Well, it’s post-Xmas sales time again and vendors everywhere are struggling to get rid of their stock in readiness for 2009. Whilst I wasn’t in any specific need for something, I found JB Hi-Fi selling Microsoft’s Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000 series for AUD$45. This isn’t the cheapest I’ve seen it, mind you, only a few months ago Officeworks sold them for a brief period for only $35 in conjunction with a Microsoft promo, but I digress – I decided to purchase one of these mice for my EeePC 701 since they’re some 35% cheaper than its nearest rivals such as Logitech. But does that cheaper price come at a cost?
So why would you want a Bluetooth mouse? Well, the obvious reason is the convenience of no cables. This mouse is primarily targeted at the notebook market where people cannot easily use, or just plain don’t like, the mouse touchpad or joystick. Being Bluetooth, you can connect it to any device that also has Bluetooth capability (which these days is just about every modern notebook, or desktop with a USB Bluetooth adapter). The only real con is having to charge or replace batteries.
The Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000 comes packaged in one of those annoying difficult-to-open hard plastic packages – you know, the kind that usually draws blood. Thankfully, I think Microsoft have heeded the baying masses and have neatly provided little holes in the backside of the packaging for you to easily get a pair of scissors into as indicated by a couple of printed scissor icons, but then I discovered I didn’t even need to do that either – the plastic is perforated, allowing you to get a finger in and simply rip the packaging open – with no blood being drawn – extra points there.
So once you have playfully ripped into the packaging like a 10 year old on Xmas morning, this is what comes inside the retail package:
- The mouse
- A trendy neoprene rubber carry pouch
- Two AAA batteries
- A quickstart guide, battery disposal disclaimer and a full instruction manual, neatly crushed into a triangle by the top side of the box packaging
The mouse is very lightweight and looks pretty stylish with an attractive combination of black underside and sideskirts, white top and a spine of gun-metal grey. The mouse wheel is transparent. The top side features a Bluetooth logo and a battery indicator. There are four buttons – two traditional left & right mouse buttons, wheel button in the middle and a thumb button that is designed with right-handed users in mind. The wheel does not feature left & right movement, but has a fairly notchy ratchet when rotating the wheel, but does not require much pressure to rotate.
The rear end resembles a Renault Megane – with a big arse and a star-zappy logo thing which is not a button and appears to be for decorative purposes only.
The underside features the battery compartment, the laser unit, Bluetooth pairing button, a two-position sliding on-off switch, usual array of skidpads and a Gnuine Microsoft sticker.
Overall, this mouse is roughly two-thirds the size of a regular adult desktop mouse. It’s even smaller than a CD-ROM disc! The size is deliberate, however – it makes for a more portable package in your laptop bag.
The neoprene rubber pouch provided is a snug fit for the mouse, but makes a good home for it when stashing it away in your bag. The pouch features a simple hook-tape seal and does the job. If you are an EeePC user, you will already be familiar with the good protection the neoprene rubber sleeve provides, so this mouse pouch will look right at home next to it. The pouch also has a red Microsoft logo tag on it to satisfy brand-toting users.
Inserting the batteries is a very straight-forward exercise without any difficulty. The battery is cover is easily removed by finger without needing a tool and the battery compartments are spacious and feature pull-up tabs to remove the batteries easily when they eventually need replacement.
Upon switching on the mouse, the battery indicator on top of the mouse turned green for a few seconds, then went out and started alternating between green and red flashes at a rate of one flash per second. It had immediately entered pairing mode without me having to manually trigger it. The Bluetooth logo does not light up.
Pairing the mouse with Ubuntu Intrepid is an incredibly simple four-step process:
EDIT August 2009: The Bluetooth stack in Ubuntu Jaunty changed such that the mouse will pair, but the mouse will not acknowledge the connection nor will the mouse ever work. As of August 2009, the latest version of the Bluez Bluetooth stack and the Blueman applet fix this problem. Refer to this article for more information.
- Do a single right-mouse click on the Bluetooth icon in your system tray and choose “Setup new device…”.
- The Bluetooth Device Wizard will appear. Click “Forward”.
- Your PC will query for local unpaired Bluetooth devices. After a brief delay, you will see the Microsoft Bluetooth Notebook Mouse 5000’s MAC address followed shortly by its actual name. Simply click on the name in the list and click “Forward”.
- Your PC will commence pairing with the mouse. You don’t have to do anything except wait a couple of seconds. Once the pairing is complete, the wizard will finish.
The mouse is now immediately usable and you can also keep using your original mouse at the same time as well (if you like fighting over one mouse pointer, that is). At this time, the indicator on the top of the mouse switches off as well. The only time I should see it next illuminate is during power-on self-test or when the battery starts running low.
