The Gadgets Page

February 2, 2004

Review: Logitech MX700 Cordless Optical Mouse

Filed under: Computers and Peripherals,Reviews — Michael Moncur @ 1:50 pm

Logitech MX700 Cordless Optical Mouse (930754-0403)

In the early days, using a cordless mouse meant settling for poor tracking compared to a corded model, and dealing with new issues like interference and frequent battery replacement. The Logitech MX700 is the first mouse to offer great cordless performance without compromise.

Features

The MX700 has the same 800DPI engine as Logitech’s other current optical mice, and a cordless connection that can handle the data well. The wireless base station doubles as a charger for the included AA NiMH batteries.

Along with the usual left and right buttons and scroll wheel, the mouse includes five extra buttons: Back and Forward buttons, up and down “Cruise Control” buttons, and a task-switch button. All of these can be reprogrammed.

The MX700 includes software for Windows 95 through XP for PCs and MacOS 8.6 or later for Macintosh.

Performance

In practice, the MX700 works well. Like all optical mice, it can be picky about the surface you use it on. Its performance was disappointing on a cheap mousepad and an older 3M Mousing Surface. Using a newer 3M mousepad designed for optical mice, it worked perfectly. An ordinary piece of printer paper also works surprisingly well.

Ergonomically, this is a comfortable mouse. It’s heavier than a typical mouse but moves smoothly. While its shape is elegant and comfortable for right-handed use, left-handed users will find it less comfortable and may prefer one of the symmetrical models.

Buttons and Software

The MX700’s left and right buttons, scroll wheel, and Back/Forward buttons will all work in recent versions of Windows with the default Microsoft drivers. To enable the extra buttons and reprogramming, you will need to install Logitech’s drivers.

Be careful with the installation program provided on the included MouseWare CD-ROM. Only one of the components it installs is the essential mouse driver–others, like “eBay Shortcut” are worthless promotional gimmicks. The installation will also repeatedly prompt you to install a “Desktop” program that runs in the background and alerts you when new software is available. Considering how rarely one really needs to update mouse drivers, this is a waste of memory and should be avoided.

  • Note: If you download the latest MouseWare from Logitech’s web site, you’ll have a more recent driver than the CD–and the downloadable version does not include most of the unnecessary features.

I’ve found the browser Back and Forward buttons on the MX700 to be indispensable, but the other buttons aren’t as useful. The “Cruise Control” buttons above and below the scrollwheel toggle scrolling at a preconfigured speed. I found this pointless, but they make great Page Up and Page Down buttons. The Task Switcher button is similar to Windows’ Alt-Tab keystroke, and seems redundant. I can think of some better uses for it (maybe a browser Reload button?) but in practice it remains ornamental.

Battery Life

Before buying the MX700, I used Logitech’s previous cordless optical mouse for years. It worked well except for one thing: the AA batteries needed replacing about every 3 weeks. It was the most frequent consumer of batteries in the household. The MX700 is supplied with two AA NiMH batteries and a charger in the base station, eliminating this problem.

The mouse’s battery life is very good–I typically get three or four days of heavy use out of a single charge. It takes about 2 hours for a full charge, and if you need to get the mouse working quickly, a 10-minute charge will keep you going for an hour or so. Logitech’s software monitors the battery charge level and reminds you to recharge.

Many rechargeable devices use embedded batteries that are difficult to replace when performance declines after a year or so. This mouse’s standard AA batteries will be easy to replace if necessary, and heavy power users could keep a spare set of charged batteries handy.

Wireless Range

Logitech claims a 6-foot range for the cordless RF transmitter and receiver, and it really is that good–in my tests, I got over 10 feet away before I noticed communication problems. In normal use with the base station a few feet away, it performs as consistently as a corded mouse.

Similar Models

Logitech offers several mouse models with the same optical engine and varying degrees of features. The low-end model is the MX310, which is not cordless and lacks the Cruise Control buttons, but otherwise is a great budget mouse. The MX500 is a tethered version of the MX700 with all of the buttons.

At the high end, Logitech’s MX900 looks like the 700, but uses Bluetooth rather than proprietary RF communication, and doubles as a Bluetooth base station for other devices. They also sell combination keyboard and mouse packages with the MX700 and MX900.

Conclusion

Long ago, I considered cordless mice a toy for executives–they looked impressive but underperformed in actual use. With the MX700 Logitech has made a great cordless mouse that even power users, programmers, and gamers can love. This will be my mouse of choice for the forseeable future.

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