A long time ago, I decided to take a chance on an interesting Kickstarter about a rather unique mouse called the Mycestro. (Technically, I forgot about it for a while and by the time I checked back the crowd-funding period was over. Some time later I pre-ordered directly from the website they eventually set up, in time for some kind of discount. But that’s not very important here.) After a number of delays and problems – relatively well communicated, but still unfortunate – I eventually got a small and surprisingly light package a few days ago. I’ve used it for a few hours now, and while I’m sure my opinions will change as time goes on it seems worthwhile to set down my original thoughts on the device, partly in chronological order.
What I won’t talk about is how I’ve used it and its quality as a mouse replacement, because frankly in the time since it arrived I haven’t had any occasions where it’s been necessary (most of my time is spent on a desktop computer with a real mouse, or a tablet with little need for one). If I’d received it a week earlier I could have tested just how well it works in confined spaces (specifically, airplanes), but such is life. There’s also no way to test the 3D tracking ability, but hopefully there’ll be some software out soon that takes advantage of it.
- The packaging was great – it looked professional, with no wasted space or material. It’s all recyclable cardboard as well. There’s a quick start guide included of similar quality, both in terms of its appearance and helpfulness.
- Since it shows up to computers as a normal mouse, the initial setup was trivial. A dongle plugs into a spare USB port, and the device itself comes pre-paired. It starts working almost immediately!
- The Mycestro itself seems to be very well designed. It’s incredibly light, but doesn’t feel fragile. The outer plastic doesn’t have any sharp or rough edges, and the inner side (wrapping around the finger) has a good texture. I haven’t had any problems with rashes or things like that, unlike certain other recent wearables. In fact, once you get it comfortable on the finger it’s light and mostly unobtrusive enough to almost be forgotten.
- The responsiveness of the device – particularly latency – has not been an issue at all. I’m sure there’s some delay but it’s too small for me to bother measuring.
- Controlling the device feels natural – not quite on the level of pointing directly at the screen or whole-hand gestures, but close enough for my liking. The mouse moves only when a finger is on the device’s touchpad, so errant clicks and movements are rare. The touchpad itself is divided into three sections, corresponding to the left/middle/right mouse buttons, with the bottom edge functioning as actual pressable buttons. Each has a raised edge to find it by touch, and is large enough I never had trouble hitting the wrong button. You can also scroll by moving along the touchpad in either direction.
I have had some problems with the device. Despite the length of this section I’m still happy; these aren’t outright faults, mostly issues arising from learning a new control method or unsubstantiated concerns.
- Though most of the device feels sturdy, there’s a bendable tab that helps it to fit securely on fingers of various sizes. Since I tend to adjust this every time I put it on, I’m a little worried that it will wear out or break, making the Mycestro unusable. (It looks like it might be individually removable, but getting it replaced/repaired would still be a hassle if that does happen.)
- The three buttons are just large enough to impede bending (and thus typing with) my index finger. Moving it along or around the finger makes typing easier, but the device buttons less comfortable to reach. I don’t think my finger is unusually-sized, but the device is light enough that I can find a compromise between the two positions and be content, and eventually not notice it. I imagine this would be entirely ignorable if you don’t touch-type, or maybe even tend to wear rings.
- Apart from the quick start guide provided (duplicated on the website) and a few FAQs and short videos, there’s apparently no manual or single place for information about using it. It would be nice to have a few more specifics on how best to use it, what the lights mean (see below) and better explanations of some software features.
- The device potentially seems accurate enough, but I need practice controlling it. When I first put it on, I was almost entirely unable to make horizontal figure-of-eights, but a few hours later I can get it to small targets or place a cursor in text fairly reliably. I’m still working on ‘quickly’.
- I had problems with the ‘tap’ feature, both by making unintentional mouse-clicks when moving, and accidentally moving the mouse when trying to tap a small target. For the time being I solved this by disabling the feature and only using the physical buttons, and hopefully enabling them again in future when I have better control. I have a similar problem occasionally where I move the mouse slightly when lifting my thumb off the touchpad.
- The software wasn’t included with the device, or easily downloadable – it needed to be ‘purchased’ from the website store. (It’s free, but apparently discounted from a $30 price – a little worrying!) You don’t need the software, but it allows for a few extra settings: cursor speed/acceleration, scrolling speed, disabling the tap clicks, scroll direction, firmware updates and input mapping. The last of those – changing what the taps and clicks do – is still disabled for the time being, and I’m not sure why.
- The battery life hasn’t seemed incredibly impressive. This might be a problem with the device ceasing charging too early, not the battery itself. There are some troubleshooting steps and solutions if so but it hasn’t been long enough to know if they’ve made a difference. I would have liked to see some kind of charge percentage visible somewhere in the software or Windows device settings, since a single blinking light doesn’t give you much information.
- Despite its relatively small size, the dongle sticks out further than another Bluetooth receiver I have plugged in (and I don’t think I can only use one of them). There’s also a tiny green LED on the dongle, but it’s not bright enough to be a problem.
- It took me months to realise that the product’s name is meant to be pronounced ‘maestro’, not ‘my-ses-tro’. I’ll probably never be able to train myself to say it the right way.
- I seem to get better control from tilting my wrist rather than moving it. It generally works how I expect it to regardless of orientation, but occasionally I’ll get the opposite movement or end up with a strange curve instead of a straight line.
- I’m a little curious about whether the extra wrist movement is good or bad. There’s a chance of gorilla arm, but on the other hand I suppose it’s better than holding it at a bad angle for hours on end.
- The device has two lights – green and blue – that indicate various statuses and problems. After getting confused while sorting out the battery problem, I put together a table of the various combinations that I’m pretty sure is correct. Sadly I’m not skilled enough to get a decent looking table in WordPress, so an image will have to do.