Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX Review: Cool Gear

The Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX: ergonomic design with high build quality

The best wireless mouse is hard to find through the hundreds of available models, none of which carry perfect review ratings. Like keyboards and other input devices, which need a good fit to the user, mice always find a specific subset of the users for which they don't "fit", because of hand shape, use patterns or Repetitive Stress Injuries issues (RSIs). The outcome is that, for each wireless mouse with good numbers of reviews, a significant subset of users will downgrade their reviews, resulting in less than perfect review ratings.

Yet we all need input devices - if you are on the market for a good wireless mouse, where do you go? In our quest to equip the offices of ConsumerPla.net, we found an outstanding choice, which, surprisingly, does not show in the top 50 wireless mice bestsellers at Amazon, or the top 20 at Newegg: The Logitech Anywhere Wireless Advanced Laser Mouse MX.

The Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX, which can be found for $50 to $60, is presented by Logitech as the high end of Logitech range of portable mice -i.e. laptop or netbook mice, although, to our surprise, we found out that its users rated it as appropriate to use with desktops as well. It uses the 2.4GHz band for wireless communications, auguring for a better range than BlueTooth devices. Logitech advertises DarkField laser tracking for the Anywhere Mouse MX, a technology that, according to Logitech, improves tracking speed and precision, and can be used directly on glass surfaces, traditionally a difficult surface to deal with. The Anywhere Mouse MX is advertised for use with both PCs and Macs.

How do reviewers rate the Anywhere Mouse MX? The Anywhere Mouse MX scores very high across all key success factors. In fact, after having scanned all the best selling mice, which, because of individual fit, do not get uniformly high reviews, we were very surprised to find a very high scoring mouse significantly lower in the best-selling scale. Reviewers of the Anywhere Mouse MX paint very complete - and positive- picture of this wireless mouse.

Like all input devices, the first, and most important aspect, is - how well does it fit? We were shocked by the practical unanimity that users had on good fit:
"Feels great in your hand", "beautiful design, nice grip"," design is elegantly simple", "ergonomic and fits comfortably in my hand","every other wireless mouse is so far behind this mouse, it is not funny","my primary activity is CAD so the input device is very important. I have long fingers, but like small mice because I don't like to pivot my elbow when navigating the mouse. Mouse sensitivity is cranked up with only the wrist making movements. This helps with rotator cuff and carpal tunnel injuries by the way, two injuries that are common in office environments", "extremely comfortable, well balanced", "fits my hand well", "comfortable rubber side grips, feels good in the hand, despite the relatively small size", "This mouse just fits in my palm and I don't need a gel-bumper pad to reduce wrist fatigue. It was so different than my other Logitech laser mice, I hated it for the first few days, but then came to see it was more comfortable and I really like the touch/feel of the materials. The button arrangement is intuitive now and it's my favorite", "perfectly designed, excellent mouse", "comfortable, "good feel", "good fit into hands, good positioning of buttons", "I prefer a smaller mouse now (wrist problems) so the Anywhere is perfect for that", "great Forward/Backward button placement, [great] grip", "looks cool and feels balanced and solid", "feels great in the hand", ""smaller than desktop mice, but you're buying a laptop one. It actually is quite comfortable to use it as I though it'd be hard to grasp a small mouse, but you just let your hand relax and let some air be placed in between the mouse/table and your hand and it's beautiful", "small enough to carry around, yet very comfortable to use", " I am one of those people who sit in front of computers over 10 hours a day, and the Anywhere Mouse never hurt my hand", "Now that I've tried this mouse, I get frustrated whenever I use a different one. I really like its small size as I have small hands and many of the upper end mice with good ergonomics seem to be designed for mens hands", "I must have gone through at least 200 - 250 different products till I ended with this one. I was looking for a small mouse that could take on a lot of work and at the same time be tucked away nice and easy. I do a lot of 3D modeling and this mouse fit my needs perfectly", "ergonomic, comfortable shape makes it comfortable to use, hours on end". While a handful of users note that the backward/forward buttons are better positioned for right-handers, more left handers state they the can comfortably use the mouse: "it's a RIGHT-HANDED mouse", "the shape of the mouse makes it perfect for left-handed people", "I am also left-handed, I am also wearing my wedding ring when I use this mouse. I don't have any problem with the back/forward button... In fact, I just placed another order for my second laptop."

