Sony VN-CX1 VoIP mouse

VoIP is the "buzz" word at the moment, and rightly so. Any technology that makes it possible to talk to people around the world for free should be highlighted and taken advantage of.

Trouble is, you've got to make that phone call on something. While most manufacturers have gone down the headset or separate phone route, Sony has decided that the best way for mobile workers to take advantage of VoIP is to take the humble mouse and turn it into a clamshell phone.

It is a logical idea and the result is the Vaio VN-CX1 mouse that offers two clicks, a scroll wheel and a hidden identity.

Sound great right? Well it does until you find that you want to use the VoIP handset and the mouse at the same time you can't.

It is the unit's biggest problem. You can't use both at the same time. For us, in our tests it meant when we wanted to make a phone call and then find a file on the computer at the same time we had to revert using the trackpad of our laptop, after that is, we had figured out how to disable its automatic switch off when we plugged in a mouse.

Of course plug this into a desktop machine and you won't be able to use both the mouse and the VoIP element together.

Usability issues aside and the mouse/phone is easy to use and setup, although you will need specific drivers for the mouse, however it works perfectly with Skype.

The mouse, when being a mouse is sensitive, responsive and worked well on the number of different desk surfaces we tried it on.

Callers are notified that a call is coming in either by the discrete LED on top of the mouse or a ringtone and users can then press a button on the mouse instantly turning it into a phone.

As a phone the ergonomics meant the clamshell design works as a phone - a retro looking one at that - and during a call, the centre scroll wheel acts as a volume control. Those looking to talk to a third party in the room will also be pleased to know you can also mute the phone when needed.

Connected via USB, the black, silver and blue device works on any Windows PC, however the user will have to install specific drivers again hindering this from being something that you can just plug in anywhere you go.

Verdict

Like the company's memory stick reading or biometric mouse Sony has felt it can add something more to the boring pointing device on the side of your computer. However unlike the above two, with the VN-CX1 you can't use both functions at once.

For us this a major setback and at £55 you can easily buy either a wired headset or Bluetooth headset and make your voice calls that way instead.

A logical idea that looks and works far better on paper than it does in real life.