When I moved from Windows to Mac (and I’m one of those cited in the study that blames Vista for that switch) one of my worries was about finding a good mouse. I know, sounds silly, but having checked around for suitable Apple-friendly input objects, I found that Windows had a lot more choices than Mac did.
After some trial and error, and the purchase of not one, not two, but five different mice, I think I’ve finally found the right combination of ergonomics, button choices, attractiveness, and non-buggy operation. Before I jump to my conclusion, I’ll provide the path that got me to The Perfect Mouse.
I started out with a keyboard/mouse combo from Logitech, the Cordless Desktop S530 which has been designed specifically for Macs and is Logitech’s only non-Windows keyboard-mouse combo. As it is, they only offer one other Mac-capable desktop, while offering ten Windows solutions. So you can see that we’re already off to a poor start.
The S530 is a great choice for anyone switching from Windows to a Mac, because the layout of the buttons, particularly the backspace and delete buttons, is exactly like a Windows keyboard. The accompanying mouse has a nice feel and the whole thing is done up in shiny white and matte silver so it fits right it with any Apple hardware.
Ultimately, I abandoned the keyboard for one reason only: Logitech’s support for its Mac drivers is woefully inept. Once I moved over to Leopard, the S530 started acting peculiarly, and even after a “Leopard compatibility update,” it just wasn’t worth the aggravation.
Keyboard-wise, I went with Apple’s own slim and sexy aluminum keyboard and moved over to Microsoft for a mouse, which I had heard through the grapevine would prove to be more robust and happy living on OS X.
Perusing Microsoft’s hardware site proved a bit difficult at first since they don’t seem all that excited about promoting someone else’s platform. So figuring out which mice would be supported on OS X was a hunt-and-peck frustration, but I eventually found the Wireless Laser Mouse 8000 that I selected based mostly on three criteria: its model number suggested it was the most recent mouse available, it was wireless, and it was “man-sized.”
I started using it and after about a week I determined that it sucked, mostly because it’s a Bluetooth mouse. Something about Bluetooth sucks, and that something is “almost everything.” It was constantly cutting out, fluttering all over the screen, and woulnd not awaken my computer no matter how I flung it about. It also came with a fairly huge recharging station that I though I’d like, but decided that in real life usage it was stupid.
But I was thinking perhaps that it was just Bluetooth that sucked, because otherwise the Microsoft Mouse had it all over the Logitech solution, even Microsoft’s Intellipoint drivers were much better and more stable than Logitech’s Control Center. It may have been an illusion, but it was a worthwhile one.
I went back to MS again and looked a bit more and decided to get a bit radical in my mouse choice and bought a Natural Wireless Laser Mouse 6000, which was, one assumes, 2000 times less good than the 8000, but it didn’t use Bluetooth and it was “designed to conform to your hand in its most relaxed position.”
This is one weird-ass mouse. You kind of have to see it to believe it. It’s bulky, it’s ergonomic, it’s tilted, and it’s designed to feel natural – hence the name. And, admittedly, this was my mouse of choice.
For about three weeks. What shot it down? Well, its USB dongle is ludicrously huge. Ridiculously so. I have no idea why it needs such a huge, mouse-sized wireless dongle, or why, in fact, for such a huge dongle, it had to be placed within a foot or two of it or the signal would fail. I lived with that for all it’s complete stupidity and ugliness because the mouse felt good and worked well. Then its design flaw made itself known in no uncertain terms, and it was something I doubt Microsoft could have ever tested for.
I live in San Francisco, and we have the temperate climes that allows me to work, on most days, with my windows wide open. Meaning everything gets a fine coating of city dust. Add to that the presence of a kitty cat who dearly loves to shed her fur anywhere and everywhere and suddenly there are loose particles laying about looking for something to cling to.
Microsoft, for probably no reason whatsoever, attached one of their stickers describing the mouse’s capabilities and serial number and branding and whatnot right next to the little circular window where the laser’s beam peeks out to figure out where it is. The sticker had just enough sticky on its edges to capture whatever it came in contact with, including kitty cat hairs.
Any time my cursor started jumping around randomly and appearing suddenly at the opposite edge of the screen, I knew my mouse had a hair in its eyes. It couldn’t see where it was going, couldn’t get a clear view of things, and this started happening more and more often. So much so, that I had to abandon mouse #3.
Where to next? I’d given Microsoft two chances and Logitech’s software still sucked (according to posts in their help forums from angry and saddened Mac users) so I decided to go back to the source and give Apple’s Might Mouse a try.
