As many of you will know from reading my previous blog post I finally ditched my wireless Mighty Mouse. To replace it I first bought a Logitech V470 Bluetooth mouse, however the bizarre behaviour of the mouse to sleep every few seconds (yes, seconds!) to preserve battery life became a real annoyance, especially as every time it woke up the mouse pointer would jump a very noticeable inch across the screen. That mouse got sent back within a few days, and to replace it I bought a Logitech V450 wireless nano. I’ve been using this mouse for about a week now and so I thought I’d share my thoughts with all of you.
The first thing you notice about this mouse is how compact it is. Measuring approximately 4 inches long and 2.5 inches wide this mouse is really small, and as such is perfectly suited to travel. This form-factor works very well for myself, I haven’t found the mouse uncomfortable to use for long periods, nor does it feel
too small for my hands, though you would be well-advised to try before you buy if you have large hands.
The mouse itself is made from plastic and rubber, the plastic forms the top of the mouse (including the buttons and battery compartment), and the bottom, with rubber aesthetically placed along the two sides for gripping. The plastic itself, whilst feeling a tad scratchy and cheap, is perfectly acceptable for the price, and with a matte finish allows better grip then perhaps a glossy finished mouse would. The buttons have a very definite and pleasing click to them, and the notched scroll wheel is perfectly fine for the job (if not a bit noisy when scrolling up, at least on my model). This model has 5 buttons in total, the obligatory left and right-click, depressing the scroll wheel gives you a thi
rd click, and pushing the scroll wheel left and right gives you a fourth and fifth click respectively.
Now then, onto the main reason why this particular model has been suffixed with the word ‘nano.’ This is not, as you may have thought, due to the pleasingly small form factor, but rather due to the amazing 2.4GHz wireless receiver this mouse employs. This is by far one of the most impressive wireless dongles I have ever seen, one of my major irks about wireless mice is that they require a large ugly receiver stick to be placed in a USB port. This mouse still requires this, but the size of the receiver is approximately 5 mm in length (not including the USB plug),
making it one of the smallest receivers I have ever seen. In fact, when plugged into the USB port on the side of my keyboard the receiver is invisible. This is especially useful for notebook users as the device can be left in a USB port without it causing too much, if any, of the trouble associated with leaving a dongle in a laptop. What is especially neat is that Logitech provide a slot inside the rather over aggressively springy battery compartment for the receiver, so if the mouse is transported you always have a place to keep this tic-tac of a dongle.
The mouse itself uses laser-tracking, and has been pretty much spot on for all my uses, no cases of over-tracking, flying pointers or confusion of movement due to different surfaces. In addition Logitech claim the mouse to have a 12 month battery life. Obviously I can’t really comment thus far, and I assume this is in reference to a much less demanding user than myself who takes the time to turn the mouse off for extended periods of time. All I can hope is that it doesn’t eat batteries like the bluetooth mice I’ve been used to.
This mouse works with both OS X and Vista (and probably most other OS’ too). On my iMac the mouse worked immediately when plugged in, and could have been left as it is using OS X’s built in preference pane, however, I like to see my options and installed the Logitech Control Centre. This piece of software (called SetPoint on the Windows side) is not particularly graceful, pretty or intuitive, but it gets the job done. From it I was able to tweak the tracking speed (had to reduce it to the slightly slower speed Macs default to compared to Windows), and assign the buttons to a multitude of functions including expose, spaces, and browser window management. For all the ugliness of this utility it provides far more options than Apple’s Mighty Mouse ever did, something for which I am grateful.
I have heard some unfortunate stories of this utility causing Kernel Panics and BSODs, which doesn’t surprise me as it feels like a rushed piece of software. Luckily there are many 3rd party mouse utilities on both OS X and Windows which could happily do the job of the LCC for free.
It’s not all sunshine and lollipops for this product though, there are some distinct weaknesses. Firstly, as eluded to earlier the scroll wheel is noisy, on my model in particular when scrolling upwards you get a rather unpleasant rattling plastic noise. Secondly, I’ve had some issues with using the mouse wheel as a button. Initially I set the mouse up so that a left tilt of the wheel got me into expose, a right tilt cleared my windows, and a middle click brought up dashboard. When it came time to bring up dashboard, however, I found it only working a couple of times, the rest gave me a strange expose/dashboard experience of windows flying apart and widgets disappearing and reappearing from nowhere. This lack of a definite middle click that can be easily defined from the left and right tilt has made me disable the middle button, which is a shame as it makes the mouse only useable as a 4-button rather than a 5-button. In addition the nasty packaging the product comes in, and the slightly over-excited battery compartment release are not major problems, but just remind you that this is actually quite a cheap mouse, something you would otherwise never notice.
This mouse does represent amazing value for money, the small form-factor and amazingly small receiver make this product a complete winner in my eyes. If you have larger hands you may wish to treat this mouse more cautiously, however, even as a secondary travel mouse this would be ideal. The rubber grips are a nice touch, as is the low-battery warning light and storage compartment under the battery cover. My own experience with the scroll wheel button, and noise, have not deterred me from using it (if you read my post about the Mighty Mouse you’ll know I can put-up with a fair bit from mice), and the poor software is unfortunately to be expected with this kind of thing. But for everything you need a mouse to do this one ticks all the boxes and then some, would not hesitate in recommending it to anyone.