Logitech MX Revolution & OS X (Review)
March 1, 2007
If you’re a Mac user, most Logitech peripherals are like having the world’s greatest dog follow you home — he’s smart, friendly, and knows how to bring you beer from the fridge — except you just can’t housebreak him.
The MX Revolution mouse is typical of that. It’s comfortable, ergonomic, has some very well thought-out features and a reasonably good recharging system — but their OS X driver is almost biblically bad.
Fortunately, there’s a way to fix it.
As much as I like Apple, I’ve never been a fan of their peripherals. I’m way too hard on keyboards, and even though they’ve finally woken up to two-button mice, I’m long since addicted to having way more buttons than that.
For the past few years I’ve been using the predictable old standby, the Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer. It works, but it’s still too “bar of soap” shaped to be truly comfortable to me, and even with the newer, “longer-lasting” versions, they eat AA batteries like candy.
A couple of weeks ago I managed to wear out the left button on my latest one, and I figured it was time for a change. I saw some rave reviews on the new Logitech MX Revolution, and I liked that it was rechargeable, so I figured I’d give one a try.
The MX Revolution has a typical svelte Logitech design; it’s narrower in the hand, which is important to me after a long day (my hand starts to cramp on wider mice), it has all of the right buttons in the right place, along with a new feature — you can switch the scroll wheel back and forth between a ratcheted exact incremental scroll, or a freewheeling scroll that goes up and down pages like lightening.
The recharger base is small and well designed, and I easily get around a week on a charge — long enough that I’m prone to forget putting the silly thing on the charger overnight until I really need it. Fortunately, you can limp along well just charging it for a few minutes every couple of hours until you have a chance to do a full charge.
I’ve had some bad experiences at the hand of various “Logitech Control Centers” under OS X, but this one hit a new low.
Using the newest version straight from Logitech, the silly thing would “lose” the mouse. Suddenly all of the extended functions (backwards and forwards buttons, etc.) would quit working, and you’d go into Preferences and the Logitech Control Center would claim to not be able to find any Logitech device.
That’s annoying enough, but there’s worse.
I have a Windows box in the corner of my desk that I have to pay attention to occasionally. Rather than have two keyboards and mice, or deal with the still overly bad and expensive DVI KVM switches, I just use a little USB switch to swap my keyboard and mouse back and forth.
Unfortunately, the Logitech drivers for OS X have a nasty habit of generating a Kernel Panic every so often when the mouse receiver is disconnected.
This is more than unpleasant — it’s cost me work a few times, and I was pretty much resigned to just putting this on the shelf and going back to a Microsoft mouse.
Fortunately, I’m apparently not the only person who’s had this problem, and there are a couple of shareware packages that can help.
First, I found ControllerMate — this thing looks brilliant, and if you’ve got a wide variety of USB human interface gear (mice, keyboards, joysticks, etc.), for
$20 $15 this will appear to let you do virtually anything.
It’s so flexible, in fact, that it was essentially overkill for me — I didn’t want to take the time to figure out how to set it up, I just wanted my damn mouse to work right.
The alternative I found was SteerMouse — for
the same $20, it just makes the mouse work. It seems to do it quite well, and (after rooting out the Logitech drivers; forget just taking them out of your login items, you have to find the software and uninstall them) so far, no kernel panics. It may not be as much bang for the buck as ControllerMate, but if your needs are as simple and your time as tight as mine is, the simplicity is worthwhile too.
So, I’m keeping the MX Revolution, but would I recommend it to other OS X users?
The mouse isn’t cheap to begin with — Amazon peddles it for $75, which is $25 off list, but a good $20 more than you’d spend on a decent Redmond Rat.
If you’re running it on OS X, plan on spending another $20 to make it work right; it’s not worth tearing your hair out to make the Logitech drivers work.
On the other hand, I probably go through $40 worth of batteries in the average Microsoft Mouse over a year. Assuming it lasts that long (and it does have a more quality feel to it than the Microsoft ones do), it’s a wash on price.
I have to admit that I like the feel of the MX Revolution more than the Microsoft; I just tried playing with my old Intellimouse, and it felt cheap, bulky and awkward compared to the Logitech. The high speed scroll wheel is pretty trick too.
In the end, it comes down to what you like; if you’re tired of Microsoft Mice, or an Apple Mouse, it may be worth giving this one a shot.