This cordless input device's pen is mightier than its mouse

This cordless input device's pen is mightier than its mouse

Graphire wireless pen hits the mark, but mouse is hard to handle and USB links are complicated

By Carlos A. Soto

GCN Staff

Wacom Technology Corp.'s wireless mouse and pen aim to be a dynamic duo for creative input through a PC's Universal Serial Bus. But only half of the duo is worth buying.

Cordless input peripherals have been around for years'they're ancient history in the computer industry. Newer and better models keep showing up at lower prices, so it's time for a USB mouse-pen duo.

Box Score'''''''''''


Wireless pen and mouse with USB pad

Wacom Technology Corp.;

Vancouver, Wash.; tel. 360-750-8882

Price: $100

+ Sleek form factor

+ Solid performance and good features

' CD-ROM and hard drives noisy

Real-life requirements:

Windows 9x or Mac OS, USB port,

CD-ROM drive, 5M of free storage

Wacom's Graphire mouse and pen come with an 8.5-inch-square pad, which connects to a USB port. The wireless mouse and pen must roll and write on that pad for the PC to pick up their movements.

The flimsy Wacom mouse weighs 2 ounces; most other mice weigh 3 ounces or more without their cords. An ounce makes a big difference in the feel and handling.

The absence of a little ball underneath makes the wireless mouse hard to control. It must rest on the pad's 3.5- by 5-inch active area. Moving the mouse without a cord attached feels liberating, but the active area of the pad sets limits on freedom. On the plus side, the mouse does have a scroll wheel.

The better half of the Wacom Graphire duo is the wireless pen, which performs with impeccable accuracy.

The pen is much better'more precise and, once you get used to it, a lot easier to use. When the button is pushed forward toward the pad, it simulates a right mouse click. Pushed backward, it simulates a left click.

I used the pen often and liked its precise performance. But getting the pen to work turned out to be quite a feat. USB plug-and-play connections should be simpler.

Even though no conflicts arose when I used other input devices at the same time, the computer would always freeze whenever I turned it off and then back on. It stalled at the beginning of the boot process, and I always had to disconnect the Wacom pad to complete the boot. No other USB device I connected caused this problem.

The Wacom software installation was quick, easy and trouble-free. I ran the setup file, and Microsoft Windows 98 recognized the pad as soon as I connected it to the USB port.

In the end, I disconnected the Wacom mouse and used my corded mouse in conjunction with the Wa- com pen. Together, the wired and the wireless made a better pair.


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