Gyration Air Mouse

Gyration's Air Mouse feels like the product of a fly-by-night relationship between a Wii Remote controller and a traditional mouse. The Air Mouse sports an internal gyroscope that allows you to hold the mouse like a remote control and direct the cursor by moving your wrist--there's no need to place the Air Mouse on a surface. It's a novel idea, and one that's implemented well. But when you actually use the Air Mouse on a table, the small and portable design makes for a cramped experience.

The Air Mouse is wonderfully designed to fit in either hand. When using the Air Mouse, my hand didn't so much rest on the mouse as engulf it. My hands fit in men's medium-sized gloves, and the mouse felt small and uncomfortable when I was using it on a desk.

However, there was no discomfort when I picked up the Air Mouse and waved it in the air. It's easy to see how the Air Mouse can be handy in a meeting while using PowerPoint, Keynote, OmniDazzle, or some other mouse-intensive program. The presenter has the freedom to stand and work a room, instead of sitting down in order to use a surface for the mouse.

Gyration doesn't have Mac software drivers for the Air Mouse, so the three auxiliary buttons sitting directly behind the scroll wheel are completely unrecognized by OS X and are useless. If you've used Apple's Mighty Mouse ( Macworld rated 4 out of 5 mice ) before, the Air Mouse will use the behavior you assigned to the scroll wheel and right button on your Mighty Mouse. WIthout the Mighty Mouse software, the Air Mouse will switch to Dashboard when clicking the scroll wheel, and the right button defaults to the same action as the left button.

When setting up the Air Mouse for the first time, I was greeted by Apple's Keyboard Setup Assistant, and despite the mouse being on and the USB dongle plugged in to my Mac (the dongle is a 2.4GHz RF receiver), the cursor refused to move. I checked the manual and followed the directions to press the "connect" button on the underside of the mouse as well as on the USB dongle itself. I then ignored the setup assistant, and went along my merry, mousing way.

Comfortable with the Air Mouse, I decided to test it with Call of Duty 4's multiplayer mode, armed only with my keyboard and the Air Mouse. To say that my initial performance was horrendous would be a massive understatement. But, after about a half-hour, I was performing much better. The mouse seemed a decent extension of my body-not nearly as familiar as a typical desk-based implement, but still accommodating. While not as accurate at higher sensitivity levels as a traditional mouse,

My Call of Duty test emphasized that the Air Mouse isn't really a gaming mouse, but a mouse for general purpose. In order to move the cursor, you have to depress a trigger on the underside of the mouse. When dealing with documents, spreadsheets, or other general tasks, this works fine. However, when playing a first-person shooter, I was squeezing that bottom trigger for several minutes at a time. After a while, the work my index finger and wrist were doing began to wear on me. By the end of my game session, my wrist ached.

Macworld's buying advice

The Air Mouse is a solid product. Although it's cramped for on-table use, it's surprisingly comfortable when used in mid-air. The learning curve is also relatively gentle, and it's easy to get your mind and muscles around this peripheral.

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