Laptop/ desktop dual use
We were very surprised to find out that, despite its small size, the users of the Anywhere Mouse MX use it as a general purpose mouse, both for laptops and desktops:
"I love it so much that I am buying a second one for my work PC", "great all around wireless mouse","don't know if I could recommend this mouse highly enough", "my productivity at work goes down what feels like 90 percent if I forget to bring it with me and am forced to use an el-cheapo Dell wired optical mouse. I don't even want to work without it. Co workers are blown away at how fast I can work in Excel with this thing", "I liked this mouse so much that I bought a couple more for my other machines", "I would like to see a larger desktop style equivalent, with that being said I use the MX at work everyday for 8 hours and don't necessarily think that I would buy a larger version. I am extremely happy with the Anywhere MX", "even though it is sold as a laptop mouse, it is an excellent high-end mouse for either desktop or laptop use", " works better than the mouse I have with my desk top. Even my kids, who love the touch pad, prefer the mouse."

We were initially skeptical of being able to use the small Anywhere Mouse MX comfortably for 10 hours a day with a desktop. We quickly found out that we were wrong. We discovered that those of us with larger hands did need to slightly change our grip on the mouse, and keep only the fingers in contact, with the lower palm remaining on the mousepad. Differently from large traditional desktop mice, the mechanics of mousing with the Anywhere Mouse MX for the large hand user involve fingers only, and avoid wrist and arm motions - something that we found a positive change, especially for those of us with RSIs. In the end, several of us elected to switch to the Anywhere Moue MX for our standard desktop mouse.

Build quality
Like many - although not all- Logitech products, the Anywhere Mouse MX gets kudos from users for excellent build quality:
"Quality is top notch", "upper build quality is good with a nice weight and feel to it especially with the metal parts on the scroll wheel and the center sternum of the mouse", "quality Logitech construction", "typically impeccable Logitech build quality", "nice build quality, sturdy", "great construction." The lone weakness, is the plasticky feeling of the battery cover: "battery cover feels thin and brittle", "plastic battery cover is a little cheap feeling."

Tracking for the Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX is outstanding, and reviewers report success on practically any surface, including, as advertised, glass:
"So smooth on any surface", "like many others say, this thing works on almost any surface, even your hand", "great movability and consistency for a wireless mouse (performs like a wired mouse)", "performance is top notch", "it does work on all surfaces", "laser tracking works great", "works well on all surfaces, as advertised", "works on glass surfaces well", "love the precision of it","works on any surface","awesome mouse!!! I have been waiting for a mouse that works on glass and here it is. Now I don't have to tape a piece of paper to the top of my glass desk anymore! :)","no response lag", "excellent readability on various surfaces", "tracks well", "Darkfield Laser Tracking allows you to use literally any smooth surface as a mousepad. When the package says, 'The world is your mousepad.' that's not hyperbole", "works on my glass coffee table, on my sofa's pillow, even on my car's center armrest", "on the way to a meeting, I can hold my laptop in my left hand and use my pantleg as a pointing surface to show reports, scroll through a presentation, anything, all while I'm walking through the office", "works on any surface", "It did find that it was flaky on a white rough plastic table which seemed strange since it works on everything else...other optical mouses work on this table but not on glass", , "tracking is not good on really clean, clear glass", "mouse really does work on every surface I've tried it on", "Dark-Laser (or however it's called) works as advertised, it tracks on glass, mirrors, beds, my head, my arms the same way it does on the table", "the pads on the bottom are larger than other mice of this type so I never have trouble with them getting gummed up, and it slides nicely over my desk's black formica that regular mice never would act correctly on", "responsive", "like many others say, this thing works on almost any surface, even your hand."

However, the mouse is not perfect for the more demanding gaming applications, which typically require a specialized gaming mouse: "since I play games a lot, the precision of the mouse is important for me. Sometimes the mouse lag in my game", "fantastic mouse, even for gaming. Really ergonomic, hyper scrolling is a plus. "I haven't played any FPSes with it yet, but haven't had any trouble with lag or jumpiness on any other games I've used it with. It's precision is great, I use the claw grip style with it","I do not want to lag while I am gaming... So, if you are into gaming, this might not be the mouse for you."

