Once again, Logitech innovates the mouse in unexpected ways. The unique flywheel design is an entirely new approach to scrolling, but does it add to the user experience or detract? Are users ready to learn to scroll anew? Read on for our take on both the Revolution MX and VX mice.
Features and Design
Logitech holds the crown for the best mice and keyboards available for Windows today. The endless array of choices, from the corded to cordless and gamer to casual user, has made us ask, “What else is left?” How can something as simple as a mouse undergo so many revisions and still offer something fresh? Enter the Revolution MX and VX laser mice. Differences between the MX and VX versions are discussed at the end of the review, as we had both on hand to tinker with.
Out of the box you get the stingray-shaped Revolution MX mouse, USB receiver dongle, charging station, rechargeable batteries, and software. The dongle is the size of a small flash drive and offers a decent range of about five feet. The charging stand seats the mouse comfortably and has only a power cord connected to it. (In the past, the charging station doubled as the receiver, which required both power and USB cables. This unnecessarily tethered the station close to the PC and limited the placement options.)
The Revolution MX mouse uses Logitech’s laser technology and sports an impressive 1000 dpi resolution. Keep in mind that this mouse is not marketed toward gamers, though with this level of sensitivity, it makes the MX a great jack-of-all-trades. The bottom surface sports large, low-resistance pads and an on/off switch. The battery indicator on the top surface satisfyingly fades in and out as the mouse is moved, and the wake-up from sleep mode is darn near instantaneous. The inset which fits the user’s thumb has a rubberized, textured covering.
The mouse itself is designed solely for right hand users, despite Logitech’s claim of being compatible with left hand users. In addition to the usual suspects, there are two thumb buttons, a thumb zoom rocker, and an application fast switch button below the scroll wheel. Also, the scroll wheel is tilt scrolling enabled for horizontal scrolling. The application switch button pulls up an Alt + Tab-like list of running programs, and can be reassigned via the included software. The thumb buttons are meant for browser back and forward commands, but they can be reassigned as well. The thumb zoom rocker can be used to adjust the zoom level in any Microsoft application. And then, there is the scroll wheel…
Image Courtesy of Logitech
Use and Testing
The Revolution MX and its little, more portable brother, the VX, sport the first flywheel scroll wheel design. The idea is simple: rather than scroll in discrete increments, like 3 lines per wheel click, let the windows flow smoothly, with the wheel spinning like a rollerblade wheel. So, instead of drumming your finger down the scroll wheel, with the windows jumping in 3-line increments, the scroll wheel is free to spin. Want to scroll a little? Just give the wheel a little flick. Heading to the end of the page? Give a good quick flick and let the wheel spin until you reach the end. This operation is markedly different between the MX and VX, as discussed below.
But what if you want to use traditional scrolling for some programs, and flywheel scrolling for others? The SetPoint software package features application awareness, and will switch the mouse wheel between modes depending on which program has priority. What’s even more fun is the manual shift option. When enabled, the mouse acts like any other mouse while scrolling. But, give it a strong flick and the flywheel engages, allowing for smooth scrolling. To switch back, just slow the mouse down and the gears re-engage. For applications set to flywheel mode, switching is as easy as pressing the scroll wheel down.
It’s difficult to describe how much this adds to the user’s interaction with the computer, but we absolutely loved it. It feels natural to spin the mouse quickly when you want to scroll further, and the whole process feels fluid and controlled. There is next to no learning curve, since you’re still scrolling as with other mice, and once you get in the habit of using the flywheel design, it is frustrating to switch back to a normal mouse.
The SetPoint software allows customization of which applications engage which scroll modes. One small annoyance we found was that if the scroll mode is switched from the default, and then you switch applications, when you return, the scroll mode is reset to the default. Not a major issue by any means, but slightly annoying. Otherwise, the software performs similarly to Logitech’s other mice, showing battery level, offering online updates, and allowing an almost unlimited level of customization of mouse buttons.
Use and Testing Cont’d
A second major innovation, and one we were giggling with happiness at, is the quick search feature. Highlight any word in any application and click the quick search button below the scroll wheel to be greeted with a pop-up search engine summary. (By default, the Revolutions use Yahoo! ) This is an invaluable tool for researchers and students who work with technical documents and has changed the way we use our PC as much as, dare we say, spell check has. To get a taste of how useful the ability to look up any term is, check out the application on Answers.com, which performs a similar function with a hot key + mouse combination (though you can only see the Answers.com site info, and it opens a full browser window).
The VX offers most of the power of the larger MX mouse, but with a few significant changes. First, the flywheel is not engaged by the software. Instead, a slider on the bottom of the mouse, next to an on/off switch, is set to the mode of operation you prefer. This takes much of the fun out of the flywheel concept. The VX uses a similar USB dongle with Logitech’s proprietary wireless technology (these are not Bluetooth mice), but lacks the charging stand for obvious reasons. What the VX does have is a slot in the mouse itself, which houses the USB dongle for easy transportation. Also, the eject button launches the USB receiver from the slot using a spring-loaded mechanism. The final difference is the zoom function. Instead of a wheel at the thumb position, the VX opts for a sliding switch that snaps to center. The additional thumb buttons, horizontal scrolling, quick search, and laser technology remain the same as the MX.
The Logitech MX and VX Revolution mice may not be a revolution, but they represent the next major evolution of input devices. They offer the best software-hardware integration available, innovative scrolling, first-class ergonomics and build quality, and the most advanced tracking system on the market. Even though you may not use every feature these mice offer, they give the user the ability to learn new features as they become useful.
• Innovative fly-wheel
• Accurate and responsive tracking
• Laser technology
• Scroll wheel can be too sensitive at times