Microsoft's Wedge Touch Mouse is a tiny Bluetooth mouse designed specifically to work with Windows 8. We tested the Wedge Touch Mouse with a Samsung Series 7 tablet running Windows 8 Pro, alongside the Wedge Mobile Keyboard.
As a consequence of its 'designed for Windows 8' status, the Wedge Touch Mouse eschews the traditional scrollwheel, instead incorporating a four-way touchpad on its top side. This allows for sideways scrolling - critical when using Windows 8's Modern UI Start Screen and apps. Using the Wedge Touch Mouse is not the same as using a touchscreen - more akin to a combination between touchscreen and mouse input. And as anyone who uses Windows 8 for a significant time will tell you - Microsoft's new OS is not designed to be used only via touch.
Using the Wedge Touch Mouse may be the best way to interact with Windows 8, then. But not for everyone: because it connected only via Bluetooth, plenty of office desktop PCs will need a Bluetooth dongle in order to work with this mouse (including our own three-year-old Dell). When you consider that this mouse costs just a penny short of £70, the lack of a dongle is disappointing.
Microsoft Wedge Touch Mouse: design
The first thing that struck us about the Wedge Touch Mouse was its box. Microsoft has taken a leaf out of Apple's playbook and put plenty of thought into the packaging of its snazzy new mouse. It makes the device feel like a quality gadget, and combined with a decent quick start guide helps you to, well, get started quickly.
The second, and more longer-lasting, impression that will strike you about the Wedge Touch Mouse is its tiny wee size. It measure just 61x53x23mm. Seriously, you could inhale this mouse. It's wedge-of-cheese shape and tiny, lightweight design make the Wedge Touch Mouse look as though it will be deeply uncomfortable to use. Appearances can be deceptive however, as the Wedge Touch Mouse is an immediately and gratifyingly satisfying device to use.
The tiny size is useful, too. With a solid on/off switch, the Wedge Touch Mouse can sit in your pocket all day, just waiting to be paired with a Windows 8 PC. The Wedge Touch Mouse also feels like a quality product. Despite having a slightly plasticky look, its composite plastic/metal finish feels like something you want to own and caress (as well it should at this price). It also feels like you could carry it around for days without it getting damaged or scratched.
Nice touches include the way a flick of the battery switch flips open the metallic side of the device to reveal the single AA battery slot with a satisfying click.
Using the Wedge Touch Mouse
What Microsoft calls the Wedge Touch Mouse's BlueTrack Technology allows the device to be used on any surface, so the manufacturer claims. We used it on carpet, sofa and train floor (as well as our home office desk). In all occasions it tracked perfectly well. In place of using a touchpad or touchscreen, the top of the mouise becomes your touch input device. Instead of a scrollwheel, you drag your finger down the groove the dissects the middle of the Wedge Touch Mouse. It works really well.
Scrolling horizontally with the Wedge Touch Mouse makes total sense when using all parts of Windows 8 apart from the Desktop. You'll appreciate it, although there is a minor learning curve in mousing to the various corners of your screen in order to pull up menus in Windows 8. As with the operating system itself, in our experience, using the Windows 8 Wedge Touch Mouse is pretty easy to pick up quickly.
Given the flat surface of the Wedge Touch Mouse there's no traditional left- and right-click buttons. As a consequence, using left- and right-click is a little more imprecise than you may be used to. But, again, it's something you'll get to grips with very quickly.
Wedge Touch Mouse: other thoughts
You can customise the Wedge Touch Mouse via a 44MB downloadable software driver. This allows you to customise buttons and gestures for specific apps. It works well, but is a bit of a faff, and the key point about the Touch Mouse is how easy and intuitive it is to pick up and use.
Microsoft also tells us that the Wedge Touch Mouse powers down and sleeps alongside the PC with which it is paired, which should save on battery life. It is, for obvious reasons, difficult for us to test such a long-lasting device, but we'll keep an eye on the Wedge Touch Mouse's battery life, and update this review if there is a problem.