Wireless range
Range complaints are endemic with wireless devices, in part because metal parts and enclosures nearby can significantly impact transmission conditions. We were ready to see a good number of range complaints with the Anywhere Mouse MX, but found surprisingly few. The general picture painted by the review is very good transmission in general:
"Tiny USB transmitter can stay in PC and performance is top notch", "great range (Tested around 20-30 ft) ", "Logitech has always had good range with their stuff and this mouse is no exception", "the range is very nice", "receiver sucks, no range at all", "someone stated that they thought the reception sucked, I thought this at 1st but I had put the receiver on the back usb port of my tower and it was closed in by a lot of other things, once I switched it to the front port on the case I can use it up to 10 ft away (handy for when I clone monitor to TV for watching netflix)", "couldn't keep a consistent connection less than 6 feet line of sight away from the tower", "range is excellent. I can control the pointer on my laptop from at least 15' away", "reception is excellent and has good response."

To improve reception, the receiver can be mounted on a USB cable positioned in a better position. However, practically no users report needing it.

The receiver for the Anywhere Mouse MX (Logitech calls it a "unifying" receiver) can also be used for several other Logitech wireless devices, also working with the same 2.4GHz technology, such as wireless keyboards. It cannot be used with non-Logitech devices. It is extraordinarily small, tiny enough that it can remain plugged into a laptop's USB port while the laptop is in the case:
"Love the small unified receiver", "same unified USB receiver of my keyboard", "I really like the small USB receiver that you can just leave in your computer and not even notice it's there","small Unifying receiver hardly takes up any room", The unifying mini-receiver is great and should be the industry standard. I leave it in my laptop's USB port 24/7", " 'unifying' tech is cool", "small usb dongle is great", " Having the small dongle makes it easier to use with various computers than a bluetooth mouse would be", "receiver is small enough to plug and forget", "also not needing to remove it to put laptop in pouch."

The Anywhere Mouse MX is small enough to be used as a standard laptop or netbook mouse. It is larger than some other mobile mice. While some users warned that it may be too small for users with large hands, large handed users indicated, in general, that the small size still worked for them, as we ourselves had found out when outfitting our desktops:
"May be too small if you have large hands", "I have pretty large hands, and it is still very comfortable", "Large hands friendly. Some users might think it's on small side for large hands, but give it a test drive... weight/ heftiness and overall comfort (size, highest quality materials and SMOOTH operating buttons and wheels may overcome any size concerns)", "would have preferred having it a bit bigger, but considering my hand size, it is still great to work with", "honestly, it *could* be a little bigger for those with larger hands, but then it wouldn't be the ANYWHERE Mouse MX, since it's intended to also be used on the go", " this particular computer is in a fairly compact space and I can't have a large mat or even plain, flat surface. The smaller size works perfectly on a square pad. I can even lean back in the chair to watch a movie and use it on the chair arm", "wish the mouse was a tad larger and a smidge lighter", "In some other reviews, some people were concerned about how well it would work for people with large hands; I have large hands and it works very well. I use it mostly with my finger tips, with an occasional nudge on the back end with my hand."

The Anywhere Mouse MX carries more weight than most laptop or netbook mice:
"The weight is perfect, so moving it around is easy and precise", "Nicely weighted", "not too heavy / not too light", "It is a very heavy mouse which adds to the nice solid feel (the AA batteries help add weight)", "it has a nice weighty feel, not chintzy like most mice", "much heavier due to 2 AA batteries. Yes you could reduce that by using one, but I like to load up the batteries and forget it.", "the weight of the mouse makes it feel sluggish while tracking", "using 2 AA batteries will become heavy", "when the mouse has two batteries installed it is quite heavy. Happily, it works just fine with only one battery!"

