Mini Mouse

We're the first to confess frustration with the built-in pointing devices of most laptop computers. Really, how is one supposed to play "Tempest" with that grippy little stick wedged between "G" and "H?"

Atek Electronics has a semi-solution: The Super Mini Optical Mouse, a $50 gadget that looks more like a cigarette lighter than a traditional computer mouse. At just an inch wide and 2 1/2 inches long, the mouse plugs into the Universal Serial Bus on most newer laptops.

Setup was a snap. Windows Me instantly recognized the two-button mouse, which was functional seconds after we plugged it in. The on-screen motion was fluid. Our only beef with the mouse was its lack of heft--which, of course, is the point.

But sometimes miniaturization goes too far. Although the Super Mini can be used on the palm rest of most laptops, the device is so tiny that our hands got a little crampy after less than half an hour of playing solitaire.

Considering you can get a full-size optical mouse--with a scrolling wheel--for less than $25, the Super Mini seems overpriced. Besides, Microsoft's full-size Wheel Mouse Optical is 2 1/2 inches wide by 5 inches long--not all that much bigger.

Since Super Mini's claim to fame is that it can operate on the palm rest, we tried to do the same with a full-size optical mouse, the $25 Kensington Mouse-in-a-Box Optical. It worked just fine on a Toshiba Satellite.

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