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[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

Combining a mouse with a biometric device seems like a no-brainer. Yet when APC first launched its Biometric Password Manager as a single device it didn’t hit us that it should be someday incorporated into a mouse shell. Now the company is releasing exactly that: a Biometric Mouse Password Manager (aka BioM34) that enables mouse usage, password management and file encryption in a single gadget.

The mouse per se would be a non-descript optical mouse if not for the sensor on its back that allows for fingerprint reading. Dull gray and with loud clicking buttons, the device is a somewhat big mouse that performs its regular functions well – including gaming (it was put through test on an online dispute of Battlefield 2).

The password management is on par with the previously released single unit Biometric Password Manager: it’s done by APC’s proprietary software, Omnipass. If you are a first time user, it will be a breeze to install and run it; however, if you own a previous version, be prepared for a bumpy ride.

the BioM34Figure 1: The BioM34.

[nextpage title=”Installation and Finger Recognition”]

If you have no previous version of the Omnipass software in your machine, just plug the mouse into an available USB port of your laptop or CPU tower and insert the software CD to begin the Omnipass installation. The program will then begin the process of “finger enrollment” – that is, the recognition of your chosen fingerprint to serve as your door to all websites and Windows applications. Just click on the finger of your choice and then place it on the scanner on top of the mouse. The software will then repeat the scanning eight times to unsure a flawless reading. OmniPass can register up to 20 different users or individual fingerprints.

Fingerprint selectionFigure 2: Fingerprint selection.

This process is all very simple and intuitive. However if you do have a previous version of the Omnipass software, it will not be that simple. First, you have to uninstall the old version – the new one doesn’t just upgrade over it. This is a drag because you have to remember to export your old profile (to a folder of your choise, or even the desktop area) – otherwise you’ll loose the bunch of passwords you’ve already registered with Omnipass. In our case the uninstall feature had a few problems and we had to reinstall the old version of the software just so we could then uninstall it. It was very, very frustrating.

The frustration just increased when we tried to import the old version’s profile: a conflict arose between the new registration we’ve had to do when installing the software and the profile import. The headache reached such a peak that we started the installation all over again, this time dismissing the old profile import and deciding to loose the passwords we previously had registered. It was an acceptable loss due to such dire straits.

[nextpage title=”Password Registering and Browser Issues”]

Once you enrolled a finger, it’s time to run programs and visit websites that ask you to log in. The OmniPass instantly recognizes a password field and asks if you’d like to enter that particular username and password into the database. It works beautifully – if you are an Internet Explorer user. If you run Mozilla’s Firefox, however, you’re lost in the woods. The Omnipass doesn’t support Firefox, although APC has promised that this will change in the near future. If you are a Firefox advocate, you should leave browsing password-requiring websites (like Ebay, Hotmail etc) to Internet Explorer to fully enjoy the features of your Biometric Mouse.

Password registeringFigure 3: Password registering.

By clicking on the software system-tray icon you can access the application controls. There you can manage users, enroll new fingers and also chance settings. You can even change identities – multiple same user accounts – so you can access passwords for work-related and leisure time-related websites, for instance. To switch identities, just select the one you’d like to use when you log in to OmniPass. The application allows as many identities as the user wishes it.

[nextpage title=”Encrypting Files and Folders”]

Besides managing passwords, the Biometric Mouse also allows users to encrypt and decrypt Windows files and folders. The OmniPass software adds encryption options to the right-click menu in Windows. Encryption adds a .opf extension to each file – so if you ever move the data to a PC or laptop that doesn’t have the OmniPass software installed, they cannot be decrypted. And be sure to decrypt all of your data if you ever uninstall the program.

You can choose from a list of cryptographic service providers (CSP) on the application settings. By default, RSA Data Security’s RC2 is selected.

Encryption selectionFigure 4: Encryption selection.

Encrypted filesFigure 5: Encrypted files.

[nextpage title=”Specifications”]

  • Wired optical mouse with two buttons, scrolling wheel and fingerprint reader.
  • Weight: 0.4 lbs (180 grams)
  • Height: 1.6 inches (4 cm)
  • Width: 2.7 inches (6.8 cm)
  • Depth: 4.7 inches (12 cm)
  • Cord Length 6.00 feet (1.80 m)
  • Interface: USB 1.1
  • Average Price in the USA*: USD 50.00
  • More information: https://www.apc.com

* Researched on https://www.pricewatch.com/ on the day we published this review.

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

Strong Points

  • Enables mouse usage, password management and file encryption in a single gadget.
  • Easy configuration and finger enrollment for first time users.
  • Never misread a fingerprint.
  • The encryption feature is a big plus.

Weak Points

  • Doesn’t support Mozilla’s Firefox browser.
  • Complicated upgrade from previous version of the software.
  • Conflicting import between saved old profile and the newly created one.