Logitech MX500 Optical Mouse
Walk down the aisles of any computer store
and you'll be confronted by a plethora of mice. Competition has been quite
fierce as of late, and Logitech has tossed the MX-series of mice into the fray,
including the budget MX300,
and the high-end MX500; featured here.
Test av Logitech MX500
For ikke så lenge siden lanserte Logitech tre nye mus, henholdsvis MX300, MX500 og den trådløse versjonen MX700. Den minste gnageren i familien tok vi en titt på for ikke så lenge siden og nå har turen kommet til MX500. Dette er en samme mus som MX700 hvis vi ser bort ifra at den benytter seg av en tradisjonell ledning for håndtering av signalene. Musen er en god del tyngre enn MX300 og stiller i klasse med storheten IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0, men kan de måle seg med Microsofts ener?
Samme familie som MX300
Etter hvert har det blitt vanlig med en horde knapper på de dyrere musene. Det har variert fra Internettsnarvei-knapper til avanserte scrolle-egenskaper. Logitech MX500 vil ikke være dårligere og tilbyr deg hele åtte knapper. Mange gamere vil nok synes det høres flott ut å kunne plassere sine mest brukte kommandoer på musen, men i praksis fungerer ikke dette like bra. Tre av knappene har blitt plassert rundt scrollehjulet noe som fører med seg at de blir ubrukelige i spillsammenheng. De to tommelknappene er også så små og tett plassert at det blir umulig å bruke de til noe meningsfylt. Ergonomisk sett er MX500 mer interessant enn faktisk nyttig. Ved første øyekast kan den se ut som om den passer like godt til både høyre- og venstrehendte, men så fort du prøver musen finner du ut at dette ikke stemmer. Det er et under innhakk på den venstre siden av musen hvor det tydeligvis er ment at du skal plassere tommelen. Gjør du dette blir du liggende med hånden rundt hele musen og mister en del av finkontrollen. Forsøker du å ligge litt mer bakpå musen kjenner du at sidegropen gnager seg inn i tommelen din, og bryter med hele poenget av å være ergonomisk utformet. Hvorfor man ikke har valgt en mer avrundet form er bortenfor min fatteevne. På grunn av gropa er det også vanskelig å naturlig gli over til tommelknappene, noe som bidrar til å minske nytten av de ytterligere. I praksis har du derfor ikke noen særlig mulighet for å benytte deg av de åtte knappene, og liker du å legge stemmekontroller og lignende på musen er IntelliMouse Explorer et mye bedre valg. Ergonomiproblemet er i mindre grad det samme vi opplevde med Logitech sin Dual Optical-mus, så er du mot formodning glad i denne formen vil du nok også sette pris på valgene man har tatt med MX500. Alle andre bør nok styre unna.
Kvalitetsmessig er likevel Logitech på topp slik vi har blitt vant med. MX500 er intet unntak fra dette. Knappene føles solide og motstanden er akkurat slik den bør være. Det blir sjelden registrert trykk du ikke ønsker, men musen reagerer kjapt på bevegelsene dine. Hvis en bare ser på teknologien er musen glimrende og nøyaktigere enn alt annet vi har testet til nå. I forhold til IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0 er forskjellen meget liten i praksis, men det er stor nok til at vi kan kjenne den. Scrollehjulet kjennes identisk med det vi finner på MX300, og følgelig er også dette av absolutt toppkvalitet. Som vanlig er også teflonføttene på musen glimrende. Du trenger nesten ikke Mouse Skatez med disse føttene.
When in the market to buy a new Mouse, there are really
only two companies to choose from – Microsoft and Logitech. There are other
players, but these two aforementioned firms have tried and tested product that
both won them considerable recognition and product awards. In the latest volley
of fists, these two rivalries have unleashed yet another new line-up of input
The most important change within the MX-series was its image processor enhancement. The Logitech Image Processor (IP) tracks and processes image data that the red optical sensor gathers. Measured in megapixels per second, the IP has the processing power of 4.7MP/sec which is 60% higher than other leading mice. This results in greatly improved tracking on difficult surfaces such as wood and laminated surfaces and can more easily process this sensory data during very rapid movements.
The next big change was with the sensor size. Since the red sensor tracks motion by ‘seeing’ minute surface details, increasing the ‘size’ of the sensor makes more data available for calculating movement. The MX-series optical sensor captures over 80% more surface area per image compared with other leading mice. This combined with the IP is what makes this MX-series so competent on hard to track surfaces and contributes to smooth and fluid tracking.
