Programming Note: This site will be on break through the holidays and return in January. Be sure to subscribe or check back for updates!

Review: MacAlly rfMouse

by on August 16, 2004

Most people think of a cordless mouse as a specialty or luxury item. MacAlly has provided a complete package for those who want to get a cordless mouse and not deal with the associated hassles of dead batteries, intermittent range, and sub-par software. With a completely new design, the rfMouse is not just some corded mouse that had its “tail” chopped off.

MacAlly rfMouse

MacAlly rfMouse Top

MacAlly rfMouse Receiver/Charger

At $50, the rfMouse is more expensive than most other cordless mice, and uses the older radio frequency (RF) technology, thus requiring a receiver. Unlike the early infrared-based cordless mice, however, RF mice do not require a clear line of sight from mouse to receiver.

The rfMouse comes with 4 NiMH AA rechargeable batteries. We were impressed by this, as the mouse only requires 2, allowing the other two to be rotated when the two in the mouse die. NiMH batteries are not immune to the dreaded “memory effect”, although the mouse does run the batteries down completely each time.

Setup of the rfMouse is pretty straightforward: connect the receiver, which doubles as a battery charger, to a free USB port. Two batteries must be placed in the receiver and charged for at least 8 hours before use. A red LED glows to indicate that the batteries are being charged.

Unique channels must be chosen if you plan to use two RF-based mice within 6 feet of each other. This is as simple as flipping a switch on the mouse and receiver so that they match.

Once the first set of batteries are charged, they can be put in the mouse, while the spare set can be charged. With the batteries in the mouse, it is ready to be used.

The rfMouse is a fairly large mouse, with a standard two-button/scroll wheel layout, found on almost all low-end to midrange mice. The clickable scroll wheel scrolls smoothly and is comfortable to use, and is separated from the buttons, eliminating erroneous clicks. With design that fits the hand well (although the shape suggests right-handed use), the rfMouse is very comfortable to use.

Although it works right out of the box with Mac OS X, we found the driver software to be helpful in creating the optimal configuration. Settings can be customized on a per-application basis, as well as globally, allowing the most flexibility. We found the range of settings to be quite broad, allowing even the pickiest of users to put those extra buttons to work.

The rfMouse tracked surprisingly well on all kinds of surfaces using its optical sensor. Our white desktop is slightly glossy and most mice have trouble on it, but the rfMouse did not. It worked fine for most of the games, web work, and image editing that we performed. A small LED on the receiver indicates whether or not the mouse is making a connection and being used. A few times the mouse would get sluggish or jumpy, but would “fix” itself.

In our tests, the batteries lasted about 2-3 weeks (depending on usage). We like the fact that we don’t have to scramble for a second set of batteries around the house while the set that was in the mouse has to charge.

We really like the rfMouse. It works well, requires no extra expenditures, and looks good with almost any Mac. We found a $50 price tag to be quite reasonable for the full package.

The One-Sentence Verdict™

The rfMouse demonstrates that cordless mice can be a product used by everyone.

Pros: No cords to tangle, matches Apple hardware, spare batteries included, receiver doubles as a charger, good driver software, 3-year warranty
Cons: A bit jumpy at times
Rating: 8/10

The Facts

Product: rfMouse
Company: MacAlly
Platform: Mac/Win
Price: $49.99

This post has been filed in Input Devices, Reviews