Mice are something that has settled into a fairly understood form factor. There may be numerous small differences, customisation and button changes possible but on the whole a mouse looks like a mouse. With this on in mind I was surprised to meet the Penclic Wireless Mouse B3 and its bigger cousin the B2. The B3 is a bluetooth mouse that looks a little as if someone has taken a tiny travel mouse and slammed a pen into the top of it.
Looking closer at the B3 and it starts to become a little more clear. First impressions are that it is a pen interface device but a better way to describe it would be a pen mouse. The base is weighted and has a normal mouse sensor in it. To move the cursor the whole unit is slid over the mousepad. The pen is attached to the base via a ball joint that lets you hold it at any angle. The angle you are holding at makes a difference in your comfort but does not effect the movement of the cursor at all.
The version that I was able to review has two buttons on the pen and a scroll wheel in between them. The B3 has 4 buttons with the scroll wheel. To use it you hold it like a pen and slide the whole thing around the mousepad. On lower DPI settings this means moving the pen in quite large moments with your whole arm usually moving and on higher settings the movement is mainly in the wrist and hand.
So why the odd design? Penclic say the design is more ergonomic and more natural. Rather than having your hand flat and moving around in one plane the pen design lets you have your hand in very near what would be a natural rest position and move the cursor with smaller movements.
So did I find it comfortable? Yes. With reservations. After the initial getting used to it period which lasted about a day I found that there were some clear advantages and some disadvantages to the B3’s design.
Excluding gaming in short if you are using the Penclic for longer periods I found it superior to a normal mouse design but if you are typing then moving hand to the mouse, moving the cursor and then back to the keyboard a standard mouse is easier. It takes a little longer to hold and get seated in your hand which can add up significantly over a few hours work.
The buttons are relatively easy to push and acceptably positioned but I had problems with two aspects. Clicking and dragging was difficulty – because one button is directly opposite the other I found myself pressing and holding the left button and then accidentally clicking the right button as well when I tried to move the whole unit. The scroll wheel is reasonably well positioned and easy to move but pressing it for the third button click was also an issue as I found myself having to reposition my grip to be able to click.
Gaming is another situation. I should be clear that the Penclic does not market itself as a gaming mouse in anyway but its 1200 DPI and high level of control means that it should be viable for gaming. After hours of trying I’ve not had any success translating this theory into gaming ability. I’m not sure if it is the fact that my muscle memory is programmed with a regular style of mouse or something about the B3’s design that is causing this but I had real difficulty in using the B3 for any sort of games that needed a twitch reflex. Strategy games such as Civilization worked well but anything faster such as an open world/FPS like Far Cry 4 were just beyond me.
Left or right handed
The B3 is completely symmetrical and works just as well for left handed as right handed users. I am right handed and had no problem with it and the two left handed users I got to try it likewise had no issues once they had gotten used to it.
The drawback of being ambidextrous is that the B3 has two less buttons than the B2 which is right handed only so if you are right handed and it will not be used by a lefty you might want to consider the otherwise identical B2.
The B3 is designed for those who would ordinarily be at risk of RSI. This normally means desk workers who spend hours and days in the same place and often doing the same rote tasks. The B3 appeals to someone who likes good looking design and who would be willing to try something quirky and unusual.
OS: Mac or PC compatible, Windows XP or later, Mac OSX 10.1 or later
Battery: AAA 1.2V NiMH Rechargeable via microUSB. Conventional AAA can be used but not recharged.
DPI: Adjustable to 800, 1200, 1600DPI maximum
Size: 140 x 44 x 20 mm
Item Weight: 41g
Colour: White or black
Optimised for left and right handed use
Range: 5 metres
Energy Saving: Powers down after 10 minutes, restarts on click.
Warranty: Two years
Apart from a computer and power there are no specific requirements for the B3. Once connected it reacts and is addressed by the operating system like any other more conventionally styled mouse. There are no drivers to install nor any type of after market software.
The B3 is completely accessible to those with visual issues. In normal use it has no LEDs, lights or any other kind of indicator and hence no flash, flicker or brightness. When charging a single LED lights on the top of it and shows red for not fully charged or green when charged. It would be possible to cover this up entirely if you wished to and simply plug it in regularly to charge for a few hours at a time.
On the base of the B3 are three controls – the bluetooth pair button, the DPI selector and an on/off switch. All are labelled in very small text or symbols but all have distinct feels. The large on/off switch has a raised centre line, the DPI selector moves in a different axis and is half the size and the pair button is a single push button. Even if you had no vision they would be simple enough to use on the occasions you needed to.
The B3 uses a laser to measure its movement but it is a Class 1 type which is not visible to the naked eye and not harmful under any normal circumstances.
The B3 has no speakers or microphone inside it.
It is silent to used apart from the scroll wheel which has a very gently clicking sound which is more felt than heard.
It is usable by anyone with any level of hearing loss or hypersensitivity.
Movement and mobility
The B3 requires very little in the way of strength to move it. At 41 grams and no wire to provide resistance it is among the lightest possible solutions.
Ease of Use
The B3 is very simple to get up and running the first time you use it. Put the battery into it and use a microUSB cable to charge it. Once done you need to pair it with your computer. This was very straightforward on my Windows PC and should be just as simple on a Mac. I was also able to pair it to my Android phone (HTC One M8) and to my iPad Air with no problems.
There is no real maintenance needed with the exception of charging the battery with the included microUSB cable and possibly an occasional wipe down with a soft cloth.
The B3 is made from a hard plastic. I was unable to determine exactly what but it is clearly some sort of thermoset plastic. It is possible to be allergic to this but this is rare.
Trigger warnings & age ratings
There are no trigger warnings associated with the B3.
Penclic is a Swedish Company that makes a range of mice, keyboards and Numpads. These are all designed to be ergonomic, are usually wireless and are usually of novel design. The company formed in 2011.
The Penclic B3 and its big brother are relatively expensive as mice go. If you are on a very strict budget it is certainly possible to find much cheaper conventional alternatives but they offer a unique take at a price point which is equivalent to higher cost mice and significantly cheaper than stylus input systems.
Included In The Box
- B3 Penclic mouse
- White Cloth storage or travel bag
- QuickStart Guide
- Tech Spec Guide
The Penclic marketing boldly asks the question – Does the world need a new computer mouse? And then answers its own question with a Yes. I’m not sure I’m as enamored with the B3 as they are but it certainly a very viable way to control your system and has the advantage that it uses a different ergonomic control setup than any other conventional mouse. In other words if you are having difficulty with a normal mouse this might be for you. The B3 is well designed and made and its the fact that it is ambidextrous will be of benefit to many. It is let down by problems dragging and the scroll wheel but these can be overcome with persistence and good habits.
Recommended for heavy mouse users who want to try something different or who may be suffering the early stages of RSI.
The review is based on the Penclic bluetooth mouse B3 kindly provided by Penclic.