The Microsoft Sculpt Touch Mouse is a compact wireless mouse that connects via Bluetooth and has been designed with the touch-centric tiled user interface of Windows 8 in mind. With that in mind, instead of a traditional scroll wheel it features a touch-sensitive strip that's capable of horizontal and vertical scrolling as a means of navigating through Microsoft's new operating system.
It's also useful for those without Windows 8 (or indeed Windows 7), as it's compatible with Macs. Factor in an ergonomic, ambidextrous design, and you've got a solid choice for a mouse that works for lefties and righties alike.
Design and features
The Sculpt Touch strikes a nice balance between portability and ergonomic soundness. Measuring 65mm by 95mm, it's roughly 75 per cent the size of a traditional mouse, so while it's not nearly as tiny as the Wedge Touch Mouse, it's still small enough to slip into your pocket or bag. Unlike some other portable mice, its profile isn't low to the point where it doesn't comfortably fit in the palm of your hand.
The plastic chassis sports a tasteful pewter finish, which is complemented by touches of silver in a strip around the perimeter and the touch-sensitive strip. The only departure from its all-plastic construction is the black rubber material on the sides that serves as a grip. A light directly beneath the touch-sensitive strip, meanwhile, indicates when the battery's running low or when the Sculpt is in pairing mode. It's no coincidence that the face of the Sculpt Touch is symmetrical, as it’s ambidextrously designed to work with right and left-handed folks alike, unlike, say, the HP Wi-Fi Touch Mouse X7000, which is geared solely towards righties.
The Sculpt Touch uses two AA batteries, which Microsoft asserts will last up to nine months. For obvious reasons, we weren't able to independently verify this claim, so we'll have to take it at face value. At any rate, an on/off switch on the underside helps preserve battery life. Alongside the on/off switch there’s a Bluetooth connection button, and two glide pads to ensure smooth movement.
The glowing blue light emanating from beneath the Sculpt Touch signifies Microsoft's BlueTrack technology, which gives the mouse the ability to track movements on a wider range of desk surfaces since its light beam is markedly larger than the laser beam used in standard mice. Additionally, as we’ve already mentioned the Sculpt Touch is compatible with Bluetooth-equipped Mac computers, wherein its touch-sensitive strip functions as an ordinary scroll wheel would. Given its ambidextrous design and cross-platform capability, it's one of the more versatile mice you'll find in the market. The Sculpt Touch is covered by a three year warranty.
Despite its small size, the Sculpt Touch fits comfortably in the palm. Moreover, its combination of BlueTrack technology and glide pads make for an exceptionally smooth mousing experience. As is the case with the Wedge Touch Mouse, sliding a finger vertically or horizontally across the touch-sensitive strip allows the user to cycle though the tiles on the Windows 8 desktop.
A nice touch (no pun intended) is the manner in which the strip simulates the tactile sensation one gets from a typical scroll wheel, as sliding gestures produce a haptic feedback that feels akin to spinning the famed “Price is Right” wheel. Within a program such as Internet Explorer, the touch-sensitive strip allows for horizontal and vertical scrolling, as well as hyper-scrolling, both of which can be stopped simply by a gentle tap on the strip. Additionally, clicking the strip over a link opens it up in a new tab.
The Microsoft Sculpt Touch Mouse is a solid mouse in nearly every respect. Its compact size doesn't come at the expense of ergonomic comfort, and its ambidextrous design and ability to work in Windows and Mac operating systems makes it quite a versatile performer. It particularly shines under Windows 8.
However, all that said, Microsoft’s Touch Mouse from last year offers full gesture support, and will soon be updated to make it fully compatible with Windows 8. Users with that mouse, then, should stick with it, and anyone in the market for a new touch-sensitive mouse would likely benefit from its greater functionality.