Designed in Christchurch and made in Thailand, the Swiftpoint promises to be a revolutionary device.

For one thing, it's tiny - with is partly the point. It's so small you can happily use it on the space below the keyboard and beside the central trackpad on most laptops, and most definitely there is plenty of room on Apple's.

The NZ based technology company, Swiftpoint Ltd, was formed by Grant Odgers. He says the idea came from frustration with the touchpad on his laptop. Odgers wanted the benefits of laptop mobility but found the limitations of a touchpad ruined the experience.

He's not exactly alone.

Odgers took an initial product to Canterbury University, where Fitt's Law and Steering Law principles were used to determine the efficiency of the design. The results validated his concept and design, with the prototype delivering 30-40 per cent more accuracy than a touchpad.

Further market research surveys demonstrated a strong global market for such a thing. It has a unique pen-grip design, making the mouse both accurate and extremely portable. It operates easily in the space of a laptop palm-rest itself, so can be used in any location where a laptop can be used, yet it has all of the functions of a traditional input device.

It's possible the Swiftpoint Mouse has the potential to address ergonomic issues associated with using small mice, due to its pen-like grip. This feels natural and comfortable to use (for right-handers - a left-handed version is coming out next year). Although very small in size, (42mm x 57mm), it has been tested with a whole range of hand sizes. This makes perfect sense - you don't tend to buy bigger or smaller pen sizes depending on your hands.

The Swiftpoint is a very well-designed and put-together device and it comes with a pretty amazing amount of extras considering it's 'just' a little mouse.

And although it's not exactly an Apple-related product, it's a New Zealand invention and thus worth talking about, and it's Mac compatible (OS 10.4+) out of the box without drivers. But don't panic - it's also ready for Windows 7, Vista and XP.

In the company videos I watched, 90 per cent of the computers shown were Macs, including Odgers himself using it with a MacBook Pro, so it's pretty clear the company either uses Macs (or is at least is very aware of Apple's selling power). Although, as a designer, I'd expect Odgers to be a Mac user ...

It's black and red - my favourite combination of colours - and despite its tininess, it integrates a thumb-grip, middle finger grip, right-click button, left-click button, LED charger light and a status light, and even has a scrollwheel - it's side-mounted.

There's also a USB receiver/charger, a thumb drive with documentation and instructional video, a stick-on mousepad-ish laptop-protecting for your laptop's palm rest, and a User Guide in English, German, Spanish and French.

Charge!

The first thing to do is dock and charge the Swiftpoint. You unpack the thing, plug the receiver into a USB port, then dock the Swiftpoint onto it. The USB receiver is tiny - you can leave it in the port (to handle connection, you need to anyway) and just dock the mouse on it whenever you want - a 30-second charge will give you an hour of use - perfect for those plane trips! The battery LED blinks while it's charging and glows steadily when it's full.

Ninety minutes charge gives you a purported 2-4 weeks use, which is pretty amazing. Hurrah to that.

The first time I plugged it into my MacBook Pro, a message said 'Keyboard cannot be identified'. This is mentioned in the manual and it's a warning that can be safely ignored (just click the red close button at top left).

In your right hand, your thumb fits naturally into the red, rubberised thumb-grip on the Swiftpoint's left. You put your middle finger in the right-side black rubberised groove and your index finger falls naturally to the textured scrollwheel and buttons.

You do a three-point dance with this finger, between the normal left-click button (at the front), the right-click button (pull your finger back a few millimetres) and lift it over two or three millimetres to the right to find the scrollwheel.

Scrolling has a speedup-feature called SlideScrolling - lift the Swiftpoint up and roll the wheel for a faster scroll.

Orientation is a big deal with such a small device. Just hold down the two buttons together for a few seconds and that sets its 'north'. This is useful should you choose to use it right in the middle of your MacBook, as it's possible to use on the trackpad itself.

The scrollwheel is quite big - that's clever - you can literally tilt the whole thing (it's very light) onto its right-front point and roll the wheel directly on your mousing surface for a faster scroll.

A 'SmartTouch feature can be activated to stop the mouse scrolling if your finger is not detected on the pad. With this feature turned on, you can move the mouse without moving the pointer just by avoiding the right-side pad (lift your middle finger) and moving it with your thumb.

Another included accessory, the sticky film, is able to be taken off and reapplied many times, without leaving a residue.

I baulked at sticking it over my trackpad, though - I did not like the idea of any glue getting into the trackpad edge and/or covering and sticking down the button, as recommended. I guess the theory is that with the Swiftpoint negates the need for the trackpad, but this is a bit of an assumption because if you misplace the Swiftpoint or you are in a hurry, your built-in trackpad is invaluable, and you won't want that stuck over with plastic film.

But a little square on this stick-down pad has a magnet in it - handy for parking the mouse. Even when you tilt the whole laptop, the mouse sticks to it.

The Swiftpoint scrolls and moves easily on the brushed aluminium of a MacBook Pro, but if you want to avoid scratches, use the film. Since it's slightly textured, it offers a much better mousing surface than the shiny plastic of a MacBook or some Windows-packed laptops.

All in all, it's clear a whole lot of effort and expertise has been expended on this tiny device. It's ingenious, frankly. Caveats would be that it really is a right-hander - you just can't use it with the other hand. Another might be that you may be more inclined to roll the wheel with your middle finger rather than your index finger. I'm not sure, as I can mouse right-handed (as a left-hander) but it's not my preference and I can't really tell what a right-hander would do. This is because you hold it like a pen, and of course, I do not use a pen in my right hand.

The Swiftpoint Mouse costs $119 (US$69.95/€80.94) and it's available from company's website and via Amazon.

You can also take advantage of a 30-Day Risk Free Trial. If you're not happy with the Swiftpoint mouse for any reason simply return the product within 30 days for a full refund. Details are on the site.

- Mark Webster mac-nz.com