For those who haven’t encountered Gyration’s products before, they use its MotionSense technology, which in this incarnation consists of a miniature 2-axis gyroscope. This detects mouse motion in the horizontal and vertical planes and so allows wireless control of the mouse pointer on screen with no need for any physical contact with a mouse mat or other surface: simply moving the mouse around in the air is sufficient.
At first glance, the Air Mouse Elite looks like a fairly standard two-button scroll-wheel mouse, with the addition of four silver ‘media key’ buttons. Underneath is an extra ‘trigger’ key in a sculpted cutaway; clicking and holding this moves the mouse cursor when the mouse is ‘in-air’, and a double-click locks this feature.
The silver buttons are programmable ‘Media Keys’ that change function according to the application being used: play controls in Media Player, slide controls in PowerPoint and so on. We found it detected all the relevant applications on our PC, with the exception of Media Center, although as Gyration also produces a Media Center remote perhaps this isn’t surprising.
Functions and features are all controlled via the MotionTools software, which isn’t the most intuitive program to use, but gets the job done once you realise how it works. The help file and user guide are well worth spending some time with first; we foolishly though we could work it all out without this, but believe us, you can’t.
Gesture controls in particular – where you press the circular gesture button on the top while swiping the mouse in one of eight compass directions – take a while to get consistently right, the trick being to move your wrist and not your arm. As a basic desktop laser mouse it’s perfectly adequate and suitable for left-handers, too, although the scroll wheel doesn’t have a tilt capability.
Customisation options are good, with a fairly long list of predefined actions and gestures that can be assigned (using drag-and-drop onto a little picture of the mouse) within each application type (General, Internet, Media Player and Presentation). You can’t create your own special actions, although you can add any application and record simple keyboard shortcuts (such as Ctrl-X, for example) for assigning to a key or gesture.
Presentations are probably the use that will attract most buyers, and it does work well. Our only criticism is that the using the thumb to left-click does require a fairly agile thumb: our Neanderthal-like hands weren’t particularly comfortable when trying to select text accurately, often hitting the media keys instead. But this aside, it has some handy presentation features such as spotlight, highlighter, curtain reveal and simulated laser pointer modes.
The Air Mouse Elite comes with a miniature 2.4GHz RF USB dongle (good for up to 30m) and a USB-powered charging stand (there’s a charge level indicator on the mouse body). The retention mechanism is a bit hit-and-miss and doesn’t hold the mouse very securely, though.
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