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January 26, 2008 by Devon
Quiet Mice by Quiet Mouse
The solution to noisy mice?
When most people want to do something about their noisy mouse problem, they're
generally looking for a mousetrap. Even within the
niche of silencing enthusiasts, silencing a computer mouse is going to
extremes. After all, a mouse just doesn't make that much noise does it? Take
a moment and listen to the mouse you're using right now. Click the buttons.
Scroll the mouse wheel. Chances are, the clicks are noisy and sharp, and the
wheel scrolls with a rattle, not a smooth whir.
You've never noticed these sounds because, for the most part, the sound of
the mouse functions as audio feedback to confirm that your mouse is working
the way you want it. You've come to expect the clicks so (hopefully), they don't
bother you. Now, take a step back and imagine trying to sleep next to someone
who's working with a mouse that clicks every few seconds. With nothing to occupy
your mind, those mouse clicks could be quite distracting before you finally
doze off. Obviously, this isn't an ideal arrangement, but its not an uncommon
one in a small apartment or a university dorm room.
This is the kind of situation where buying a quiet mouse starts to sound a
little less crazy. In closed quarters, the sound of someone working can be maddening
when you're trying to relax. Of course there's also the crazy few who manage
to distract themselves with their work noise. If this sounds like you,
you'll love this article!
Editor's Note: Keep in mind that a mouse is always used in conjunction with a keyboard, and a typical keyboard is usually far noisier than any mouse. There are, however, many keyboards that are designed to be quiet and marketed as such. It's a topic of long interest, as the discussion thread in the forums entitled Recommend a Silent Mouse and Keyboard? attests: It has been active since 2002, and at time of writing, has nearly 400 posts.
Quiet Mouse sells two models, with plans to expand their model line in the
Unsurprisingly for such a specialized product, examples of quiet mice are few
and far between. Some of the earliest examples came from the Japanese market,
presumably because space in Japan is at such a premium. However, a British company
called Silent Mouse
brought the concept to Europe, and now Quiet
Mouse plans to do the same in North America.
At the time of writing, Quiet Mouse still appears to be in startup mode. Their
web site is still under construction, and their samples did not ship with
retail packaging or documentation. Presumably, these issues will be addressed
as the company establishes itself. There have been some reports that the mice
are not compatible with Windows Vista, but a quick test on our Vista system
did not reveal any immediate problems. Quiet mouse shipped us two samples: A
shaped right-handed mouse, and a more symmetrical universal model.
RIGHT HANDED QUIET MOUSE
Big and comfortable, but for right-handers only.
The right-handed mouse bears a striking resemblance to Thanko's
Silent Mouse 2. The shape is the same but so are countless other
mice on the market. However, most other mice do not share the ridged thumb grip
on the right side or the semitransparent silicone scroll wheel. The only visible
difference is the inclusion of a pair of forward and back buttons on the Thanko
that are missing on the Quiet Mouse. Likely as not, both come from the same
factory somewhere in China.
This mouse has also been examined
in detail by SPCR forum regular and mouse connoisseur, Shadowknight.
Judging by appearance alone, this mouse looks cheap. The silver finish mars
easily, revealing the black base underneath. It is also very light (80 grams
according to Shadowknight's review) which doesn't help things. However, once
the mouse is put into use, it feels much better. The silver buttons are
actually quite easy to grip, and they don't feel slippery like some cheaper
plastics. The black body appears to have a coating of rubber over it, which
gives it a nice soft feel that is still easy to hold on to. Best of all is the
soft silicone scroll wheel.
The bottom is generic, with no information about the OEM save the usual "Made
The mouse seemed quite comfortable after a full day of use, though this opinion
is entirely subjective different mice fit different hands differently.
The only drawback was the light weight, which seemed far too little after using
a battery-powered cordless mouse for seven years. This too is personal preference,
so make sure you know what you like or prepare to adapt.
In terms of noise, the Quiet Mouse delivered on its promise and provided far,
far quieter performance than the Logitech I'm used to. In fact, the two primary
buttons were completely silent during ordinary use. Near-field listening revealed
some structural noise as the plastic body flexed, but the buttons themselves
made no noise whatsoever. Occasionally, the right button would contact the body
of the mouse and make a light clunk, but this was so quiet it was not audible
from an ordinary sitting position.
The drawback of these buttons was the complete lack of tactile feedback. It
was nearly impossible to sense when the button was depressed so difficult
that frequently I ended up double-clicking accidentally as I tried to sense
when the button had clicked. Clicking and dragging was another skill I had to
relearn. But, by the end of a day's use, these were no longer issues, so once
the learning curve has been mastered, it should be possible to continue working
as normal. A more serious problem was the impossibility of knowing whether or
not the mouse actually registered a click. In casual use, this was not an issue
because typically there was enough visual feedback to confirm. However, in situations
where the computer was too busy to respond right away, I was sometimes left
wondering for a few seconds before I knew whether I had clicked or not.
The scroll wheel is soft silicone good for noise and comfort.
Aside from the two main buttons, the scroll wheel is the only other source
of noise. Unlike most wheels, this one scrolls smoothly under slight tension,
without the "bumpy" feeling that most wheels have. For some this may
make precise line-by-line scrolling more difficult because there is no tactile
feedback when the wheel has scrolled to the next "bump". Personally,
I use my mouse wheel for quick scrolling rather than precision movements, so
I preferred the smooth scrolling wheel over the more traditional kind.
The benefit of the smooth wheel is, of course, low noise. Spinning the wheel
produced a muted slipping sound rather than the rapid chatter of a regular mouse.
It wasn't silent, but it was miles better than every other mouse in the lab.
Pressing down on the wheel mouse was a disappointment. Unlike the two primary
buttons, this third "button" produced a noisy click just like a regular
mouse. There was nothing quiet or silent about it. There is supposed to be a
new version in development that fixes this problem, but we have to wonder how
things ended up this way in the first place with so much effort and attention
put into silencing the other buttons, why couldn't the same thing be done to
the middle button?
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