SAN FRANCISCO — To make its mouse of the future, Logitech looked to the past. The MX Master, a reboot of a classic Logitech mouse that brings back a long-lost feature while adding significant modern upgrades, is perfect for the port-deficient new MacBook.
The MX Master resurrects the nifty scroll wheel that was a killer feature of the MX Revolution, which Logitech released in 2006. The Revolution’s clever scroll wheel seemed to shift gears on the fly, going from slow to speedy and letting you zip through long webpages and documents. The feature helped turned the Revolution into a hit, but the scroll wheel went away in subsequent Logitech mice, causing fans to weep for their loss when their beloved mouse finally crapped out.
The MX Master brings back the innovative scroll wheel with a vengeance.
When Logitech’s Anatoly Polyanker stopped by Cult of Mac’s offices to show off the (then-secret) MX Master, I was shocked to see that the new mouse was based on the beloved MX Revolution. And Polyanker was shocked when I pulled a well-used MX Revolution out of my desk drawer, where it had been stashed ever since I lost the oversize USB dongle the mouse used to connect wirelessly to computers.
“We finally upgraded you,” he said as he handed me an MX Master to review. “And we apologize it took so long!”
After Logitech removed the SmartShift scroll wheel from the MX Revolution’s successor, the 2009 Performance MX, some users (including me) lamented the change. Prices for the vintage mouse stayed high on eBay, with sellers asking as much as $949 for a new one in an unopened original box.
Bringing it back — and meaningfully improving upon it — became the goal, said Polyanker, who is Logitech’s director of brand and product portfolio for pointing devices.
The MX Master’s speed-adaptive scroll wheel lets the device automatically switch between ratchet mode (for precise scrolling) and freespin mode (for blazing-fast movement through interminably long documents or webpages). However, it doesn’t tilt side-to-side like the MX Revolution’s did.
“We knew this feature would be loved,” said Polyanker, describing the MX Master’s redesigned scroll wheel, although he said removing the tilt capability raised the danger of rejection by people who pined for the original. The unique thumbwheel delivers the same functionality in an even better package.
Logitech MX Master’s other key upgrades
In addition to bringing back the smart scroll wheel, the new mouse also boasts a clever thumbwheel for horizontal scrolling, a variety of programmable buttons that let you set up Mac-specific functions, and painless pairing with up to three devices using either Bluetooth or the enclosed USB dongle.
The addition of Bluetooth makes great sense in an era when USB ports are becoming a thing of the past. Three buttons on the bottom of the mouse let you instantly switch from one computer to another once everything is set up.
If you’re using a PC without Bluetooth support, or simply feel the need to waste a USB port, the included Logitech Unifying receiver can connect up to six compatible Logitech devices. It works like a charm.
An Apple-inspired shine
The MX Master is Logitech’s attempt to give a classic piece of hardware a high-end upgrade in a package “super users” will love.
“Over the last two years, things are being transformed,” Polyanker said. “I think Apple had a lot to do with this.”
Apple’s enduring emphasis on elegance and functionality has elevated design in the eyes of both businesses and consumers. The trend among PC and peripherals manufacturers is to use thinner, lighter materials and wrap powerfully functional products in high-end finishes.
Logitech hasn’t copped Apple’s subtle brushed stainless steel for the MX Master, but the new mouse does utilize nicer materials. Lightly textured black rubber on the mouse’s body gives it a warmer feel, while the island keys are rated at 10 million clicks rather than the 5 million of the previous device’s. An iridescent bronze finish on the plastic base gives the mouse a distinctive look.
A crazy polygonal pattern covers the rubber surface on the area underneath the thumb, covering a programmable Gesture button that lets Mac users switch between functions like App Expose and Mission Control as well as other desirable functions. Logitech’s Options software lets users pick and choose between functions to make the mouse do what they need.
With mice, just as with shoes, comfort is a highly personal matter. But Logitech spent long hours crafting a device that would feel good to users who put in long hours with mouse in hand.
“Comfort is No. 1 criteria for consumers,” Polyanker said, and when you’re designing for comfort, “every millimeter matters.”
Logitech’s next-generation Darkfield Laser Tracking saves power while enabling the mouse to track beautifully, even on glass.
The MX Master’s rechargeable battery lasts up to 40 days, Polyanker said, with a handy fast-charging feature that lets you suck up an hour’s worth of juice in just a minute. It doesn’t use an outdated charging stand like the MX Revolution did, but there is one potential bummer for Mac users: The MX Master charges with a micro-USB port rather than a Lightning cable.
The MX Master will be available in stores in early April for $99.99 retail.