Whether it is voice recognition, fingerprint scanners or futuristic retinal scans used in the latest Hollywood flick, consumers have always been wowed by biometric technology. Microsoft's Fingerprint Reader is one such biometric product aimed at capitalising on this reaction. The Fingerprint Reader allows users to scan their fingerprint in the reader instead of typing in a password to access password-protected applications.
The reader is sold as a package together with Microsoft's IntelliMouse 2.0. It can be used without the mouse, but not the other way around, as it acts as the IntelliMouse receiver.
About the same size as a standard mouse, the Fingerprint Reader simply plugs into a USB port on your PC and does not need any batteries or charging to function. On the back of the Reader is a green LED, which signifies that the device is connected to your PC and working correctly.
The Fingerprint Reader requires you to install the provided software and drivers and once this is completed it is easy to set-up.
The software suggests you register at least two of your fingerprints, although you can register your entire two hands if you wish. Once you have set-up the Reader to register your prints, it is a simple matter of going to any password-protected website or program and scanning your print to create a fingerprint logon.
When your fingerprint is successfully scanned a small icon is displayed in the left hand corner of the screen, which signifies that the read was successful with a green light. If your read is unsuccessful, a yellow question mark appears instead. At any time, you can scan your finger to bring up the convenient One Touch Menu, which allows you to edit settings including sounds, prompts and taskbar options.
Unfortunately, the Fingerprint Reader does not work with any browser other than Internet Explorer, which is a major drawback for those who prefer the popular Mozilla Firefox. It does work with most other programs though - we used the Reader to protect log-ins for Lotus Notes and MSN Messenger, just to name a few.
Microsoft suggests that the Reader should not be used to protect highly sensitive information and is for convenience, rather than high-level security. The Fingerprint Reader also doesn't prevent others from guessing your password and typing it in - the usual hazards of using passwords still apply. The IntelliMouse Explorer included in the package also worked well and can be used as soon as the Fingerprint reader is connected to your PC. It is a five-button mouse with a scroll wheel, left and right-click buttons as well as two thumb buttons. For most part the mouse is comfortable, although we didn't like the rubber coated scroll wheel which takes is slower than most others we have used.
The product is distributed by Ingram Micro, Express Data and Synnex.