NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, April 2008
Saitek Optical Photo Mouse
Make Your Personal Computer More Personal

By Jan Fagerholm,
Mouse Maven, Assistant Editor and VP Membership

pcc4me(at)@netscape.net (click to email author)

Obtained from APCUG with the author's permission for publication by APCUG member groups

The Bullet Points: The Saitek Photo Mouse is a desktop optical USB mouse that you can insert your own photos into. The photo area is illuminated. The mouse features 3 buttons and a scroll wheel.

What’s in the Box: Mouse, User Manual with photo cutting template. The Review: A mouse review? Hey, don’t laugh – it’s a perfectly good mouse that, as it happens, you can customize to make it a personalized desktop accessory. The photo part is the novelty, but first let’s see the mouse.

Saitek makes a full line of PC accessories, including a wide selection of pointing devices with different talents. The Saitek Photo Mouse is a perfectly good medium-sized USB optical mouse that fits my hand well and performs better than most optical mice that I’ve used. It tracks well on a variety of surfaces, which not all optical mice do. The ultimate test is to place it on a mirror, and even here it tracks accurately. The only surface that it is flaky on is those artificial wood grain coatings common to student desks and conference tables, but, hey, every other optical mouse I have has the same problem. Put a piece of plain paper under the mouse and it works fine.

OK, the gimmick here is the ability to place your own photograph inside the illuminated area where you may gaze upon it to your heart’s content. This part is strictly manual labor with an assist from the paper template for fitting the photo. Being a deep dish computer geek, I find reverting to “cut and paste” using paper and scissors real, um, 20th Century, y’know? The User Manual refers to an EPS template that can be downloaded from their Web site, but I couldn’t locate it. Undaunted, I scanned the paper template into Photoshop and made a mask out of it. Opening the desired photo, then pasting the template mask into the photo made it possible to resize and orient the image for best cropping in the mouse-shaped template. Beats the buttons off the User Manual’s advice for the paper template that, “you may have to try [printing the image] a few times before the subject appears exactly where you want it.”

The Photo Mouse is as much a designer item as a mouse, and is pleasingly crafted in modern silver and black, with a blue LED in the scroll wheel and a white LED illuminating the photo area. There are 5 teflon pads on the underside which help it move smoothly on less than perfect surfaces. The cord is 4.5 ft. long and reaches my floorbound tower machine easily. Its ovaloid shape arches my fingers sufficiently to prevent inadvertent mouse clicks, a problem with mice that are too small or too flat. In other words, its function matches its form, so you will keep it after the novelty wears off.

Just in time for the holidays, the Photo Mouse makes a good stocking stuffer for the modern techno-intense family. Its fit and functionality takes it beyond its novelty value: in the long run it’s a very usable mouse. Get one for yourself, then be generous: treat the other computer-using members of your family. They may like it so much that they’ll put your picture inside. . .

This article has been provided to APCUG by the author solely for publication by APCUG member groups. All other uses require the permission of the author (see e-mail address above).

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