Here at PC Advisor we've seen most every kind of PC input device there is. But this is a new one on us: the Genius Ring Mouse is a wireless tracking device built into a sort of oversized ring that you wear on your finger.
The Ring Mouse - which actually looks like a shrunken digital wristwatch from the 1980s - sits on the index finger of your primary hand, giving your thumb easy access to two mouse buttons and a tiny trackpad area. The whole thing is wireless, so you can fit the tiny 'pico receiver' to the laptop you're giving a presentation from, then stride around the room wire-free, merrily controlling the setup.
Nice idea, huh? Well, sort of, but the execution of the Ring Mouse is less than ideal. The problem is that the little trackpad (if that's the right word for it - the active area appears to be a small optically tracked circle in the very centre of a larger button) is frustratingly unresponsive, responding vaguely and reluctantly to a stroking action. So don't expect precision movement of the cursor.
The tracking area doubles as a mouse button too, and in most circumstances it serves as the primary button; the 'left click' button instead switches between normal cursor movement and a special scrolling mode for navigating quickly through music libraries and the like.
The ring isn't adjustable. There's a lot of variance in finger sizes, so this seems like a bit of a misstep - why not follow the 1980s digital watch concept through to its natural conclusion and include an adjustable strap?
The device itself looks fairly cheap, all grainy matt-black plastic with silver detailing, but it feels simultaneously lightweight and robust - it should stand up to prolonged use pretty well.
We do like the lateral thinking that led to this product, and would love to see a follow-up that gives this clever idea the treatment it deserves. But with the user experience as unrewarding as it is here, it's tough to think of a situation in which we'd recommend the Genius Ring Mouse over the available alternatives.
If we're talking about presentations, a conventional IR remote would provide easier control over your PowerPoint slides, while a laser pointer would track points of interest on the screen more quickly and accurately. For notebook users who dislike trackpads, this takes all the worst problems of that and makes them worse - there are many user-friendly and reasonably cheap portable mice around that are almost as petite as this.
On the up side, the Ring Mouse comes with great accessories: the pico receiver is wonderfully small, as we mentioned, but you also get a USB-to-mini-USB adaptor for charging - a useful all-round item for gadget lovers to have in their arsenal - and a smart carrying case, compete with cut-out foam lining for mouse, receiver and charger.