Logitech mouse offers freedom from cord, rubber...


Logitech mouse offers freedom from cord, rubber ball

If you hate being tethered to a computer, a cordless mouse can keep you from getting entangled in the mess of cables coming from the back of your PC. If you hate having to use a mouse pad, an optical mouse will work most places, including your pants leg.

Logitech has combined the two technologies - the optical sensor and the cordless mouse - to bring freedom to your computing experience in the Cordless MouseMan Optical ($70).

To get started, you place a receiver with digital radio technology on your desktop and connect its cable to your PS/2 or Universal Serial Bus port. With two AA alkaline batteries inside, the mouse - made for right hands only - makes a radio connection to the receiver. Logitech says the mouse should work for two or three months before needing new batteries.

The company says the secret to long battery life was designing the device with several power-saving modes. When the mouse is idle for a while, the optical sensor uses less power. As soon as you move it or touch a button, it awakens. When the batteries run low, you'll get an on-screen warning from your computer.

An optical mouse works wonders for most tasks because the sensor on the bottom of the mouse reads the slightest movement (the MouseMan takes 1,500 pictures per second for pinpoint accuracy in full-run mode). And though conventional mice with rubber balls require you to clean out the gunk that finds its way into their inner workings, there is nothing to catch gunk on the bottom of an optical mouse.

The software, once installed, provides a control panel for the device so you can decide the tracking speed, the cursor acceleration and the type of pointer icon you like. Fiddle with it to get optimum settings. I set my mouse for medium acceleration and roll from there.

The mouse will work with PCs running Windows 95 or later versions as well as Macintosh systems running Mac OS 8.6 or later.

On the downside, some gamers in point-of-view shoot-'em-ups like "Quake" say they can't get the same action from an optical mouse that they can from a conventional mouse.

By flicking a standard mouse sideways and picking it up, you can get the ball to keep rolling for sharp sideways movement of the screen cursor - something an optical mouse can't do.

Of course, few of us need that kind of move while Web surfing, working on spreadsheets or drawing. For everyday use, the Cordless MouseMan Optical spells splendid freedom.

Information: 800-231-7717 or www.logitech.com.

- Kevin Washington

HP product prints, scans, copies for less than $300

If you've recently bought a new computer, here's a way to add a range of peripherals for less than $300. The Hewlett-Packard PSC 750 ($299) takes up about the same amount of space on a desk as an equivalent HP printer and gives you a nice flatbed scanner and copier as well.

The mix of components on multifunction machines often doesn't make sense. In this case, however, HP has stuck to the basics - scanner, printer and copier are a logical grouping, and each is something HP does well.

Setup took eight minutes, including loading the software. The software is easy to use, allowing you to save scanned images into your word-processing or photo-manipulation programs or attach them to e-mail.

The copier is quick - 11 black-ink copies per minute or 8.5 in color - and the printer has the functions and versatility that HP offers in stand-alone printers.

The "Creative Copy" function makes it simple to create customized print setups, such as multiple copies of various sizes and T-shirt transfers.

HP says the unit can print at a resolution of 600-by-600 dots per inch in black ink and 2,400-by-1,200 dpi in color on photo paper. The multifunction can deliver scans at 600-by-1200 dpi optically or 9,600-by-9,600 dpi enhanced.

The downside? You'll need Windows 98, ME or 2000, or Macintosh OS 8.6 or 9 to run it. You'll also need a Universal Serial Bus cable, which is not included, and a powered port or hub.

Information: 800-752-0900 or www.hp.com.

- Kate Seago/KRT

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