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Laptop Mouse Showdown: Targus vs Microsoft

Check out this little battle between two little mice — the Targus USB Optical Ultra Mini Mouse (a big name for a little critter) and the Microsoft Notebook Optical Mouse. They are both geared towards users on the go but not necessarily the same users. Read the review to see who comes out ahead in this tiny showdown.

[review_ad]Introduction


After I recently purchased my Microsoft Notebook Optical Mouse, I realized after searching around on the ‘net that not too many hardware sites had “notebook-class” mouse comparisons or reviews. After collaborating with my best friend, I convinced him to write up a couple of short reviews comparing his Targus USB Ultra Mini Mouse with my Microsoft Optical Notebook Mouse. Each of these mice cater to a slightly different crowd; the Targus mouse has a much more extreme look and feel to it while the Microsoft mouse seems to take Microsoft’s tried-and-true mouse technology to a “scaled-down” level.

Mouse Comparison Image

 As you can tell, there is quite a size difference between these mice. This picture only barely captures the minute size of the Targus USB Optical Ultra Mini Mouse.

 

Targus USB Optical Ultra Mini Mouse


The most obvious feature of this mouse is its incredibly small size and retractable cord. That alone makes it a fairly appealing portable mouse, especially for a laptop. Upon trying to use it for the first time, however, it becomes apparent that it requires some adjustment before you can actually become productive with it. After all, going from using mice that fill your entire hand to using a mouse that barely fills your fingers isn’t very natural. However, after a good day of using it, you may already be ready to continue using it. In fact, going back to normal mice feels kind of awkward.

Targus USB Ultra Mini Mouse Image

 I told you this thing was tiny!

So how well does it work once you’ve gotten used to its tiny size? Remarkably well, actually. It appears to be just as responsive as any other mouse, regardless how quickly you move it, and its flat sides make it very easy to maneuver it around. It even has its own tiny, fully functioning scroll wheel. In regards to accuracy, I was actually able to play a fairly good game of Counter Strike with it, without feeling crippled in any way, and in regards to extended use, I played a long game of Age of Wonders 2 without any real problems. After such a long use, however, my hand felt a little cramped, which may be the one drawback to the mouse – it really can’t be very good for your hand to use this for hours and hours. However, since its main purpose is for portability and quick use, this should not be a problem.

Targus Mouse Rolled Up

 The rollup cord is ingenious and makes it look smaller.

Finally, having a mouse with great features means nothing if it’s going to fall apart in your hand, or if it degrades with use. Luckily, this mouse seems to have withstood the pressures of being carted around with me almost everywhere and has had no problems yet. The retractable cord feels sturdy, even with its small diameter, and it has consistently retracted without any glitches. The cord even is quite long when extended, given that when it’s retracted, it’s shorter than the mouse itself. It also installs without a hitch on Windows 2000/XP, without requiring external drivers.

Retail Price:  $29.99

Pros:

  • Absolutely tiny
  • Sturdy
  • Responsive
  • Easy install

Cons:

  • Steep adjustment curve
  • Best for short use only
  • Price

Score: 8 out of 10

Microsoft Notebook Optical Mouse


This mouse is fairly small, but is not quite as miniscule as the Targus mouse. Even still, it is considerably smaller than most conventional mice. It is also very light, and feels almost hollow, so you don’t feel like you’re dragging the mouse around. Even though the mouse itself is smaller, it seems to have been reduced lengthwise, while maintaining the same width, and as such, your hand still feels the same on the mouse even on the first use. This also means that the buttons are still fairly large, so it takes practically no adjustment period.

Microsoft Notebook Optical Mouse in hand

 The Microsoft Notebook Optical Mouse fits very nicely in my hand; it has nearly the same width and height as a normal mouse.

This mouse requires less time to get used to when playing action games, but it still seems a little odd at first. After playing for a bit, you get used to it though, and more quickly than with the Targus mouse, which isn’t too surprising. After extended use it seems to have little effect on your hand, and as such, it seems designed more for such long-term usage. It also seems like it may actually be a bit more responsive than the Targus mouse when moved quickly, but that may also be from the fact that it’s easier to hold and direct this mouse. Like the Targus, it installs without problems on Windows 2000/XP.

Cable Size Comparison

 Note the generic cord used with the Microsoft mouse and the ribbon cable used with the Targus.  The ribbon is very skinny but still manages to feel solid.

The biggest problem with the mouse seems to be its cord, which feels flimsy. While I haven’t had any problems with it yet, the cord just doesn’t seem to feel quite as solid as other cords. This does make it easier to store though. Another issue with this device is how it will not work with a PS/2 port adapter, which may discourage use with any older computers/laptops.

Retail price:  $19.99

Pros:

  • Comfortable
  • Short adjustment curve
  • Highly responsive
  • Price

Cons:

  • Flimsy cord
  • Won’t work with a PS/2 Port Adapter

Score: 8 out of 10

Conclusion


After spending time with both mice, I would have to say that they both seem to cater to different audiences.  There may be some gray area to that, but for the most part these two mice are very different.  For example, I could see the Microsoft mouse in an in-home situation, connected to a desktop computer.  The Targus mouse would not be so effective in this situation.  A road warrior doing last minute changes to a conference would be more prone to using the Targus, because of its extremely compact design.  However, neither design really discourages gaming uses…they are both just as accurate as you would expect from a decent desktop-style optical mouse.  Because of this “optical” feature, they also don’t require a mouse pad, which can further cut down on travel weight and space consumption.

Which would I prefer if I had both?  Well, in all honesty, they both function very well as laptop mice.  Thus it would be a draw and I would have to just close my eyes and pick one.  I do hear that a tiny mouse catches the attention of the ladies, though!  Seriously, neither mouse would make a bad choice, and either mouse could really help out when you are out on the road.

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