Until recently, you could easily be forgiven for thinking that the humble desktop mouse had reached an evolutionary standstill. Sure, different manufacturers added differently shaped bodies, extra buttons and the like, but we haven't seen true innovation since the excellent 'MicroGear' scroll wheel on Logitech's aptly named MX Revolution Mouse back in 2007.
This doesn't mean Microsoft has been resting on its laurels, however. In an upgrade potentially far more fundamental than a mere wheel, it's gone and upgraded the mouse's sensor. This 'next step up' from laser is known as BlueTrack. But do we really need an upgrade to the already very accurate laser sensor we've seen in both the Microsoft Wireless Laser Mouse 7000 and 6000? Let's find out, as we take a look at the new Microsoft Explorer Mouse.
Once out of Microsoft's fiddly packaging, you'll find a recharging base and power cable, single AA 2100mAh rechargeable battery and of course the mouse with its USB dongle. As always, I prefer devices using standard rechargeable batteries to those that come with proprietary lithium ones, because they're easier and cheaper to replace.
It's even more important in this case, since many users may wish to carry the Explorer without it's charging base while out and about, so being able to whack in a standard AA battery available from pretty much any store is very handy. It's also worth noting that if you want greater portability a more compact Explorer Mini Mouse version is available.
As for the dongle, while it's nowhere near as small as Logitech's tiny one as seen with its V550 Nano Cordless Laser Notebook Mouse, Microsoft's one is still quite compact, and like the Laser Mouse 6000, you can slot the dongle into a small recess under the mouse.
However, this implementation is a little flawed as the dongle protrudes from the base of the mouse. Instead, we prefer when the dongle can be stowed away inside the body of the mouse. However, its good to see that slotting the dongle into its recess switches the mouse off, unlike Gyration's Air Mouse.
The power cradle, officially called the Microsoft Mouse Charger V3.0, is a lot smaller than its equivalent for the 7000 Mouse. And despite being a tiny square, it's surprisingly easy to dock the mouse on it. Best of all, we found that Microsoft was pretty much spot on when claiming a full days use after only 15 minutes of charging.