Review: Logitech MX Revolution on a Mac


My old rollerball mouse finally get to a point where it needed retiring. It was missing about 1 in 10 clicks which gets really frustrating! So I set off to find a new mouse. I decided to go for a 'normal' type of mouse, partly for a change and partly because I suspect they are more accurate at high speeds than a rollerball mouse. I found myself choosing between two Logitech laser cordless mice. The one I decided to go for was the most expensive top of the range mouse, the MX Revolution. Needless to say, at the price, I had very high expectations!

I am using a Mac so this review is referring to use of the mouse with the Logitech Control Center running on Tiger. Rather disappointingly when I first downloaded the Logitech Control Center from their website as instructed in the setup guide the mouse was not recognized by the driver. I Googled around to see why this was happening and other users reported the same behavior. The problem is fixable by uninstalling and installing the older version of the driver, which can be found here. There is also an interesting article on the subject here.

First impressions

The first thing you'll notice about the MX Revolution is it's style. This is what really attracted me to it in the shop. It's a combination of black shiny, matt and textured rubber materials highlighted with chrome effect details on the scroll wheels and the extra button on the top. The shape and feel of the mouse is perfect, although it did seem quite small after my larger rollerball mouse. In the box is a small USB dongle which provides the wireless interface, a charger cradle and the mouse itself.

Clever Scroll Wheel

The MX Revolution has one significant feature which sets it apart from other mice. It's scroll wheel has two, physically different, operating modes. One is a free wheeling mode where it will spin freely, and can do so for some time if you really flick it. The other is a 'ratcheted' mode which gives more feedback when you need more precise scrolling. Out of the box this feature can be toggled on or off by clicking down the wheel. This behavior lead me to think the switch was a mechanical change triggered by pushing the wheel down. Not so. It's completely customizable through the software driver. You can make the wheel button behave like a normal middle button and specify which mode you'd like the wheel to be in according to which application you are using. It's very rewarding to be in one app, say a text editor, and have the wheel be in it's ratcheted mode as you precisely scroll line by line, then flick into your web browser to instantly find the wheel is spinning freely enabling you to smoothly whiz up and down a web page.

It gets better than this too. You can actually set it up so it starts in one mode and then changes to the other according to how fast you are turning the wheel. You can set the speed that will trigger the change with a slider in the driver. I have it set up my text editor so that it starts in the ratcheted mode and when I spin it at a certain speed it enters the free spin mode, so I can jump about big documents with ease. I am very impressed by this feature!

More Controls

There is another control which looks like a wheel that falls under your thumb. In fact this isn't a wheel but a spring loaded rotational wheel. You can push it or pull it and it bounces back to it's center point. The idea is that it's used to switch between applications. I can't say how well this works on Windows but on a Mac it wasn't very functional at all. When you push or pull it it would bring up the Application Switcher (as found with Command + Tab) and then slowly move from one icon to the next until you let it go. This is far too slow to be of any use unfortunately. Also, unfortunately, the alternative controls available for the thumb wheel are limited to Zoom or just bringing up the Application Switcher without cycling the icons. I have it set on Zoom now but it seems like a bit of a waste of quite an advanced control. The thumb wheel also acts as another button when it is pushed in.

There are two buttons above where the thumb normally lies which can be highly customized. I have these set up to toggle between tabs in most applications. The software allows you to set different controls for different applications so you can synthesize the different keyboard shortcuts needed to do something like this.

There is also another button which is just behind the top scroll wheel. Logitech's idea with this button is to use it to automatically search for the text that is highlighted. I didn't find much use for this but luckily it can be customized. I actually have this button bring up the Application Switcher so I can quickly mouse to the icon I want and then let go of the button to be dropped into that app.

Of course there are the left and right click buttons which seamlessly integrate to the surface of the mouse and provide a nice level of feedback, not to loose and not too firm.

7 Jan 07

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