Keith Haring was an American graphic artist and social activist who drew inspiration from the graffiti art he saw around him in the New York of the 1980s. An inspiring figure in the field of Pop Art, Haring sadly passed away in 1990 due to an AIDS-related illness. Eminent, a Dutch consumer goods company, has launched a mouse range featuring his designs, and promised to make a donation to the Keith Haring Foundation, which supports AIDS research and education charities, for every mouse and mat sold.

The Keith Haring mouse is a standard USB peripheral, compatible with Windows, Mac (and most probably Linux, although compatibility was not tested). The diminutive size probably makes it more suitable as a secondary input for a laptop or netbook, rather than for full-size PCs.

It seems the designers agree with my assessment. The cord is very short, only around a metre and a half long, which makes using it with a desktop PC pretty difficult. I had trouble stretching the cord around my desk to plug in the USB interface. This may not pose a problem to those of you with desktop USB hubs or who intend to use the mouse with a laptop.

Keith Haring mouse

In terms of aesthetics, the two samples we were sent come off very well. The white plastic shell contrasts nicely with the simple black lines and vibrant colours of the decals. The simplicity continues with the shape of the mouse, with straight lines taking the place of the usual flowing curves. Unfortunately, this makes holding the mouse an exercise in frustration.

I, like many people I know, prefer to rest the heel of my hand on the desk while propelling the mouse around with my fingers and the palm of my hand. Both the Dell mouse I use at work and the Microsoft Sidewinder X3 I use for gaming at home make this posture easy and relaxed, with enough space to rest three fingers on the chassis while cradling with thumb and pinky.

The Keith Haring mouse suffers by comparison. It was difficult to find a comfortable position; sharp edges dug into my palm and became painful after extended use. Also, the short length made it hard to keep the ends of my fingers from hanging over the front edge. In its defence, Eminent has at least provided a scroll wheel with a satisfying rolling motion.

The main problem with the mouse is the poor quality of the optical sensor. Forget playing games with this mouse on anything but a completely smooth surface, even with the sensitivity jacked up to the maximum. The cursor jumps about visibly on screen, and hitting small targets becomes disappointingly difficult. On a mouse mat of decent quality though, the mouse exhibited none of these issues.

Keith Haring mouse mat

The mouse mats themselves are a handsome addition to the range, although also a little on the small side. It's been a while since mouse mats were essential kit for most of us, but adding a little colour and beauty to the sterile work environment can't be a bad thing. They're small enough to be carried about in a laptop bag, and are probably a good idea for road warriors who regularly fall back on a mobile mouse.

OUR VERDICT

On the whole, the Eminent Keith Haring mouse is a competent product, which makes a contribution to a valuable charity. However, desktop users are advised to look elsewhere for a more comfortable mouse for long periods of use. Buyers should also be aware of that the mouse needs a smooth, flat, reflective surface to work properly, so investing in a mouse mat may also be in order.