The time had finally come for my trusty Microsoft Wireless 3500 to die. For the past two years it had served me well, but the middle button - which had been inconsistent these past few months - finally failed. Given I had only spent $19 on it at a Target Back-to-School sale, I felt it was an opportune time to upgrade.
Off the glowing recommendation of a friend at work, I decided to pick up a Microsoft Arc Touch. $50 is a lot to spend on anything, but I rationalized the purchase by way of a growing awareness to my own “hand” health. Between work, school and this website, my hands are always working at the computer. In an effort to fight repetitive strain injury (RSI), any keyboard or mouse which can reduce even 5% of my daily hand strain is a worthwhile purchase.
Although expensive, you instantly feel that money at work in the build quality. The svelte, black matte finish feels fantastic in the hand. I had also been in love with the signature curved design ever since the original Arc, and the Touch brought an even slimmer profile by dropping the traditional scroll wheel. Unfortunately, as fantastic as the Arc Touch looks and feels, it becomes downright annoying after bringing up any document taller than your screen.
As I began to scrub my finger down the touch-scroll bar, I felt some subtle, tactile feedback accompanied by a set of computer-sounding beeps. Evidentially, the Arc Touch tries to mimic the physical feedback you get from a traditional scroll-wheel, but this effect backfires considerably. In addition, the Arc Touch also attempts to integrate momentum scrolling, ala OS X, but it’s jerky, jarring and, well, complete jank.
Note: Even configuring the Arc touch via Microsoft’s IntelliPoint drivers and preference pane yields no solution. This is additionally frustrating, because some extra research revealed the Windows driver allows you to one-click toggle the effect.
If you use a Mac, the short answer is to not buy this mouse. I ended up returning mine shortly afterwards and swapping it out for a Logitech Anywhere MX, which I’ve been happy with so far.
The Arc Touch is probably a great mouse for Windows users, especially after turning off the touch-scroll bar feedback, but the omission of this option from OS X makes the Arc Touch practically useless to me. Considering the superb build quality, it’s truly disappointing that the scrolling mechanics yank the experience so far in the direction of cheap and tacky that no curve can bring it back.
—Thursday, 1 August 2013