35 wireless mice- rechargable or not?
October 27, 2005 9:12 AM   Subscribe

My company is replacing all employees mice with the wireless variety. My question is whether it is worth spending the extra money to buy the rechargable mice with the docks rather than the standard battery operated ones. The mouse we are looking at for around $30/unit (Canadian) is here (company logo removed). I don't know what brand that is, but it features 256 unique ids so we don't get interference within the office, requires no software to run and has a nice surface for use to put our logo on. How long can I expect the batteries (2 AAA) to last an employee working an 8 hour day? I'm not crazy about having to change 70 batteries very often. Would rechargable batteries be an option here? A rechargable mouse runs between $70 and $80 and I'd have to buy them retail. Do these mice also offer many unique IDs to avoid interference? Do they require extra software to run? What other issues should I be aware of? The price difference is significant so I'm leary to recommend the rechargables.
posted by gfroese to Computers & Internet (31 answers total)
Would rechargable batteries be an option here?

posted by Rash at 9:18 AM on October 27, 2005

I worked in a 24/7 NOC that used the battery-powered wireless variety. Granted I wasn't there all the time, but I only recall us having to replace batteries maybe once every 4-6 months. The same went for the wireless keyboards.
posted by fourstar at 9:19 AM on October 27, 2005

When you do the calculations on this, work out the time it takes to go to a workstation and change the battery on a mouse. I'm betting that your ongoing time is worth more than the difference over the long run, though short term it makes no sense.

I use a wireless trackball at home and my 2 AA batteries last about a month. The most annoying part about that is the cheapest dollar store batteries seem to not have enough juice to support the trackball, and I end up buying good and expensive batteries instead.

But an aside, why do you have to buy retail? You should be able to contact a sizable retailer and get a discount for bulk purchase. If this is the way you want to go, email me and I can put you in touch with my contact over at TigerDirect (I gain nothing from doing this, just to be clear).
posted by Kickstart70 at 9:20 AM on October 27, 2005

Do these mice also offer many unique IDs to avoid interference?

My office switched to wireless recently, until the mice started interfacing with the wrong computers all over the office. It was only funny for the first few minutes.

In the end some folks switched back, others had some software changes (possibly with the drivers, ask an IT dude, sorry).
posted by Pollomacho at 9:22 AM on October 27, 2005

I can't speak to the interference issue but absolutely on the rechargable aspect. I had an Apple wireless mouse (best mouse I ever had) and got rid of it as the batteries were a fortune. I was replacing every 3 weeks or so.
posted by dobbs at 9:27 AM on October 27, 2005

Another data point: I had an MS wireless mouse for a couple of years, got about 2-4 hrs/day use. I don't remember ever replacing its batteries so that means I must have only changed them once or twice. The mouse was never more than about 18" from the receiver if that makes a difference.
posted by Opposite George at 9:32 AM on October 27, 2005

While I'm sure working with an internal contact at tiger direct is going to be fine, I would suggest checking their BBB report before doing business with them. The Canadian one seems most reliable.
posted by shepd at 10:14 AM on October 27, 2005

I haven't found any 1.5V rechargeable AA batteries

And you won't. The chemistry of NiCD and NiMH rechargeable batteries is such that they are 1.2V, period.

Get the rechargeable mice with the cradle if you get cordless mice, but yeah, I'd be worried about interference.

If you get past that and buy a lot of them, then a fun prank is to switch the mice around. ;)
posted by kindall at 10:15 AM on October 27, 2005

Rechargeable alkaline cells are available, run 1.5V/cell, have a similarly low self-discharge rate to single-use alkalines and seem ideally suited to wireless mouse use. Their main limitation is that unlike NiCd or NiMH batteries, they're not built for supplying high-current-drain devices.
posted by flabdablet at 10:26 AM on October 27, 2005

Using two cheap, no-name AAs, I get about a month's worth of use out of my wireless optical mouse before I have to replace the cells. I get about four months worth from my wireless keyboard. At about eight hours a day.

That's, what, a buck a month?

Consider the average time-to-replacement for your mice and the cost of the cradle. If it works out to less than twelve bucks a year, get the cradle. Otherwise, use batteries.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:27 AM on October 27, 2005

I had an Apple wireless mouse (best mouse I ever had) and got rid of it as the batteries were a fortune. I was replacing every 3 weeks or so.

