 95a or NT 4.0 users) and for those of you using a KVM switch like myself. The mouse is symmetrical so all 4 buttons will have the same placement and feel whether you use the right paw or the wrong one. (this will come in handy later)

Laser Accuracy
I believe Rover did such an excellent job of covering a lot of the benefits of optical mice in his last article, that I'm just going to gloss over some of this:
  • They are hermetically sealed which keeps out contaminants (so you never have to clean them).
  • They are much more accurate than "Balled" mice because they do not have to rely on mechanical components and therefore reduce risk of mechanical error.
  • They have a higher internal sampling rate than "Balled" mice.
  • They have a small angle of incidence. Approximately 1/8 to 1/4 inch depending on the manufacturer of your mouse, which means that when you're playing games and you've moused your way over to your keyboard, you can still pick the mouse up and MOVE it without it tracking that motion and messing up your game. This was actually one of the mis-conceptions that had kept me from purchasing an optical mouse before now, but Rover corrected my flawed belief.
  • They just look a heck of a lot cooler.
  • Since they have fewer internal mechanical parts they should (theoretically) last longer.

We Don't Need No Stinking Software
Kensington provides software for use with any of it's mice. In theory, this allows easy programming of any of the buttons on whatever model you purchase. I'm not necessarily suggesting you NEED any of these files, but here's the information on some files available from their website if it interests you:
  • For Windows 2000, there is Kensington MouseWorks BETA v5.60b10 (this Beta software also covers Windows Me, 98, 95 & NT 4.0)
  • For those of you who do not trust Beta software, the latest release is Kensington MouseWorks 5.50 which covers Windows Me, 98, 95 & NT 4.0 but NOT Windows 2000.
  • Oh yeah, and there were Crapintosh drivers for it too, if you own a USB Mac.
  • Kensington's driver page can be found here.
I tried to install the 5.50 drivers on my IBM 600e laptop running Win 98 SE and no matter what was tried, the software never worked so I eventually un-installed it. I believe this to be a problem with the laptop, but I thought it was worth mentioning anyway in this article. Ironically, the Kensington Mouse-in-a-box Optical Pro was listed as an existing driver when I looked under mouse drivers that are pre-built into 98 SE. When I used the existing 98 SE driver I was able to get it to work fine after a couple of attempts.

I'm not attempting to fault Kensington for this, because I've discovered my laptop's USB port has some intermittent issues.

When the mouse was plugged in hot on any of my WinME machines or my Win2k machines it was recognized as a "standard 4 button mouse with scroll wheel" and everything worked correctly every time.

Normally other sites just give you a crappy mouse review; here's a few pics, here's where you can see what the manufacturer wrote to try to sell you one, and here's about 3 paragraphs we've stretched across 6 or 8 pages to make our numbers look good to our advertisers. We at LWD don't believe in that the kind of crap, so we've come up with some "Benchmarks" to show how this mouse compares to some of the other stuff on the market.

The Competition
Our first contender is my trusty old Logitech Mouseman wheel scroll mouse. This hombre has been my sidekick for almost 2 years now. It's big and it has kind of a goofy shape that only a righty could love. We've been through a lot together and it's earned it's stripes.

Our second contender is the Kensington Mouse-in-a-box Optical Pro being reviewed today. It's fresh, it's funky, and it has amazing optical powered accuracy. It's attempting to dethrone the incumbent and takeover the desktop to become my right-hand's Mr. Happy day companion.

Our final contender is provided courtesy of my company laptop. That's right, I'm talking about "MR Pointy" himself . . . the pointing stick from an IBM Thinkpad 600e laptop. This nasty little joke on laptop users everywhere is going to round out our trio because so many of us are stuck with one of these useless little nubs and there's not a damn thing we can do about it.

First Benchmark
Our first benchmark is provided courtesy of Spot and a couple of hours of free time we both had one Saturday. I tried each of our contenders out while DM'ing against Spot and 5 "bots". I averaged the results of 3 separate matches to achieve a composite score.

To make the test scores as fair as possible, I ran this test while playing UT from my laptop. Afterall, "Mr. Pointy" is stuck to the damn thing!!