The Anywhere Mouse MX introduces an innovative approach to scrolling. Most scrolling mice use the scrolling wheel as the middle clicking button. When you click on the Anywhere Mouse MX, you toggle scrolling behavior from frictionless to regular scrolling and back. Underneath the scrolling wheel, in the direction of the palm, is the middle button. Frictionless scrolling, and scrolling in general, gets raves from many users:
"Hyperfast scrolling never gets old", "possibility to change scrolling; friction-free or normal", "very nice scroll mechanism", "scrolls well", "scroll wheel can be switched between clicking with each scroll and wheeling freely"," One thing that is excellent is the scroll, NO notch and you can fly with it. It just spins freely. Love it !!","scroll wheel will spin like it has ball bearings or, if you depress it until it clicks, will detente","I love the mouse wheel being separate from the middle button. I find that when playing FPS games, the wheel of other mice can be actuated when only trying to press the middle button feature. Getting used to the button takes a little time, but I've been accustomed to it for years", "area around scroller is metallic and feels nice", toggle between normal, detent scrolling and free-wheel scrolling with the click of the wheel (and it almost seems to spin forever!)","dual-mode wheel is great, I usually don't use the free scrolling mode, but it's a great feature. Before I bought this mouse, I didn't like the thought of not being able to push the wheel down for a middle click, but you get used to using the little button right below it - very quickly. I don't want to go to any other setup now", "no friction scroll wheel is priceless (nearly). Horizontal scrolling is nice", "caution: The mouse scroll function is one of those features that you will miss when you go back to using a mouse without it. Be warned that if you purchase this mouse, you will soon be replacing your entire fleet.", "mouse wheel is innovative", "my favorite feature is the mouse wheel click-to-toggle-freewheel feature. Click it once, and you can spin the wheel like a top and scroll like a racecar on NOS. Click it again, and the normal detent is back for precision scrolling.", "middle click is compensated for with the button behind the scroll wheel (Just took some getting used to)", "changeable scroll modes (Hyperfast/notched scroll) eliminates middle click with scroll wheel (moved to button; didn't bother me enough to take an egg off)."

At the same time, the need for an alternate middle button below the scroll wheel is a significant drawback for approximately 3% of the reviewers, and ends up showing as the primary single source of negative reviews for the Anywhere Mouse MX:
"I've tried the 'frictionless glide' scrollwheel and it hasn't yet proven useful. Middle click is less comfortable than mice that have it on the wheel", "the scroll wheel does not act as the middle mouse button when clicked", "If you use middle button a lot then you have bend your finger to click it."

The Anywhere Mouse MX has 5 buttons, all reassignable by software. The flexibility they offer is in general appreciated by reviewers:
"It has a forward and back button on the side, and a button behind the scroll wheel, which are all cleverly placed as to not have accidental button presses", "two side buttons, a nice working middle slider and another button that works as the third mouse button behind the slider","small button below the scroll wheel that gives you the center click function","crisp tactile feel on buttons", "placement of the back/forward buttons to the side of the mouse is both good and bad. For one, left-handers used to be able to pinkie/ring-finger actuate the top-mounted buttons if they so wished. I'm not left handed, but thought that a change like this was short sighted. The button are placed uncomfortably rearward of where my thumb would naturally align"," included SetPoint software lets you assign different functions to any of the 5 buttons, plus up/down scroll, and left/right side scroll."

Battery life
Because wireless input devices are not tethered to a source of power, they need batteries. Battery life is a common source of complaints for all wireless input devices. The Anywhere Mouse MX is powered from 2 AA batteries, and Logitech advertises 6 months of use (it also sells other models with up to 3 years of autonomy). Reviewers are divided on actual battery life:
"The two batteries last forever", "battery life last a long time","runs on ordinary AA batteries with no base or wall charger. I'm on my 1st set and it's been months", "Very good battery life", "having to replace 2 AA's once a month", "takes AAs (1 or 2, use to manage weight!)", "poor battery life for 2AA's", "I think the battery lasted almost three months--that's with 1-2 hours use a day. Nothing to brag about", "Battery life seems short considering there are two AA", "Battery life is excellent."