In operation, the mouse feels reasonably comfortable and is easy to maneuver. Button clicks are clear and responsive, although the fourth thumb button was technically non-functional, though pressing it brought focus upon whatever you were hovering over without actually performing a left-mouse click. It’s not too heavy but not too light either, though with prolonged use, I suspect those with relatively big hands will find the apparent gap underneath the palm of your hand to get annoying and the mouse is a good third smaller than a regular sized mouse (remember it’s intended to be carried by notebook users, not used on a desktop). Those with smaller hands such as most female adults and early-teen children, may probably find this mouse to be more comfortable than a regularly-sized mouse for western adult hands.
I found that the mouse was quite sensitive compared to my regular desktop mouse, as though mouse-acceleration had been increased by a small percentage in my system’s configuration. If this proves annoying, you would have to adjust your desktop mouse preferences a bit to compensate.
Rather interestingly, the laser is completely invisible. There is no red glow emanating from the mouse at all, even if you lift the mouse slightly off the table. There are no blingy glowy bits on the top side of the mouse to waste battery either.
Unfortunately I cannot gauge the expected battery life until I’ve made prolonged use of the mouse, and the manual provided does not provide any indication as to the expected battery life nor does it mention any potential power-saving features of the mouse such as power-down due to in activity, etc (however the quick-start guide makes reference to switching off the mouse when in transit). In fact, I found it amusing to read in the manual protective advisories not to “walk on power cords” in relation to the mouse – it appears this is a generic peripheral manual that Microsoft supply with all their gear.
Anyway, I went on to test the reconnection speed of the mouse now that it was paired. I switched off the mouse for a few seconds and then turned it back on and started moving the mouse until I saw the mouse pointer moving on-screen. Disappointingly, Ubuntu did not reconnect with the mouse. In fact, I wasn’t able to reconnect to it until I had deleted the pairing and re-paired it again.
A system restart after having successfully paired the mouse earlier also failed to reconnect it when the desktop reappeared again.
EDIT August 2009: The latest version of the Bluez Bluetooth stack and the Blueman applet fixes this re-connection problem under Ubuntu Intrepid and Ubuntu Jaunty without the need to do the manual fix below.
This is contrary to previous versions of Ubuntu where reconnection occurred without a problem. As it turns out, the HIDD application and corresponding hcid.conf file are not employed anymore by Ubuntu Intrepid, having been replaced by the Bluetooth applet we’re using today. It appears Intrepid does not actively scan for Bluetooth devices to “re-activate” them upon a restart.
So with that in mind, I tried issuing the following command in a terminal:
$ sudo hciconfig hci0 pscan
…which tells my Bluetooth adapter at hci0 to switch to “scanning” mode. Within about 10 seconds, the mouse pointer started moving again!
Another reboot still failed to have the mouse reconnect automatically again, so I decided to add the command into my /etc/rc.local file which is executed every time the system reboots.
Edit it with:
$ sudo gedit /etc/rc.local
…and in the editor, add it anywhere BEFORE the last exit 0 line, eg:
#!/bin/sh -e # # rc.local # # This script is executed at the end of each multiuser runlevel. # Make sure that the script will "exit 0" on success or any other # value on error. # # In order to enable or disable this script just change the execution # bits. # # By default this script does nothing. sudo hciconfig hci0 pscan exit 0
Save your changes and reboot. When the system restarted, the mouse still failed to move, however turning the mouse off and then on again without another reboot did make the mouse start moving again within 10 seconds, so the reconnection process relies on the rodent’s current connection status to be “deleted” before Ubuntu will reconnect to it. This is annoying, but for the moment switching the mouse off and then on is a helluva lot less painful than having to delete and re-pair the mouse manually every reboot. A number of bug reports have already been listed on Launchpad in relation to this problem, so no doubt it will be rectified in due course.
This is a reasonably comfortable, sturdy mouse with a robust feel to it that I believe would survive being knocked about a few times. It is compact and does not have unnecessary design features that would waste battery life. It meets the requirements to be portable and is simple to use.
The manual is generic and not very helpful in relation to the nature of the product (with the exception of the quick-start guide), however I think in this day and age most people have a good basic understanding of mouse concepts to not need a manual.
I’d have liked to have been given a written reference to the expected battery life, and it would have been nice to have a plug-in USB recharge feature or a docking station of some sort, however such features would have increased the cost of the product.
While not a feature-rich mouse in general given the target audience for a simple “it just works” device, this is a great value-for-money product and I would have no hesitation in recommending it to prospective users. At AUD$45, it’s a bargain compared to its nearest rivals who list for AUD$65 or more for the same featureset.
Review score: 8 out of 10