Cordless Desktop MX for Bluetooth

Review

posted 2/12/2004 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
I remember hearing about Bluetooth around four years ago when I was working at a web design shop and one of my managers was touting it as the next big thing. While the manager is long gone, Bluetooth has stuck around and it seems to have finally started catching on now. Logitech’s jumping on the technology with a release of the Cordless Desktop MX for Bluetooth, whew!

If the set looks familiar, it’s because the design is almost identical to the Cordless MX Duo that’s wonderful for gamers who crave a wireless solution that won’t hold them back. Comparing the two products physically, the only thing I can really see different is the color scheme. The Cordless Desktop MX for Bluetooth is an off blue instead of the traditional black.

Instead of the traditional RF technology to communicate with the base, the set uses Bluetooth to provide better range and less chance of interference with other wireless products. The cradle also doubles as the Bluetooth hub and lets you connect other devices such as PDAs or phones that are Bluetooth enabled. There are motherboards that are starting to include Bluetooth built in, but those without it can use the Cordless Desktop MX for Bluetooth to be Bluetooth compatible. Range is around 10 meters, or 33 feet and it is a universal standard. In the future when products such as printers and controllers implement the Bluetooth technology, you’ll be ready to take advantage of them with the cradle/hub.

Connecting the product to your computer is done through a USB port and if you would like a PS2 port. As with the Cordless MX Duo, the connection to the power cord is on the rear of the USB plug. I wish there wasn’t the big power brick on the plug and it was separated from the prongs as it does take up a lot of room and can interfere with other power sockets nearby. Companies need to get rid of this design and help free the space near your power sockets.

The keyboard’s slim profile, known as the Zero Degree Tilt, gives you a comfortable reach to the keys. Shape-wise, the keyboard’s layout is the same as a regular keyboard. I’m more partial to the ergonomic design though so I’m hoping that Logitech does release the same setup with that type of keyboard. Looking at the keyboard, you can see a whole mess of buttons and dials included with the regular setup. I’ll go clockwise from the left and touch some of the keys in this review. On the left side, you see two buttons and a dial that’s the same as a mouse wheel. Of course, the dial functions the same as a mouse wheel in web pages and more. You can do such things as adjust the volume, scroll through your favorites, and zoom in and out. One of the side buttons opens up an input box to enter a URL to surf to. The other side button allows you to go back a web page. With the two buttons and a scroll, you can do some casual browsing if you don’t need to click on links. Unlike the Cordless MX Duo, the keyboard for the Bluetooth version uses 4 AA batteries instead of 2. Not sure if because it uses Bluetooth that it needs more juice to last as long or if it would last longer with four batteries, but the keyboard does take more power. I do like the tactile feedback from the keyboard. It’s silent and gives you a good response when pressed.

The MX 900 is in essence, the wireless version of the corded MX 500 and the Bluetooth version of the MX 700. The design of the mouse is nearly identical with the exception residing in the absence of the cord and the difference in weight. The MX 900 requires 2 AA batteries to be inserted into the unit, adding quite a bit of weight. This actually works out to be an advantage. The added weight to the mouse makes the entire unit feel much sturdier than the corded mice.

The MX 900 features rechargeable batteries so that the consumer can be spared the chore of having to purchase batteries. The charger itself is in the receiver of the unit, which plugs into the wall and into the USB port of the computer. To recharge the batteries you simply just place the mouse onto the cradle and the charger does the rest of the work. This integration of receiver and charger is definitely a huge plus in the convenience department. But if you run out of juice and need to use the mouse immediately, you can put in any AA battery temporarily. Just be sure to switch back to the rechargeable ones once you place the mouse back on the cradle.

Much like the MX 500, the mouse features 5 additional buttons that populate the surface of the mouse. There are two buttons that essentially perform the functions of the scroll wheel, the forward and back buttons and an especially neat addition in the task switch button. The task switch button is by far the best thing to happen to mice since the wheel and the optical eye. Essentially, it allows you to perform the Alt+Tab function with the press of a button. Perfect for office work and people who are multitasking, you can change tasks with the click of one button.

The design itself is a nice blend of dark blue and gunmetal grey. The top portion and the left and right clicks appear to be one construct but actually operate separately. The sides of the mouse are rubberized to offer maximal grip while the thumb groove allows for a comfortable hold. There is also an additional groove on the right side of the mouse to accommodate the ring finger of your right hand. Sadly though, southpaws might find themselves having a hard time with this mouse. Everything seems to be designed with right-handers in mind including the grooves and the buttons.

Though the design and construction of the mouse is excellent, nothing can compare to its performance. This is by far one of the most accurate mice I’ve ever used. Using the MX technology; you’ll get the smoothest mouse movement in the business. The optical eye just does an amazing job of picking up on even the slightest of movement, allowing me to have a much easier time picking off enemies in first person shooters. Just by tracking my cursor in Windows with my eyes, I can notice the amazing improvements. If you’ve used previous MX mice, then you won’t be surprised at how well the mouse reacts. The switch to Bluetooth doesn’t seem to have affected the accuracy and speed of the mouse.



The range on the mouse is also quite exceptional. In fact, the range of the setup is so impressive that I was shocked by how far I was able to walk away from the receiver and still have the keyboard and mouse to work. I was able to type and work the mouse at distances of about 30 feet from the receiver, which is around three times more than the Cordless MX Duo. Because of the increased range, this set would be ideal to use for conferences and meetings. After using so many cordless input devices from Logitech and Microsoft, I was really blown away by how well and how far it worked from long distances. And the setup will work great for HTPC owners with the great range and multimedia buttons.

Setting up the mouse and keyboard took a few more steps and you follow very simple instructions to do so. Connecting the mouse consisted of synching it with the cradle and clicking on a picture of broken chain link. Moving on to enabling the keyboard, you press the connect buttons and then type in a few codes that appear on screen. Afterwards the program secures the keyboard and you’re all set to go.

An area called My Bluetooth Place is created on the computer where you can organize and your Bluetooth devices. You can get statuses of the various devices connected, configure them, establish pairing, and search for other devices to connect. A mobile phone suite is also installed allowing you to interact and synch with any Bluetooth capable phone.

I had our resident Editor-in-Chief, Charles Husemann, bring over his iPaq with Bluetooth capability and tested the Bluetooth connectivity. The hub detected the iPaq without any problems and we easily paired the two up for file transfer. Charles and I were able to see each other’s folders. The program did crash my computer but I attribute that to all the crap on my test computer than Logitech’s software.

For games, the setup worked just liked the Cordless MX Duo meaning that you’ll get flawless performance in even the fastest first person shooters. For minute movements in real time strategy games, the mouse also does a great job. Going through my collection, I didn’t have any problems. It’s a great gaming setup if you want to get away from wires and desire wired performance. If you do have some disconnecting problems, there is an update on Logitech’s site that corrects the problem.

The Bluetooth set does run more expensive than the Cordless MX Duo but the increased range and Bluetooth ability does help warrant the higher cost. Gamers probably won’t appreciate the features as much but HTPC owners will love the extended range. Businesses looking to incorporate a cordless setup to drive presentations will also appreciate the 30 foot range. I’m glad to see a wider adoption in Bluetooth and Logitech’s keyboard combo is a great peripheral using the technology. Owners of the Cordless MX Duo probably won’t find it cost conscience to spend on the Bluetooth edition but those searching for a great range setup with plenty of options should give the Cordless Desktop MX for Bluetooth a look at.





A-
The set's a little expensive but the range is great and the mouse is great for games.