Adam Rice

My life and the world around me

Idea for an improved cordless mouse

Up until recently, I was using Apple’s mighty mouse. I liked it, but like many people, I was frustrated by gunk getting on the scroll-ball, requiring frequent, baroque, and only semi-successful attempts to clean it. Eventually it just stopped working, despite all my efforts. Logitech’s MX Revolution has been enthusiastically reviewed, and Amazon was offering it at a discount, with a rebate on top (making the price merely high, rather than absurd), so I took the plunge.

Aside: For years, I managed with a plain one-button mouse. Then I got a cheap two-button-plus-scrollwheel mouse. Then I got the mighty mouse, which can scroll both up/down and left/right. With each upgrade, my minimum expectations ratcheted up, so the idea of simply doing without scrolling, and then doing without two-axis scrolling, became unacceptable. Funny how that works.

The mouse requires Logitech’s fancy driver software to customize all its various buttons and wheels, and I have found this software to be artificially limiting, and buggy to boot. I’m hoping that’ll eventually shake out. I realize there are 3rd-party drivers one can use, but I’m loathe to lay out more money to make this mouse work the way I want, and it’s not clear to me whether those drivers can interact with the mouse’s marquee feature, the scroll-wheel clutch.

From a hardware standpoint, the mouse itself is pretty nice. Despite the wacky shape, it feels good in my hand—good thing I’ve always been a right-handed mouser, even though I’m a lefty. It’s a little disappointing that this requires both a charging stand and a USB transceiver dongle. It would be more elegant for the charging stand to run off USB power and include the transceiver in it (I’m guessing the reason this is not done is because AC adapters that step down to the right voltage are readily available off the rack, and DC step-down converters would be custom parts). Even still, you’re using up a bit of desk space for the charging base.

But that’s not my idea. I’ve never had a cordless mouse before, and the one obvious drawback is that the mouse needs periodic recharging—every 2–3 days in my experience. That’s not unreasonable, but if the mouse craps out on you in mid-day, you’ve got to fish out your old corded mouse and use it while the wireless one recharges. Bummer.

So here’s my idea. The wireless mouse kit would consist of the mouse plus two transceiver dongles. Each dongle would include a battery. One dongle would be plugged into the host computer’s USB port, and the battery would charge while plugged in. The other dongle would plug into a socket in the mouse, and that battery would power the mouse. When the battery in the mouse-side dongle was exhausted, you’d swap the two. Zero wait time, zero desktop clutter. Obviously two sets of batteries would tend to increase costs, but countervailing efficiencies might negate that. Another benefit to this design is that the same mouse would work with a USB cable instead of the dongle twins—the user could make the substitution in a pinch, and the manufacturer could sell the cord-only variant as a lower-cost model (which would streamline manufacturing), sell the dongle twins as an upgrade, and use the same dongle twins across models (further streamlining production).

According to this guy’s take-apart, Logitech appears to be using a 1700 mAh 3.7 V battery. That’s roughly equivalent to three high-quality AAA batteries ganged together, which would be half the size of a 9-volt battery (like the one in your smoke detector). Not an unreasonable size for a dongle. Each dongle would also need charging circuitry, and that might be a problem in terms of size or cost—I don’t know enough to say.

Instead, it would also be possible to power the mouse during use through a special mousepad with an embedded induction coil.

1 Comment

  1. My idea for a wireless mouse: when you’re travelling it’s easy to accidentally leave your cordless mouse at the cafe or a client’s office. Instead, use a Cordless Mouse Security Tether to connect it to your laptop. You’ll never lose that mouse again!

    Seriously though, thanks for writing about the Logitech MX 1000. I’ve been thinking about trying it on my mac but it sounds like I should wait for the drivers to catch up. Other reviews of it on OSX aren’t too kind either.

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