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Swiftpoint Review – Hands on with the mouse of the future

There are two types of people in the world, those that use laptop computer trackpads, and those that think there must be something better. Kiwi outfit, Swiftpoint, clearly fall into the latter category as they have come up with the Swiftpoint travel mouse. It’s about the size of a zippo lighter, charges in 30 seconds and may just change the way you use your laptop forever.

Look and feel
The Swiftpoint is smaller than most travel computer mice, and by smaller I mean it’s tiny. It’s made of glossy black plastic with moulded rubber wherever your fingers make contact with it, even the main mouse button has a small rubber pad. The two buttons are different heights so you can easily distinguish between them.

Apart from that it’s a simple two-button mouse (no middle button) with a scroll wheel. The wheel is located on the side of the mouse and it’s much larger and wider than a typical mouse scroller, but you still operate it via the index finger or by tipping the mouse on its side (see further on)

(Click on photos to enlarge)

The Swiftpoint people see their mouse as a replacement for the trackpad and have designed it to run on almost any surface including the palm-rests of laptops. To assist with this, they have included an adhesive surface designed to give the Swiftpoint a smooth surface to run on. The surface also has a small magnetic patch which can be used to quickly park the Swiftpoint between your hands. Allowing you to use it and leave it while you make corrections and have it snap back to the patch when you let go of the mouse.

In Use
To say the Swiftpoint is well designed is like saying the Burj Dubai is a tall building. Every aspect of the Swiftpoint appears to have been agonised over. The fundamental feature of the Swiftpoint seems to be removing the disconnect between typing and using a mouse on laptops. If you use a trackpad the distance between the keyboard and trackpad is minimal allowing people who regularly switch between typing and mousing to be more productive. If you use a mouse, the mouse hand flails about between between rodent and keys as you work. The Swiftpoint brings the mouse to the keyboard and a lot more besides.

The USB wireless receiver dongle holds the Swiftpoint in place while it charges, or stores the Swiftpoint while you move your computer around. If the Swiftpoint has run flat, dock it on the charger and it will receive a 30 second lightning charge (groan) that will keep the mouse running for an hour. Or you can let it charge for 90 minutes and the mouse should run for 2 – 4 weeks.

The battery is excellent due to the power saving features in the mouse, if can’t detect two fingers on the grip it turns off, only to wake instantly as soon as you pick it up. There is also another included function called SmartTouch which allows you to move the Swiftpoint without moving the cursor if only one finger is on the mouse. This comes in handy if the mouse gets in the way during typing and you just need to give it a nudge. It can be turned on or off easily.

The scroll wheel behaves normally or you can tilt the mouse on its side drag the wheel on the desk, allowing you to power to the end of the document. Or you can combine this SlideScroll function with the left or right mouse buttons to zoom in or scroll down in whole-page increments which may appease those of you with your free-wheeling uber scroll wheels.

Another quite cool aspect of the Swiftpoint is its precision. The optical sensor is 1000dpi but the mouse itself is very precise. Because you’re moving it with your fingers instead of your hand and wrist, you can be much more precise in what your doing. I even managed a quite-passable version of my signature in good ol’ Paint. Sure the Swiftpoint is no graphics tablet but it feels more like one than any mouse I’ve used, with the possible exception of this monstrosity.

Gripes
The main problem for me is that there’s no middle mouse button and that’s the one I use all the time while surfing but seriously, that’s my main gripe.

The stick-on tracking surface with the parking spot for the Swiftpoint is a nifty idea, but it renders your trackpad unusable, so if you stick it on your machine all of a sudden it’s Swiftpoint’s way or the highway. This is sort of a good thing as it makes you persevere with the Swiftpoint and stops you running back to the trackpad when times get tough (which they won’t). The tracking surface does come off though and you can reposition it if you apply it incorrectly or if you decide you don’t like it. On laptops like Macbooks you probably won’t need it though, as there’s plenty of mousing real estate already.

It only comes in a right-handed version, but Swiftpoint are open to a left-handed version if there are enough complaints enquiries.

Conclusion
The Swiftpoint is a stunningly well-thought out bit of kit and is sure to make any road warrior worth-their-salt, way more productive on the road. Personally I don’t think it’s a replacement for a full-time desktop mouse as it’s a little small and the lack of a third mouse button may hinder the Adobe and CAD users. Still, if all you’re doing is writing, working on spreadsheets or surfing the net, the Swiftpoint is an absolute joy to use especially if you switch between keyboard and mouse continuously.

Possibly the best part of the Swiftpoint is the way it just slots itself into your computing life. Sure it might take five minutes of getting used-to but that’s it. You don’t need any software to get all the features, the dongle is pretty hard to lose, there’s no hunting around for another mouse if the battery has gone flat, it’s comfortable, it’s precise, it’s intuitive, and best of all it’s tiny. Swiftpoint are also offering a 30 day risk free trial, so do yourself and your wrists a favour and try one out. Seriously, it’s bloody brilliant. US$69.

Dan Ferris is the Red Ferret’s Oceanic correspondent and Associate Editor based in Sydney, Australia. Despite not knowing Russell Crowe or Nicole Kidman, Dan has risen above adversity and now scours the world for interesting tidbits to write about. He spends far too much time photographing stuff and tinkering with computers.

Dan – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.


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