Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Who needs a $100 Mouse? You do!

For Christmas my brother got me a MX Revolution computer mouse, which is one of Logitech's most expensive mice. I am usually not the kind of person to spend extravagantly on something like a simple computer peripheral, but after 4 month of use I can hands down say that this is the best mouse I have ever used. Sure, it is cordless, rechargeable, has great ergonomics, and uses a high precision laser for "flawless tracking on nearly any surface", but none of those features really justify dropping 100 bones on a new mouse. There are however 3 features that make it a MUST HAVE for anyone that spends 8 hours a day in front of a computer screen waiting for retinal cancer to set in. Those three things are:

1. Free-spin scroll wheel
The MX Revolution has a scroll wheel that works in two modes: Free-Spin or Click-to-Click. Click-to-Click mimics the standard scroll wheel that you are use to, where the wheel has a lot of resistance and clicks as you scroll down the page. This works great for documents and PDFs with page breaks in them, but when scrolling on a long webpage this actually really slows you down. How often have you had to scroll a dozen times just to get to the bottom of a page? With the Free-Spin mode this is not a problem. The wheel glides effortlessly up or down, and with one quick flick you can get to the top or bottom of a page. It actually feels really cool too and makes a flywheel sound that can offer a bit of therapeutic stress release in the process.

2. SetPoint software
Usually I am not a huge fan of memory resident programs, which are those annoying little pieces of software that end up living in the system tray next to your clock. Having worked at computer help desks for many years, I can tell you that a large percentage of "My computer is running very slow" problems are simply due to there being way too many programs running in the background trying to help you search the Internet, check the weather, or Ding you whenever a great airline fare is available. The majority of the time these programs are simply not needed, so I was a bit apprehensive when I found out that my new pimped out mouse came with a configuration program that was always running. Turns out that while the program does eat about 20MB worth of memory, it is very useful for setting up the scroll wheel and customizing the functions for each button. It will let you customize the setting for different programs, so you can have it do one thing for Word, another for Excel, and another when browsing web pages. I have it setup right now to always be in free-spin mode unless I open Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader, at which point the mouse will jump into Click-to-Click mode to give finer control over scrolling through the pages.

3. Lions and Tigers and Buttons... oh my!
By my count there are 5 standard buttons on this mouse, 3 movable directions on the scroll wheel (click, sweep left, sweep right), plus a 3 function jog dial where the thumb rests. This gives a total of 11 buttons, which may sound like overkill, but I have managed to find a use for each and every one of them and wouldn't want to give any of them up. These shortcuts save me from having to switch back and forth between the keyboard and mouse or having to click on certain places of the screen to do what I want. Below is a list of each button function ordered by my estimated frequency of daily use.

  • Left Click - tried and true
  • Right Click - where all your context sensitive options live
  • Middle Click (Scroll Wheel) - used to force opening links in a new window in IE or Chrome
  • Scroll Wheel Sweep Left - programmed to switch tabs in Chrome (move left one tab)
  • Scroll Wheel Sweep Right - programmed to switch tabs in Chrome (move right one tab)
  • Jog Dial Back - programmed to go back in Chrome (same as browser back button)
  • Jog Dial Forward - programmed to go forward in Chrome (same as browser forward button)
  • Jog Dial Click - programmed to close the current tab in Chrome using Ctrl+W. Same shortcut also works to close File Explorer windows.
  • Touch to Search button - programmed to re-open the last closed tab in Chrome using Ctrl+Shift+T (I LOVE THIS FEATURE!!!)
  • Forward Button - programmed to zoom in on webpage. I also just found out that this doubles as an Ctrl+Click when used with the left mouse button.
  • Back Button - programmed to reset zoom on webpage using Ctrl+0. (Faster than zooming out with multiple clicks)
If you aren't convinced yet, you can check out the Product Tour on the Logitech website. There is also a VX Revolution version without the jog dial that is a little bit smaller and designed for use with laptops. Like most products, the $100 mouse really only costs $75 when ordered from, and if you can't justify spending $75 then make your company buy it or ask for one for Christmas. Even if you don't go for their top of the line model, I highly suggest a 5 button mouse so that you can speed up some of your common tasks. Once you do, you will wonder how you ever got by without it!


Greg Bray said...

After writing the post yesterday I started customizing the mouse buttons even more, so I thought I would post an addendum comment here. The button assignments above are designed primarily for surfing the web with Google Chrome, since that is the program that I use most often on the computer. I changed it so that when using Chrome it had the above settings, but when using other programs the button assignments are overridden as described below. The other Chrome button assignments have similar functions outside of Chrome, such as sweeping scroll wheel left or right to switch between tabs in property boxes.

Jog Dial Click - Uses Alt+F4 to close the current program
Touch to Search button - Same as pressing the Delete Button (easy to delete items!)
Forward Button - Same as holding down the CTRL button (easy to select multiple items!)
Back Button - Same as holding down the SHIFT button (easy to select list of items!)

The last three basically let you create chorded mouse clicks so that I can get a lot more out of each button. Shift+Delete for example can be used to bypass the recycle bin when deleting large files. It will takes a bit of practice to train myself how and when to use the new buttons, but it will save even more time jumping between the mouse and keyboard.

Greg Bray said...

Oh, and you can get a non-retail version for $50 from ebay:

memoire pour mac said...

Yeah Greg's right. You can get one at the most for $60. $100 for a mouse? Not at all apt.

Post a Comment