Updated on April 20, 2016
Microsoft Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse Review
I must say, I was initially very skeptical that this thing could actually function as any sort of computer input device, much less an ergonomically sound and well designed mouse. Well, I am happy to report that I was wrong. The Microsoft Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse is a surprisingly capable and effective mouse. Not only that, but it has a number of space age features as well. If you are looking for a compact, ergonomic mouse, and are willing to try something new, this might be the mouse for you.
So what makes this mouse so special? Well, there are two relatively unique features of the Arc. First, it does not have a scroll wheel. I’ve written extensively about the quality of scroll wheels on various mice. In particular, it seems to be a place that many lower-end mice tend to cut corners. The Arc bypasses the issue entirely by replacing the scroll wheel with a touch sensor. The only other mouse I am aware of that does something similar is the Apple Magic Mouse. Unfortunately, I’ve found Apple peripherals to be disastrous when it comes to ergonomics, which ironically has led me to use a number of Microsoft peripherals for my Mac. Second, the Arc folds completely flat so that it can be easily stored. Though not a huge factor for me, it does come in handy when you want to head to the coffee shop. When flat, the Arc fits comfortably in a regular pocket. Then, when you’re ready to use it, you can pop it into an arc, from which it derives its name, and use it for mousing.
Beyond its unconventional features, the Arc Touch also has many features that one would expect on a higher end ergonomic mouse. The laser tracking, build quality, fit and finish and button sensitivity are all very solid. The touch scroll even provides a faint click as you move your finger up and down, which allows you to scroll more precisely in the same way that a mechanical scroll wheel clicks when you spin it.
The particular variant I reviewed connects via Bluetooth 4.0. Not all laptops have Bluetooth capabilities and an even smaller subset have Bluetooth 4.0. It is worth double checking that your device supports Bluetooth 4.0 specifically. In my case, the Macbook Pro added Bluetooth 4.0 support in 2012, so I was good to go. The Microsoft Arc also makes a fantastic input device for tablets. Almost all recent Microsoft Surface tablet models support Bluetooth 4.0, and the Arc is a great option if you’d like an input device for more of a PC feel. It is worth mentioning that there is also a non-bluetooth version for those that prefer usb dongles or do not have a computer with Bluetooth 4.0.
The Arc isn’t perfect, however. Because of its mobile form factor, I found the ergonomics to be less than ideal, though still well executed for a portable mouse. The side button, in particular, was somewhat awkward to use. In addition, the Arc provides almost no ergonomic support to move the wrist into a more vertical position. I’ve written extensively about the benefits of a vertical mouse and the Arc is most definitely not a vertical mouse. In fact, it is essentially the opposite of a vertical mouse in that it is completely flat in the horizontal plane. In the vertical plane, the Arc is relatively comfortable. The arc seemed to fit my hand well and provides ample support for when you want to use it as a mouse. However, it is not as ergonomic in fitting the hand as a non-portable mouse like the Logitech MX Master.
Lastly, the Arc uses AAA batteries, which is a pet peeve of mine on higher end mice. If you’re going to spend money on a higher end mouse, it should include a lithium polymer battery that can be recharged via USB.
Pros of the Microsoft Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse:
- Unique portable design – makes it easy to fit the mouse into a pocket and take it anywhere.
- Touch scroll wheel – Easy to use, reliable and provides sufficient haptic feedback in order to make scrolling easy.
- Build Quality – The Arc is well built. It looks like some sort of space phaser from the future, and is put together in a way that reflects its high end design.
- Tracking and Sensitivity – Particularly for a portable mouse, I found the tracking and sensitivity of the Arc to be top notch.
- Bluetooth Connectivity – For Mac users in particular, this is basically a must-have. Makes connecting easy, and you don’t have to keep track of that small usb dongle that has a tendency to get lost.
Cons of the Microsoft Arc Touch Bluetooth Mouse:
- Mobile Ergonomics – Because it is designed first and foremost to be small and portable, the Arc does not have the same ergonomics as other less portable mice. That said, for its purpose, the form factor and ergonomics are some of the best I’ve encountered.
- Secondary Functions – I found the side button difficult to reach and use effectively.
- AAA batteries rather than lithium polymer – Adds weight and feels like a cut corner, particularly at this price point on a portable mouse.
The Microsoft Arc is a fantastically designed wireless ergonomic mouse. Compared to desktop mice, it may lack some more advanced features. However, for a small and portable mouse it is absolutely top notch. The touch sensitivity alone is a fantastic addition and puts the Arc near the top of my list of best ergonomic mice on the market.