God, Apple engineering sucks. Or you're buying batteries from the guy on the subway. I've had my MS wireless setup for over a year and have replaced the batteries only once or twice.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:35 AM on October 27, 2005

Why wouldn't it be an option to have a supply of batteries that employees were in charge of changing themselves? That way it's out of your hands.
posted by wordswinker at 10:49 AM on October 27, 2005

Looks like everyone has a unique experience; IME wireless mice will run on a single battery for a long time. I've found that the ones that use a single AA vs two, tend to last the longest. I'm not sure if these would be too small, but I have a gigabyte laptop mouse that came with a rechargable AAA in it, and instead of a cradle, the usb "dongle" comes with a detachable 18 inch cord, recharging the battery via the usb port. I don't know if interference would be an issue or not. FWIW, this mouse was $30 at tigerdirect. As a bonus, you can charge the mouse with a standard nokia phone charger.
posted by AllesKlar at 10:52 AM on October 27, 2005

My laptop came with an Acer Bluetooth optical mouse. The neat thing about it is that it also came with a USB cord that plugs into the mouse. Battery runs low? Plug in the USB cable and continue using the mouse as normal. Much easier on the support end - just make sure every employee has the charge cable and knows how to plug in if necessary - and even with daily use it really doesn't use much battery. Since first charging the mouse when I got it in August, I've only had to plug it in twice since then.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:55 AM on October 27, 2005

Response by poster: wordswinker: I think that's how it would work if used batteries. Just have a drawer full of batteries and employees can use them when they need them.
posted by gfroese at 11:13 AM on October 27, 2005

That sounds like a great feature, CLF. I keep a corded mouse nearby for the times I forget to put my wireless mouse on its charger and I run out of juice mid-day.

That's the thing. It took me a long time to establish the habit of setting the mouse on the cradle each night (does not need charging each night but it is easier this way). Not thinking about the batteries though in the end is nice. (I do not use many replacable batteries so am not the kind of person to have a stock sitting around. I know others though whose households are different and fresh batteries are as available as spare rolls of toilet paper.)

I don't recall why I felt the need to be rid of that one particular cord -- I must have thought it was interfering with my CAD work . In the end, if I just keep my desk neater, the corded variety suits me fine. Until a mouse charges simply by sitting on its mouse pad (or the desk itself), I will not buy another cordless. (I see myself eating my words when I need a new traveling mouse for my laptop.)

Personally, I think that your company should reconsider making the change. In my opinion, the added complexity at the scale you are describing does not yet outweigh the benefits.
posted by Dick Paris at 11:15 AM on October 27, 2005

In defense of Apple engineering -- my Apple wireless mouse only needs new batts every two or three months, as long as they're high quality (the Energizers designed for electronic devices last about 40% longer than normal batts). The batteries in my Apple wireless keyboard just died after a year.

Subway batteries are the epitome of crap -- I doubt they even fill them to capacity, they die so quickly.
posted by o2b at 11:17 AM on October 27, 2005

Oh, and to actually repsond to the original question, I would go with wireless mice that take regular batteries, and use rechargable AAs.

I've had mice with built-in rechargables and docks, and they were all crap. They died more quickly that I thought they should, and needed recharging too often (some wouldn't even last the whole day). If you forget to put it on the dock overnight, you have no mouse the next day, and no way to swap in new batteries.
posted by o2b at 11:20 AM on October 27, 2005

wordswinker: I think that's how it would work if used batteries. Just have a drawer full of batteries and employees can use them when they need them.

How many of those batteries do you suppose would end up in employees' kids' toys? Seriously. Anything that requires constant changes of batteries is going to be expensive, and annoying, and far more of either than you can imagine.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:26 AM on October 27, 2005

I'm in agreeance that corded mice would probably be the least headache-inducing.
posted by zsazsa at 11:43 AM on October 27, 2005

An optical mouse requires considerably more power than a ball mouse.

If you are going with cordless ball mouses, regular old generic brand alkalyne batteries bought at $10/50pack will be cheapest. That is a really bad choice though, ball mice suck balls.

Much better to get cordless optical mice because they work better. The rechargable batteries will probably have to be changed 'too often', so you will need the variety that comes with a cradle.

Actually though, I'm pretty sure you could work out a bulk purchase of some logitech keyboard/mouse combo with cradle for about $80 CDN. For example, Canada Computers has the LX700 refurb for $50 and the LX700 new for $80. Refurb should work fine, but the rechargable batteries expected life might be a little short, which is bad. I'll try to look into the number of channels it has... I can't see it being a problem though.

