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Bundle madness

Last week, Belkin announced the Bluetooth Wireless Optical Mouse. It caught my interest because since the 12” PowerBook has built-in Bluetooth, such a mouse would be convenient. I could just dig it out of my bag, turn it on and use it without having to plug a cable or wireless adapter.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information in the press release. I don’t know if it will be as bulky as the Microsoft equivalent, which is way too big to consider carrying with a 12” PowerBook. I know however that it will cost $80, that is ten bucks more than the Logitech MX700.

It’s all about features

The Belkin will have four buttons and a scroll wheel, which translates, from press release language, to three buttons and a clickable scroll wheel. The MX700 has seven buttons plus a clickable scroll wheel.

Optically speaking, I’m pretty sure the press release would mention it if the Belkin used the superior MX engine of Logitech, so I can safely assume it will not be as good as the MX700.

The MX700 comes with a docking station that charges its batteries and is also the wireless receiver. The Belkin probably uses alkaline batteries. You can replace them with rechargeable ones but you’ll need an external charger.

Finally, the Bluetooth Wireless Optical Mouse will come with a bundled Bluetooth adapter. When I read this, I decided to play naive and write to Belkin’s public relations to ask whether a version without adapter would be available and at which price.

 Lawyer bullshit

Unfortunately, I cannot cite their reply here because according to some legal text at the end of the message, it is strictly confidential. I will however take the risk of saying that the answer to the first question was either yes or no and that is was not yes.

I would not have bothered to blog this if I didn’t think it’s a silly idea (yes, that’s a double negation. I have no problem with that) so read on.

Follow the guide, please

There are a lot of cheap, non Bluetooth wireless mice on the market, like the MacAlly rfMouseJr ($49). Clearly, the benefit of a Bluetooth mouse is that it uses the same technology as the mobile phone or PDA you already own so you don’t need an additional USB port for a proprietary cable or adapter. Therefore, the people who are likely to buy such a mouse will often already own a Bluetooth adapter, whether they bought it or it came built-in on their computer.

When you buy the Belkin mouse, you’ll have an extra adapter. It’s no big deal, you can give it to a friend or sell it on eBay. Now this wireless mouse is very convenient. Why not add a Bluetooth keyboard so you can play UT2003 from the sofa using your brand new beamer? Guess what, every Bluetooth keyboard on the market also comes with a bundled adapter. So does the Logitech Cordless Presenter, by the way.

This is getting silly. You have three modern wireless peripherals, all of them using the same technology, and you had to pay for three Bluetooth adapters you have no use for. Knowing a Bluetooth adapter sells for $50, it is likely that a bundled adapter increases the end-user price of a peripheral by at least $35. It means that with your keyboard, mouse and Presenter, you wasted more than a hundred bucks on useless hardware. Well, I am fond of the silliness, but not when it involves such an amount of money.

You could try and open a museum of Bluetooth adapters and have people pay to see it so you recover a bit of the wasted money, but I doubt it would work in the long term. People would quickly get bored. Alternatively, you can bug the manufacturers of Bluetooth peripherals so they start selling their products without a Bluetooth adapter. I’m going to try the latter, even though I’m convinced it’s due to fail. I won’t be allowed to publish Belkin’s answer here but don’t worry, I’ll find a workaround.

It’s that time again…

…to learn the day’s lesson. Wheel of morality, turn, turn, turn; tell us the lesson that we should learn.

And the moral of the day is: “Forget Bluetooth and go buy a Targus Ultra Mini Optical Mouse with Retractable Cord, it’s only twelve bucks.”

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