Travel mice surely can't come much niftier than this one. The MoGo is a flat, credit-card size Bluetooth mouse for notebooks. It doesn't have cables or software, and when it's not in use it packs away in a PCMCIA slot, where it also can charge itself up.
It's a simple concept, but Newton Peripherals has done a good job of thinking out the details. Newton, by the way, is named after a town near Boston, not the late and not-terribly-lamented Apple PDA.
The size and shape of a normal PCMCIA card, the MoGo feels solid, but PCMCIA cards are thin, and it would be rather awkward to push one round a desk as a pointing device. Newton's answer is a spring-loaded "flipstand" that raises up the back of the mouse under your palm, so you can grip the raised end between your thumb and fingers. The stand flips up with a satifying pop.
The mouse charges quickly in a PCMCIA slot, and an LED on the outer edge of the card should show red when it is charging, and green when fully charged. The instructions suggest charging it for an hour, but we couldn't wait to play. We pulled it out after five minutes and found it had enough juice for quite a bit of mousing.
Battery life was not a problem in our trial. Once fully charged (which Newton tells me should sap less than one percent of the laptop's power) it appears to run for several hours. The time it lasts will vary widely, because users make different demands on a mouse, and other factors come into play, like the fact that a light mousing surface will demand less power.
There is no power switch as such: raising and lowering the flipstand turns the mouse on and off - a neat piece of simplification. If the mouse is running short of power, the red LED flashes, to tell you to put it back in the slot, and either use the trackpad, or make a cup of tea.
The mouse has a "sleep" mode, to save power, so if you leave it untouched for ten minutes, it needs a tap on either button to wake it up. It can only charge when the laptop is turned on, but if you remember to slot it away when you're not working, it should get enough minutes of charge.
Pairing and setting up
First time out, you have to pair it with the laptop. Some people find pairing Bluetooth devices a pain, but Newton has done its best to streamline the process.
There's a recessed button which puts it into "connect" mode for three minutes (and sets a blue LED flashing every two seconds). We found it easy to start the pairing process from the laptop, which has a Linksys dongle. It involved exploring the Bluetooth environment, right clicking the icon for the mouse when it appeared, and selecting Pair, then entering 0000.
After that, a click on one mouse button, and it started, working just as a mouse should. The two buttons are simply clickable parts of the main metal panel on the mouse.
We had no problems with this, only some thoughts worth noting. On our beta mouse, the "connect" button wasn't labelled, so it took a bit of finding. Production mice will have the button clearly marked, says Martin Vine vice president of sales and marketing for EMEA.
We missed having a scroll wheel, but there are hints that this may appear in future versions. Between the two buttons, there is a smooth strip that would be a very nice place for a scroll wheel implemented as a track pad.
"Future products will include a scroll feature," Vine told us - but wouldn't be drawn on how it would be implemented.
The mouse can only be paired with one PC at a time - pressing connect again unpairs it and pairs it to the new PC. Given the fact that Bluetooth dongles have a surprisingly long range, this is actually a sensible move to prevent accidentally moving someone else's cursor - but it is a shame, as it would be nice to use it on a number of machines.
Charger on the way
Those without a PCMCIA slot aren't going to be so keen on this device, and that includes most Mac users (although the device does work with Max OS 10 once charged). For these people, and for those whose slots are full, Newton is planning a USB-connected charger cable - but I'm sceptical that this will be attractive. I know it doesn't need to plug in and charge for long, but if I'm going to carry a cable that plugs into a USB slot, I might as well use a USB mouse.
Another inconsequential niggle: when Windows notices the mouse in a card slot, it starts the "Found New Hardware" wizard, and attempts to find software. There isn't any, so we cancelled out of this. In Windows XP it is quite easy to check a box saying "don't prompt me again to install the software"), so you only do this the one time, but in Windows 2000, we didn't find it so easy to stop the wizard jumping in again next time we charged. There's probably a way round this, and there probably aren't many Windows 2000 users in the market for a product like this in any case.
There's one other criticism that's come up. Online, it's been suggested that there's a danger of the kickstand opening inside the PCMCIA slot, damaging the PC. I'm dubious about this. The stand clicks shut very firmly, and only springs out after it has ben pulled partly open. Also, the hinged end of the stand is towards the exit of the slot, so it shouldn always pull out easily and not hook up on anything inside.
Overall, we like the concept. We have only tried it for a few hours so far, but at this stage, we can say that if we wanted a £50 travel mouse, it would be this one.
If your laptop's pointing device isn't good enough, and your mouse budget stretches to £50, have a look at this one. It's a cracking gadget.