Saga Systems claims its mouse package, badged from Puricorp of Spain, was given top marks by Amstrad when it was looking for a Plus 2 mouse. The hardware is functional, but it's the bundled graphics package which will grab the interest of the first time user.
The Star Mouse is smaller than its Kempston cousin and sports only one large click button. It has no sensitivity control but you can strip it down and clean it if fluff clogs the tracker ball's rotation.
The review sample contained a slight design fault. The tail lead is protected by a plastic sleeve at the junction with the interface. The sleeve rubs against the power supply connection and pushes the interface off the expansion slot. Result: the interface blows. Saga is changing the design but until the changeover's complete, if you have a sleeve on the lead cut around it at the base and pull it down the lead, clear of the power connection.
The only piece of officially compatible Star Mouse software is the neat icon controlled CAD package bundled with the device.
The icon panel gives access to nineteen Draw and control commands. It can be moved to left or right of the screen to suit your left or right-handed needs or taken off the display when you're adding colour.
You can select two of eight colours in Draw and Paint modes, although the default is black-and- white. The drawing pen has a selection of seven nibs. You can also use a variety of paint textures or create your own.
To choose a texture, bring up the large texture window on the design screen and move the mouse up and down. The textures flash across the window and, once you've found one to your taste, you choose it with the click button. Texture design is done on the lower half of a window. Each home-spun texture is composed of a series of dots which you place with a click of the mouse.
The Draw mode shows off the mouse at its best. The rolling action is swift and you can take sharp design bends and arcs more easily than you can with the Kempston mouse.
The tracker ball won't work on the same variety of surfaces as the Kempston mouse but I preferred its fast-gliding cursor to Kempston's bigger, more flexible, ball. The choice, however, depends upon your situation. If you're very mobile you may have to run the mouse up a trouser leg or on a bendy pad of paper! The Star mouse is not in those circumstances.
The Magnify feature fills in the cracks in lines and arcs left by the manic movements of the cursor. There is only one Magnify setting, compared to Art Studio's three, and it is equivalent to x8 on the Rainbird scale. The normal-sized picture is shown next to the magnified image and a 2 x 2 character-square window shows which part of the display is in the Mag window. You can also display the X, Y position of the cursor if you want extra help in finding position on your picture.
When you've completed your design, if major alterations are in order, you can move portions of your masterpiece around the screen, or swap one part with another using the Cut and Paste facility. First, set up windows around the image you want to move and at the point to which you want it to move. Click the inter- change icon and the image shifts position.
Five text fonts are available to label your designs. You choose a font with the style option on the control menu - which also includes Load and Save functions. To position the print on the display select the Write icon and position the cursor on the design screen. A quick click and you can write your message (horizontally only) using the keyboard.
When you're happy with your design you can dump it to any Epson-compatible printer. The package does not, unfortunately, contain a printer driver which can be modified but if you own a Saga Epson-compatible you should have no trouble.
Click keys: 1
Sensitivity: no user control
Software Bundled: Star Draw
Compatible: The Last Word
A sturdy, quick-moving mouse combined with an excellent icon-controlled drawing package. Little other software available.
Saga Systems presents the Star Mouse. One click button and a smooth track ball.
The Star Mouse controls an arrow cursor. Icons control shape, colour and text in the graphics window.