By: Kenneth Kwok
May 23, 2014
Near the end of last month, I headed down to Seattle with a few of my friends to attend an anime/Japanese cultural convention called Sakura-con. Let's just say I learned quite a few things I did not know about my friends and some "online acquaintances" as well. I have always been taught with the common adage of "don't judge a book by its cover" and "there is more than meets the eyes." These words could not have rang any more true, as I spent two nights and three days with this group of people. Sometimes, on a surface level, you feel like you know just about everything you need to know about a person; this is especially true when you consider them to be your friends. On the other hand, with people you meet online, most people are usually more cautious, and take some time to get to know them on both a superficial and possibly a deeper degree if they pass the first level. These adages do not only apply to people, but they also apply to various items and objects, such as the one product we will take a look at today. From Genius, we have a product called the Energy Mouse, which combines the common portable wireless mouse with the added bonus of using it as a power bank. Genius is known for creating a lot of products, and also being an OEM for other companies, with products ranging from mice to tablets. Let's take look at how the Genius Energy Mouse combines the portable wireless mouse and power bank.
Our test unit of the Genius Energy Mouse came in the standard brown corrugated cardboard box that we have become so accustomed to. This package was sent to us using USPS First-Class and transferred to Canada Post from KYE's American offices in California, USA. KYE International Corp. is the parent of the Genius brand in the US and around the world. Handling of our package was fairly good, as there are barely any signs of wear on the shipping box. A bunch of foam packaging peanuts were used to cushion our sample unit, in addition to a plastic bag, which was used to keep things out of the retail packaging. All of this combined ensured that our product arrived safely and in pristine condition.
After removing the Genius Energy Mouse from the assortments of packaging material, we are greeted with the retail packaging for this product. It has one of those full plastic box designs, which can be slightly harder to open, but they do a good job of displaying the product in a retail setting, as you are able to view the whole mouse itself without removing any of the packaging. The Genius Energy Mouse is displayed fully on the right side of the box where only plastic is used to hold it in place. On the right side of the mouse is a small cardboard cutout that has the box advertising material with a mostly black theme. A generic looking picture of a businessman can be found near the top left corner, while a picture of the mouse charging a seemingly standard phone with an iOS interface can be found just below it. Below all of this are various specifications and information about the product with icons for ease of understanding. From the above photo, we can see we have a 2700 mAh battery, and a whole array of other features from left to right including: For Smartphone, Rechargeable, Reserve Power, 2.4 GHz, 1200 dpi, and a Rubber Hand Grip. (Yes, a rubber hand grip, such feature!) In addition to all of this, the mouse itself is also Windows 8 compatible. This is not to mention the "Wireless Mouse to Power up Smartphone" slogan; how could one possibly resist such a multifaceted product?
Before we move on to the good stuff, let's take a break and look at the specifications of the Genius Energy Mouse, as obtained from the manufacturer's website:
- Part No.: Blue: 31030107101; Red: 31030107102; Silver: 31030107103; Pink: 31030107104
- Buttons: Four (left, right, middle button with scroll, and charging button)
- Port: USB
- OS Support: Windows® 8 /Vista/XP or Mac OSX 10.4+
- Battery: 2700mAh Li-Polymer
- RF frequency: 2.4GHz
- Resolution(dpi): 1200 dpi Infrared
- Dimension(W x H x D) mm: 107.7 x 65.3 x 33.1
- Body Weight(g): 120
- Package Size(W x H x D) mm: 173 x 210 x 50
Capacity: 2700 mAh
Input: Micro USB ; 5V / 1A (Max)
Ouptut: USB x 1 ; 5V / 1A (Max)
Taking everything out of the packaging, we are left with the items found above. From the left to the right, we have the always important instruction manual, Genius Energy Mouse itself, Pico USB wireless adapter, and a short Micro USB cable. In terms of placement inside the box, there was just a lot of plastic that held these individual pieces in separate compartments. I won't lie, it feels like it has been quite a while since I've seen a physical instruction manual for such a product. Most products now come with instructions online, or have no instructions at all, since they are self explanatory. The most surprising thing for me was that the instruction manual was actually useful; there are times when we as guys may just say we don't need the instruction manual -- we can figure it out ourselves. Indeed, this is a good way of doing things at times, but taking a look at the instruction manual can be more useful than you think. I mean, how else would I have known to "Use the standard cable or it could cause damage to Energy Mouse"? These are all important facts that most people might have problems with, I mean how many times have you not wanted to just shove random things into USB ports. On a more serious note, I was impressed by the fact that these instructions were printed in twenty six different languages.
When it comes to size, the Genius Energy Mouse clocks in at 107.7 x 65.3 x 33.1 mm (W x H x D). It's about the size of a standard wireless laptop mouse, and also has some of those design features to boot. That would include the usage of a slightly flatter surface found in some mobile mice to make up for their lack of size. The shape of the mouse is also fairly interesting, as it comes in a curved rectangular shape, if I may call it that. The standard components can be found at the top of the mouse, including the two mouse buttons and the scroll wheel. In addition to those standard buttons, we have an additional one located under the scroll wheel, which is used to turn on the battery indicator and the USB charger as well. We'll go into detail a bit later on in our article today, as this is one of the major draws to this device. Located slightly to the right and below the marked power button are four LEDs, which are used to indicate the current battery level. At the bottom right of the mouse is some rubber gripping with little waffle ridges to provide additional friction with your hands when using the mouse.
In terms of build quality, the Genius Energy Mouse is all around solid. From the well crafted plastic construction with clean curves and well pieced together components, there is not much to complain about here. The only complaint one may have is the grip is only placed on one side, and built for comfort for right handed mouse users. Left handed mouse users may have a bit of an issue with the grip being on the opposite side; otherwise this mouse is ambidextrous. Additional gripping can also be found on the two sides in a C shape on the right, and having it mirrored on the left side. This provides a nice level of comfort, and is one of the many other small touches to make this feel more like a higher end product.
