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Magic Mice cast energy-sapping spell

Apple's rodent drains keyboard batteries

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Apple's wireless mouse stands accused of draining the energy from Apple's wireless keyboards, forcing daily battery replacements on some, and free keyboards on others.

The problem has been knocking around the Apple forums for a few weeks, but with Magic Mice under many a tree this Christmas, the quantity of complaints has been multiplying. Users report that Apple wireless keyboards require daily battery replacements since a Magic Mouse was connected, though Apple seems to be responding to some complainants at least.

Both the mouse and keyboard are Bluetooth based, and while Bluetooth is a very power-efficient protocol, its implementations aren't always as effective as they could be. A Bluetooth device spends a great deal of time flicking its radio on and off, receiving signals only in pre-arranged time slots that are dependent on an accurate clock, and may scale down dependent on the communication required. Get any of that wrong, or bodge it to get it working quickly, and you'll have a working connection but one that eats power.

This is what seems to be happening to one version of Apple's wireless keyboard when the Magic Mouse is connected: other Bluetooth mice don't seem to cause the same problem and forum users report that replacing the wireless keyboard fixes the issue - some even reporting that Apple provided a replacement keyboard when they reported the problem.

But what's most surprising is that none of those complaining seem to think that replacing batteries daily is too high a price to pay for the joy of using a Magic Mouse. Several postings rant on about how Apple is damaging the environment by forcing customers to consume so many AAs, but it seems the rodent itself is just too good to be discarded, no matter what the price. ®

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