[Photos] IBM Navigator Pro (Merlot!)

I've been looking for one of these elusive MERLOT Navigator Pros for a few years now.

After spending some time doing research and digging through wayback pages… I now have the following information. The Navigator Pros look to have been introduced in 2002 in conjunction with similarly coloured (glitter painted) NetVista computers, manufactured by Micro Innovations for IBM (who still gets contracted by Lenovo to this day). The Navigator Pro came in two colours:
#1 Slate Blue (it appears to be the most common from what I saw)
#2 Merlot (sometimes unofficially referred to as burgundy or red)

The reason why they’re hard to find in documentation is because they seem to have been discontinued in 2003, versus the other mice which IBM had produced for a decade… and I would imagine the ‘merlot’ ones sold the poorest.

I only became aware of their existence (02/05/2015) after finding a tiny weeny picture of one on google images from a guy who was selling these by the boat load a decade ago for $15 a pop. Although (as mentioned) I should have calculated that they existed based on the colours from the corresponding NetVistas that I saw when looking for keyboards; much like the Black PS/1s and black M2 keyboards... but sometimes you don't think ahead that quickly and miss out. Oh well… at least I can reverse SOME of my lack of foresight ;)

Like anything mass produced, as the years go by they become unobtanium and vanish away--either in recycling yards, lost in basements and who knows where else. Fortunately there was one listed on ebay new in the box which I snapped up with zero competition--because, well...
A) I'm not even sure if these are truly 'sought after' or if it’s just a ‘that’s cool’, we’ll assume the latter
B) They seem to be rather unknown
C) Why bother with an old silly mouse when Logitech has the latest 'craze' for your purchase

That's the best reasoning I can deduct, but I should cut the chatter since I am way too invested in tiny details and could go on for hours :)

Onto the mouse PR0N!!!!

Move over conventionally-coloured ergo mice, there's a new mouse in town.
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The Navigator comes in typical striped IBM packaging from the era:
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The rear of the box gives us all of the juicy 'features', some the lingo is a bit weird as optical mice weren't exclusively commonplace as they are now (while it's obvious now, in 100 years time it may not make sense to people--funny):
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Check out the side piece, mmmmm that dark plum / merlot colour:
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Sadly the siding is coated in a 'soft touch' clear rubber coating which decomposes turning sticky when it contact with other plastics. IBM seems to have changed this coating in 2003 or 2004 which fixed this problem (but unfortunately too late for the navigator series). This coating can be removed to regular plastic--which means it's not 'soft touch' anymore:
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Different angles:
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Underneath:
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Closeup of the "Step-n-scroll" illumination feature:
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Macro of the glitter injection plastic (it can be harder to see due to the highly textured surface):
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The ‘merlot twins’ (the navigator's merlot is slightly different in colour, more 'established' and less vivid):
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How does it feel? AMAZING. The Buttons are unbelievably tactile, and the scroll wheel is also 'notched' and possibly the most tactile mouse wheel I've ever used (I didn't know that was a thing). The soft rubber of the wheel is nice on the fingertips, too. The finish on the mouse is textured and feels very well too; and if the rubber coating didn't melt it would also be awesome.

In short... this is possibly the 'ultimate' tactile mouse for both feedback and 'texture' feedback if you like those sorts of things.

Regarding the technical details... how well is its travel? Unfortunately like all early optical mice (despite being 800 DPI), the software controller is configured to DELIBERATELY calculate movements slower to accommodate lower resolutions of the period. Pity. It could be 'fixed' if one wanted to do some hardware hacking or swap in some logitech guts.

Because I don't care for wheel mice and this is the only example I have, it's back in the box and going into storage. Not to mention the ‘merlot’ doesn’t really go with anything (unless you actually own a merlot glitter painted netvista case). Shout out to David Hill for designing this and choosing such intriguing colours. I'm surprised the man doesn't keep samples of these to show off in design exhibitions.

Regarding the whole name ‘merlot’, I’m not sure if the names are a David Hillism as well since they were chosen to be technical. The merlot grapes resemble the side “plum” colour more than the glitter burgundy:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merlot

MERLOTTTTTTTT.


I’ve… just found out about another weird forgotten IBM mouse after finishing off research on the merlot navigator (which funnily enough looks a lot like one I’ve already modified with parts from three other mice). Great… now I have to spend a few more years tracking this one down. This one is not optical, however. It's like being a detective never ends just when you think you've found everything.