On-off switch
The Anywhere Mouse MX has an unusual on-off switch to preserve battery power:
"Something no one else seems to have thought of. It's called an On-Off Switch. It's located on the bottom of the mouse and you simply move the slide to turn it on and off", "easy to turn on and off","just turn on your mouse with the switch underneath whenever your ready to use it. Amazing!","sexy latch that shuts off the laser - perfect", "I like the on/off sliding switch as it is easy to work with fat fingers", "power/tracking lense shutter is cool", "the power button on the bottom doubles as a shutter/cover for the tracking eye, so it won't get dusty or scratched when you turn it off and toss it into your bag. What a concept!", "large on/off switch"

Receiver in-mouse storage
The receiver can be stored under the battery cover when traveling: "Great touch with the option to store the receiver inside the mouse and the whole mouse could then be stored into the included zipper pouch","Case and storage of dongle is very well designed", "You have to remove the battery cover to store the micro receiver"

Soft travel case
The mouse comes with a travel pouch: "The pouch it comes with is brilliant!", "neat little bag for it", "nice little zip-up travel bag, "leather [sic] pouch is a nice touch", "Very mobile (Comes with a little carrying bag)", "Has little pouch, comfortable to put in when moving computer around and not having to worry about trowing your 90$ premium mouse in some bag."

Software is the only area where Logitech has a poor reputation. Users reported worry-free operation with Windows and MacOS, but more unusual configurations (Unix, Windows on Mac) were not always perfect. The mouse alone is plug-and-play, but any customization needs use of the Setpoint software. While most users found the operation of the software seamless, there were also some negative reviews:
"Logitech software is simple and easy to work with", "really easy to work with", "does not need ANY drivers (Windows finds it's own) just to use it along with all the buttons/functions.", "possible to reprogram every single button", " the software that ships works perfectly on my XP machine to change the function of the buttons", "included SetPoint software isn't ready to go for Windows 7, but it's really not that big of a deal", "mouse works fine on OSX as long as I am not in a game, There is some incompatibility between the OSX mouse driver and the hardware", "this will work great with the Mac, BUT will totally "crap out" in your Mac "Windows" installations (either on BootCamp OR Virtual Machine!) " couldn't get the device to work on multiple 64-bit Windows 7 computers.", "It does work on 64-bit Windows 7 systems", "have it running on my 64-bit Windows 7 Professional just fine"

Logitech offers a 3-year warranty for the mouse. We found few lemons reported by reviewers: "it only [worked] for 27 days. After 27 days, it began to freeze."

The price is comparatively high for a wireless mouse. Most users consider it fair for the quality of the product: "only downside is the hefty price"," fair price for a GREAT mouse", "costs more than my nano... but worth it","as other reviews have stated,you get what you pay for..I paid full price for this mouse but I feel it is worth it", "I am a student and it was pretty expensive for me, but it is worth every cent."

Overall evaluation
The very large majority of the reviewers were extremely positive about the Anywhere Mouse MX:
"Great mouse", "best mouse that I have ever owned!", "for me, $77 is a lot of money for a mouse but I am extremely pleased with my purchase", "best mouse I have ever bought!","this is the best mouse I've ever owned", "best mouse ever" , "along with the 12-cell extended life battery, the wireless mouse and particularly the Anywhere MX ranks right at the TOP for most convenient, highest quality feel and performance, ease of installation and most useful products for computer users", "another great Logitech product... [it] goes beyond my expectations", "this is the best mouse I've ever owned", "I really love this mouse", "it's always nice to find a great product."

Review statistics: Approval ratings
Beyond the very good anecdotal evidence provided by some of the reviews listed above, the Anywhere mouse MX receives excellent feedback statistics, which we believe to be at the top of the wireless mouse category (we are planning a full comparative review of the category for Spring 2011). We screened 405 reviews (from Amazon, TigerDirect and NewEgg) for the Logitech Wireless Anywhere Mouse MX, and found a total of 369 positive reviews. The approval rating is an excellent 91%, with up to 3% error at a confidence level of 95%, meaning that we are 95% certain that betwen 88% and 94% of present users recommend the Anywhere Mouse MX. This is an excellent approval rating, and an excellent interval of confidence as well.

We find the Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX to be an outstanding choice for a wireless mouse, well designed and with very good fit to a large majority of users. We recommend it with no hesitation to any user with no RSI issues, with the understanding that, as with all input devices, based on your personal dimensions and usage patterns, it may or may not be a perfect fit, but that it is statistically likely to work very well with you.

Late last year we reviewed and recommended the Logitech Wave K350 wireless ergonomic keyboard. The Wave keyboard, like the Anywhere Mouse MX, also uses a unifying receiver, and both can share the same receiver on a common computer.

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