Logitech Optical Wheel Mouse

Wow! Logitech’s Optical Wheel Mouse is the absolute nicest input device I’ve seen in the ten years that I’ve used the Mac. In fact, I’d place it higher than any other mouse in the world — certainly ten times better than Apple’s notorious puck mouse.

Sharing the same technology as Microsoft’s line of optical devices (the Intellimouse with IntelliPoint, the Intellimouse Optical, and the Intellimouse Explorer), Logitech created a mouse that relies on a miniature camera to track motion. The sensor tracks motion along hundreds of surfaces as long as it’s a few millimeters off whatever you plan to mouse on. No problem if you want to ditch the mousepad or use it on your pant-leg if you have a laptop. Heck, you can even use it on your head, plastic, wood, and stainless steel. It doesn’t, however, work on glass or similarly reflective materials.
If the Logitech mouse is anything like the IntelliMouse then it works by using a tiny CMOS digital camera to take 1,500 pictures per second of the surface beneath the mouse. An on-board processor then analyzes the changes in the pictures and translates it to instructions that the Mac can use to move the cursor around. The processor itself is 18 MIPS, equivalent to the computational power of a computer built in the early 90’s, more than enough to get the job done — almost.


The mouse comes with three buttons, a right and left one, and one that is activated by pressing down the scroll wheel. These can be configured to use control-clicks, double-clicks, or option-clicks with the software Logitech provides. Suffice to say, I was immediately addicted to the scroll wheel. Soon after installing the software, I noticed an upgrade on the company’s website that added a few new features such as a web navigation extension called the WebWheel™ and better speed settings. I encountered no compatibility or driver problems while using the mouse or the mouse software but decided to switch to Alessandro Montalcini’s USB Overdrive for more customization.
Furthermore, I can verify Logitech’s claim that the mouse is built to last. It’s light but sturdy and put together very well. On the packaging, it is written “There are no moving parts to break.” Well… what about the buttons and the scroll wheel? I’ve heard reports that these can get stuck but I’m satisfied with the warranty they offer and can pretty much agree that it won’t easily break.


The only frustrating thing about it involves the tracking precision when I’m moving the mouse quickly from one side to the other. Characteristic of some of the mice that use rubber balls, Logitech’s Wheel Mouse occasionally jumps, sticks, or performs wild acrobatics on screen if the mouse is flung across the screen. Not so great for games like Quake or Unreal when you need to be able to respond to a rocket flying at your head with a rapid twitch.
Honestly, that’s my only complaint with the product. Getting around Logitech’s website is another matter though. You won’t even find the Optical Wheel Mouse listed nor will you find any press releases announcing its arrival at WWDC last week. Tell me if I’m wrong, maybe I just missed it.


Also of note: when the package came in the mail and I got past all the bubble rap and whatnot, the box was cleverly designed. It was, actually, one of the only product boxes I kept. It’s very pretty and sports a flashing LED light embedded in the box that I had an infinite amount of fun with. This proves Logitech’s commitment to design, ease of use, and detail.
Overall, I’ll give it a 10 out of 10. It’s better than the IntelliMouse, better than Kensington’s line, and the best replacement for the money if you’re like me and hate the Apple’s standard mouse. Excellent, absolutely excellent.


Rating: 10 out of 10