Earlier this year, Adam wrote up the Logitech V550 cordless mouse, which clips to your notebook for easy portability. I've been using the V550 recently, and while it's definitely a neat way of travelling with a pointing device, there's still some tricks you need to follow to get the most out of it.First, an important bit of context: one of my fundamental principles of PC usage is to not use a mouse on my main work notebook anyway. No matter how compact or cleverly designed, it's virtually impossible to use any sort of mouse on a plane or train, and I do a good chunk of my work under those circumstances. In that context, a solid knowledge of keyboard shortcuts and a willingness to embrace the trackpad (or better yet, a pointer embedded in your keyboard -- faster and less likely to give you RSI) is a much better bet. But I realise that many people just can't give up the mouse, and that for some tasks (like image editing) it really is the only game in time. With that in mind, here's three thoughts about mouse usage based on my recent use of the V550 (which you can pick up for around $69).
Forget the micro-mouse
A common traveller's solution to needing a mouse is to use a miniature USB mouse with a retractable cord, like the one pictured. I'm not so sure these are a good idea -- the cables aren't particularly resilient, and you have to scrunch your hand up to make use of it. If you feel the need for a mouse, you might as well have a proper desktop-sized model and the convenience of cordless operation.
Be careful when fixing the dock
The V550 uses a small dock -- essentially a tiny button glued to the top of your laptop case -- to allow you to easily attach the mouse and carry the notebook from place to place. (Both silver and black versions are included to allow colour co-ordination with your machine.) This is great if you want to move around the house, but to be honest you're not that likely to use it when travelling, especially if you've got a carry-on bag that has a dedicated laptop slot -- it makes everything a bit too bulky. If you're using a laptop backpack, it's more likely you'll be able to fit it all in.
One important warning: the install instructions that came with my model said that the dock only needed to be left for a minute before using it, but the official advice from Logitech is to leave it for at least six hours for maximum adhesion. (There's a tool supplied to allow you to remove the dock button from your PC case, though you can't re-use it afterwards.)
While the dock might be the selling point, the real appeal of the V550 is the tiny receiver which it uses -- small enough that you can leave it permanently plugged into your machine without massively expanding its dimensions. (If you're using it on a desktop machine and find that the signal is blocked, there is an optional stand which comes with the package so you can position the receiver elsewhere.) Even if you don't want to use the dock, this feature is reason enough to go with the V550 if you want a roadworthy mouse option.
Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman has never quite understood the appeal of mice, to be honest, and hates the fact that modern operating system development seems to treat keyboard shortcuts as some sort of dirty little secret. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.