Those working with laptops or netbooks understand the pain of not having a spare mouse for navigation - the constant reliance on the trackpad can be both bothersome and uncomfortable. Carrying a spare full-sized mouse solves the problem, but leads to a different kind of inconvenience. This is where the ASUS VENTO MW-96 Wireless Mouse will fit in - as a compact and slim device built specifically for short-term comfort.
On first impression, the mouse looks pretty nondescript, and unassuming. Basically, it resembles a thick and flat rectangular flash drive of yesteryears. The version that we tested had a glossy surface prone to fingerprint smudges but in this case, it doesn't really matter, given that this is a purely functional device. Don't expect anything too fanciful or conducive for gaming here - the device is stripped down to the bare minimum, and has only the basic buttons and a scroll wheel.
It comes packaged with a mini USB-dongle that is slightly flimsy-looking and we reckon, deserves utmost attention in terms of safekeeping. The USB dongle does two main things: it connects the mouse wirelessly to a notebook or PC and charges the mouse. To do the latter, you have to fit the entire mouse with the dongle attached and connect it to a PC, where it will automatically start charging.
The state of the mouse can be easily discerned from the small LED indicator below the click wheel - red for low battery, and when attached, green for fully charged, and orange while charging. The specifications also indicated that this small powerhouse charges within an hour, compared to 4-5 hours, the average duration that other devices usually take. The mouse goes into auto-sleep mode when not in use, promising relatively long battery life, a factor that is especially essential for users on-the-go.
As mentioned, the USB dongle is rather delicate, so do exercise caution when you are trying to store it within the mouse itself. We found that if we pushed it in with too much force, the dongle gets stuck even with repeated presses on the release lock. Otherwise, the device works just as it promises: it charges fully within an hour and lasts for a sufficient amount of time (it's been more than 4 hours since the last charge as of writing).
It is responsive, if not a little jumpy, and the scrolling up and down on the scroll wheel is equally snappy. The major hurdle to pass is of course, getting used to its considerably thin and weedy form. There is obviously no raised, round "bottom" to rest your palm on, and the constant arching of your working finger can get pretty tiring.
At $38, the ASUS VENTO MW-96 Wireless Mouse is affordable and well-suited as a spare mouse, especially for those times when you are working out of office or home and you just need to do some brisk work on your laptop. We especially like the fact that the USB dongle doubles up somewhat as a charger, further reducing unnecessary bulk since the mouse is already about one-quarter the size of a regular one. Of course, if you are intending to use for an extended period, don't count on the device to tide you through - unless you are looking to cramp your fingers.