The Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 ($49.95) is Microsoft's newest addition to its line of laser-guided mice. This model has an ergonomic design, customizable buttons, Microsoft's Magnifier and Flip 3D features, and a snap-in USB transceiver, a nod to you laptop users who like to travel with mice. All of those features make it a comprehensive desktop mouse that's also travel-friendly. The ergonomic design takes some getting accustomed to, and we don't love the scroll wheel. However, if you can get past those two minor flaws, we would recommend the Wireless Laser Mouse 6000, especially if you like some continuity in your input devices at home and on the road.
The 6000's initial setup is as easy as most plug-and-play hardware. The box includes the mouse, a USB-only transceiver, and a pair of AA batteries. If you're interested in longer battery life, Microsoft also offers an alternative version, the Wireless Laser Mouse 7000 ($69.95) that features a rechargeable battery and indicator light.
For software, Microsoft includes its Intellipoint 6.2 software for both PC and Mac. The easy-to-use software lets you set button assignments, scroll and click speed, and also provides help files. If you don't have the CD with you while you're traveling, you can still use the mouse with your computer's internal settings; no external drivers are required.
For you hard-core desk jockeys looking to relieve your tired wrists, Microsoft designed the Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 to relieve pressure from your right wrist (sorry, southpaws, there's no left-handed version). The ergonomic design is not as severe as Microsoft's Natural Wireless Laser Mouse 6000, but we still found this new model slightly uncomfortable and counterintuitive at first. The mouse forces you to move it with your entire arm as opposed to just your wrist. This motion feels alien at first, but Microsoft says it's better therapeutically in the long term. We recommend positioning the mouse closer to your body than you normally would to offset the unfamiliar grip.
The scroll wheel sits between the two main buttons and moves side to side as well as up and down with one minor difference: horizontal scrolling with the dial makes a tactile click as each page moves, but up and down scrolling is completely smooth, with no tactile feedback. This reviewer far prefers the ratcheting feel of a click wheel for scrolling through individual pages (featured in other mice such as the Logitech MX Revolution.). The smooth dial that Microsoft incorporates into its mice feels sludgy and awkward. The scroll button itself is preset to activate the new Windows Vista Flip 3D overlay where you can quickly view all of your open windows in a digitally organized stack. As with most mice, you can reassign all the buttons with the included software.
From a travel perspective, the Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 is a typical full-size desktop mouse, but its transceiver is the same size as a USB key and fits into the bottom of the mouse itself for convenient travel and battery conservation. The promise of cable-free trips is definitely a plus, and we're pleased that Microsoft decided to incorporate this feature that's typically found on their notebook mice.
The Laser Mouse 6000 also comes with Microsoft's usual features including "Magnifier" that is very similar to the native "Zoom" element in Mac OS X: clicking a button (top side button by default) brings up a sizable box that can be placed over anything on the screen, effectively zooming in up to 30x. We tested the Magnifier in several pictures and video, both on and offline, and the results were positive but not fantastic. As with all digital zooming, this should mainly be used for text and minor media viewing adjustments, as the picture exponentially loses quality as magnification increases.