Today's Obsession: Microsoft's Arc Touch Mouse
Microsoft Design has been cranking out some nicely-formed devices this year, made for home and more relaxed use—a definite counterpoint to the corporate rigor the rest of the company usually shows in public. Earlier this year, they developed the Arc Keyboard, which is a lovely little black river rock curved gently to fit over a lap in the living room, connected by a nearly invisible USB dongle, allowing the keyboard to move completely independently of the machine. We’ve replaced our cable box under the living room TV with a Mac laptop, so the ability to control the machine from across the room was quite natural.
Now, following up on that object, Microsoft has released a beautiful little Arc Touch Mouse, which matches the keyboard quite nicely. Officially, software is only available for Windows machines, but I found that running Microsoft Mouse 8 (the version immediately prior) keeps most features running nicely on a Mac.
The mouse itself is independent of the machine, hooking to it with the same discreet USB dongle the keyboard uses. It’s a small, flat thing, covered with a black rubber membrane disguising some ingenious controls. To turn the mouse on, you bend it, whereupon it forms to the natural shape of a cupped palm. The mouse is shaped and thought out to be a mobile object, with no visible moving parts to break or snag. Turn it on, and the top touch strip allows flick-panning and scrolling, perfect for work within Photoshop CS5, and offers a pleasant gentle haptic and sound feedback: When flicking, the mouse whirrs quietly at you and gently bumps along to create the feeling of motion under your fingertips. Both top buttons are programmable, and when in storage, the USB dongle attaches magnetically to the bottom of the mouse. Unlike most mice, the Arc touch uses a blue-light tracking system, which allows it to be used on a broader range of surfaces than most red-lit systems.
The object is available for $69.95, on pre-sale now. It’ll ship in time for the holidays, and will be broadly available soon after the new year.