Remember that ‘Twitch effect’ that older optical mice
had? A quick snap of your wrist, and the cursor seemed to bounce off an
invisible barrier in the middle or left side of the screen. The solution to this
was to augment both frame rate sampling and sensor size. The best tracking is
achieved with a delicate balance between frame rate and sensor size. The MX
Optical Engine combines a significantly increased frame rate with a large
sensor, an enhanced DSP or digital-signal processor (IP), and precision optics.
The responsive control under demanding conditions compared to Logitech’s Dual
Optical mouse is ‘night and day’ better.
With an increase in screen real-estates with larger 19 and 21” monitors, Logitech was faced with a dilemma that needed to be addressed. Mice had to be moved much farther than normal to point to something across the screen. Large movements can be uncomfortable for users, and can lead to tracking errors. To counter this, Logitech’s MX Optical Engine offers a resolution of 800 DPI (dots per inch) which is twice the count of standard optical sensors found in other mice. This reduces hand motion requirements and increases cursor control accuracy.
Third from last, the MX-series has far better optics than previous Logitech and leading mice. The new proprietary lens set in the MX Optical Engine increased depth of field which helps to capture more details with far greater clarity. In turn, the illumination pattern of the optical sensor’s LED maximizes the contrast between small surface details. This has of fringe benefit of increased efficiency all the while reducing energy consumption – which is ideal for cordless optical mice. One thing we noticed is that the sensor’s LED does not ‘power down’ or go into a lower-power or blinking/idle mode.
Having released countless iteration of optical mice, years of extensive research and testing of past and current mice and how they analyzed incoming images and determined motion has allowed Logitech’s engineers to incorporate new software algorithms into the MX-series. The intelligence of the algorithms plays a large role in performance, especially when the mouse is used on difficult surfaces or pushed to its limits.
Lastly, acceleration and speed of the mouse was revamped. Typically, mouse movements are identified as short bursts of rapid acceleration and decelerations of the mouse as the user points the cursor to various spots on the screen. The MX Optical Engine is capable of tracking movements up to an acceleration of 10g’s, (ten Earth gravities (9.8m/sec-squared) with a maximum speed of 40-inches per second (~1-metre/sec). Once again, this change improves tracking and provides upper limits for even the largest of monitors.
Now that we have the MX-series’ Optical Engine technology covered, let’s look at the three products in this family. Logitech has three MX mice – the entry-level MX300, the corded MX500, and the high-end and cordless MX700. The MX700 has been in a fair number of online reviews since it has the most interesting feature of all; cordless operation and a battery recharging dock. The MX300 is essentially the Logitech First Mouse Optical, but with a task-switcher button and the MX Optical Engine. I used the First Mouse Optical for over a year and I loved its ambidextrous form-factor. In this review, we’ll be focusing on the MX500. Having owned nearly every mouse Logitech has ever produced, and now being an avid Microsoft Explorer 3.0 mouse user, I was a bit skeptical about the MX-series of mice, especially after using their latest ‘pro’ mouse – the Logitech Dual Optical. The Dualie was a fine attempt at making a corded optical mouse work as well as a balled one. However, its sensor and DSP still had a hard time with rapid mouse jerkings and its dual nature augmented the price. Logitech released several more rodents in that period, but the Dual Optical was the last good mouse – it was obvious their engineers were hard at work.
Nearly a year after its release, Logitech is now flaunting its MX-series, and I think the wait was well worth it. Microsoft took up a bit of the ‘waiting game’ slack and this probably hurt Logitech as they lost a bit of market share. However, now that the MX Optical Engine has been unleashed onto this world, Microsoft has a heavyweight boxer in the ring with them.
Speaking of Microsoft, it seems Logitech has taken the MS packaging approach for their mice. The MX-series can be held through the form-fitted plastic shell, and even the underside of the mouse can be scrutinized. The packaging is loud and at the same time artfully conservative, and in three languages no less, with up to 16 languages on the side bars.
Inside, one can find the MX500 mouse, a USB to PS/2 green ‘gender bender’ dongle, a thick Setup guide, the Mouseware 9.37 CD-ROM with Mac and PC software, and a ‘Creativity’ pamphlet depicting a majority of the Logitech product schema.
Looking at the product itself, the MX500 mouse is an art form. You can tell that Logitech spent good dollar on ‘user needs analyses’ and ‘human interface design’ – the MX500/MX700 mouse feels amazing. There are two kinds of mouse users – the light-touchers and the full-on palm users. The Light-touchers have their thumb, forefinger and pinky touching the mouse, with an occasional index finger on the wheel or button. They’re the graceful artistic mouse users, akin to holding a martini glass or tea cup with a pinky finger in the air. Then, there’s the full-on brute – full palm contact on the mouse, and every finger is in contact with some part of the mouse. They’ve got cursor acceleration set on high, and rapid movement is their game. Thankfully, Logitech designed the MX500 form-factor for both in mind.
