Review: MacAlly iLaser
Remember the old days when having an optical mouse was considered new and high-tech? Now, almost every computer sold includes one. Although these mice certainly work better than their predecessors, they still sometimes have trouble working on some surfaces. Because of this, many companies have started using lasers instead of the traditional LED to track movement.
MacAlly’s $30 iLaser looks like any other mouse, except that the red glow coming from the bottom has been toned down a bit. Other than that, the mouse works as you’d expect. Plug in one end to a USB port, load the software if you want to customize the extra programmable buttons, and start using it.
Programmable buttons? Yeah—the iLaser features a total of 5 (left click, right click, scroll wheel click, and two additional buttons next to the scroll wheel. All of the buttons can be programmed, as well as the scroll wheel’s movement. You could make the scroll wheel scroll horizontally in certain applications, or use the up/down buttons to scroll in other directions. The software is not fully polished, unlike Kensington’s offerings, but it works and can be customized on an application-by-application basis.
The iLaser can be used without any of the software loaded and works on Macs with OS 9 up to the current version of OS X and on PCs with Windows 98 or later. Since it is plug-and-play, it will most likely work on Linux, too.
You can have a mouse with a bunch of features, but if it doesn’t work well, it’s useless. Fortunately, the iLaser tracks very well, and after using it for a few weeks, it work with no problems. It’s also comfortable to use and is neutral for left- and right-handed users.
The main advantage of the laser is that it tracks on shiny surfaces, such as glass, various laminated surfaces, and anything else that traditional optical mice have trouble on. It is more precise, although we couldn’t find too many situations where there was a glaring difference, except for on certain surfaces.
For the money, the iLaser is a great choice if you want to try out the next-generation of mouse technology. With a price similar to many optical mice, you get a good-looking mouse with programmable buttons and compatibility with almost anything. We find it to be a solid product that works well.
The One-Sentence Verdict™
MacAlly has created another affordable, capable product with the iLaser.
Pros: Laser tracking, programmable buttons, solid construction
Cons: None significant