Buying cheap products for your employees is not good for productivity. Even though the total cost of ownership might be a little higher.
posted by Chuckles at 12:16 PM on October 27, 2005

another vote against wireless -- stick to corded optical mice. No hassles, lower cost, better resolution (some wireless mice have lower resolution than regular ones.) I've had various wireless and have gone back to corded as being just plain better.
posted by anadem at 12:18 PM on October 27, 2005

Err, even though the TCO might be a little lower, that is... Duh!
posted by Chuckles at 12:18 PM on October 27, 2005

We are supplying wireless mice as employees ask for them of both the rechargable and the replacement variety (user choice). Usability wise I haven't had any comments one way or another except that laptop users wan't the replaceable variety because the docking stations are too big to carry around on the rechargable type. Also the rechargeable variety tend to have fairly heavy batteries especially when compared to a corded mouse which I find to be a pain.

Enter the latest wonder mouse from Logitech: The G7 features a replaceable Li-Ion rechargable battery (comes with 2); a USB interface the size of a small flash drive and a dock to recharge the unused battery and slide your USB dongle into when your at your desk. All for ~C$100 at your OEM of choice.

I love this thing (the G7) because there is no more cord drag and it doesn't approximate a brick for mass as the replaceable batteries are very light.

The 2.5 day life of a single battery life is marketing spew; they really mean 4hrs/day X 2.5 day = 10hrs which is what I get. Which is fine as it allows me to work away from the dock over a weekend and not have battery trouble.

jacquilynne writes "How many of those batteries do you suppose would end up in employees' kids' toys?"

This is a valid concern (ask any supply clerk), the shrinkage rate on the NiMH batteries we supply in Digicams and 2-way radios we lend out to employees is unbelievable.
posted by Mitheral at 12:22 PM on October 27, 2005

Haha! Read and be amazed as Logitech dances around the issue of cordless products interfering with one another. I still don't think it is likely to be a problem, but that FAQ answer does not inspire confidence.
posted by Chuckles at 12:30 PM on October 27, 2005

I can't speak to interference, because we're separated by brick walls, but I can say that the batteries in the Microsoft wireless mice and keyboard combos typically last about six months. I think I've only had to replace my current set once, and I've had them for 9 months.

(Of course, with my mouse/keyboard at home, they always go bad at exactly the wrong moment, like when playing an online game...)
posted by SpecialK at 12:43 PM on October 27, 2005

It really depends on usage.

I have been all wireless for mouse/keyboards for about 3 years.

A regular MS mouse with 2-AA batteries usually lasts me 8hrs/day over 5 days/week for about 5 weeks.

A Bluetooth MS mouse with 2-AA batteries usually lasts me 8hrs/day over 5 days/week for 3-4 weeks.

My MS wireless desktop at home, which is only used 4-6hrs per week gets about 7months on a set of AA's.

The worst thing I find about battery-operated wireless mice is the guilt I feel when discarding batteries.

I've thought of getting a rechargable - but I don't like the shape of Logitechs' mice.

Some newer MS portable wireless mice have an off switch - which is useful for when you are not actively using the machine...
posted by jkaczor at 3:16 PM on October 27, 2005

I use an MS IntelliMouse Explorer 2, it takes AA batteries so I just put NiMHs in it (and ancient nicads a couple of times). This works just fine.

I've never paid much attention to how long they last though, they take 15 minutes to fully recharge, so it just doesn't matter to me. Be more of a problem with AAAs which I've always found to be frustratingly short lifed and plain stupid (sure, they're smaller, but they're not thaaat much smaller).

What's the advantage to you of wireless in this case though? Wired optical mice have most of the same advantages. I mean, I like the wireless and all, but it's not that big a deal.
posted by The Monkey at 3:36 PM on October 27, 2005

Response by poster: The "advantage" is that we are printing our service logo onto the actual mice and phones as these are the primary tools to contact our customers with. It's a last reminder of good service.

The thought process goes like this: Everyone already has a corded mouse, so if we're going to get uniform mice across the board, why not step up and get cordless.

I'm a little concerned about the longevitiy of the rechargable mice, and the fact that you are SOL if you do run out of juice during the day.
posted by gfroese at 5:45 AM on October 28, 2005

I'm confused, are these mice going to customers or employees?

Please forgive the tone, but... I think your employees already know who they work for - it is printed on their paychecks. I can't see the advantage of giving your employees an expensive but inferior product just because it has your logo on it
posted by Chuckles at 12:38 PM on October 28, 2005

Response by poster: Chuckles,
They are going to employees. And it is not the corporate logo that is going on it, but a service program logo, set as a reminder that each time you use your mouse, keep customer service in the front of your mind.

There is definitely a cost associated with doing this, but it is relatively small and shows commitment from management to this service program, at least that's what we're hoping.
posted by gfroese at 1:51 PM on October 31, 2005

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