11/24/2006 | 09:01 PM
I long wanted to buy a cordless mouse. One easily gets used to the tail of the ordinary mouse and doesn’t take much notice of it, but it is only with a cordless mouse that you have that feeling of absolute freedom of movement.
This cannot be described in words, you have to try it by yourself. Of course, it must be a good mouse, not one of those cheap no-name products every computer shop offers in abundance. Being quite happy with a good corded Logitech MouseMan Dual Optical, I had never used one, but I had seen what becomes of such no-name mice after some use: always depleted batteries, wobbly buttons, a barely controllable pointer…
Despite my long-time desire, I couldn’t get determined enough to make the purchase. You don’t often buy computer mice costing over $100, after all. I was looking at the price-lists, but the prices didn’t want to go down. I was feasting my eyes on colorful pictures at the manufacturer’s website and reading exciting texts that described the product’s capabilities. And one day I just bought a cordless laser mouse called Logitech MX Revolution.
The box looks impressive and contains the following:
The Logitech MX Revolution looks cute and lies smugly in the hand, although I would prefer it to be taller and humpbacked. But this is a matter of personal taste after all. Some people may find the mouse rather too large as it is.
Why is it called Revolution? You can’t surprise anyone with an abundance of buttons and an ergonomic shape today, so what’s so revolutionary about it? It’s all about the wheel which is quite uncommon in this mouse.
The MicroGear wheel is revolutionary because it works in two modes. The first mode allows to scroll as usual by 2-3 lines depending on the driver settings, but in the second mode the wheel is rotating freely, something that other computer mice cannot do. You may think this is not sufficient to be regarded as a revolution, but this mode is indeed very helpful. You spin up the wheel and the long article or document is being scrolled down rapidly before your eyes. You can stop instantly at any place and, if necessary, switch the wheel into the traditional step-by-step mode.
You can switch from one mode to another by pressing the wheel, but there is SmartShift technology that frees you from this simple job even. The software identifies the currently active application and automatically selects an optimal wheel mode. For example, the step-by-step mode is enabled by default for Excel, but the free rotation mode is turned on automatically as soon as you switch to your Web-browser.
On the left, near the user’s thumb, the Logitech MX Revolution has Forward and Backward buttons and a Quick-Flip wheel. This is actually a 3-position button that is designed like a wheel for the sake of convenience. By default, it works like the Alt-Tab shortcut to switch between the open application windows. You move this wheel-button to choose an application and press it to make the application active.
The mouse’s movements are being tracked by a high-precision laser with a wavelength of 848 nanometers. A very small USB receiver, the size of a flash drive but thinner, is communicating with the mouse at a frequency of 2.4GHz, which provides a faster and more reliable connection than the typical frequency of 27MHz.
The most useless, in my opinion, button is located near the top wheel. It is called One-Touch Search. This button allows to search the selected word with a specified Web search engine.
The indicator of the charge level of the built-in battery shines at work. The battery recharges quickly and lasts for long, and the docking station looks very elegant and stylish. It will itself be an ornament of your desk.
Now it’s time to review the software the Logitech MX Revolution is controlled with. The enclosed CD contains the SetPoint program that allows to set up the mouse flexibly for various modes and applications.
When I was describing the buttons, I mentioned their default functions, but SetPoint allows to redefine them as you wish. You should find the necessary button in the list – it is then highlighted in red on the picture on the left – and select the desired function. Note that SetPoint can set the mouse up independently for different applications. You can assign a certain function to a button for all applications at once or select the necessary program from the list in the bottom left. If there is no such program there, you should choose it manually.
As a result, buttons can perform different functions in different applications. Just don’t get confused yourself.
The lists of functions SetPoint offers for the mouse’s buttons differ. The screenshot above shows a rather long list of functions for the One-Touch Search button whereas the Quick-Flip wheel can either perform its default function or zoom in and out.
I learned later, though, that the current list of settings is stored in the user.xml file which you can edit manually. You can write a necessary function into that file manually, and SetPoint will do what you want.
The second screen of the SetPoint program contains pointer speed settings.
The third screen contains gaming settings.
The speed of vertical and horizontal scrolling is set up in the program’s fourth screen. The MicroGear wheel modes are specified here, too. You can set up each mode individually for each application or generally for all.
The last screen shows the battery charge level in percent or in workdays. However, you can easily check this out by looking at the shining indicator on the mouse itself or in the pop-up tip that appears when you place your mouse pointer over the SetPoint icon in the system tray.
The Tools tab contains hyperlinks that lead to Logitech’s websites.
You can also check out here if there are any updates available for the SetPoint program itself.
The mouse looks cute and SetPoint seems to provide flexible and broad setup opportunities. But now I’ll tell you how this works in practice.
My first complaint is about the Backward button which usually reacts only after a second press. I use this button quite often, for example when viewing numerous topics on a Web forum, so I noticed that problem at once. There is the same problem with the Forward button, but I use it less frequently. This must be due to the placement of these two buttons on the mouse’s left side along with a Quick-Flip wheel. The wheel is large and handy, but the Backward and Forward buttons are too small. They look like two thin lines and do not respond sharply to your presses. The thumb feels the click but there is no result. You just have to press the buttons with more strength, yet I had expected more convenience from a $100 mouse. The thumb-pressed button on my older Logitech MouseMan Optical was large and handy, responding eagerly even to a light press.
