A big thanks out to Logitech for providing this review sample!
Computer hardware usually sees great advances within short times periods as evident by the six month product cycles of graphics cards and processors. Other “less important” pieces of hardware are relegated to sit on the back shelf, and are only updated so often. Mice, however integral to the use of computers, fills this role almost completely. Logitech has released a new series of optical mice, hoping to captivate the hands of both gamers and more casual users alike.
The MX500 is built on a totally new foundation, inside and out. At the heart of this beast is the new MX engine, which promises function superior to all other optical systems on the market at this time. Details can be seen in Scott’s MX700 review, the wireless variant in the series. Outside, Logitech has turned to a new design studio to produce a functional yet elegant design. This balance of form and function has been highly stressed in previous reviews; however the MX500 seems to be the embodiment of this now clichéd philosophy. The mouse is made from two distinct materials: the first being the matte charcoal plastic found on the main body and the second being a rubberized plastic (similar to the rubber-like texture found on IBM ThinkPad notebooks). The shape of the MX500 seems to mold to the user’s hand – that’s how comfortable. Above the “thumb-well” found on the left side of the mouse are the standard forward/backward buttons. Between the integrated main mouse buttons lay the scroll wheel and two special MX functions. The two buttons above and below the scroll wheel is the “Cruise Control” system that allows quick scrolling without having to use the wheel. Further down is the “Quick Switch” button that works as an Alt-Tab replacement. Access to all buttons was quite easy.
Logitech’s Mouseware drivers offer rudimentary mouse support allowing adjustments of basic button function, cursor choices, and other mouse options such as acceleration. The software however does not allow total customization of button functions. Unlike their Wingman software for their gamepads and such, the Mouseware software does not allow the use of macros or user-programmable functions but rather offers a slim amount of choices each. The software has also had some compatibility issues with certain games not being able to recognize all of the buttons or the scroll wheel does work etc. Most of these initial problems have been fixed by third-parties and driver updates from Logitech. However, not all issues have been successfully ironed out even with the advanced age of the MX series.
During normal usage, the MX500 performed admirably. The mouse was extremely smooth in general applications with superb tracking ability, which made it easier to work in CorelDraw and Photoshop. Having used a Microsoft Wheel Mouse Optical prior, sans the forward and backward buttons, I found that after adjusting to them, they are quite invaluable. The Cruise Control system and the Quick Switch function were not as useful. Because my scroll wheel is set to scroll three lines at a time, it was actually faster than the Cruise Control, negating its need. After using the Quick Switch for a couple days, I found myself going back to the tried and true Alt-Tab because it was more convenient and faster not having to choose which window I wanted to switch to. I also found the depressed scroll wheel implementation poor to my taste as well (the button was quite spongy itself). Deviation from the Microsoft standard of moving the cursor in the intended direction, Logitech forces you to move the entire mouse instead, resulting in an awkward and clumsy movement.
In gaming applications, the MX500 could truly excel. Because of the new MX engine, no longer did fast twitch movements throw my aim off course, which occurred frequently with my prior mouse. All mouse movements were smooth and accurate, the perfect mouse for almost any gaming title. Because of on going driver issues, not all of the buttons found on the MX500 can be used. For example in America’s Army, the game recognizes the forward and backward buttons as left and right, nor or the Cruise Control, Quick Switch, and depressed scroll wheel state recognized at all. Hopefully, support for all of the buttons will come soon without having to use work-arounds and third party solutions.
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