capsule review

Belkin Bluetooth Wireless Optical Mouse

At a Glance

Belkin Bluetooth Wireless Optical Mouse
Photograph: Rick Rizner

Of all the Bluetooth-ready products we tested, Belkin's $80 mouse is the most affordable way to make your PC a Bluetooth machine; Bluetooth adapters alone typically cost about $49. And with the Belkin product, you're truly wireless: Unlike other packages (such as Logitech's DiNovo Media Desktop), which use corded receivers or adapters, you plug Belkin's adapter into your USB port.

Installation of this product took longer than that of a typical wireless RF package. You must install the software first, and then the hardware. The Bluetooth wizard takes you through the connection process, and you press a tiny Connect button on the underside of the mouse to establish the connection.

Belkin's large mouse provides three customizable buttons: the standard right- and left-click buttons, as well as a button on the left side where your thumb rests. The last is preset as a back button, for use with your default Web browser. The contoured design and the location of the third button make this a mouse for right-handed people only. The scroll wheel's cover has a slightly tacky feel, so your fingers won't slip while scrolling. We thought this was a good thing.

(If you're looking for mice specifically designed for lefties, check out the Perfit Mouse or the Perfit Mouse Optical by Contour Design. The company offers small, medium, large, and extra large mice, and prices start at $109.)

Testers found the mouse generally comfortable. However, one tester with particularly small hands thought the mouse a bit oversize; she felt she was propping up her hand, high on the mouse, instead of resting her hand gently on it.

The mouse's cursor movement was generally smooth, although one tester noticed a lag before the mouse responded. This delay generally happened immediately after a period of inactivity--typical of other Bluetooth devices we tested--and was more pronounced right after PC startup. At that time the mouse took a few seconds to respond, and then the pointer ricocheted around the screen before calming down--it seemed as if it were suddenly obeying all of the commands we gave it when we first tried to induce the mouse to wake up. Belkin confirmed that this latency is part of the device's power management features; in order to preserve battery life, the mouse automatically goes into sleep mode. The company said that the mouse goes into a "light" sleep mode after 10 seconds, and a "deep" sleep mode after 10 minutes.

One tester (using a notebook) noticed that the Bluetooth connection sometimes needed to be reestablished--and this became a source of frustration. We contacted Belkin about the issue, and the company said that this was not a known problem. In addition, the same tester reported that the Belkin mouse ran out of juice after about two weeks (the manufacturer says that the battery should last about three months). Belkin said that battery life varies depending upon the usage, and didn't offer any further explanation for the short-lived battery performance in our tests.

When Bluetooth was up and running, the adapter had no problem recognizing other Bluetooth devices in the vicinity. Pairing the devices using the Bluetooth wizard was also straightforward.

At $80, this is the cheapest way to get a Bluetooth hub along with your new mouse, and it's a nicely designed model. But we found the Bluetooth connection and responsiveness flaky.

Aoife M. McEvoy

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At a Glance

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