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'Air' is a popular marketing buzz-word. It's been used in the naming of all manner of products including notebooks (MacBook Air), wireless iPod docks (AirZone Dock), and even broadband routers. However, before these, it was already in use to name mice; specifically, Gyration's Air Mouse and Logitech's MX Air Mouse, both of which are based on technology developed by Gyration (now owned by Movea).
Today, we're looking at a brand-new product that uses the Air word: the Gyration Air Mouse. But hold on! What's new about this? Hasn't the Gyration Air Mouse been out for years?
Naturally this was the first thing I asked Movea's vice president, Greg Smith, at the product's unveiling, and he assured me that despite sharing the same name this is quite a different rodent to its predecessor.
So what's changed? Well, the new Air Mouse has been redesigned from the ground up and now has MotionSense: a fancy term that refers to the addition of a three-axis accelerometer to the older mouse's two-axis gyroscope. This not only makes motion sensing more accurate, but also means lower power usage and a ten times shorter wake-time. The other major internal change is a move from an optical sensor to a laser one. All this should make control smoother and smarter, both on the desk and off.
In the packaging, you get the mouse itself, a small RF dongle, a zippered meshwork carrying pouch and the GyroTools CD. There's a full-colour, multi-lingual quick start guide, too, that breaks down the process of setting up and operating the Air Mouse in an easy-to-follow way.
In terms of design, the Air Mouse has about as much in common with the original as a pebble with a brick. It's now only a little bigger than Logitech's V550 Nano Cordless Laser Notebook Mouse, and like the V550, it has a slot for its dongle, though rather than taking the mouse apart, it just slips neatly away into the back – perfect for keeping everything together when out and about.
The mouse also looks the part. The main body is matte dark grey to match the scroll wheel, while the top, including the finger buttons, are a pearlescent light grey. The three function buttons below the scroll wheel are chromed, which lends the device some extra class.
Battery installation is very finicky if you follow the instructions and try to pull the battery cover off while pressing the indicated points. Instead, we found that a fingernail or flathead screwdriver did the job more effectively. It's a bit annoying, but not something you'll need to do very often.
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