First Looks: Genius Navigator 380

A Chatty Mouse

A Chatty Mouse

Most operating systems, games and programs rely on the mouse more than anything else. In fact, a computer would be impossibly difficult to use without a mouse. Genius' take of mice though is a little different. The new Navigator 380 is a chic mini mouse that combines the functionality of a mouse with Internet phone functions.

A stroke of genius

With its gray and black hard plastic construction, the Navigator 380 looks just like any ordinary mouse. However, upon installing the drivers, users will find tons of programs that would make life much easier than before. For one, the Navigator program comes with Mail Checker, a program that regularly checks mail (via POP3 server) and notifies users when new messages arrive. In addition, various functions (like opening Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, Zoom In/Out, Cut, Paste, and more) are all within quick access simply by clicking the 3rd mouse button. And with 1,200dpi, the Navigator 380 is as accurate and responsive a mouse as any.

Delving into the advanced territory, the Navigator 380 comes delightfully bundled with a VoIP software capable of running up to six different IM (Instant Messaging) programs (Yahoo Messenger, MSN, Skype, Googletalk, QQ, and AIM) concurrently through one master interface. With this, users may chat, send files, message friends, search and add for new/existing friends without having to juggle between different in one convenient program. Besides the contact list, the software also includes a Phone Book, Dial function (for SkypeOut calls), Call History, Voice Mail, and Recording functions.

The party piece of the humble Navigator 380 however, is its ability to transform into an Internet phone with a single flip - just as you would with a clamshell phone.

In its phone state, there are seven buttons (Call, End, Volume Up and Down, List Up and Down, and OK button) to facilitate easy usage, which is assisted by an LED light near the scroll wheel that notify users of incoming call.

Call me & my mouse will answer

Making a VoIP call via the Navigator 380 is a snap, involving nothing more than choosing a contact and clicking the call button. If you are not comfortable using the VoIP Mouse program, you will be glad to know that the Navigator can be used with any other IM program.

Though it has a split "personality", the voice quality of the Navigator 380 through the bundled Genius VoIP Mouse application and Skype program is impressive to say the least. Throughout our test conversations, noise and interruptions were minimal, allowing us to hold a smooth conversation as if it was done through a landed line. Unfortunately, for all its dual-purpose, the Navigator 380 has a rather disappointing flaw in that both functions cannot be used simultaneously. Whenever it is used as an Internet phone, you'll be left without a mouse, which means surfing the Internet will amount to a challenging if not impossible activity.

Final Thoughts

On the innovative front, we must take our hats off to Genius for creating the Navigator 380. Not only is it a responsive mouse for everyday use, it's also a capable clamshell Internet phone. If you want something fun, convenient and fresh, then the Navigator 380 is just the mouse for you