Okay, so, others have asked this over and over but I just need to add my voice to the dissent and ask why in God’s name can’t Apple make a decent mouse? Every mouse they’ve ever produced is a joke. They’re a computer maker! One must imagine that in their headquarters building, someone must be using a mouse, and presumably they favor their own mice, unless they’ve graduated to a special place where they just think at the screen and it does what they wish. If so, please release that version of OS X post haste so we may all enjoy its benefits.
The Mighty Mouse must be someone’s idea of a joke. No one who’s used this thing for more than a week can possibly tell me they prefer it over any other mouse available It’s just awful. Truly a terrible product, made more so by the fact that its manufacturer does nothing but make products that make using computers better. The Mighty Mouse is an anti-input device.
I was in agony. I’m at my computer for hours every day. I’m a mouse guy. I don’t go in for keyboard shortcuts unless they’re Cntl-C, Cntl-V or Cntl-X. Cut and paste, baby, that’s all I need.
I decided to give Logitech another try because I actually already had another mouse they made with the rather long-winded name of VX Nano Cordless Laser Mouse for Notebooks. This was truly a thing of beauty. It’s small, it’s fast, it’s sleek, its USB dongle is smaller than a nickel, and if one didn’t bother loading any Logitech software, it ran fine as-is. Because I only used it when I was on the road, I didn’t mind it’s small footprint or lack of special effects. But for day to day use, in my large manly hand, it was a bit awkward.
I went back to Logitech and discovered, much to my happiness, that they had finally updated their Mac software to version 2.6 (apparently skipping 2.5 entirely) and it was getting high marks. So I took the plunge and bought the Rolls Royce of mice, the Logitech MX Revolution. Logitech describes it as “the world’s most advanced mouse,” which is really saying something since they already offer 14 other mice to choose from.
It is, however, $100. For a mouse. So for $100, just how good is it?
Friends, this is a very, very good mouse.
Firstly, Logitech seems to have solved all the problems that existed in its Control Center software. Version 2.6 (which you’ll probably have to download from their site and if you’re using a Logitech mouse on OS X right now, I’d advise you to go get it) runs without incident or accident and performs mousely legerdemain on your desktop.
Scrolling: Microsoft mice scroll wheels start out sticky and firm and slowly soften to mushy and abused. Logitech scroll wheels (at least on my VX Nano and MX Revolution) have two different scrolling methods. One is the usual step-by-step scroll where you tell the OS how much each step should scroll, from line-by-line to page-by-page. The other is a free-running speed scroller that just goes and goes and doesn’t stop at all, so when you need to get to the bottom fast, it’ll get there. The cool thing about the Revolution is that it’ll do either… or both. So it’ll start out with incremental scrolls, but if you really get going it switches to free scrolling. This is controlled via the Logitech software.
More buttons: Mice nowadays have 17 buttons. You can program them to open apps, or answer e-mail, or explode. The Revolution has the usual left and right buttons on top, plus two more mini thumb buttons along the left edge, plus yet another button called the Thumb Wheel that looks like a side-mounted scroll wheel except it rocks instead of rolls. It comes set-up so that rocking the wheel brings up the Dashboard, and pressing the wheel shows all open apps. You can change those settings to anything else you want to.
Extremely wireless: The Revolution’s USB dongle (fuck Bluetooth!) doubles as its recharger, so it’s not small. The mouse recharges on its end instead of lying flat, like Microsoft’s mouse, and you can sit the thing back a ways on your desk, behind your monitor, out of the way so your workspace remains relatively uncluttered and “Apple-like.”
Laser tracking: So far, so flawless. I doubt there are differences between one laser’s accuracy versus another’s, but it sure feels like there is. And Logitech only puts one sticker on the bottom of its mouse (to Microsoft’s 3) and it’s far enough from the laser’s window that only the most strident cat hair is going to get stuck in there. It also appears that the sticker’s depression is slightly larger that the sticker, where Microsoft’s 1-to-1 sticker to sticker depression sizing meant that the sticker could be slightly out of its depression, and suddenly one has stickiness where stickiness should not be.
Weird what’s important sometimes, isn’t it? Sticker placement on a mouse’s underside. Who knew?
The Revolution can be had in various places for less than its suggested retail price, but beware of buying one of Amazon’s “reconditioned” models. I gave one of those a shot because saving $60 seemed like a good deal. What I ended up with was an unusable mouse that refused to do anything mouse-like at all, so I guess you really do get what you pay for.