Logitech’s latest portable mouse is as remarkable for the way the diminutive rodent fits in your hand as it is for the two new technologies that we assume contribute to its surprisingly high price tag. While the mouse isn’t quite large enough to be comfortable for all-day, everyday use, it feels completely natural in our average-sized paws. But that’s not to say that those new technologies we mentioned aren’t insignificant. Logitech’s new Darkfield laser tracking enables you to operate the mouse on virtually any surface—including clear glass and even mirrors—and the company’s incredibly small Unifying receiver allows you to connect multiple wireless mice and keyboards to the same PC.
Features and Design
We were impressed with Microsoft’s recently introduced Bluetrack laser, which enables mice such as the SideWinder X8 and the Wireless Mouse 5000 to operate on virtually any surface, but Logitech’s Darkfield technology makes Bluetrack look weak. The Anywhere Mouse MX operated flawlessly on all the same surfaces the SideWinder X8 did (including atop a varnished plywood desk, a granite countertop, and cut pile carpeting) but also on a clear glass tabletop and even over a mirror—surfaces that induce schizophrenia in Bluetrack mice.
The Unifying receiver, meanwhile, is so small that you don’t need to remove it from your notebook’s USB port when you stuff the computer in your bag. Plug it in and a stub less than one-quarter of an inch long is all that protrudes from the port. Someone stuffing a desktop replacement into a backpack might want to remove the receiver, lest it get snagged on the side of the bag and yanked out, but we had no problems with a 10.25-inch-wide netbook and a 13-inch-wide notebook.
The receiver gets its name from its ability to pair with more than one mouse and keyboard. Bluetooth technology can accomplish the same trick, of course, but Logitech’s Unifying products don’t need manual pairing; you just plug them in and they work. The system operates on the 2.4GHz frequency band, so the response time we experienced was on par with a wired device. There’s no shortage of other devices taking advantage of that same spectrum—everything from Wi-Fi networks to cordless telephones and microwave ovens—so there is the potential for interference, but we didn’t experience any issues in our testing.
This Unifying receiver is a boon to anyone who uses a portable computer as their primary machine, because it enables you to use a full-size mouse and keyboard at home or in the office and easily switch to a portable mouse when you’re on the road without having to reconfigure anything. Logitech currently offers two keyboards and one other mouse that can connect to the Unifying receiver: The Wireless Keyboard K340 ($49.99), the Wireless Keyboard K350 (which adds media transport controls and sells for $59.99), and the Performance Mouse MX ($99.99).
Ergonomics and Conclusion
We’ll wrap up our look at the Anywhere Mouse MX with a discussion of how it feels in action. The mouse has seven buttons that can be custom programmed using Logitech’s SetPoint software. All but two of the buttons—the thumb buttons on the left side—felt perfectly positioned under our fingers. Most people use these thumb buttons to back and forth through their web-page history. Logitech oriented these horizontally, one in front of the other, which requires you to bend your thumb at a severe angle to reach the second button. We’ve found that stacked thumb buttons, such as those on Microsoft’s SideWinder X8, are much more comfortable to use.
The left and right buttons on top of the mouse, on the other hand, are perfectly positioned and require just the right degree of pressure to activate. The scroll wheel, which is covered by ribbed rubber and is indexed to provide precise tactile feedback, also feels perfect. The scroll wheel tilts left and right, with the default actions being to scroll left and right. It can also be pushed down like a button, an action that activates vertical scrolling on many mice, but it doesn’t do anything on this one and the SetPoint software doesn’t provide any means of programming it.
There is, however, a small button immediately behind the scroll wheel that can be programmed. Its default action is to shrink all the windows on your desktop so that you can see every application at a glance, with a large banner across each informing you of what they are. Click on one of the windows and it will expand to fill the screen. The Windows taskbar performs a similar function, of course, but opening more than five or six windows on the typical netbook will fill up the taskbar; we were able to open and navigate between more than 15 windows using Logitech’s Application Switcher.
The bottom line: A few minor quirks aside, the Anywhere Mouse MX makes an excellent computing companion.
- Logitech’s Darkfield Laser Tracking technology is awesome
- You need never remove the Unifying receiver from the host PC
- Excellent ergonomics
- Completely programmable
- Awkward placement of the rear left-side thumb button
- Can’t program the button in the center scroll wheel