It looks lovely and the multi-touch surface is clever, but the Magic Mouse isn't as versatile as a button-bedecked alternative, and we found it too thin to use for more than a few minutes at a time. Your mileage may vary, so try before you buy.
Beautifully designed; multi-touch surface shows potential.
Too thin to hold comfortably; not all multi-touch gestures work well; pricey.
Apple was the first company to popularise the mouse in the mid-1980s, but its more recent stabs at the device have been something of a mixed bag. The Magic Mouse is the replacement for the bar-of-soap-style Mighty Mouse that attracted so much ire and, while it is a clever gadget, it won't be to everyone's taste.
First things first: the Magic Mouse is gorgeous. The sleek organic shape has a sculpted aluminium base topped with a slice of translucent plastic, and two long sturdy runners make for easy skimming across any surface.
It's a laser optical mouse (though not one of the new generation that works on any surface) and, with a pair of AA batteries installed, the Magic Mouse feels perfectly weighted. It's a real work of art.
Unfortunately, the drawbacks with the design become evident once you start to use it, and the most obvious is that it's very thin. If you're used to wrapping your hand around an ergonomic lump from the likes of Logitech or Microsoft, you won't get on with it at all.
You need to claw your fingers over the Magic Mouse and grasp it between thumb and forefinger for moving around. Smaller hands may find it less awkward to hold, but we advise trying before buying. The shape was a deal-breaker for us.
Since there are no discrete buttons, the whole flexible front end of the Magic Mouse sits on a mechanical switch, but this provides only a left click. Apple's big innovation, however, is in activating the Magic Mouse's plastic surface with the same multi-touch technology found on the iPhone screen and MacBook trackpads.
The implementation here uses fewer gestures, though, and for good reason. Much of the dragging and pinching needed on screens and trackpads is handled here with the mouse itself. Right-clicks are performed with a two-finger click (although the Magic Mouse can be set to detect an index finger-only right-click) and moving one finger over its surface provides a 360-degree scroll in supported applications.
Flick a finger up or down the mouse body, and the Magic Mouse provides the momentum-loaded scroll that will be familiar to iPhone users. Less successful is the two-finger horizontal swipe for moving back and forth in a web browser. It's awkward to hold the mouse steady and still move forefinger and index finger across its surface, although this may get easier with practice.
A Bluetooth connection means that the Magic Mouse doesn't need a USB receiver to work with more recent Macs. For the moment, however, it can be used only with new iMacs that it ships with as standard. Other Mac owners will need the software that comes with the boxed product, or must wait for the Mac OS 10.6.2 operating system update due shortly from Apple.