As one can see from our photos, this mouse is blue, and a fairly safe color choice. This mouse also comes in red, silver, and pink. Speaking of pink, all I could recall was the SilverStone Air Penetrator SST-AP121-USB pink USB fan I wrote a lounge article on years ago. If I hadn't asked for the product on my phone while skimming over the manufacturer's website, my manliness would have made me choose the pink color. However, there are some things in life we will regret for a long time, this will just add on to be one of the many.
Flipping the mouse over, we are shown the bottom of the Genius Energy Mouse. Right in the center of this side are the usual model numbers, certifications, and various other cautions and warnings. The optical sensor which can scan at 1200 dpi, and can be found right above this area slightly indented inside the mouse body, so it won't ever have a chance of getting damaged or completely blocked. A small portion of the mouse is jutted up from the top area as a micro USB port, and is located at this area near the top of the Genius Energy Mouse. The pico USB dongle can also be stored just above the optical sensor, as there is a place to plug it in for storage. To the left of the storage area is the power switch, which is used to switch the mouse on and off. While there was a power button at the top, that one is just to access the battery for charging your USB devices and check the current battery level. Four feet on the sides of the mouse provide glide for the mouse, so that the base of the mouse never directly touches the surface.
Turning our attention to the Pico USB dongle, we can see just how small the USB adapter really is. Putting it next to the now defunct Canadian penny, the size is almost identical, which is quite impressive since there are still supposedly portable wireless dongles that are easily twice the size of this one. On the other side of this dongle, there is a cutout opposite from the contacts to the USB port as this provides the space necessary to stick the dongle into the storage slot underneath the mouse for transportation.
For once, I decided to take our product with us on a road trip to maximize the potential usage of the Genius Energy Mouse. Taking our sample unit of Genius Energy Mouse with me on my trip to Sakura-con was quite the experience, I'll try to share as much as I possibly can here. The one thing I should point out is that a lot of people at the convention were not very tech savvy and it led to some interesting situations. My first usage of our sample unit was using it in our hotel room as a standard mouse for my netbook. (Yes, netbook, those were a thing at some point.) Anyway, I can safely say it works just like any other wireless mouse and has a fairly decent range to boot. The 1200 dpi optical sensor worked as I would have expected it too, it's not exactly a gaming mouse in any sense, but for a portable mouse, this is more than good enough. Getting the mouse connected was as easy as plugging in the Pico USB dongle and waiting for the drivers to be installed. Charging the mouse is just as easy; it's literally as easy as plugging in the micro USB cable into the top of the mouse and into any powered USB port.
The Genius Energy Mouse provides both 1.0A input and 1.0A output. A standard USB port allow for up to 1.5A output, so the Genius Energy Mouse is just slightly under the maximum. Compared to a USB hub or standard USB port, the draw from a phone would only be about 1.0A to 1.5A at max. When we used the mouse to charge both our HTC One X phone and Google Nexus 7 tablet, the charging time was fairly close to a regular computer USB port. The product works just as intended in the charging front, and also provides a 2700mAh battery, which is not exactly large, but it makes sense given the size and weight. It'd be easy to say a bigger battery would give more battery life, but it wouldn't be very good for a portable laptop mouse. On the bright side, the last 10% of the battery is reserved for mouse usage only, so the mouse will always be usable, even when the battery level is getting low.
Some people go to conventions to chat, network, and have the slight possibility of getting some numbers from interesting gals. (Yes, I've seen people do this in all sorts of social gatherings. Some moves are just borderline crazy and definitely approach creepy.) Others would be more than happy to just walk around at conventions, and just keep to themselves while taking in the atmosphere. For me, I'd say I fit more into the latter category (You sure? - Editor), especially when I plan to go around using this power bank mouse to charge my phone on the go. At first, I left my phone in my bag to charge, but I felt it would be an interesting experiment to have it in a public area and see how random people would react to it.
My real life friends were the first to comment, but since they all have some form of technology background, it wasn't all that surprising. They did state that this was a good concept, and makes for a good combination of portable charger and laptop mouse. Next up, my online friends of whom I met for the first time at the event said it was an interesting product, but seemed really out of place if it wasn't hidden. Some other comments I got from random people that passed by were usually mixed, some were confused as to what was going on, and why I would need a mouse for my phone. I think the most interesting comment I heard was, "Why doesn't your phone move the block?" It took a while to understand what they meant, but they thought the phone was supposed to move the mouse around for some reason. If that wasn't awkward enough, I also took it with me to a restaurant, and the comments there were equally amusing. Let's just say if you plan to use this device, be prepared for some interesting comments and conversations. One question I asked almost universally was whether they thought the mouse would look better in pink. To my surprise, nine out of ten people said it would be a nice color and would provide a flamboyant flair to the product. (I'm not kidding...)
If there's one thing I have learned from writing this lounge article, I'd argue it's a good idea to get pink products. Why? Pink products are more flamboyant, and apparently has a wider audience than more conservative colors. Spending a weekend using the Genius Energy Mouse taught me a few interesting lessons about technology products and the general populace. First off, there is no reason not to use technology products anywhere you go; people are more accepting than you think. Secondly, having a portable charger is great when you're on a trip and use your electronic devices more often than usual. Overall, the Genius Energy Mouse is a great idea, and proves there are still many hybrid products that on a surface level may seem obscure, but work out really well in the end. If you're in the need for a power bank and could also use a laptop mouse, the Genius Energy Mouse makes a good case for your considerations.
Genius provided this product to APH Networks for the purpose of evaluation.
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