I’m the prior; I use graceful movements of the mouse, and only three fingers touch the mouse at any one point in time. I don’t have carpal tunnel syndrome or any repetitive strain injuries, so I must be doing something right. However, this form of use has a tendency of wearing mice out. My MS Explorer 3.0 has its metallic left-button paint eroded down to the plastic molding, and the right-rear bottom part of the mouse where my pinky touches is severely ‘damaged’. For a $60 mouse, I love my MS Explorer 3.0, but I’m surprised it hasn’t lasted me more than six months. I go through a number of keyboards too – typing 300,000 words in reviews and 1,000,000 words in ICQs and e-mails per year tend to wreck mice and keyboards.
However, that said, the Logitech MX500 form-factor appears to be very well designed and constructed. There are no seam or mould lines where your hand or fingers touch, meaning that there shouldn’t be any unnecessary sweat and gunk build-up where you wouldn’t want it. There are two curved seams on top of the mouse, but I don’t see this as posing a problem unless you’re a frequent cheesy-puff eater and mouser.
Unlike previous generations of Logitech and MS mice, the
buttons on the MX500 form-factor aren’t ‘in the way’. I hate mice that are
covered in buttons and especially those that have them in all the wrong spots.
There’s nothing like working on some website code or a review and hitting the
page back/forward button – very frustrating. As such, older mice with these
buttons in all the wrong places force me to disable them in software. With the
MS Explorer 3.0, these two web-browser back/forward buttons are a tiny bit in
the way, but I learned to adapt to their presence. With the MX500, these two
buttons are sufficiently out of the way, but at the same time easily accessible.
Below these two buttons is an indentation for your right hand’s thumb.
Initially, I was very cautious and skeptical about it – I’m not a big fan
concerning ergonomic keyboards or mice – however, over time, it fit my hand
like an inverted glove, or something like that. It just felt natural, and having
used the MX500 for a week now, I’m a bit apprehensive about returning to my
worn MS Explorer 3.0.
The left side of the MX500 is devoid of buttons, thank God. Both the left and right side of the mouse is clad in a pleasing rubbery texture. If you’ve ever owned an Apple Newton MessagePad or IBM Thinkpad, it’s the same rubbery coating. This material helps to increase your grip on the mouse, all the while soaking sweat and finger oils – it gives the mouse a very comfy feel, but the thumb indent is a cesspool of sweat and oils – ugh.
The top third of the mouse is clad in a length-wise strip of metallic grey plastic which goes from the aft of the mouse and forks at the front of the mouse. What is intriguing is that these two forks act as the primary and secondary buttons. No more buttons that gather grime – these two are extensions of the outer shell of the mouse’s case. I’m overjoyed to see some ingenuity left in mouse design. The Logitech wordmark logo is actually quite boring – I was hoping that it was to be illuminated by the MX sensor package, but it’s just a silver logo on a black oval disc.
Down the front and center of the mouse, between the two button forks, is the central control portion of the MX500 form-factor. Instead of just the mouse wheel, Logitech added three more little buttons to the mix. Straddling the wheel are two new buttons which Logitech has coined as the ‘Cruise Control Scrolling System’. These two buttons provide continuous scrolling, up or down, through long documents or web sites. The wheel has been relegated to line-by-line or accurate scrolling.
Below this is a third little button, called the ‘Quick Switch Program Selector’. Similar to the ‘Alt-Tab’ key combo, the Quick Switch button brings up a list of what is currently open on your PC. Selections are made by clicking on the desired document or program. What is interesting is that unlike the barely useful MS version of the task switcher screen, the Logitech one is a large list with big item icons and its full path. I don’t ‘Alt-Tab’ anymore, I Quick Switch. Twenty years of operating system design and Microsoft still can’t get it right. Thankfully, companies like Logitech can get it right the first time.
If you’re not too fond of these defined presets, the Mouseware control panel allows you to redefine these five buttons. If you’re an avid online gamer, these buttons can give you the needed edge to pull ahead in these highly competitive games.
The MX500 worked flawlessly on Windows XP Pro SP1, Windows ME, and Mac OS X 10.2.2 Jaguar. On the Mac, Logitech provides the LCC or Logitech Control Center v1.0.3 for setting-up and configuring the MX500. Although the PC version of MouseWare is functional, the Mac version of LLC is simply gorgeous. In a true ‘Aqua’ interface, the LLC makes the MX500 have the look of feel of something that seems to belong to the Mac – be it a Quicksilver G4 or Titanium PowerBook. Mac users that are still in OS 9.x land have the option of downloading and installing MouseWare M4.0.5.
