Review: Microsoft S+ARCK Mouse
- Slick styling
- neon glow trim
- Cheap components
- Over-sensitive buttons
- 5 out of 10
Microsoft has long been known for its fabulous line of PC peripherals, which are traditionally among the finest in the industry. When one thinks of keyboards and mice, two names come to mind; Logitech and Microsoft, and generally in that order. So naturally when I decided to purchase a good optical mouse to go along with my shiny new Mac mini, Microsoft was my first choice. Being a design fetishist, my tastes naturally guided me towards something that would match the Mac mini’s overall aesthetics. Immediately I spotted one product that seemed to fill the bill just right; Microsoft’s S+ARCK mouse, designed by famous European product designer Phillip Starck.
Now this is no ordinary mouse, to be sure. It is, or rather was, designed to be an expensive luxury peripheral targeted at high-end users with expensive tastes. When the product was originally introduced by Microsoft, it retailed with an MSRP of around $70. Today you can find them for less than $20. If there is a reason why that price has dropped so dramatically, I would say it’s because it failed to take off. And after using this product for about a month I can see why.
The problem with this mouse is that, for lack of a better term, it is a sheep in wolf’s clothing. Expensive looking on the outside, but cheap as chips on the inside. All sizzle, no steak. By that I mean that although it is a very cool looking mouse, interally it uses rather cheap components and handles like the usual el cheapo mouse that OEMs often throw in for free with every new PC you buy. Neither high art, nor utilitarian.
Here are some examples of the S+ARCK’s pluses and minuses (pun intended). For starters, although the design may look like brushed metal, it’s actually painted plastic, and not even what I would call a GOOD painted job. This alone gives the impression of cheapness when fondled in your hands (the less said about that the better). The button layout works almost identically to Apple’s Pro mouse which uses the entire body as a click button instead of dedicated buttons found on a typical mouse. However, unlike Apple’s annoying one-button design philosophy, the S+ARCK has a right-click button and scroll wheel as well. This is definitely a nice touch, unfortunately the buttons are far too sensitive and can easily be actuated with the slightest depression. After coming from a Logitech MX500, I found myself constantly right-clicking. Pop-up menus were all over my desktop. This improves over time once you get used to the mouse’s delicate nature, but I would have expected more attention would have gone into the design of what is supposed to be a high-end product.
The S+ARCK also seems to have sensitivity to certain surface materials. A problem that was common on many first generation optical mice. My mousepad would cause the mouse to jump to the lower left side of the screen. Switching to a different mousepad solved the problem, but my Logitech never gave me such a fuss.
I will say one thing for this mouse, it has a really cool looking neon trim that glows. If nothing else it will certainly impress family in friends, and elicit a few “what the heck is that thing!” stares. Beyond that, this really isn’t a very notable mouse and there are far better options on the market today.
If you are interested in getting one for yourself, they can be had at rock bottom prices, and are available in two colors; blue and orange. I acquired mine for the low price of just $14. That may be an amazingly good deal, just as long as you aren’t expecting an amazing mouse.
This entry was posted on Friday, March 11th, 2005 at 12:58 pm and is filed under Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.