As a software company that also has its fair share of the peripheral market, we believe that Microsoft needs no introduction. This company is perhaps best known for their Windows operating system that you are (most likely) reading this article with. However, they also have several lines of peripherals, mostly for the working professional, but also for those who have a penchant for gaming on their computers. The Natural Laser Mouse was created for the former, and revolves around a focus on ergonomics, coupled with several buttons designed to improve the user’s versatility while performing tasks such as creating documents, working on spreadsheets, and conducting research on the web, among others.
Microsoft has always been locked in battle with Logitech, another big manufacturer of peripherals, in a rivalry to create the most ergonomic and comfortable equipment on the market. This concept, in turn, arose from the fact that nowadays, people tend to spend hours upon hours sitting behind their computers, which can lead to some nasty injuries and consequences; more so if, on top of inadequate office equipment, you also use a nonergonomic mouse. Among many of the most common conditions that occur when a person uses an uncomfortable mouse for severals hours a day, there is the Repetitive Strain Injury and, more specifically, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The Microsoft Natural Laser Mouse was created to prevent the onset of these conditions, even after hours of continuous use day after day. And if the user already suffers from these ailments, the mouse is also designed to alleviate the symptoms while allowing them to get work done.
In terms of specifications and features, this mouse doesn’t quite aim to deliver a whole lot in these areas. After all, we’re talking about a peripheral that emphasizes ergonomics and comfort, as opposed to providing all the features that are expected from other types of mice, such as the gaming variety. In that sense, this mouse is equipped with a decent, yet not extraordinary sensor, a few additional buttons, and a very comfortable design.
But before we get started on the Microsoft Natural Laser Mouse review, let’s briefly elaborate on how we judge the peripherals that slide into our hands.
When we’re tasked with creating a review for a certain mouse, we always like to abide by a set of standards that, for the most part, allow us to create the most unbiased and objective content possible. Granted, we usually review gaming mice more often than other types of peripherals, so we bend the rules a little when it comes to working with mice such as this one. For these types of clickers, we expect to put emphasis on ergonomics and durability above the other features. For instance, if an office mouse has great form ad design, fits neatly and comfortably in the hand, and provides a good user experience, then we can let slide the fact that it might not have a powerful sensor or a score of additional buttons.
That being said, let’s get started on the review.
The presentation of this mouse is actually very simple, featuring your standard box. Inside, we can find the RF receiver, a pair of AA batteries and, of course, the mouse itself. The very first impression that this mouse gave us after taking it out of the box is that of “oh snap! this mouse is huge!”. For practical reference; I consider myself a man with big hands, often having the tips my fingers stick out from the front of every mouse I’ve used. The Natural Laser Mouse made me feel less freakish, as my hand could fit perfectly onto its contoured form, without having to twist it into a claw grip in order to properly operate the buttons.
In terms of design, we can definitely say that this mouse is a clear hybrid of your standard horizontal mouse, and the ergonomic Evoluent VerticalMouse that favors a vertical grip in order to reduce the pressure on the median nerve; the focal point of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The result is a mouse that feels as good as the VerticalMouse while keeping the familiar concept of a horizontal mouse.
In order to improve comfort and grip, Microsoft decided to add a textured rubber coating to their thumb rest, which is the round silver area on the left side of the mouse. This serves both to increase the peripheral’s durability as well as providing a better grip, which in turn leads to increased comfort when operating the Natural Laser Mouse.
Aside from your standard 3 buttons (left, middle and right buttons), which are present in this mouse, we also have 2 additional buttons placed just above the thumb rest and are mapped by default to the “back” and “forward” functions of your browser. While the presence of these buttons is always a welcome addition to any mouse’s repertoire, we found that the positioning of the additional buttons on this mouse, in particular, to be somewhat flawed. Since they are located outside and above the thumb rest (which is a big area by itself), the user will have to awkwardly stretch his or her thumb in order to operate these buttons. Furthermore, the micro-switches that were used for these buttons are actually quite flimsy, which make misclicking quite a frequent occurrence with this mouse. Another pet peeve of ours is that the wheel has a very weak clicking feel with every scroll. I know that this isn’t a gaming mouse, but if you’re an FPS like most of us are, then you’ll definitely miss the lack of scroll wheel feedback of this mouse.
In our efforts to elaborate on this mouse’s strengths and weaknesses, we forgot to mention one very important point; this is actually a wireless peripheral. Cordless mice are always great for getting work done in a comfortable manner, without having to worry about stray wires getting in the way. In this particular case, the only complaint we have about the wireless feature is that the receiver is a bit big. On the plus side, the cable that plugs into the USB port of your computer is actually pretty long, so we can easily set it out of sight, and therefore out of mind; but don’t set it too far or you might begin to experience interference during use. The battery life you can get with this mouse is stated by Microsoft to be upwards of 6 months per pair of batteries. This fact is supported by Microsoft’s battery saving technology, which turns the light off the sensor off when the mouse is not in use. And even when in use, the light only powers up to the necessary brightness to ensure an effective tracking.
After getting to use the Microsoft Natural Laser Mouse, we can safely say that this mouse lacks in most aspects except the form factor. We can assure you that this peripheral is paradise on your hands, but not so much on your mind. Nevertheless, if you’re looking to pamper your hands, then you can’t get much more comfortable than with this mouse.
Product images sourced from Amazon.com
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