The second problem is about redefining the mouse’s buttons. I am not fastidious about that and am generally satisfied with the defaults, but I just didn’t need the One-Touch Search button. I decided to assign the Ctrl-R (refresh) shortcut to it. The button worked well in my Web browser, but wouldn’t do so in Total Commander. I even put Total Commander on the list of programs in SetPoint, but this didn’t help.
And the biggest problem was that the Forward and Backward buttons didn’t work at all in Firefox. I didn’t even have to contact Logitech’s tech support because I immediately saw the Frequently Asked Questions about Mozilla Firefox and Logitech Mice. I must be not the only person to have asked that question. It turns out that earlier versions of SetPoint are incompatible with Firefox because this browser uses non-standard navigation commands, but it’s all right with newer versions of SetPoint.
It seems strange to me because the generic driver from Microsoft is quite compatible with the “non-standard navigation commands” and the buttons miraculously work. Perhaps it’s not the Firefox developers’ but the Logitech programmers’ fault after all? It’s also strange that I had pressed the update button and thought that I had the latest, 3.0 version of SetPoint. The website, however, contained version 3.1 which I had to download and install manually. But the problem with Firefox didn’t disappear.
I again visited the Logitech tech support site and found two answers to my question. First, there is a note that says that SetPoint works correctly with Internet Explorer 6 (IE 7 is not yet supported) and Firefox 1.0.4 and higher, but not Firefox 2.0. Well, the buttons of my mouse didn’t work even in the old version of Firefox. Could I have been doing something wrong? Well, yes. I next found an article that informed me about the proper way of installing SetPoint. As it turns out, you have to launch the Command Prompt and type RD "%APPDATA%"\Logitech\Setpoint after you have uninstalled the previous version.
That’s funny. Logitech’s programmers not only write buggy programs, but can’t even uninstall their programs correctly. Well, I uninstalled it myself, restarted the computer and typed that line in the Command Prompt, but the folder wouldn’t get deleted because it was not empty. I found that folder myself – it contained those editable user configuration files. I deleted the files and the folder and a few more mentions of Logitech and SetPoint from the hard disk. Then I had to do the same with the System Registry. The program left its traces in various branches of the Registry and didn’t delete them when I uninstalled it. I rebooted the computer and performed a correct, clean install of SetPoint, but the buttons still didn’t work in Firefox.
That’s where I gave up and quite wrongly so. As I was writing this article, I found yet another recommendation on the tech support website how to make SetPoint work with Firefox and Mozilla. It is suggested that you assign the Alt-Arrow Left and Alt-Arrow Right key combinations to the buttons. I didn’t check this out myself because I didn’t care anymore. Instead of enjoying my purchase, I had been spending my days fighting glitches and regretting the lost money.
I couldn’t get back to the shop with the mouse as the warranty didn’t cover those issues. If I told them it was difficult to press the Back and Forward buttons, they’d certainly tell me to press them harder. The problems with the SetPoint utility were software defects and I’d be asked to wait for updates. But what if I want to work with that mouse right now? They could have only replaced my mouse with another such one, but this wouldn’t solve the problems.
So I decided to sell the mouse and in quite a sly manner, I should confess. Quite a lot of users are just skimming through hardware reviews, looking at the pictures only, and then read the conclusion. It’s for such readers that I will put a marketing quote about the MX Revolution I took from Logitech’s website. Perhaps there are a lot of people like me who will be ready to buy the device after reading some pretty words and looking at cute pictures…
Well, I have already put up with my purchase by now. You have to pay for your mistakes and my hasty shopping decision cost me $100. It’s ok. I have also found out that if you delete SetPoint from the list of programs that launch at system startup, you can use your Logitech MX Revolution quite normally. It’s still difficult to press the Backward and Forward buttons right, but they work even in Firefox. It’s impossible to redefine the buttons, and the Quick-Flip wheel doesn’t work, but the One-Touch Search button does its job, evoking either the standard search panel or the specialized search pane of the current application. The left- and -rightward scrolling doesn’t work even in Windows Vista where it is built into the generic driver. In fact, my Logitech MX Revolution has transformed into an ordinary mouse with three additional buttons, two of which often require a second press to respond, and the third button is almost useless. But the mouse has the magic MicroGear wheel which is indeed very handy to work with.
Summing everything up, the Logitech MX Revolution has a lot of good points, but only one real advantage, which is its MicroGear wheel. Not good in this device are the virtually useless One-Touch Search and Quick-Flip buttons (Windows Vista features a more direct method of switching between open applications), the malfunctioning Backward and Forward buttons, and the imperfect SetPoint utility (it provides enough setup flexibility, but its functionality is lacking). Also on the downside is that the tech support site has an inconvenient FAQ system where necessary information is stored in different sections.
The mouse is undoubtedly the best in its price category in terms of functionality and ease of use. But do you know any more mice priced at $100?
What do I advise you to do? Wait for simpler mice with MicroGear and some two or three additional buttons so that you could do without the SetPoint software but use the generic Windows driver instead. I should confess I am a long-time user of Logitech mice and have always considered them the best, but I have never before tried to use their own software.
And finally, if someone is going to buy this mouse from me, here is the promised quote from the Logitech website.
The world’s most advanced mouse
Smarter, faster, and fully-loaded, the MX Revolution gives you powerful new controls that will streamline the way you work. Logitech’s innovative MicroGear Precision Scroll Wheel lets you fly through long documents at hyperspeed, or switch to precise click-to-click scrolling for navigating lists, slides, and image collections. Toggle between open documents with the convenient Quick-Flip thumb wheel, or search the Web by highlighting a word or phrase and pressing the Search button.