Review: GO 2.4 GHz Cordless Optical Air Mouse - InformationWeek

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Review: GO 2.4 GHz Cordless Optical Air Mouse

Gyration's radio-controlled pointing device is a master of disguise--it can be a mouse, a presentation pointer, a remote control, and more.

We've all gotten used to guiding the cursor around the display by pushing a mouse around a tabletop. A company called Gyration has now come up with an alternative -- and while the $80 device may be overkill if you simply want to point and click, it offers a lot of features and flexibility.

Gyration's GO 2.4 GHz Cordless Optical Air Mouse communicates with your system via an included 2.4 GHz RF receiver which connects to a USB port. You can use it in the usual way on a desktop. You can also wave it in the air like a strangely-shaped magic wand, which lets you use it as a remote device for presentations or sit back and surf without needing to be near a flat surface.

Be warned: This isn't an instant buy-and-play product. Once we had the device (along with the receiver and the charger) liberated from its formidable blister pack, we found that it needed to be initially charged for eight hours. In other words, don’t think you can buy it in the morning and then use it in your corporate presentation that afternoon.

When the mouse was ready (as indicated by a steady light on the charger) installation is easy: Plug the receiver into the USB port. That's it. As soon as it's recognized by your PC, you’re ready to go. If you just want to use the Gyration as a remote mouse (either on the desktop or hand-held), you don't need any extra software or setup.

Ready, Aim, Present
Physically, the Gyration is longer than your everyday mouse. It includes the usual left and right buttons and wheel, along with three extra programmable buttons (called "media buttons") below. On the bottom of the device is a trigger that you use to activate the mouse; you can either hold down the trigger, or double-click it to keep it active. After that, point the Gyration at your screen and it moves the cursor.

The Gyration is nicely designed to fit a variety of grips. We both found it comfortable to hold. However, waving a mouse in the air and clicking on buttons from a random point in space does take getting used to. We had to practice for a while before we got the knack of it. And there was a bit of a lag between the device's movement and the cursor movement.

Once we got the gestures down, though, we discovered definite benefits. For example, we sent our computer signal to a TV set and aimed the Gyration at the set, and it worked perfectly, even though the TV was across the room and facing another direction (according to the company, the Gyration's radio signal has a 30-foot range). This means that the Gyration makes a great presentation tool. Once you're set up you don’t have to worry about where your computer is. Just point, click, and present.

Software Adds More Functions
That's only the beginning. If you want to use any of the Gyration's other features -- and there are plenty to choose from -- you need to install the GyroTools software that comes with the device. We had no problem installing the software, but don't try to use the short product manual that comes with the package to understand how any of these features work -- it is simply inadequate to the task. After some searching around, we realized that the software's help files have a great deal more instructions on setup and use -- and even then, we occasionally found ourselves guessing at how a particular feature worked. It would have been nice if we didn't need to guess where to find the information.

The GyroTools app lets you program the mouse for a variety of complex actions. (Click on image to expand.)
Once installed, the GyroTools app offers a clean, well-designed interface for programming the mouse for various functions. Most features can be assigned to one of the media buttons or to a specific "swipe" (motion) by simply dragging an icon from the bottom of the screen to the appropriate box. For example, if you want a movement to the right to indicate "Play," you simply drag the "Play" icon to the appropriate place on the Swipe chart.

Tabs at the bottom of the screen offer access to different categories of commands -- for example, for Internet use (to refresh your browser, say, or back up) or Windows (to launch applications). You can also use hotspots on your screen -- say, the top right corner -- to activate a feature. And, logically, the Gyration works nicely as a highlighter and/or drawing tool for presentations.

The software even comes with a basic macro creator, allowing you to program a series of actions and assign them to, say, a time/date or a key-click combination. So, for example, you can have your browser launch at 9 a.m. every Tuesday and go to your company URL. A good IT department could do a lot with this tool, although we're not sure why it was bundled it with a mouse. It would also be great if it were documented better.

Both the Gyration mouse and the GyroTools software are highly configurable (if not intuitive). It takes time to master this device, but with perseverance and imagination, you’ll find it worthwhile.

GO 2.4 GHz Cordless Optical Air Mouse
Price: $79.95
Summary: This radio-controlled device takes some patience to learn, but offers many useful features for presentations, remote PC control, and other applications.

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