Input Devices Guide
First Looks: Swiftpoint Mouse
To Build a Better Mouse
There has been no lack of new mice in the market, but the fundamental design has remained mostly unchanged. The Swiftpoint wireless mouse however eschews the typical palm sized, button and scroll design for something completely new.
Design and Features
Size-wise, the Swiftpoint mouse is smaller than most laptop mice, but where it differs from other mice is in how you hold it. Instead of resting your hand on the mouse, you hold the Swiftpoint with a pincer-like grip formed by the thumb and middle finger. It's a bit like holding a pen. A SmartTouch sensor means the pointer stops dead in its tracks as soon as you lift your finger off the textured finger grip.
Gone also are the usual left and right buttons, replaced with two buttons down the spine of the mouse, with the topmost button corresponding to the left mouse click and the second button mapping over to the right.
The scroll wheel is located at the right side (if you happen to be using the version for right-handers) and it works like any other scroll wheel. Except that there's also a SlideScroll function, where you can tilt the mouse by a minimum 45 degree angle and roll the scroll wheel on the surface. Press and hold down the top button (or left mouse click) while scrolling this way allows you to zoom in and out. Press and hold the lower button (or right mouse click) while scrolling allows you to page through your document.
Sometimes, a video is the best way to convey a message and this YouTube link should help illustrate the unique design of the Swiftpoint mouse.
Battery Life and Docking
Battery life for the Swiftpoint mouse is claimed to be two to four weeks depending on usage. It also comes with a RapidCharge function where 30 seconds of docked charging provides an hour of use. Our review unit came fully charged and as you can imagine, we didn't get enough time with it to verify these claims.
Docking and charging is accomplished in a rather innovative way. The Swiftpoint Mouse connects wirelessly with your PC or notebook through a USB dongle. This USB dongle becomes the 'dock' for your mouse when you wish to charge it or when it's not in use, with a magnet holding the mouse in place (it will likely also block any neighboring ports). While the magnet was strong enough to hold the mouse against the pull of gravity, it won't stop a careless swipe from dislodging it accidentally.
The driving force behind the Swiftpoint mouse is to maximize the efficiency of motion. There is more dexterity in the fingers than the wrist and this mouse capitalizes on that. Small movements offer greater control over the cursor. A slightly slanted scroll wheel enables the user to sweep out in a shallow “C” shape with a flourish of the pen grip, maximizing the length the user can scroll up or down. It all sounds very logical and efficient.
However, the biggest obstacle to using the Swiftpoint mouse is that it requires contorting your hand into what, possibly due to years of conditioning, feels like an unnatural position. The index finger remains permanently arched with insufficient rest, which becomes quite a strain over extended periods of use. While the SlideScroll function minimizes the area required to utilize the mouse, it in itself is an ungainly action requiring the user to lift the wrist and sometimes even the elbow to perform it.
Although the design of the Swiftpoint allows it to be used on limited surface areas, like the palm rest of notebooks, it does so at the expense of comfort and familiarity. It took us about 30 to 45 minutes to get used to the feel and function of the Swiftpoint Mouse. And it never felt wholly comfortable partly because it seemed so different from the usual mouse.
We did encounter a few performance problems as well. Primarily, if you happen to have large hands and long fingers, there is a higher chance that while scrolling you may accidentally click the top button and activate the zoom mode, which is slightly annoying.
The SmartTouch feature may lower the energy consumption but if you have the habit of taking your middle finger off the mouse, be warned that your cursor will freeze on screen instantly.
With every new product, especially one that attempts to re-imagine the tried and tested, there is always a learning-curve. The Swiftpoint mouse may fare better in tight spaces, but the radical changes can be off-putting enough to deter mass adoption.
Compared to the trackpads on notebooks, the Swiftpoint mouse claims to be over 30 to 40 percent more accurate. However, experienced trackpad users, especially those using multi-touch trackpads, found the lack of these shortcuts a hindrance and they also did not report any significant improvement in performance.
For those who dread using a trackpad, this device offers a viable alternative. Its portability and the handy dock make it an ideal travel companion. The Swiftpoint Mouse is now available at S$129, offering instant relief from the clutches of your notebook's trackpad.