The Arc Touch Mouse is the latest in the Arc line—a series of surprisingly design-minded peripherals from Microsoft. The Arc Touch takes the already high-concept line into the stratosphere with a design so innovative that it’s almost worth a buy for novelty’s sake alone.
What makes the mouse so creative? For starters, the form factor is unlike anything you’ve seen before. Designed for portability, the Arc Touch starts off as a perfectly flat, thin slab—ideal for slipping into the pocket of a laptop bag. When you want to actually use the mouse, you flex it, and it snaps into a full-size arch-shape mouse, reminiscent of the previous Arc Mouse. The mouse automatically turns on when arched and off when flat. The whole snap-bracelet-style process is oddly satisfying.
The Arc Touch’s flexible design lets it pack flat when it’s not in use.
Because the mouse is designed to be perfectly flat when not in use, it doesn’t have a traditional scroll wheel. In its place, the Arc Touch has a small, touch-sensitive strip between the left and right buttons. To scroll up or down, you flick your finger up or down the strip, and you double-tap to click. Even better, the touch pad is equipped with a small rumble mechanism and a speaker, which it uses to provide tactile and auditory feedback to simulate rolling an actual wheel. It’s a little gimmicky, but the feedback actually does make it easier to scroll using the pad without looking.
The Arc Touch is wireless, and a strong magnet holds the super-low-profile USB dongle to the mouse when not in use.
So that’s all very cool—does that mean we recommend the Arc Touch unconditionally? Not necessarily. If you’re looking for strong mouse fundamentals, the Arc Touch falls flat in a few places. For one, it’s not ergonomic at all. It’s not totally uncomfortable, mind you, but it feels just how you’d expect a smooth arc to feel as a mouse. Also, it’s only got the two main mouse buttons and the touch pad. If you’ve become used to the almost-standard thumb-side buttons, you’re going to miss them with the Arc Touch.
If you want a solid, ergonomic mouse for extended use, you should probably look elsewhere. However, if you’re looking for a portable mouse with a full-size feel and a head-turning design, the Arc Touch might be your rodent.