Mouse Wars: Microsoft vs. Logitech

I try out two wireless mice and have a clear winner.

One of the things I don’t like about using a laptop is the trackpad. While I’ll take a trackpad over a trackball any day, neither of them come close to the pointing precision I can achieve with a regular mouse.

A lot of the work I do on my desktop Mac (which is fully recovered now; thanks for asking) is layout work where I commonly drag objects with pixel precision. If I had to do that with a trackpad, I’d go nuts. And while I don’t often do any kind of layout work on my laptops, I really prefer a mouse.

My Microsoft Wireless Mouse

Microsoft Wireless Notebook Optical Mouse 3000 -SlateA while back, as a test, I bought a Microsoft Wireless Notebook Optical Mouse 3000. That’s a big name for a little pointing device. I liked the mouse’s ergonomic design and the way it fit into my hand so nicely. It tracked well, pointed well, clicked well. And the roller ball between the two buttons was soon something I began using regularly. And that’s a lot to say from someone who has been using single-button Apple mice for the past 18 years with no complaints. Best of all, the darn thing retails for only $30.

The only thing I didn’t like about the Microsoft mouse was that it wasn’t Bluetooth. Yes, it was wireless, but to use it I had to stick a small receiver/transmitter do-dad into one of my USB ports. Not a big deal, since I don’t usually have anything connected to my laptop anyway. But the USB thing is also the on/off switch for the mouse. When you’re finished using it, you’re supposed to pull out the USB thing and fit it into a specially-designed slot on the bottom of the mouse. That triggers the off switch, thus cutting power to the device and stopping any drain on the battery. My problem — or perhaps I should say one of my problems — is that I have a mind like a sieve sometimes and simply can’t remember to go through this procedure when I’m finished working.

To be fair, there hasn’t been any penalty yet. I’ve been using the mouse on and off for over a year, forget to turn it off about half the time I use it, and it’s still on its original battery. It has some kind of standby mode that sense when you’ve stopped working and reduces battery drain. So it’s not like I’m going through batteries at an alarming rate. I’m not.

So, in summary, I liked everything about the Microsoft mouse except for this silly USB thing.

My Logitech Mouse

Logitech V270 Cordless Optical Bluetooth Mouse- CharcoalIn an effort to improve the situation, I bought a Logitech v270 Cordless Optical Bluetooth mouse. Now I don’t want you to think I was going to just throw away the Microsoft Mouse. I wasn’t. I happen to have more than one laptop and I also thought that I might start using a wireless mouse with my desktop machine. In fact, that’s what I originally bought it for. I have lots of USB devices and didn’t want to use up one of the ports on my hub. Besides, I’m trying hard to reduce the rat’s nest of wires behind my desk and figured a wireless mouse for everyday use would remove one wire.

Logitech is a company that has been around for a while. They’ve been making input devices perhaps as long as I’ve been using Macs. Their products are usually very good. But this particular mouse — which, at $50, cost almost twice as much as the Microsoft mouse — pretty much sucks.

Okay, so it doesn’t have the same perfect ergonomic shape that fits my hand so well. I wasn’t going to hold that against it. I figured that Microsoft got lucky with that design, or maybe that I got lucky that Microsoft’s design was so perfect for me. I couldn’t expect every mouse to fit so well. So that’s not what drove me to my decision.

It’s the tracking. The mouse is terrible. I can’t put my finger on it (no pun intended), but it just doesn’t seem as smooth. I can’t get the same precision. It’s frustrating and distracting and makes it difficult to get my work done without a lot of extra thought and effort.

To be fair, I tried both mice on several different computers, including my Dual G5 production machine, my 12″ PowerBook G4, my Dell Latitude 820D laptop, and my new 15″ MacBook Pro. The results were the same on every single machine. The only difference is that I had some difficulty pairing up the Logitech Bluetooth mouse on one or two of the machines. The Microsoft mouse worked perfectly on every machine — Mac and PC — as soon as I plugged in the silly USB do-dad. And it tracked perfectly, just like a wired mouse.

Mighty Mouse

Apple Bluetooth Wireless Mighty MouseApple sells a wireless mouse called Mighty Mouse. (It’s amazing to me how Apple comes up with these names.) It’s been discussed in comments elsewhere on this site. I got a chance to work a wired version of this mouse at the Chandler Apple Store a few weeks ago. It’s a two-button mouse without physical buttons. It seems to work well. I’ll be checking out the wireless version soon enough, since I need to write about it for my Leopard book.

The reviews on the Apple Store Web site are pretty much split. Some people absolutely love Mighty Mouse while others absolutely hate it. An Apple person I spoke to admitted in a whisper that he hated it. It’s certainly the most expensive of the bunch, retailing for $70.

I didn’t think there would be a reason to “hate” a wireless mouse until I bought the Logitech mouse. I assumed they all worked as well as the Microsoft Mouse when it came to tracking. But the Logitech mouse proved that they don’t. I don’t know how Mighty Mouse will perform yet for me, but I’ll be writing about it here sometime in the future.

My Ratings

The bottom line is this: I tried two wireless mice. I very much like one (love is too strong a word) and really don’t like the other (hate is also too strong a word). If I had to rate them on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, here’s how I would do it:

Microsoft Wireless Notebook Optical Mouse 3000

[rate 4.5]

Logitech v270 Cordless Optical Bluetooth mouse

[rate 1.5]

Any thoughts? Use the Comments link to share them.