First look: An anti-bacterial mouse to go with that soap

September 25, 2006: 3:13 PM ET

Germ Free Wireless Laser Mouse

Iogear

$39.95

USB, RF

Windows 2000, XP; Mac OS X 10.1.5+

Utility Factor: Low/Medium

Cool Factor: High

I could barely bring myself to give a high "cool" rating to a product that has "Germ Free" as the first two words in its name – the marketing seemed to be playing a little too much to the obsessive-compulsive crowd. But once I popped in the batteries, plugged it in and took the darn thing for a test run, I couldn't resist. (Plus, the words "germ free" don't appear anywhere on the little mouse itself.)

Setup took just a couple of minutes, and the mouse came with a free pair of AAA batteries. Replacements cost about $5 or $6 for an 8-pack, or the same amount for a 20-pack, if you're willing to wait for shipment from Amazon.com. The mouse was nice and responsive; you'll need a free USB port to plug in the RF transmitter, which wirelessly communicates with the mouse. In my tests it had a range of about 7 feet.

How is this germ-free? It's got what Iogear is calling a "Nano-Shield," which amounts to a Titanium Dioxide coating. When light hits it, it resists many bacteria and germs. This is a particularly good thing if you're sharing a mouse at a common computer with, say, various people in the office or a kid who goes to school and becomes a carrier for various vermin in the process.

Which leads us to the low/medium Utility Factor I gave the mouse. Two reasons for that:

1. It's the size of a travel mouse, which makes it nice and portable but also makes it too small for comfortable use by people with medium or large hands.

2. It uses RF (radio frequency) rather than Bluetooth, which makes it simple to set up but also increases the chance it could interfere with other wireless gadgets around the house. I haven't tested it in enough settings to know how much of a problem that is, but it's definitely worth noting.

Bottom line: If you're looking for a cool travel mouse that resists gunk, Iogear's Germ Free Wireless Laser Mouse could be for you. For everyday or around-the-house use, it's probably not.

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