The abundance of touch-based operating system, the incorporation of gestures has brought new life to the, previously more hated, laptop touchpad. While many Mac and Windows 8 users would suggest that they prefer the touchpad as a matter of efficiency, there are still many other, non-gaming, users that prefer the use of the standard mouse.
Logitech has spent a lot of time, years in fact, and effort in perfecting the design and performance of its latest flagship mouse, the MX Master. The unit doesn’t go for the extravagant with an overkill of buttons we seldom use over time, but rather opted for a more minimalistic approach, and what it has to offer is something better for just that.
Build and Design
Having reviewed more mouses in the past year than ever before, my first opinion of the MX Master was that it was rather large, more so than would seem comfortable. And while it is undeniably larger than most, it never feels like it when held in your hand. The ergonomics are well thought out, with my fingers and palm resting perfectly from the get go. Be it that my hand may be of average size, I can’t attest to the comfort for users with smaller or larger hands. Use over an extended period of time didn’t result in any fatigue on my fingers, thumb, or wrist. The predominantly rubberised finished also meant that grip wasn’t an issue. The use of rubber is two-fold, making it less susceptible to picking up dirt and smudges, while also avoiding sweat build-up.
There are two major points worth mentioning that will definitely hinder performance for some. Firstly, left-handers will have to look elsewhere. Unless you’re able to use your right hand, this mouse will not be usable at all. Secondly, gamers may find the bulkiness of the MX Master a bit cumbersome in situations requiring a more nimble approach. Although the responsiveness, polling and frequency would compare well against any gaming mouse, it isn’t quite as stealthy.
As I’ve already suggested in the introduction, it has become common for more users to have switched to the trackpad in order to make better use of gestures and the shortcuts it provides. Logitech, however, believes that it has compensated for this on the MX Master by means of a ‘hidden’ button (the only slight concern I picked up during this review was that this button was a little too stiff), which lies under the thumb when gripped, in addition to the side-scroll wheel and two additional buttons on the side. While each gesture and button can be customised by means of the Logitech Options software (discussed below), the defaults are pretty much in line with that available on the touchpad.
If you were ever in doubt as the precision work and time it took to design the finished product, take a quick peek at Logitech’s crafting process for the MX Master.
Performance and Battery Life
I’ll just jump right into the impressive feature on the MX Master, that of its connectivity. The unit is capable of connecting as a wired mouse via the included USB/microUSB cable, which doubles as a charger when plugged in, as a 2.4GHz wireless mouse via the included Unified dongle, or over Bluetooth. In addition, users have the option of being able to connect to three different devices and stored separately on the device’s memory. To switch between these devices, simply flip the mouse over and click the switch button on the bottom rear. What’s also nifty is that the device is able to sense when it’s flipped over, which triggers the LED light for the current profile number, and then fades away after a few seconds. Connecting the three devices may seem like a complicated affair, but, in fact, took me less than two minutes to connect all. Provided off course your have either a spare Unified dongle or a Bluetooth device, of which I had both. I, then, connected my laptop, my PC, and my smartphone, and was able to seamlessly switch and use either at my request. I found this both impressive and useful.
Almost of equal impressiveness was the MX Master’s ability to be used on a multitude of surfaces. And when I say ‘used’, I do not mean it just gets by in registering the surface area and able to move at certain angles and manoeuvres, but, rather, perform as it would on the most optimum of surfaces. If you have any doubts, and think that it may just be my opinion, take the test…or search the internet for more reviews. I couldn’t believe it either. The MX Master works even on glass. Yes, glass! Logitech has made the provision that the glass must be a minimum of 4mm thick, but I don’t see this being an issue. It works on glass! Logitech has introduced its new Darkfield™ Laser Sensor, which essentially makes it able to track flawlessly almost anywhere.
Long-term Logitech users will attest to the speed-adaptive scroll wheel on the top of older mouses, something that has been revived again on the MX Master. It can be used in two modes, one that uses notches to indicate each scroll, or the free scrolling mode. Irrespective of the mode you’re using, users can switch to a faster spin, which releases the notches and scrolls freely until stopped again. This allows you to scroll a lot faster through pages of information without your hand needing to leave the mouse.
The MX Master has a claimed 40 days battery life between charges, which is more than ideal for the average user, even if you’re an avid gamer. There is a row of three LEDs along the left side, in front of where your thumb rests, which indicates the status of the battery. And if the battery life is not something that grabs you, also bear in mind that you could use it while plugged in, and that the unit is fitted with a quick charge capability, with only 60 seconds required to allow you to eke out an hour’s worth of battery life.
Logitech has introduced its new Options software a short while back, which essentially continues from the SetPoint software, only a lot more sophisticated in doing do. Users have the option of using the mouse as a simple plug-and-play without the use of any software, but to get the most out of it, such as the multi-profile feature, the Unified software is the least that’s required. Customisation is as easy as it always was; just click on the button on the software that you wish to change, and then choose the functionality to switch out. Logitech boasts an impressive list of more than 100 combinations, with a few unexpected options such as using the side scroll wheel to adjust the volume, brightness, and even pull down notifications. Although it may confuse you to start with, users can choose three different profile for the three different devices the mouse is connected to, so a volume adjust on one device could be a brightness change on another. My examples may be fairly simple, but the options you have are quite immense, with other options such as screenshots, or shortcut keyboard combinations.
Just by looking at the Logitech MX Master, it appears rather unassuming to start off. But things quickly change as soon as you turn it on. Whether it be the build, the feel, or the responsiveness, it just works. And brilliantly so.
In all honesty, before 2014 the use of a mouse seemed trivial to me, and only after exploring the multitude of options did my experience and requirements change for different functions, such as working or gaming. Since then, I wouldn’t hesitate by going as far as to say that the MX Master is the best out of the lot. Yes, it isn’t quite designed for gaming purposes, but if I’d have the choice between the two, I choose this, mostly because it could double up, with some tweaking, as a gaming mouse. Although it isn’t as affordable as one would hope, the pricing is on par with many gaming mouses, and carries an RRP of R1,400. Everything about the MX Master seems inconspicuous, and yet the end result is quite brilliant. Did I mention that it works on glass?
For a full guide to the MX Master’s capabilities and a How-to guide, visit Logitech’s Setup Guide.