On the underside of the MX500, Logitech was careful in designing it so that there were enough Teflon pads to make it glide on any surface, but not too many to increase friction. There are two labels at the top and bottom of the mouse and the MX optical sensor package is located near the middle. The underside is very smooth and devoid of anything or any surface detail. This is a good thing as it makes cleaning of the mouse a simple thing. The bottom plastic face is translucent, revealing a dark PCB with white stenciling. The sensor package does in fact look different from other competition or Logitech generations. The cord is very flexible and almost feels like its Teflon coated.
In the usability department, I made sure to test the MX500
in ‘real world’ areas. For example, I played a lot of “Age of Mythology”,
“Unreal Tournament 2003”, and “James Bond: Nightfire demo”, mixed with
tons of word-processing in MS Word, html work and graphic design with Adobe
Photoshop 7.0, and a mix mash of IE 6.0 browsing and e-mailing. Since I use the
PC and Mac on a 18/7 schedule, I squeezed-in a lot of use on the MX500 in the
last week. I have the MX500 on Belkin’s 4-port
USB Switch, so I can switch the review sample between the two computers at
the touch of a button.
As usual, the Logitech mouse wheel has problems in-game. I’m not sure why Logitech can’t get this ‘right’, but the only way to make it work is to force-quit the ‘EM_EXEC’ process in the Windows Task Manager. With this out of the way, the mouse wheel works fine in games. However, you could always use the Cruise Control buttons in-game, and these seem to work fine. Within MS Office applications and Internet Exploder, it seems that scrolling is a bit jumpy and not as smooth as Microsoft’s IntelliMouse wheel scrolling. Maybe since MS makes the mouse and the OS, they’ve got inside knowledge to make it work smoothly, but I’m just drawing at straws here.
In my standard tests, the MX500 had no ‘quick jerky motion’ errors, otherwise coined as the ‘Twitch Effect’. Even at the lowest acceleration configuration settings, I could not get the MX500’s cursor to behave erratically. In UT2003 multiplayer, I could play equally well as with my MS Explorer 3.0, and as a matter of fact, I think that my fingers tips were less numb than usual.
Fine control of graphical elements in Photoshop or Bryce were very encouragingly easy to perform – no more frustrated mousing around and trying to lasso odd and even pixels at 100% w/o zooming in. The MX500 is a natural extension of a designer’s arm – I can’t wait to see Logitech’s second generation of their MX-series Optical Engine products.
Another satisfying element is that the MX500 has real ‘ooomph’ to it. It’s satisfyingly heavy, and doesn’t feel like a $5 mouse. The rubbery texture, forked ‘invisible’ buttons, metallic silver and black appearance, and decent weight to it gives the MX500 a quantifiable value. It’s a mouse that will do equally well in an office space, a graphic design studio, home office, or a hardcore gamers’ den. Those that seek the tailless variety will be pleased to know that Logitech has the MX700 which recharges on a docking station and uses Digital RF technology. We’re hoping to have a review of this mega-rodent soon.
Logitech just had their second coming, and consumers are up in arms for them. We can’t think of a better time to pimp the MX-series (and release them) – they make for perfect gifts for any serious computer user, and with their multi-platform compatibility, Logitech has presented Microsoft with a ‘clear and present danger’.
Update: Several of our readers (Thanks to: w1zard & kalis) have pointed out that there is a work-around for the Wheel not working correctly in games. On the Logitech site, there is a well-hidden link that I didn't see that allows you to download a small patch titled 'GAME_WHL.EXE' which weighs all of 29KB. Grab it here!
In Logitech's words: This allows gamers to use a Logitech wheel/roller mouse without having to disable or end task on EM_EXEC.EXE, when playing games such as Rogue Spear and Quake. This Registry file also allows MouseWare to set both "Scroll Bar" and "Office Compatible" wheel options at the same time. This eliminates the need to check and uncheck the "Office Compatible" check box under the "Buttons" tab of the MouseWare properties dialogue.
Until Logitech corrects this in their MouseWare software by integrating this patch, we won't be changing our score or the 'Dislikes' in the review. Providing a patch only covers a percentage of users; integrating the fix in MouseWare would cover 100% of its users. The patch dates back to 1999 and is designed for Win 95/98 and NT 4.0, however i've installed it here on my XP Pro SP1 box, and it works fine. The Wheel worked in 'Age of Mythology' for camera rotation (didn't before, w/o quiting EM_EXEC), and I can switch weapons on UT2003 now. A hearty thanks to our dedicated readers.
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