Logitech's high end gaming mice have looked pretty much the same for the past few years. It was a very comfortable design but you can't stick to one design forever. Logitech's newest product, the G9 Laser Mouse is quite a departure for them. Progress does require change and Logitech sure did change the shape of their mice with the G9. Does the big change yield to a great mouse?
Let's get to the laser engine first. What you have here is 3200 DPI of goodness and it's true 3200 DPI and not interpolated. The previous high for Logitech was 2000 DPI so Logitech's newest laser gets an increase of 38%. With the laser, you get the benefit of having the mouse work on more surfaces especially those that are a little reflective. The engine can report up to 1000 times per second and this option is adjustable. For the main guts of the operation, Logitech's G9 sports one very sensitive laser optical system.
Button wise, there are a total of 9 buttons onboard. You get two thumb buttons, two main buttons, two adjustment buttons, and the mouse wheel's button action. The mouse wheel is also directional so you can push it left or right giving you two more actions. The profile/DPI adjustment buttons are flush with the mouse so you don't accidentally press them during gameplay. Throughout my testing, I never accidentally changed my settings because the two buttons were out of the way. All the buttons respond well and had a solid feel when pressing. I was happy with the side buttons too since the shell interacts with the buttons the base and the side buttons didn't feel bad at all.
Some of the Logitech mice have an unratcheted wheel so it spins freely in both directions. While this feature is great for business applications, gamers need a ratcheted wheel so they can switch weapons easier by using the feedback produced by the scroll to know when the next weapon is chosen. The G9 Laser Mouse gives you the best of both worlds as there's a switch on the bottom that lets you go from one scrolling option to the other. As a developer and a gamer, I really enjoy this feature as I can switch between the two modes depending on what I am doing at that time. It's a breeze to go back and forth as the button on the bottom of the mouse clicks to let you know you've switched modes. I'm happy to see Logitech designed a system to let you choose the scrolling option as it gives the user the freedom to choose how they would like the mouse scroll to feel.
I've always thought about a design for a mouse that had interchangeable grips. With the Logitech G9 Laser Mouse, that idea has become a reality. As you can see from the pictures, the core of the mouse gets surrounded by a shell that can change the shape of the mouse to suit your needs. The shell locks into place with two spring loaded pins on the back bottom of the mouse. A button on the back of the mouse releases the pins and lets you pop out the grip. Included with the mouse is one smooth grip that's got a smaller surface area ideal for small hands or those that use their finger tips. A rougher wider grip is also supplied giving you two distinct styles. It's a unique design and one that I'm interested to see if it will succeed. Compared to the older Logitech mice, I found the G9 to be pretty comfortable for my hands. I liked both grips that came with the product. I think for the most part, people will find one that they enjoy and stick with it rather than changing them around. Hopefully, the pricing of new grips won't be too outrageous and I'm sure we'll get a few branded ones as well.
Migrating over from the G5, the G9 features a weight system consisting of 7 and 4 gram weights. Up to four of them can be placed in a housing that slides into a chamber in the back of the mouse. To remove you just push it in and the spring loaded compartment pops right out. I like the way the housing slides in from the back rather than underneath as I have had the weight housing pop out in my G5 a few times because the release was exposed. Since the grips cover the housing, you can't accidentally pop the weights out of this mouse.
Logitech implemented an LED on one of its keyboards and this time they are putting an LED on the mouse. Sitting just below the left mouse button and below the adjustment buttons, the LEDs indicate which profile you are on and they can be adjusted to a color of your choice. You have 204 color choices to choose from and you can preview them on the mouse before you set it. I have my different profiles set under a different color for the LED so I can easily tell which profile I have the mouse set at. It's a rather handy feature if you do use the profiles so you don't get confused as to which one you are switching to.
The software provided by Logitech lets you customize almost everything about the mouse. From buttons to DPI and polling rate, Logitech puts it all in your hands to adjust the mouse to your preference. All gamers are different and they have a wide variety of settings they like with their mice. Logitech has given the ability to really fine tune the mouse to how you want it. You can set the DPI on each independent axis so if you want to be able to scroll left and right faster than up and down or vice-versa you can do so. Horizontal scrolling via the mouse wheel's left and right motion can also have the speed set independently from the vertical scrolling. Not only can you setup what the button presses do but you can also create macros for buttons. If you rely on a sequence of key presses and delays function in a game, you can program that onto one of the buttons of your mouse which can be really convenient. Profiles are easily setup and managed via a nice drop down menu so you can know exactly which one you are adjusting.
So you've setup how you want the mouse to behave and you're taking it over to a friend's house. You have to install the software on their computer right? Not at all with the G9. A very cool feature is you don't need drivers to take advantage of profiles. The mouse has onboard memory so setups you create with the Logitech software can be saved and transported to other computers without the need to install the Logitech software for the settings to be enabled. To switch to a different profile, all you have to do is hold down the profile change button on the button of the mouse and the cycle through via the plus and minus button top. It's pretty easy to do. For those that take their mouse to LAN centers or other places, this is a great feature that will ensure you have your favorite setup wherever you go. A by product of this feature is if for some reason your computer crashes and you have to reinstall the operating system, your mouse settings are saved so you don't have to redo those again.
So with the mouse in action, I have to say playing at full 3200 DPI was pretty frustrating. I love to have my mouse to be at very high sensitivity but 3200 DPI was just too much. I think when we see bigger screens with bigger resolutions the speed will be used more efficiently but for now I don't really see anyone using such a high setting. There was little control I had over the mouse and you need to be in complete control when you are gaming. With that said though, setting the mouse sensitivity at more reasonable speeds offered up a smooth experience. I tried out a few first person shooters and some real time strategy games and was very happy with how well it performed across the board. I dialed down a bit in one of my profiles for Unreal Tournament to snipe with better precision and turn up the sensitivity when in a close quarters firefight to have quicker reaction. The two grips offered different experiences but I found the one with the wider base to be more comfortable for me. The shape may be a departure from what you're used to from Logitech but I can tell you that it works and is comfortable. Of course, the shape of the mouse can change based on the grips that Logitech releases so if you're not happy with either one you might find one that fits your hand better once Logitech produces them.
It wouldn't be good for Logitech to keep pushing the same design in a gaming mouse over and over again so while this is a radical departure from what we're used to, the system works. The grips don't make the mouse feel cheap and they mold seamlessly into the base unit. I like the repositioning of the weights and the switch to change the mouse wheel is pretty slick. I think for now 3200 DPI is overkill but you can't fault Logitech for pushing the engine as far as they could go. In time, this might be a usable speed. Logitech's implementation of onboard memory for saving of profiles and settings is a great feature. No longer are you needed to install drivers if you are taking the mouse to another computer to keep the settings you are comfortable with. The G9 combines both hardware and software improvements to produce a top of the line gaming mouse. While the price of the mouse is a little steep, the Logitech G9 has become the mouse I primarily use to game with.
Even if it doesn't look as pretty as the old ones, the mouse performances incredibly with great features in both the hardware and software department to really customize the mouse to your liking.