July 6, 2005

Review: Logitech MX1000 laser mouse

Author: Jem Matzan

Many people with optical mice think of them as having lasers because of the bright red light that emits from them. It looks like a laser, but in fact it is merely a particularly bright and focused light-emitting diode (LED). However, last fall Logitech introduced the first commercially available laser mouse, boasting up to 20 times the precision of LED-based optical mice. The MX1000 is Logitech's newest and most technologically advanced mouse. It works with GNU/Linux, but with some reservations.

Why would you need 20 times the precision of an optical mouse? Optical mice, while generally good at tracking on standard mousepads and gaming surfaces, are horrible at tracking on just about any other surface. Put an optical mouse on a smooth and shiny surface, or one that contains reflective streaks, and you'll quickly discover why a higher tracking resolution is a good idea.

The MX1000 can't track a signal on a mirrored surface, but it works just as well on a paper notebook or a desktop as it does on a good mousepad. There's no "pointer drift" with the MX1000, a problem caused by poor quality or dirty optics and inadequate tracking surfaces.

Physical design and features

The MX1000 is one big slab of plastic. It's the largest mouse I have ever used, larger even than the Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer 3.0. It's also noticeably heavier than most other mice, including both wired mice and the A4Tech NB-50 wireless mouse. Coming from the NB-50 to the MX1000, I found it difficult to adjust to the increased size and weight.

Using a cloth mousepad or just the surface of your desk is quite uncomfortable with the Logitech MX1000 because of its bulkiness. I picked up an X-Raypad Thunder 9 gaming surface, which comes with Teflon mouse tape for the slider pads on the bottom of the mouse. Using this mousepad and Teflon tape, the MX1000 was much easier on my wrist.

In terms of ergonomics, my thumb fit nicely in the cutout on the left side of the mouse, and while I did experience some "pinky drag," it was not nearly as noticeable as with smaller mice.

However, buttons are a problem. There are too many of them on the MX1000, and most are difficult to reach without repositioning your hand. There are, of course, the two standard mouse buttons and an incremental scroll wheel that can act as the third mouse button. A rocker button covers the top and bottom of the wheel, and will scroll up and down in single increments, or scroll smoothly if you hold it down. Unfortunately, I could only reach the bottom scroll button -- the top was too far for my finger to reach without taking my palm off of the mouse. Another rocker button above the thumb cutout controls forward and back functions in a Web browser. The center button on this rocker has the same functionality as the first mouse button in GNU/Linux. Again, half of the rocker is inconveniently placed for quick access.

Electrical design

The MX1000 uses a built-in rechargeable battery. On a full charge the mouse can withstand a week's worth of heavy, long-term usage before the power level reaches 1/4 of its maximum. Charging from a depleted battery requires two to three hours and is best done overnight.

A three-LED display on the mouse indicates battery charge level. When all three LEDs are lit, it means that the mouse is fully charged (or close to it). If two are lit the charge is three-quarters of maximum, and if only one is lit it means that there is only 50% of the charge remaining. When the first LED blinks and the other two are not lit, that means you're running low on power and should think about recharging soon. The LEDs do not display unless there has been mouse activity within the past 5 seconds. A shutoff switch on the bottom of the mouse lets you maximize your battery life by disabling the laser when the mouse will not be in use.

Working with GNU/Linux

Like the majority of mice, the Logitech MX1000 has no trouble with basic functionality in modern GNU/Linux distributions. Older distros may have to add a ZAxisMapping line to the XF86Config file to get the scroll wheel working.

If you want full functionality for your buttons (to the extent that they are functional without installing Windows-only memory-resident control software), add these lines to your xorg.conf file:

Option    "Buttons" "7"
Option    "ZAxisMapping" "6 7"

If one or both of these lines already exists, just verify that the numbers are correct. Then create a file called.Xmodmap in your user's home directory, and type this into it:

pointer = 1 2 3 6 7 4 5

Close all of your open programs, then restart the X server through your desktop environment's menu or by pressing Ctrl-Alt-Backspace. Log in again and you'll have the scroll wheel, scroll rocker, and browser rocker buttons working.

All other advertised features of the Logitech MX1000 do not work in GNU/Linux at this time.

Conclusions

I used the Logitech MX1000 mouse every day for two weeks for this review, and I'm happy with it. You'll want a plastic, glass, or metal mousing surface like the X-Raypad, Icemat, Steelpad, or Radpadz GS, and Teflon mouse tape to prevent premature wear and tear on the surface and the mouse feet. This is no joke; you can wear out a good mousepad in less than three months if you don't use Teflon tape. Stay away from cloth mousepads -- the MX1000 is a heavy mouse and will strain your wrist if you use it on a friction-prone surface.

The MX1000 is a little expensive; expect to pay around $65 for it at online retailers. If you love good mice and are always looking for something better, $65 isn't much to pay. If you're happy with what you have now, $65 is going to seem outrageous.

The Logitech MX1000 works well with GNU/Linux, but not all of its fancy special features, like the "sideways" scroll function, will work. Its extra buttons will work, but are hard to reach without moving your hand away from a comfortable position on the mouse.

Device Wireless laser mouse
Manufacturer Logitech
OS Support Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, GNU/Linux, Mac OS X
Market Desktop users
Price (retail) $65
Previous version N/A
Product Web site Click here
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