System Stats:
  • Pentium 2 @366
  • 288 MB of RAM
  • Win 98 SE
  • Neomagic 256 8 MB AGP video chipset
  • UT was played in Software acceleration mode since no hardware acceleration was available.
  • All games were played in the default software resolution (340 x 512)

(longer is better)

As you can see from this benchmark . . I pretty much just SUCK at UT! You can also see that the Kensington mouse comes in a close second to the Logitech mouse, but MR. Pointy completely sucks if you're trying to play games.

Second Benchmark
This benchmark was also compiled while playing UT against Spot. It was inspired by all the times in the past he had the nerve to laugh at me after "giving me a couple of rockets up the Ol' tailpipe" and all the times I came back with some lame ass excuse. So I decided to turn this into a benchmark by getting out my trusty micro-tape recorder and getting the whole session on tape to make use of it.

(shorter is better)

As you can see from this benchmark . . Not only do I SUCK at UT, but I usually have an excuse for every occasion. You can also see that the Kensington mouse still comes in right behind the Logitech mouse. And AGAIN MR. Pointy is in the P.O.S. position bringing up the rear.

Special Benchmark
It can get pretty lonely when you're in a strange city and the bossman is keeping you too busy to go "lookin' for love in all the wrong places" which makes me believe this benchmark pretty much speaks for itself. (this is where it comes in handy to have the mouse be symmetrical)

All you need to do is:
  • Get online.
  • Open up your favorite search engine.
  • Plug in the key words for your favorite fetish.
  • Turn off your free copy of Popup Stopper.
  • Start some one-handed surfing.
For those of you who don't have a favorite fetish, you could try plugging in some standard slang words and the location you're currently stuck in to see what you get. Without further delay, I give you the results of the final benchmark which we've nicknamed:

(longer is better)

The results of this test probably say a lot of things about me, but I think we'll concentrate on the contenders and not the hours of sacrifice I had to make in order to get these benchmark results. For the third time, you can see the Kensington mouse and the Logitech mouse were neck in neck, but even with Porno-rific motivation MR. Pointy couldn't even come close to keeping up.

What's It All Mean?
After 3 tests, we see the competitors were all 3-for-3 in their respective positions. However, these results are a little misleading. I happen to have a larger than average paw. This means the biggest reason the Logitech mouse appears to perform so well is that it's a BIG mouse. It fits my hand a lot more comfortably than the smaller mouse does whenever I'm engaged in any activity which requires frantic mousing motions. I found I liked the Kensington Mouse very much when I was using it for casual surfing. I found the incredible accuracy of the mouse to be a MUST when I was working on some touch-ups to a couple of the pics from this article. The optical mouse was so accurate that when I got tired of hitting the "Undo" button every 10 seconds while working on the pics with my Logitech, I ended up powering down my KVM switch and replacing the Logitech with the optical mouse just so I could finish my touch-ups.

So Which Are You Going To Choose?
This was a tough call, but I decided that the benchmarks proved there was a place in my life for both mice. The tried and true Logitech mouse will stay on my KVM switch for continued use with my systems because of its gaming comfort. But the Kensington mouse did so well, compared to a mouse which is geared more to the size of my paw, there was no way I could relegate it to the back of the closet. I also thought about how poorly "Mr. Pointy" performed in all 3 tests and decided that it was time to dump the crappy generic PS/2 mouse that IBM sent with my laptop and replace it with the Mouse-in-a-box Optical Pro. My laptop has a USB port, which gives me the best use of the Kensington mouse. I used to just deal with "the nub" whenever I only needed to use my laptop for a few minutes, but with USB support there's never any need to deal with "the nub" again. I just plug the optical mouse in and go.

While all of these "Benchmarks" were done in the spirit of good humor, (and probably should not be taken seriously) the Kensington Mouse-in-a-box Optical Pro is still a damn nice mouse. The only drawbacks I could see were the crappy software (if you need to install it) and the fact that it has a fairly small "mouse feel" to my paws. I still believe that having to run additional software just to use your mouse is a bad idea, but the small size of the mouse will make it ideal for "Road-Warriors" and for anyone else who doesn't need to have a huge mouse. The precision of the Kensington Mouse-in-a-box Optical Pro is unrivalled by any other mouse I have owned. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say that the precision is unrivalled by even the best track ball I've ever used. After my experience with the precision of the Kensington Mouse-in-a-box Optical Pro I'm seriously considering getting the optical version of the Logitech mouse so that I can enjoy the best of both worlds at my desktop.

Copyright © by LWD All Rights Reserved.

Published on: 2004-02-20 (12597 reads)

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