Thanks for reading to anyone who has gotten this far.
Family photo of my silly "collection":
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Last edited by micrex22 on 01 Apr 2017, 21:46, edited 1 time in total.
micrex22
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Unread post01 Apr 2017, 21:37

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I must say that's the most impressive IBM Navigator Pro collection I've seen here or anywhere. :o :shock: Nice mice! :mrgreen:
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Unread post01 Apr 2017, 21:43

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no left-handed version? :/
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Unread post01 Apr 2017, 21:47

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Ugh, Deskthority watermarks… :roll:
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Unread post01 Apr 2017, 21:52

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Ratfink wrote:Ugh, Deskthority watermarks… :roll:

Ehhh... just had a feeling that they might be stolen or 'borrowed'.
alh84001 wrote:no left-handed version? :/

There were actually some people who did use these with their left hands and said they were still strangely still comfortable (I've tried it myself and, yeah, it feels okay). Most lefties I know use the computer mouse with their right hand and actually struggle when switching to their left hand for mouse-specific usage. I guess it's relative towards how you train your muscle memory.

But yeah, no left handed models released. Guess IBM assumed lefties were some exotic species yet to be discovered :p
The world seems to favour right-handed people who are specifically five feet tall with a shoe size around 10 US. Anything out of that and you start to run into inconveniences.
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Unread post01 Apr 2017, 22:00

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I hope with that many IBM mice you at least use an IBM keyboard
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Unread post02 Apr 2017, 04:30

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I absolutely love that color. I want one now!
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Unread post02 Apr 2017, 05:51

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paecific.jr wrote:I hope with that many IBM mice you at least use an IBM keyboard

Sure, and my computer:
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It's just awaiting the lizard MF guts. I wanted large amounts of RAM and a Xeon so, that's why I went with a server :lol:
One downside is that its UEFI is ultra-picky for peripherals, but I guess that's how servers are designed to be?

The other mice came from a bulk lot which I made the seller an offer a few years back (I've got quite a lot... enough to last a lifetime). That's what got me interested in all of these. It's like filling in the blanks of curiosity one after the other.
Harshmallow wrote:I absolutely love that color. I want one now!

Not sure how common these are anymore; since it took me forever just to find one. :(
The slate blue version pops up time and again. I'd be willing to say beamsprings are vastly more common than the navigator merlots. Nobody really cares about mice so they're ignored and discarded; it just so happens Dave Hill made some really cool looking ones in times past ;)
*shrug*
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Unread post02 Apr 2017, 06:54

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So there's an ibm computer case compatible with modern ATX motherboards and power supplies ? Can you tell me the exact model ?
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Unread post02 Apr 2017, 08:55

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gogusrl wrote:So there's an ibm computer case compatible with modern ATX motherboards and power supplies ? Can you tell me the exact model ?

If you're referring to the heavily-modded server I run as a PC, it's definitely not ATX and happens to be a very 'long' computer, the longest I've seen:
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Spoiler:
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(I'll be boosting the RAM past 64 GB whenever I find some more kingstons on the cheap, one benefit of the good intel chipsets is that they're not capped at 64 GB)

It could potentially be possible to stick a consumer ATX PSU in it, but considering the default OEM hotswap ones are 80 Plus titanium--that would just be a downgrade. Plus you can run it with a redundant PSU if you have the hotswap bay which I do, but who the heck runs their regular desktop with hotswaps? Not me. :lol:

As to ATX "IBM" cases, there are a few ThinkCentres which I know off the top of my head from my previous job which had these all over the place:
ThinkCentre A50 8148
http://www.ebay.com/itm/IBM-ThinkCentre...SwLEtYme6n
ThinkCentre E50 9215
http://www.ebay.ca/itm/IBM-ThinkCentre-...XQ9qpRSGon

I couldn't find any actual E50s on ebay, there were some awhile ago. Just those faceplates :p

There were also these late ThinkCentres with inverted grilles and a presumable ATX configuration (most that look like this were BTX and had it on the other side):
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I forget what model that is and who knows if any are available anymore. It's hard to sift through since "thinkcentre" pulls up so much.

At my current job I actually have a Lenovo ThinkCentre (it's like that comes full circle). I hate the thing... the realtek audio occasionally glitches out when I'm listening to music for a few seconds every now and again. Ugh. It does this across Windows 7, 8 and 10.
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Unread post02 Apr 2017, 11:30

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*applause
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Unread post03 Apr 2017, 04:01

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